Friday, October 29, 2021

Electricity Savings With A Heat Pump Water Heater

I am eager to share proof of projected 40% electricity savings, in replacement of an ordinary resistance electric water heater, with a beautiful heat pump water heater, HPWH. The installation was reported in post an exemplary heat pump water heater.


I have the unusual resource of a chart going back 22 years. This chart through December 2021  includes a full year since the water heater replacement. Savings are very evident, seeming to be the expected 40%:

From 2012 to 2018, there was remarkably little need of electricity, me living alone. Demand might have been met with a modest photovoltaic array but for neighboring trees to South, and adverse West facing of the major roof surface. For the past four years, occupancy and electricity demand have doubled, with two wonderful renters in this 1955 home now fully weatherized and modern, radon-free. It is a rare rental opportunity, managed with some originality. All utility costs are auto-paid by me. The renters pay a fixed total of $200 per month for electricity, natural gas, water/ sewer and trash/ recycling, balanced annually against actual payments. Where I see the costs and share pain, I am moved to do all possible to reduce costs; thus the HPWH.

I believe charts showing control of somewhat-voluntary expenses, can be rewarding and inspiring. And, yes, they can be dispiriting if not achieved. We wonder why monthly utility bills include charts such as this of the October 2021 electricity bill:

There are many variables of weather, behavior and occupancy, in monthly bars. Why a December spike? Visitors? October comparisons pre- and post-HPWH 278 kwh vs 390 kwh, a drop of 29%, is as expected, but probably under-states actual savings accumulated. Is that really 40%, as hoped?  Sometimes the trends in this bar charting, are concrete.

From my Excel file:

See annual savings of about : ($680 - $460.)  $220, a 32% reduction of annual total dollars. With $220 per year savings, $18 per month on average, the material total cost of $577 (plus my free labor) is repaid in fhree years. If the water heater serves twenty years, the present value of the annual savings, applying my Perpetuity Math, is $24,000. What a good deal!

In January 2022, find the deal diminished a bit for a new investor. I would now have material cost greater times-three. A $1700 heater would be $1700 net after a $500  Energy Trust discount in Oregon. 3.2% annual inflation in the perpetuity math seems to have been quite optimistic. Yet, switching to a HPWH is only more imperative.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Local-Option Energy Codes are not the best or only tool for meeting municipal carbon goals through residential energy conservation.

 I found this message in news feed 6/9/2021, from group Onward Oregon:

Tell your legislators to support 100% clean energy and stronger local energy efficiency standards

A message from our friends at Climate Solutions:

House Bills 2021 and 2398 are concrete steps we can take to reduce air pollution, address the climate crisis, and help protect our state's beauty and livability for decades to come.


Please urge your state legislators to prioritize climate action by passing House Bills 2021 and 2398 this year!

Bill; 2398 action touted at the  link is mainly the adoption of Reach Code

Relating to building codes; declaring an emergency.

Adds Reach Code to state building code as specialty code and gives power of administration and interpretation of Reach Code to Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services. Requires director of Department of Consumer and Business Services] to follow same process in adopting or amending Reach Code that director follows in developing residential and commercial building codes and to ensure that statewide Reach Code mandates achievement of not more than 90 percent of site energy use that other statewide residential and commercial building codes require. Requires director to adopt Reach Code not later than October 31, 2021, and at same time director adopts corresponding residential specialty code or corresponding structural specialty code, updating Reach Code at least every three years. Permits municipality to adopt Reach Code and require adherence to code as minimum construction standard and method within municipality's jurisdiction notwithstanding requirement that state building code be uniform and applicable to all municipalities in state. Provides that municipality's adoption of Reach Code is not amendment to state building code and does not require approval of director. Provides that municipality that does not adopt Reach Code does not need to enforce Reach Code within municipality's jurisdiction. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2021.

Learn about Reach Code at the following links:

Good heat pump water heaters are further supported. There is modest improvement of exterior wall insulation, with 2x4 framing allowed. There is no change of attic insulation required.

Where my interest is in the achievable improvement of existing homes, I am disappointed in this push upon me to support legislation. Building codes apply only to new homes prior to first occupancy.

I believe this is feel-good action to do something for residential energy conservation, to be credited to municipal goals in carbon reduction, via easy change of building codes.A simple "Reach Code" is the largest break from statewide codes that might get past opposition. The goal isn't really-better building code. It is the allowance at all, of local options.

Local option is not limited to code adoption. Much more can be achieved toward municipal goals by actually directly inspiring prospective new-home owners, and especially, existing-home owners through financing benefits that might be offered with burgeoning public-bank deposits of the revenue of existing  accepted, carbon taxes. In Oregon, these taxes include mainly our Public Purpose fund take of 3% on residential and commercial energy consumption in the form of electricity and natural gas. In City of Portland, largest corporation profits are now subject to a 1% carbon tax on profits. All of this existing carbon tax is spent-down every year with little benefit to consumers and to green jobs workers in clean energy.

My wishful thinking upon proper use of carbon tax revenue as funding of beneficial  loans-only from perpetual and growing funds. is addressed here:

Good Things: Oregon Carbon Taxes and an Oregon State Bank

Improvements in my thinking are overdue.  They might grow through beginning at last, of legislative action. The first needed action is a constitutional amendment to undo an absurd badly-spelled 1880 Oregon Constitution prohibition upon a State Bank.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Success: Passive Control of Radon in My Single-Family House

My House lies along the path of Missoula Floods erosion of land about 110,000 years ago, in a dramatic stage of erosion that formed The Columbia River Gorge,

Concentrated glacial deposits are associated  with higher concentration of radon release from soil.

The Oregon Health Authority warns of high radon levels in homes of East Portland:

For too many years of my life, I was aware of radon levels persistently above ten picocuries per liter in my home. EPA recommends: Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.

A Citizen's Guide to Radon - US EPA

I have at last achieved the needed fix, by novel means employing the natural drive of chimney effect. I think this is a really big deal. By my example, every home could be fixed with modest up-front cost and without any operating cost or degraded home value by zip  code or neighborhood. This must be good news, not bad, for all of us, including abatement contractors. 


My quest for passive control of radon began with fitting two 4" warm air pipes sealed full-length, between my crawl space and my attic. There is excess space in a bathroom wet wall; put some of that to use. There will be significant chimney-effect drive of air flow when the pipe(s) are completed through-roof.

I expected to make this work someday, avoiding a radon pump if possible. How big is the needed pipe? Maybe 6" diameter?  The two 4" pipes equal one 6" pipe, and that much fits in the wall. If one is enough, the other might serve as an ample  wiring conduit between crawl space and attic. 

Minimize wet wall thickness above a tiled shelf. With an epoxied-on copper band, avoid reliance on caulk in sealing the new tub behind backer board and tile. Read more about the tub install in this blog post of October 2013: Insulate Exterior Wall of a Bathtub or Shower

For years then, the pipes did nothing, not connected through-roof and not collecting from the soil of the crawl space. House radon levels were unchanged.

(August 2019)

Dig this trench in the dry, hard dirt of my crawl space.

Hereafter I will own an over-abundance of these tubs. I disposed this many tubs of dirt, a carload, twice.

Use landscape cloth to separate collection ducting from the dirt.

The gravel fill is crushed quarter-minus.

At both bottom and top of 4" ducting, engage 4" warm air pipes with a spun-aluminum roof penetration adapter. In the crawl space the adapter flat face is upward. A wide circle of two-sided butyl tape bonds the adapter to the Americover Goldentouch 16 mm scrim-reinforced plastic sheeting, the central element of my conditioned crawlspace. On the roof, the adapter makes a better water barrier under an additional layer of shingles. A roof cap just blocks rainfall.

Here is another use of rope-form putty weatherstripping.

There has been a large binge of benefit from the clean ground cover for plumbing, wiring and heating of the grand kitchen remodel off in the far distance at left here. 

At last, it makes sense to complete the roof penetration  of the radon ducting.

Here are several months of observations by the renters of my house. Please see this report and other album pages that support and go beyond, the content of this blog post:

Stack-effect drive is proven to be ample in summertime conditions with a path having very small flow resistence.. At, find a calculator of natural draft, working whenever the outside temperature is less than temperature in the radon-suction stack, as occurring most of the time, through all seasons. In the calculator try a 6 meter closed-column height, and a temperature difference of 40 °C (-20 to +20°C)... Result: 0.4" wc.

A typical Fantech fan at noisy maximum power not-wanted, delivers 0.9" wc.

It is easy to see that natural drive should work

(April, 2021)

Work near the radon vent to add some ceiling LED lights in the living room.See that extensive flooring is an asset to ceiling access, not an obstacle.

Monday, January 25, 2021

an exemplary heat pump water heater installation

Here is my new heat pump water heater installation, for assessment by the reader. I have responded to new demands, exceeding those of the cheap electric heater now recycled. It is taller. Water pipes to the tank are longer, yet are simpler and more secure. Thoughtful cradles at last support against tip-over in an earthquake roll. Very many strong deck screws will not let the cradles rip from the wall. A new, simple, dedicated plumbing drain, serves the pumped drip of a condensing gas furnace, as well as the flood of HPWH condensate. Users, the wonderful renters of my home, have informed choices to readily make upon hot water temperature and economy of mode. They will be pleased by more than 50% savings of energy for hot water, amounting to more than $20 per month. I am pleased to have achieved this prideful conservation at material cost of just $577, where the well-rebated $1200 heater cost just $399.

Learn more in this job photo album. See that I have followed manufacturer instruction that tank water lines not atop the tank, so distant from wall connections, should be flexible PEX. PEX couplings at the tank are wrench-detachable without need of oddly-prescribed little metal garden hoses  The tank is tied to cradles well-anchored upon diagonal shiplap behind the drywall. Condensate is directed to a dedicated plumbing drain. 

Here are the Rheem graphics of expected installation. My installation is superior in having the Cold shutoff very accessible with an inherent heat trap within the wall; isn't that true? I don't understand the thermodynamics of this.

Google the title of this post, to see if residential HPWH installation standards exist.

Find these videos:

A 2014 installation by This Old House has odd, simpler HPWH installation of an unidentified unit where tank piping is at the top.

How to Install a Heat Pump Water Heater | This Old House

Federal resources of Bonneville Power Administration are offered through Hot Water Solutions, an initiative of NEEA, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

How To Install a Heat Pump Water Heater: Professional Version

How To Install a Heat Pump Water Heater: Consumer Version

In this Rheem video see a Rheem unit like mine, with side-mounted water connections and no details of installation.

How it Works: Rheem Prestige Series Hybrid Heat Pump ...

See that side-mounted water connections are a common innovation with heat pump water heaters, Manufacturers should align against destructive plumbing code that demands tank connection with at least 18", not more than 24" flexible metal hoses. Could anyone defend need of that? Every added connection adds cost and failure risk.  Please find marked-up Plumbing Code for State of Oregon. I find fault too, with seismic requirements. Big steel straps have no value without intelligent anchors. If slack permits a heavy tank to roll with momentum, straps are doomed.

At 2/27/2021 add reference to installation of a SANDEN CO2 found in this Matt Risinger YouTube video. Choose an outdoor unit if you can, for the better efficiency and quiet.

Start viewing at 12:00.

Find an overview of heat pump water heaters, by Matt Risinger, Top 5 Heat Pump Water Heaters, July 2020.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

A Large Array of LED Edge Lights

At June, 2020, I completed this illumination of a walk-out basement in a year-2000 home. The lights are Home Depot Commercial Electric 74206, 800 Lumens LED Disk Downlight. Know these lights are extensively reviewed in this blog. On-offer in-store in 2018, they now are found only online to someone in-the-know. Price $20.57 each with free shipping to store. Illumination achieved is the intended 300 to 350 Lux.

A full report of the work is in this online pdf.

Reviewing this at November 2020, fixing the link to Home Depot online, I am surprised to find revision including a 60 cent price increase. Why, if Home Depot has no evident sales effort? 

This graphic is new:

No mention now of the installation appropriate in new locations, upon a lighting junction box. This fails to offset in-store sales pushing clip-in lights that perhaps demand larger hole cuts even, than can lights.

Here is mass-production assembly of lighting junction box kits. At intervals I consume job-scrap lumber for the usual need of box-setting flush with a 1/2" drywall ceiling. See that kit parts include drywall rings that would patch-in a can cutout, replacing a can with a RACO 175 junction box.
Here is a new-light location ready for clipping-in of the light. See tracings of the ceiling joists by pencil, with a stud finder.The placement pattern has lights centered within joist bays.

Employ a row of ample-sized  ceiling cutouts for pull of wiring

Learn once again that can lights defy elimination or circuit addition. Wiring is accessible only in brutal destruction of a can. 

Placement in any pattern requires planning with a scale drawing that acknowledges wall constraints and probed joists and HVAC ducts above drywall. 

Here is the visual plan of light and switch locations. Another drawing is needed, with perpendicular dimensions of light centers to walls. Those dimensions are inadequate where perpendicularity is uncertain, in  poor light.

Here is that big asterisk:

At 12/5/2020 edit this post to admit anomaly in the graphic above. I was very surprised to find lighting just-adequate at full undimmed brightness. So on 6/24/2020, I belatedly bought an inexpensive Lux meter to test my work and my math. A mere $19, yet I trust the readings. Right now, at my 36" desktop level, down 140 cm from a 92" ceiling under a new Avanlo 9" 1260 Lumens LED edge light, the meter indicates 220 Lux. Illumination by this huge-lumens light, is less than expected, by half. This again confirms troubling news about some, or perhaps all, LED edge lights. In June with the new meter and under ordinary LED downlights, 300 Lux readings were observed for both of my home-kitchen installations.

My Home Kitchens With LED Downlighting:

Here is similar planning for constellations of lights in the kitchen of my now-a-very-nice rental home, target minimum 300 Lux, and achieving that, mainly employing LED disk downlights (not edge lights).

And here is the achieved lighting of my kitchen at night, all lights on, all 3000°K.

This is the kitchen where I now live, in a complex of townhouses. There is good 300 Lux from a small array of LED disk downlights. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Shopping Attic Ladders

At August 2020. I am newly aware of the very large full spectrum of attic ladders offered by Fakro, shipping from Poland, and much smaller offerings by other manufacturers in USA. Here is my Google Sheets summary of an online shopping effort in USA:
Shopping Attic Ladders

For Fakro ladders I need its products summary, Smart Attic Ladders 2019, to know  unfamiliar Model numbers for searches at Lowes, Home Depot and Amazon online.

Searching online, mainly miss products of Marwin Co, built in South Carolina, and Rainbow, built in Germany, and sold via storefronts for finished carpentry.

Pertinent to shopping of a commercial attic ladder, find two clever Fakro steel ladder families with much new invention of features. These are families LML and LMP. They are inappropriately expensive for a bit of loft usefulness, increasing job cost at least 50%, if one fit the need at hand. LML ladders are of odd width. LMP ladders are of extreme length. Do know they are interesting, and display very remarkable breadth of Fakro invention and manufacturing scope.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Strong, Insulated Garage Attic Ladder, 120" FC

This post explores public information that is available to guide purchase of an attic ladder to serve the common need of  useful access to a garage with ten-foot ceiling, 120 inch floor to ceiling distance, FC.  A very specific need, however typical, clarifies the study of information resources. The study is prompted by knowing that guidance fails for a preferred solution with the current best-value Fakro ladder, LWP 22/54 Model 66853. I hope to be helpful to any shopper of an attic ladder. More, I hope to inspire marketing and product design at preeminent maker of attic ladders and skylights to the world, wonderful Fakro in the forested mountains of southern Poland.

I have so far experienced 120" FC just once, hired to install the ladder chosen and purchased by my customer in Spring 2018, and described in this blog post:

The ladder is Fakro :LWP 22/54 Model 66803, still on-offer at Lowe's, but evidently replaced in production by Model 66853, It is not economical to produce excess families of ladders. A newer model should surely have valued improvements, bragged-of. Product of a discarded design should be sold-off at discount, explained.

Here is a link to my Google Sheets aid to shopping for an attic ladder: 

Fakro higher value comes from steady design evolution,  efficiencies in production, and from modern distribution efficiencies. Fakro USA in Addison, IL serves shipboard safe transit most of the way, via Great Lakes, and is the shipper of most online and order-desk sales.  In USA, needs are met from any home computer, with speedy delivery to a store pickup location. Bulky and brittle attic ladders, and probably skylights too, are rejected as Amazon delivery-to-home opportunity.

Amazon still offers a few crummy ladders, perhaps where cheapness counts more than arrival-intact. A determined Amazon-buyer will find some discontinued or over-priced Fakro ladders, in addition to the cheap stuff, for awhile. Somehow I found an unwanted Werner wood ladder at online electrical distributor 

Are cheap ladders stocked at Home Depot or Lowe's in-contention? Surely in USA now as in Europe and perhaps everywhere, durability and safety matter more than price, even for a DIY installation. A well-vetted professional offering informed sale and installation, is a good investment, if one could be found. Housing must not be built to survive thirty years, an attic ladder for a decade.

The Fakro ladder families are likely to be available anywhere on Earth. They will be preferred for value and will challenge local ladder builders anywhere. 

On then, to shop a 120" FC Fakro wood attic ladder for a garage. It will be a 54" LWP unless the garage attic is not fire-separated from attics of living space.

This is the default installation of a Model 66803 ladder, just-able to serve 121.5" FC, at steps angle 65° with about 10 mm exposed threads at angle adjusters. At 120" FC I was able to trim at 63°, with 12 mm exposed adjuster threads. My tall customer is happy with his ladder. 

I find nothing wrong with the 12 mm adjusters setting although an 8 mm maximum is warned.

Where I insist on knowing a reason for the warning, I have obtained this unscientific explanation:  (At 7/30/2020)

The limitation of the regulation screw is based on calculations and endurance simulations which are confirmed by tests. Complaints also confirm that the screws cannot be screwed out more than acceptable. Brackets and bracket mounts are designed with a maximum screw output of the adjustment screw at 8mm. The arms are designed to withstand certain tension which is why it is only recommend to be screwed to a max of 8mm.

This post is inspired first, by perceived need of full understanding of the clever angle adjusters, with provided means of half-step trim variations by angle range. There is unfinished business in this, here reported to the manufacturer. 

Here is the default installation of a newer Fakro LWP 22/54, Model 66853. It is dangerously unworkable, yet that is curable to excellence if only we are honest about the deficiencies. Surely instance that a superseded design was then, better, must not hold back progress.

See that an "unlucky bottom step" wiil be a frequent challenge in ladder installation. Where angle is the variable of reach to floor with a concertina ladder, a range of 5° is sufficient to meet the floor, adding or removing a step. The same angle freedom  half the step pitch, is needed for a wood ladder. Protest and demand change then where Fakro wood ladder angle adjusters gives only a 2° angle range, 66° to 64°. Find that discovery in the album of my recent installation of a loft ladder for a coffee shop. 

A full 6° angle range is easily achievable.

All elements of the better deployment of Model 6685X ladders are proven and available.