The neighborhood presented an idyllic scene: well manicured lawns, flowerbeds, and neatly trimmed shrubs, giving each three-bedroom home a welcome appeal. Right smack in the middle of this scene, the destination for a geothermal estimate appeared as I rounded the curved roadway: a case of arrested development!
I thought readers might enjoy exploring the issues raised in a recent e-mail. At first glance, it seems like a fairly simple straight-forward exercise, until you realize the variables and pitfalls are numerous and that the math doesn’t support the running-out-of-hot-water issue.
What's in the tank? This is a rhetorical question given the haphazard tangle of PVC drainage lines leading to the 18-in. opening on top of the 1,000-gal. poly tank. A single 1-in. black well-water pipe led back out of the opening to a makeshift CPVC manifold suspended in place by nylon rope. An expansion tank with a pump switch was nestled between floor joists. Several lines snaked off to serve the home’s toilets and an anti-freeeze faucet. The smell was overwhelming in the crowded basement addition (why it was possible to have such a large tank indoors).
With energy use being closely monitored and judged for the Solar Decathlon competition, the entire home’s systems-package must be one that enhances efficiency while still maintaining comfort and required dehumidification.
A quick call to our agent with copies of the letters from the agencies strongly suggesting no repairs are made were included. Hours later, we had an official reply: we would likely be covered if at some point in the future, any problems arose, but that would not prevent a lawsuit being filed based upon our having ignored the warnings while performing repairs instead of replacements. Their advise: repairing flooded appliances exposes us to increased exposure to liability and they strongly urged we replace or walk away from the work.
Checking an electric water heater for leaks: unless the tank itself has a large enough pin-hole to create a clearly audible “here-I-am” under the jacket, you need to poke and probe for the answer. It's a straight-forward logical series of steps.
Returning from the overly-warmed cavernous mechanical room, I was once again invited to join my new old friends at the kitchen table. One option always suggested is solar thermal (reminder: it’s not my money), which was rejected due to the up-front costs.
“Help — our water heater is leaking and we need an estimate for a new one.”
In addition, a few questions during the phone call revealed they would be interested in pricing for a new furnace and central air conditioning. This is a new potential customer who was referred by a friend of theirs who is a customer — the best kind of introduction.
Do you want to sell high-efficiency equipment like hot cakes at a pancake jamboree? If so, then you’re an energy conservationist and you need to stand out from the crowd during your sales pitch. There is a real value to what it is you are offering and the term Energy Conservation Value (ECV) fits it like a glove.
"What's the first best investment: upgrade the shell by sealing infil-exfiltration air leaks, adding insulation, installing new windows and doors, or replacing the heating and air conditioning equipment? You can only afford to do one or the other."