Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Uhh...2010 update

Wow, I can't believe its been almost a year since my last house update! Okay, maybe not that surprised, as I haven't done too much this spring summer except enjoy the fruits of our labor :-) Let's just say we decided to take a break on upgrades.

But there have been some updates since last year. Shortly after my last post I finished the firepit and got some nice (cheap) Adirondak chairs. Here is the fire pit in my favorite setting, a cool night with a glass of scotch!

We also scored a bit of deal on Craiglist on an expanding teak table and a small round teak table for the master bedroom patio. Ultimately, we'd like to score a bench for the back of the table against the glass and light the outdoor dining area with some sort of outdoor chandelier.

The BIG expenditure for the year was that we put in Air Conditioning!! Now I know we've had about as temperate a summer as anyone south of Seattle could ask for, but I just "knew" that meant we'd have a HOT indian summer. With President Obama's 30%tax credit for energy efficient appliance installation, we knew we'd have to install a system in 2010.

Since Eichlers do not have ductwork, nor crawl/attic spaces to install a traditional A/C system, we decided to go with a mini-split system, where the compressor is outside like a traditional central air system and the blower was attached through a wall. These systems are very popular in Australia and Europe and have much better efficiency than a window-mount room air conditioner.

Since 75% of the house virtually open, we knew if we sized the mini-split big enough, it would cool most of the house. We measured the square footage and concluded that the main space was still well over 1,000 sq feet, necessitating a 2-ton 24,000 BTU system. Off we went to research the systems.

Unfortunately, the larger the mini-split, the harder it was to achieve the desired efficiency needed to obtain the tax credit. But there was one system that fit the bill - the Fujitsu Halcyon 24XLS. Bonus that it doubled as a heat pump, allowing quick heat for when the radiant floor is off or coming back up to equillibrum temp (like when returning from vacation).

Here is the inside blower unit. It only serves to blow the cool air into the house. It has auto-variable speed and adjusts automatically for the ambient room temerature. It also has up/dowen/side/side sweeps to make sure the air keeps moving throughout the space. Combined with the ceiling fan, it really doesn't take much to cool the room and we can even feel it reaching the bedrooms on low speeds.

This is the outside unit. It is slightly taller than a central air conditioning compressor but about half as wide.

This system is quiet like I have never heard before. Even with the sytem maxed out, the system is STILL quieter than any wall/window mount system I've heard. And check out the sound level!! This is on a steady-state with the indoor temp set at 74 degrees and the outside temperature at 95degrees. You can BARELY hear it!!

Overall cost was comparable to just replacing a decent sized central air compressor, about $3850 including installation, but after the PGE and Federal tax credits will be reduced to about $2500.

Controlled Air Systems handled the installation and I cannot say enough about Josh and the the quality of their work, professionalism and resaonable costs. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone with HVAC heating and cooling needs. Installation took a day and a half, and CAS handled it all, including the electrical hookup. All that is left for me to do is paint the conduits and hose covers.

A/C was installed just in the nick of time, as predicted we are HOT and HEAVY into an Indian Summer with daytime temps well into the 90's. But we are calm, cool and collected with our new A/C! Ahhhhhhh.....

I still have quite a bit on my list of "honey do's" including: Lighting fixes, a shed, fireplace, chimney facing (slate) and miscellaneous interior furniture - all of which take time and $$$ . So hopefully it won't be another year before the next update, but heck you never know....I have been eyeballing a Tahoe project lately ;-)