Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let There Be Light!

"No good deed goes unpunished." I've always thought that saying was untrue - until we got solar panels on our roof.  The solar industry is starting to be viewed as the wild wild west and now we know why. (Photos of our house: Quentin Bacon)















We installed solar panels three years ago during our re-model. You do this because it's "the right thing to do" - not because you get an immediate return on your investment, that can take years. However, I just read an article that it's not better for the whole community as someone has to pay the overheads for the electric company "so we end up with higher rates overall as people install solar in order to avoid those high charges....In other words, when you install solar panels you are merely passing along the burden of these high overhead costs to other ratepayers. So, instead of sticking it to the man, you’re sticking it to your neighbors. Ouch."

Another fun fact: some of the solar panels were stolen off our roof one night - police were sure they would be installed in farms in Mendocino growing Marijuana. After that we had to pay for a security guard to sit outside our house all through the re-model. Joys of living in Oakland

Well, over the three years following the solar panel installation we've still had to pay power bills of $200 per month. Our heating is gas so this was even more bewildering. (This was one thing the hubster, Kevin, was in charge of during the re-model so you can imagine the intense marital harmony those solar panels have caused....)

Recently Kevin bit the bullet and got some other companies in to tell us why the panels were not generating enough power to pay the entire bill. Turns out the first company didn't install enough panels and  - wait for it, this is the best part -  the system could not be added to.

So now we're paying to have another company install a complete new set of panels that will provide enough power enough for the house and for the electric car we hope to buy when the prices come down.

Tricky start with the new solar company - all of the five young men who turned up seem super-nice but they all smoke and spend a goodly amount of time puffing away at the end of the street. They also expected to use our toilet. (Am I sounding like a total bitch mentioning this?)

The second day I was in the shower when I noticed one of the lads climbing up a ladder right next to me! Our bathroom is designed like a treehouse with loads of windows. No one can see in - unless they are climbing a ladder right next to the window. The trouble was: with eight windows all around and two mirrors, it wasn't clear where he was!!!

Photo: Frederic Neema

I hit the tile floor and commando-style crawled elbow-by-elbow towards the safety of the bedroom. I confess I felt kind of sorry for the young worker. As I've said before, I've breast-fed four babies and combined with the depressing slippage of my 50 years, "poached eggs on hangers" is the visual here. Scarring for one so young to witness.

"Now that's a different definition of work hazard." Kevin quipped.
Kevin further quipped: "Not sure if we have insurance for that."

Oh how the long (dark) winter nights will fly recounting those quips.


51 comments:

  1. I love your house! And you are a very talented photographer, too. That must be very frustrating about the solar panels, some stolen and then it turns out the system isn't even right in the first place. I read a paper once by an engineer who used to work for a solar company that the cells degrade in the sun like everything else and lose efficiency year over year at a faster rate than advertised. I'm not an engineer, but that caught my attention as it never occurred to me that solar cells slowly degraded and produced less power. I assumed once they were installed they always produced the same levels of power from the same levels of sunshine. Apparently it is not so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Emile, the photos were taken by our friend Quentin Bacon. The problem with all these systems are we don't have the knowhow and skills to check on whether they are properly and effectively installed. Actually you've just reminded me that the second company also found the first company installed a lot of stuff - backwards!!!

      Delete
    2. Yikes - latest update. First solar company cut into the roof during installation - apparently that used to be allowed - now not allowed - now we have to repair it!

      Delete
  2. I hope this new installation will finally work for you! You got me snorting my coffee through the nose with the visual of the bathroom scene. Hysterical.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Once again you have me laughing out loud--- so much so that I had share the story with my mother! Love all the photos from your home- so beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a nightmare! Sounds like a home tale I would tell. We seem to always suffer from incompetent worker syndrome. We had similar issues with our dehumidifier (a necessity living so close to the water in humid Texas). First it was installed backwards. Four repairs later when it was still not properly reducing our humidity level the installer admitted it was the wrong until for the house. We'd had it a year at that point. No warranty and (you guessed it), we'd need an entirely different system. Cheaper than solar panels, but still!

    I am cracking up about the young worker accidentally (one hopes) peeping on you in the shower! Kevin, though, should know better than to make such quips!!! xoxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy - recently our water heater went on the blink and the guy reckoned he hadn't installed it, that we had found his sticker somewhere and put it on the heater. There was no reply to that one.
      Husbands quips at their own peril, that's all I can say.

      Delete
  5. Gorgeous photos, Jody! How annoying to have to deal with the roof issue all over again.

    Of course the bathroom part had me in stitches... you are absolutely hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an adventure!! I have wanted us to get solar panels for several years now but after reading this post I am going to study it a little bit more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alicia - I'll keep you updated. This second company seems to be pretty good and are very polite and their workmanship seems good, so we're hopeful this time around is the final go.

      Delete
  7. Still chortling. I grew up in a home where the Long Island Lighting Company was Public Enemy No. 2 (after the nazi party), so I've been thinking about "going solar" for a long time. The utility has changed its name several times since then, but we know where they live. Two reasons why we didn't go ahead with the solar project: we didn't trust the utility to keep accurate records of what they owe us since no one there can explain the bills that purport to show what we owe them, and we too suffer from incompetent worker syndrome. Four months into the renovation of our city apartment and after inexplicable delays that caused filing deadlines to be missed, our architect confessed that he had, um, misled us, and was not in fact a licensed architect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, there must have been a pregnant pause after that revelation by the "architect"! Here you do not get credited for any extra energy you produce so somehow you have to shoot absolutely correctly and that seems very tricky. The Long Island Lighting Company sounds like something out of a Woody Allen movie!

      Delete
  8. Jody your optimism and joy of life, whatever it throws at you, are a real tonic for me....I imagine you smiling away and saying 'sod the buggers, lets have a drink and not worry' when there are hiccups along the road......good on'yer girl.
    As for the young worker seeing you in the shower? have you seen you? gorgeous.....he must have thought all his Christmas wishes had come true Mrs Robinson!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Libby, truthfully....what lies beneath has gone all so horribly wrong...The joys of aging eh?.

      Delete
  9. Your home is wonderful...lots of great designs in there!! Love your spirit. I hope you have a wonderful weekend xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your home looks beautiful! I also, have suffered at the hands of incompetent workmen and so called professionals. (Going to do a post on it, when I can summon the energy.)If they aren't tearing your home apart unnecessarily, they're charging the earth for fixing a wonky shelf.I wouldn't have the patience required by solar panels - where I live I'd have to live to be 105 before I broke even.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've heard lots of contrary info about solar panels too. I rent my house so it's not an issue, but I probably wouldn't install solar now as I'm not convinced by the cost benefit of the investment. I know the Germans have ceased obliging every new home to have solar panels installed.

    Your home is really lovely. I can't imagine living in such stylish surroundings! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm laughing......but in a good way!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Interesting, I didn't know that.
    You have an amazing house, I'd forgive you if you invited me over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BP, anytime you're flying over from Scotland!

      Delete
  14. So funny, poached eggs on hangers??! and you'll be repeating those quips all winter? I still recount the time my husband said that although I was a tiny, skinny thing I did in fact have a fat back- I was 16 then and this year I'll be 48; I've not forgotton it yet!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've known your husband since you were 16?? That is impressive. I was a complete drongo in my early years and am positive no one I met then would have wanted to marry me!

      Delete
    2. Met him when I was 13 but didn't marry him til I was 26!

      Delete
  15. There's nothing worse than when the window cleaner pops by when you are sat on the loo. Now that's embarassing! And a botched job which needs to be redone. That's just tedious.

    You have a beautiful home Jody. I just love the feel of it - the airiness and light. Gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your home is beautiful Jody! Such a funny story about the shower.. those darn construction guys are always invading our privacy! I can just imagine how you freaked (dropped!) when he appeared. Interesting about the solar panels. Good for you for going that route.. despite having to pay more.

    xxleslie

    ReplyDelete
  17. So, TYPICAL!Tis my pet peeve............no one does the job right nor is trained at all for that matter!UNBELIEVABLE you have to have new panels installed!The same thing happened with our windows..........all were defective.Moisture got trapped inside the double panes!Is that Linda climbing your stairs to your beautiful CASA high on a hill???LOve the image of YOU in combat mode.........NUDE!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh man - I think everyone has had disastrous renos done at one time or another! Or has had to fix other people's patch-jobs. Oy. I hope everything gets fixed properly!

    LOL-ing at the bathroom visual. The bathroom (and the rest of your house) is gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ever tried Angie's List? Other than that, I can't say anything else about home remodeling without stirring up such bad memories.
    The bit about crawling across the tile floor on your stomach just cracked me up! I advise women to get one picture in (at most) a two piece bathing suit before they start having children, no matter how bad they think they look in it. Then lock it away in a safety deposit box and bring it out to remind them that thye actually "had IT' at one point.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jody- Oh, how funny about the worker and the bathroom!

    I adore the snippets of your house. And a Gehry chair! (I have one from his bentwood series...)

    We have utility bills of under $200 every month, even in winter and we have winter with a capital "W" here in Albany, NY. We invested in spray-foam insulation and a EPA-rated wood stove.

    Still with that "it's the right thing to do" attitude, we are going to invest in solar hot water ( not electric) panels in the future. I really will be happy to take a shower with the sun warming my water. I feel sad when I hear of solar horror stories like yours!

    Loretta

    ReplyDelete
  21. That made me laugh but in a wholly sympathetic way! It's a bit like going to the dentist - I am always slightly suspicious that I don't really need all the treatment they prescribe - but how would I know? Hope the re-re-model goes well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can find more pics under "our House" topics if you're interested. We used really inexpensive porcelain tile called Porcelanosa and Caesarstone instead of stone. Can't wait to see what you've picked.

      Delete
    2. OOps sorry - meant that for Michelloui, downstairs, as she's re-doing her bathroom...
      Curry Queen, yes am off to Dentist for a brightening when your teeth can't handle that bleach stuff. Though they can't say my teeth will actually change colour at all...

      Delete
  22. Fabulous photos of your house and O M G, I LOVE your bathroom, but AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH (*shriek*) to the men on ladders! I burst out laughing when I got to the part where you dropped commando to the floor. LOVE this writing. I shall now go show my Kevin your bathroom as we're in the pre-planning of ours, pulling out mag photos. And now, blog photos :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Pretty much the same thing over here, the poorer members of society pay a higher fuel tarif to subsidise those who can afford the high cost of installing renewables.As for electric car, those battery packs are killers of both wallet and environment.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh my god, I think I just laughed for 5 minutes. Jody, you kill me. That would be me too. I think I've scared the lawn guys pretty good myself...I cannot believe the whole solar fiasco!! Really? I mean it's hard to imagine it coming to this. We had to redo the pool when we moved to this house and added salt water, but were discouraged from doing solar as it didn't save much and cost a small fortune and then you still need to run the heater except on 90+ days. So we went with a new gas heater and it hasn't been very expensive at all and heats quickly. What costs a lot is the electricity to run pumps...

    Don't blame you for not wanting the guys to use your bath! They shouldn't expect to either!

    Loved the photos of your lovely home by the way!
    xo
    Kim

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Felt a bit droopy this a.m. but you have really turned my drooping mouth into a chuckley smile.
    Thank you.x

    ReplyDelete
  27. You never fail to crack me up, Jody! Now, I can't seem to get the visuals of you crawling half naked out of the bathroom. Wow, how frustrating it has been for you. I bet those solar panels aren't cheap either!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CCC - no, I didn't want to put down all the costs for fear of depressing myself further...

      Delete
  28. We dithered about solar panels too. Think we'll continue to dither until we can be sure about them. Good luck with the new panels.
    My recent bathroom fitters used our loo all the time - I'm not sure where else they could have gone. Must admit, it's lovely having my home back again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They had a Portapotty or PortaJohn delivered out onto the street as soon as I expressed doubts about where up to 10 men would use the "bathroom." It's standard practise here. So the neighbours have the pleasure of looking out onto that for a couple of weeks. Last time we had one it was tipped over and vandalised (again joys of living in Oakland) Apparently my running friends say they love building sites as they use the portapotties on their morning runs (pitstop). Sort of a community service I'm doing then, really...

      Delete
  29. I'm so glad I just read this Jody. They're always coming by my house with offers of solar retofitting--the only thing that has kept me from taking the leap is that when people walk on my tile roof, they tend to make irreparable holes in it...so it's weighing p.c. heat vs. roof repair. p.s. Your bathroom humor is definitely the best!

    xo Mary Jo

    ReplyDelete
  30. That's terrible! Stolen off your roof? Crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  31. this makes me feel much better about my (non-solar-paneled) home. thank you :).

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi, yes this paragraph is really nice and I have
    learned lot of things from it concerning blogging. thanks.


    Feel free to surf to my blog post: Saarlandlexikon.de

    ReplyDelete
  33. It's awesome to pay a visit this website and reading the views of all mates on the topic of this piece of writing, while I am also keen of getting knowledge.

    My weblog - itgs1.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to surf to my blog post; stretch mark removal and home remedy

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't even know the way I ended up here, but I believed this publish used to be good. I do not realize who you are but certainly you're going to a famous
    blogger if you are not already. Cheers!

    My blog ... divxonline.info

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have been exploring for a little bit for any high
    quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this web site.
    Studying this information So i'm glad to convey that I have an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I so much no doubt will make sure to do not forget this web site and give it a look on a constant basis.

    Feel free to visit my homepage - how to get rid of stretch marks

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in
    a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on.
    You have done a outstanding job!

    Here is my web page; http://spreadpicker.com/mediawiki/mediawiki-1.7.1/index.php?title=User_talk:BrigitteH

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...