Going gas free – not that easy!

For the past couple of years I have been working towards having a gas free house.

It was actually quite easy.  I had the gas company turn off the service, and I uninstalled the furnaces (yes, there were two as a result of the house once upon a time been two apartments).

The difficult part was heating the house.

After an energy audit, I worked on sealing windows and doors and  insulating everywhere possible.  I replaced all appliances with high-efficiency electric models and I signed up for renewable energy credits. Ultimately, my electricity comes from wind.

After much research, I decided that PV panels were not going to work (wrong orientation, too many tress and, well, Upstate New York).  But it seemed very likely that a solar thermal heating system would work.  This consists of four 8x4ft solar collectors on the roof (two facing east, two facing west) linked to an underfloor system of plex tubing, with an electric water heater as back-up.  What could go wrong?

A rather unpleasant Code Enforcement Officer is the answer.  The first request for a permit was put in in early September.  He has stalled and prevaricated ever since.  He does not say what he needs to know, just that he needs more detail.  It is now mid-November and I AM COLD.  The forecast for the coming week is bad.

The solar collectors are still sitting on my side deck, but the rest has been (illegally) installed. With luck, some time on Monday, heated water will start to circulate and my pipes will not freeze.

I have lived in South Africa where central heating is an unknown concept.  As a result houses can get quite cold in the winter.  I have lived in the UK, ditto.  So, I am OK with sitting close to a heater or spending a lot of time under the bedc0vers. I reserve the right to be cold if I so choose.

BUT, isn’t there something very wrong with a system which makes it extremely difficult to install an energy efficient, fossil-fuel free heating unit?  Wouldn’t you think that the CEO would want to talk to me and say something like, “This is a fantastic idea.  Let’s talk about how we can make it happen”?

Instead he has threatened to have my house condemned as uninhabitable because I do not have a system that can heat the entire house to 68 degrees.

Go figure.


Update:  The panels are going back as, even with their help, the system as it stands is not getting the water hot enough, so I am going to have to install a supplemental boiler.

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