Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Red Barn - LeRoy, NY


This is the same barn as the photo from this post. Now we live right across the road from this barn. This reminds me of this post too.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eilen Jewell - The Sportsman's tavern - Buffalo, NY

Eilen Jewell-3580
Eilen Jewell-3593 Eilen Jewell-3596

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Guitarist - Eilen Jewell - The Sportsman's tavern - Buffalo, NY

Eilen Jewell-3496 Eilen Jewell-3616 Eilen Jewell-3642

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eilen Jewell - Buffalo, NY - The Sportsman's tavern

Eilen Jewell-3525

Eilen Jewell-3668

Last week I surprised Erica with a pre-pre birthday present with some tickets to see Eilen Jewell (a new find via Pandora). We had no idea what to expect, but from the looks of the venue (The Sportsman's Tavern) via street view I knew it was going to be a nice intimate show; and it was! This is one of the main reasons I love small bands, you really can't get this kind of access with bands playing at arenas. I'll be posting these for the rest of the week!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Boots - 4th of July Parade - Akron, NY


Monday, August 20, 2012

Puppy - 4th of July Parade - Akron, NY


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Goat in a tub - W. Bloomfield, NY


Friday, July 06, 2012

Geothermal - The big dig - Leo J Roth - Rochester, NY

With all the paperwork signed, and all the financial details taken care of Leo J Roth started in on the digging. Here is Pat taking the first few cuts at the lawn:


Pretty quickly the crew ran into a problem. Geothermal systems operate via a loop field. There are three main types of loop fields if you don't have a pond on your property: vertical, horizontal, and open. Most residential systems are closed loop, horizontal fields. This is what we opted to go with as it tends to be the cheapest option. Horizontal loops run 6 feet deep and several hundred feet long depending on the size of your geothermal system. The problem that we ran into with the first few backhoes worth of dirt is fairly shallow impenetrable (with an excavator) bedrock. For the first hundred feet we only got down 2-5 feet. 4-6 feet is acceptable, anything less is very undesirable.Pat and Jim covered up the areas that were only 2-3 feet deep, and they altered the original field slightly by moving the distribution center over into a different part of the yard. Because this area was still only 4-5 feet deep they added a layer of insulation on top of the pipes that make up the loop field. Pat reassured me that when he installed his system at his house he also hit bedrock at 3-5 feet, and that the extra insulation made up for the lack of depth.

He explained that laying the pipes on bedrock actually gives you better heat conduction (bedrock is a better conductor than dirt) so our efficiency should not be negatively affected. To further allay my fears Pat said they'd throw in an extra 200 feet of loop field to over-size the system just in case. The insulation, and extra loop field both came at no extra charge to me! For the remainder of the field they were able to get down between 4 and 7 feet.
The other major issue that Pat and Jim encountered were huge boulders. The boulders don't affect the loop field, but they do take a lot of time to remove, and are extremely tough on an excavator. Pat and Jim really went the extra mile by dragging each boulder over to the side of my yard into fairly neat piles (below).

The boulders tripled the dig time from an estimated 2 days to a total of 6 days digging. Pat said that this was the worst job he's ever done after digging over 100 geothermal systems. He went through a set of hardened excavator teeth, and more than double the amount of diesel; over 200 gallons! Also, the bucket on the excavator ripped so they had to bring in a welder to repair it. Through all of this extra work, repairs, materials, and labor; Leo J Roth stuck to their cost estimate and didn't charge me an extra dollar!


Here is the fine job of rough grading the back yard after the field was installed!

Here is the crazy pile of boulders that Pat dug up and dragged over to my side yard. 

Another issue that Pat and Jim ran into was getting the supply lines into my basement. They actually had to saw-cut the cement pad, and dig by hand down a few feet; and then drill through my rock foundation to get the pipes through the foundation into the basement. In addition to re-pouring the new cement they actually re-routed my sump output underground for me. They really went above and beyond to help me out!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Geothermal - numbers continued - Leo J Roth

Somehow in my previous post I forgot to talk about the geothermal incentives offered by the federal government, and the financing available.

Because geothermal is very energy efficient (400% efficient) the federal government offers a 30% tax credit for the total cost of installation! A credit is where the government just gives you the money back (much more generous than a deduction). In addition, NY state offers very generous financing through NYSERDA, which consists of 3.5% financing for 15 years as an unsecured loan, or 3% financing for 15 years as a secured loan (your house being the collateral). Both of the other companies (that I didn't go with) offered the NYSERDA loans, but Leo J Roth did not.

I thought this was going to be a deal breaker, but they actually came back to me with an even better offer through a 3rd party home improvement loan lender. This financing was a little bit odd to me. It was described as a 7 year, 0% interest "same as cash" loan. Sounds awesome, right? The catch was that there is a 10% up front "fee". Basically, you're paying the interest first. If you do the math you end up paying about the same amount of interest as a 3% loan, so it was still a great deal!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Geothermal - The numbers and the contractor - Leo J Roth Rochester, NY (review)

When my wife and I bought our new house in Dec. 2011 the one number that really stood out to us was the heating bill. The previous owners claimed that they averaged $360/month, for a total of $4320/year! After living in the house starting in December and seeing heating oil bills totaling $1200 we realized that there must be a better way.

After calling and making appointments, and getting estimates with three companies, we decided to go with the Leo J Roth (their green/geothermal division) company from Rochester, NY (actually Webster, NY). All three estimates were within 5% of each other, Leo J Roth had the best plan, and really seemed to have spent the most time coming up with a rough design for the system. Of the three, Leo J Roth had the engineer (Patrick Ford), which to me, seemed the most knowledgeable, and detail oriented. He walked us through the design, and was very patient with our unending questions. Pat also explained to me that he himself would be the excavator operator when putting in the horizontal loop fields, and that he had dug hundreds of these fields. It seemed to me that the engineer on the project would be the perfect person to dig your loop fields. If anyone would know how to dig the fields it should be the engineer.

The whole Leo J Roth team was extremely responsive to any questions we had. They typically got back to us within a few minutes to questions I sent them via email, text messaging, or phone calls. One Sunday I sent a text message to the lead manager at 8pm, and got an answer within 5 minutes. These guys seemed always available! One of the companies we worked with took a few days, to a few weeks to get a response via email, or voice mail.

According to all of the estimates our calculated payback time was about 5-7 years, with an annual savings of about 60-70% our existing heating cost. This was assuming that heating oil prices continued to rise, the heat load calculations were accurate, electricity prices continued to increase at the historical rate, and the historical weather patterns continued. These calculations assumed that I was replacing an existing heating system, which I wasn't. None of the calculations used the cost of borrowing the money, and the cost of repairing the lawn after the job was completed. After adding in these additional factors, and removing the replacement cost of existing heater I came up with a more accurate payback time of about 9-10 years. This was still a worthwhile payback as we were planning on living in this house for at least 20 years. After 25 years it was estimated we will have saved about $100k (assuming oil prices continue to rise). Considering these savings, and the addition of air conditioning to our house, geothermal seemed like a great investment!

This is what my wonderful back yard used to look like.


Next up, the big dig, the rocks, and the duct installation!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Geothermal - Introduction

Coming out of the 2011-2012 heating season (paying $3.60 a gallon for heating oil) in our new house my wife and I decided it was time (after only one heating season) to look into alternative heating sources.  We started searching for outside wood burning furnaces when we came upon an ad for geothermal heating. The ad sounded great, green heat, no combustibles, ultra efficient; sounded perfect. 

I'd like to take a week or two to blog about our experience with researching, and deciding to go with geothermal, and show the process of installing the system. I'll be posting the numbers that I came up with which showed why geothermal made sense in our case.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Flocks of Phlox - LeRoy, NY


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Oh Hi Goat - W. Bloomfield, NY


Monday, April 23, 2012

"Spring" Pine - LeRoy, NY


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weathervane - LeRoy, NY


Monday, March 19, 2012

No ATVs - LeRoy, NY

I took this on the one day we had snow this year... yes, I am complaining about the lack of snow!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Morning View - LeRoy, NY


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The holidays are dangerous! - LeRoy, NY


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lily Lane - LeRoy, NY


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