Greetings! It’s been quite a while since I wrote, and a lot has happened for our family since then. Last spring my parents moved from their home of 42 years in Athens to be closer to us here in Akron. No matter how well a house is adapted for aging in place, having family close by has a lot of advantages, and we decided to take the idea of “close by” seriously. While Scott & I hadn’t been planning to move, there was a house for sale less than a block from where we were living. With its split level design, it wasn’t ideal for my parents but works quite well for us. So, my parents moved into our ranch house, and we packed our things and moved up the street. Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple. The new house needed some work: new barn doors between my office and the dining room, updates to the master bath, more insulation, a new heating system, new hot water tank, and a new roof.
Those last three provided some great opportunities. As I wrote in March of last year, we had just taken the ranch house to 100% renewable electric heating and cooling. You can read that article here, Smart Sustainability – What It Meant For Our House. Because we needed a new heating system, we talked with our
consultant and decided to take the new house all electric too. This meant an air source heat pump for heating instead of a gas furnace and a heat pump water heater. Both are more efficient than the “toaster” style heating of electric resistance heat. We didn’t need a new cooktop, but I enjoyed the induction cooktop at the ranch so much I was eager to get one for the split level. That allowed us to turn off the gas service and save the monthly fee for having an account with the gas company.
Besides that, the new house has a nice big south-facing stretch of roof without shade! So as soon as we got the shingles replaced, we installed solar panels. It’s a grid tied system that feeds electricity to our neighbors if we are generating more than we need. If you have a sunny roof, you may want to look into panels soon: you can get a tax credit of up to 26% of the cost of the system through 2020, and 22% in 2021. Financing is available, including PACE financing linked to your property tax bill Renovate America, and since the panels start to save you money on your electricity as soon as they are running, they can pay for themselves! With all that renewable goodness going on, I decided to go all electric with my car too: I just got a Chevy Bolt EV, with a range of 238 miles.
So over the last 2 years I’ve learned a lot, and I can speak from experience about some of the sustainable systems you may want to consider for your home. If you’d like to know more, just send me an email or give me a call! If you’re wondering where you might start with your home, stay tuned from next month’s issue of The Leaflet!