Posted by: SandPen | July 25, 2018

I Lived to See It


Forty-four years ago, Linda and I designed the house we live in. Long-time friend Peter Morton introduced us to a rogue engineer at Boeing named Charlie Leonard. Rogue because he was years ahead of his time and management was unwilling to keep pace. Not one to sit still, Charlie sold heat pumps on the side. With his guidance and help we installed a Westinghouse Hi-Reli heat pump which silently warmed and cooled the house. And when it cooled the house it pumped the heat into our swimming pool. It was an efficient and elegant design which functioned perfectly over five years beyond its 25-year expected life.

Concerned that the compressor must surely soon wear out, we succumbed to the low cost of gas at that time and replaced it with a gas furnace and conventional air conditioner. In hindsight, I wish we had ridden the heat pump into its grave and wonder if it would still be functioning today. Of course, gas prices rose and we found ourselves with healthy gas and electricity bills.

Over a year ago, we made the jump to solar power. Splurged for the high-performance system in the picture. It won’t pay for itself for about ten years That’s fine. We produce over 50% more power than we use. Our monthly electric bill is $7.84, an administrative minimum. Last winter we replaced a gas water heater with tankless electric units, which reduced our gas bill by 20%. The coup de gras arrive July 5th in the form of a Tesla Model 3, an all-electric car that is a harbinger of the automotive future. An absolute joy to drive.

Our solar panels appear to take the additional load in stride, so the sun provides our transportation as well now. What’s left? Gas heats our house in winter. At present, it’s hard to justify a new furnace but the next one will be a heat pump with gas backup for extreme cold days. Full circle. Years ago, it seemed unlikely if not impossible to live to see this transformation. But the full circle of my life is not yet complete and I rejoice in having lived to see and enjoy it.


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