Heat Pumps are In

Heat Pump Final TouchesYesterday, the final connections were made, and the heat pumps were up and running.  The outdoor unit sits 30 inches above the ground, so when it snows, it is up above the snow line.  But if snow blows into the unit, it is smart enough to know when to start defrosting itself. In fact, these machines are smart in many ways.  Our installer oriented us to all of their many features.  You can program them to sense a human being in the room, and either blow conditioned air toward them or around them.  Not that we need that feature.  But maybe on a hot day, when they are cooling the air?

You can also set them to efficiency mode, and they’ll figure out how to keep the air at a comfortable set temperature all on their own.  A wonderful feature of heat pumps is that they do both heating and cooling.  One of the symptoms that Margy faces from her chronic illness is a severe incapacity to tolerate heat. So it is a wonderful relief that our home will be safe and comfortable for her in all weather.  Heat pumps are efficient except when the outside temperature goes to 5 below zero.  For those very few ultra cold days, we have back up heat from the very efficient Buderus boiler that was already in the house.

We were chatting with the installer about the irony that, right now, with oil prices being so low, it may actually be less expensive to heat with the oil furnace than with the heat pumps which use electricity.  But once we have installed solar panels, we hope most of our electricity will come from the sun.  That is what will make these heat pumps an important contribution to our search for greener housing. For us, it isn’t just the price, but the desire to move away from fossil fuels that put too much carbon in the atmosphere.  For now, we set the thermostat to about 50 degrees, until we finally get to move in.

Heat pump in living room

Advertisements

Celebration!

CelebrationWe have a contract to sell our old house!  We got an offer yesterday evening, and today we talked about it and made a counter offer and then they countered with a price we could feel good about, and now we are signing the paperwork. We read somewhere that the planet Mercury went direct on January 25 after being retrograde for a few weeks… according to astrologers now is the time to sign contracts and go forward with plans. I don’t know if that helped, or if it was the grace of the spirits who are guiding us through this search for greener housing.  But I do know that I want to say thanks to everyone who was praying for our house sale to go well!  We still have to go through inspections, and such, and the closing of the deal is tentatively scheduled for March.  But tonight we feel such relief and joy.  Now we can turn our attention to packing and getting ready to move.

Patience and Grace

This week is I have been trying and failing at patience.  The carpenter and the heat pump installers are …almost… done.  Everything was theoretically going to be done by today, and now we are looking at Friday instead.  But, here are some of the beautiful results.

French Doors to PatioThis is not the best photo ever, but our French doors from the kitchen to the deck are installed–we just need still to get the keyed entry put in, since this will be our regular entry door.  It was a cloudy day today when I took the picture, but this is a south facing window, and brings a lot of light into the house, and links us to the back yard.

The door on the right is the one that opens, pivoting from the center–in our research we learned that it is more energy efficient to have just one side moveable, and we can swing it totally around to rest on the other side, with a sliding screen for those days we want a breeze.  It will also give us a 32″ wide pathway directly into the kitchen, for wheelchair access, when we install a ramp up to the deck.  In permaculture design they call it “stacking functions,” when one item fulfills multiple functions–so this one has entry and exit, beauty, access, energy efficiency, light, ventilation, and the cats will likely be sitting there looking out at the back yard, too.

French Doors to Office

We also installed French doors from the hallway to the office–once again, for access and for light.  The opening they create will provide a better turning radius for a wheelchair to get into the bathroom across the hall, and if either of us do ever need to use a wheelchair ourselves, the office can be converted to an accessible bedroom. Saturday, when we met with the carpenter, the bottom of the doors were not aligned when closed–but he fixed them so they align perfectly now.

 

 

Finally, here is one heat pump, sitting up in the corner of the back bedroom. Two are installed, and a lot of the wiring is finished, but they still have two more units to install inside, plus the outside unit.  You can’t really see it here, but the walls around the window have also been spackled and painted where they were messed up from the window installation.Heat pump in back bedroom

And if you are still reading all the way down, today our realtor did a second showing with a couple that had seen our old house last Friday.  This is the other place where patience is a challenge.  Now that the house is on the market, and we’ve de-cluttered and cleaned, and our realtor hosted an open house, all we can really do is wait.  But it felt very hopeful to hear the level of interest and inspection that they were engaged in.

To be in this process is such a vulnerable transition.  Perhaps anyone who had done a big move knows this feeling. So much is at stake, and this time of year isn’t the best for selling a house, but it is the time of year in which our own journey has unfolded. So all we can do is enter the process as fully as we can, do what we can do, and then wait.  It is very hard to have patience for all of these processes to unfold.  After feeling a lot of anxiety earlier in the day, for some inexplicable reason, I relaxed as we were driving home after visiting the new house.  I entered a space of trust in the unfolding of the universe.  Is that grace?

 

Greener Heating & Cooling

Heat Pump in the boxToday is the day that Horizon Residential Energy Services is beginning to install air-source heat pumps in our new house. For most of my posts, I have not named the people or companies who are helping us in our process of going greener, but we’ve had a great experience with Horizon for our insulation and sealing as well, and I would highly recommend them.

This is what their website has to say about heat pumps:

Long used for cooling in warm climates, heat pumps are now one of the fastest growing technologies for ultra-efficient heating in cold climates. Rather than generate heat from combustion or electric resistance, heat pumps extract heat from outside air or the ground and deliver it indoors as needed. This process is a more cost-effective way to heat than most conventional systems. In the summer, heat pumps can reverse and work as air conditioners, cooling indoors and rejecting heat outside.

We are hoping that we’ll save a lot of energy, (especially when we are able to install solar PVC on the roof sometime in the spring.)  The installation will take a few days, so I will post pictures of the completed set-up when they finish.

In the meantime, we are doing more cleaning and decluttering at our old house to prepare for showings and an open house on Saturday. Back to work!

What We Leave

Our current home is now officially on the market.  This beautiful acre of trees that has been such a wonderful place for us for the last ten years.  I have so many powerful memories in this backyard.  The morning songs of the cardinals, the four baby chipmunks who came out to play one afternoon and let me sit near them and even film their antics. The many deer who wandered through. The chickadee I held in my hands. The mornings of prayer in the screen tent, as the sun began to peek out through the spruce trees.  The golden slug crawling through the grass on its way to a mushroom. The turkeys, the neighbor’s chickens, the porcupine.

This place has been such a blessing for me, and for us.  We’ve planted daffodils and violets and day lilies and many other perennial flowers.  We’ve planted forsythia bushes, and a small hemlock tree to stand alongside the two larger hemlocks. We’ve planted raspberries and blueberries, and eaten wild strawberries that came up on their own. Of course, all that is hiding now, under a blanket of snow, but we included spring, summer and fall photos in our listing, so folks could see the loveliness of its other seasons.

We still have a couple of days before there will be any showings.  Time to do more de-cluttering and cleaning, so others might be able imagine their own lives here.  I hope that someone will come along, really soon, who will want to love this place and care for it, and be cared for by it, as we have.

Chipmunks DSC06513

Chipmunk babies

The Blower Door Test

Blower Door Test

Today, Margy and I are working with our realtor to do the paperwork and photos to put our current house on the market. Lots of de-cluttering and packing up work to accomplish in a very short time.  So to give myself some extra energy for the day, I want to quickly write about our blower door test at the new house yesterday.  This technology measures air-exchange in the house, and thus, how well sealed and insulated your home.  One test is done before doing any work, and a second test after the work is done.  Our house passed with flying colors!

And here is why–last week they raised the level of the attic floor by eight inches, sealed cracks, and pumped in a whole bunch of insulation into the attic, and created an insulated hatch cover.  This might be the most important step we have taken for greener housing! It is good to remember that goal in the midst of all the hard work involved in making a move.

Attic Insulation

Cellulose insulation is also under the raised boards.

hatch and cover

The hatch box showing the eight inches that was raised up, and the hatch cover to the side.