Saturday, March 22, 2008

Impossible!

The first thing we did upon receiving the keys, was to meet Nick from Greentech at our new house, we asked him to come over to perform an energy audit. Which went pretty quickly as we have no furnace, or central A/C for him to inspect, nor was he able to tell how much insulation there was in any of our walls or attic, since it had all been plastered or drywalled over. One thing the audit did reveal was that our house has a lot of air infiltration through windows, doors, outlets, and the fireplace in the basement. Armed with our information from Nick and the promise of generous grants and rebates from the government and utilities, we lined up a couple of HVAC contractors to provide us with complete HVAC system and household hot water quotes.

First came Angelo, from Visic Brothers Heating and Air Conditioning. Dealing with him was about as much fun as rolling around in a patch of poison ivy. The minute he walked in the door, he declared with all the certainty one could muster, "I know why this house was on the market for so long!" "Actually Angelo, it was on the market for only four days", my wife corrected. Before even seeing the whole house he was declaring the job "Impossible!" We realized the house has a lot of challenges that would make running ducts difficult, but every question we had, and every suggestion we thought might work, was met with "Impossible!" After hearing him tell us that he has been in the heating and air conditioning business for 35 years, a half dozen times, and that he had worked on over 20 houses on our street alone, we were pretty disappointed that he could offer no solutions or suggestions, not even one idea - nothing but "Impossible!". We were very glad when Angelo left.

Next we met Denise from Comfort Zone 21 Degrees, and what a breath of fresh air she was, upon entering our house, she complimented it on all the original trim and mouldings that were left intact. She then systematically examined all the rooms of the house, starting from the basement. After throughly examining the house bottom to top, she repeated the tour with us and explained what she thought would be the best solutions. She immediately ruled out forced air ducting, as our house has very few interior walls and running the ductwork would mean boxes and bulkheads over our plaster crown mouldings - a deal breaker for me. Instead she took a floor by floor approach, and suggested equipment which would maximize comfort, minimize both installation and running costs and preserve our house's character. She suggested we use Rinnai natural gas wall furnaces, and Fujitsu 21 SEER heat pump/AC units. Both of which get excellent consumer reviews for efficiency, comfort, and durability. She was very up front with us, that we would not likely be eligible for grants and rebates for these changes. But the solutions she suggest will net out cheaper in the short run and be more economical in the long run. She also suggested replacing our electric water heater with a natural gas tankless system. This will give us additional space in our finished basement and save us a bundle on utilities. She said she wanted to give it more thought and work out the right sizing. As well she wanted to make sure that her installers would be able to do the work, with our house so close to our neighbours. We're looking forward to seeing what she comes up with and what her final proposal and pricing is.

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