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Community and Q&A

Air-Source Heat Pump Aesthetic Drawbacks

Kris Anderson | Posted in General Questions on

Hi There,

I’m planning on getting a whole house air source heat pump solution for my 1500 sf 1934 cape in the Greater Boston area. It will become my main heat source after tossing my horribly inefficient NG steam heat system.

My question is about the aesthetics of the outdoor line sets. They’re ugly!

I wouldn’t mind a single line set in the back of the house. However, my ASHP design calls for four indoor units to cover a total of six rooms in the house: two ceiling units in the bedrooms on the second floor, one unit in the kitchen (near the back of the house) and one unit in the livingroom (front and side of the house).

Does this configuration require as many as four ugly line sets running down the sides of the house?

Thanks in advance, Kris

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    There are multi splits that have branch boxes (Mitsubishi MXZ). You can mount the branch box inside the house and only run the linesets inside.

    One warming about linesets inside the house, they can expand and contract a fair bit, make sure they can smoothly move through studs and provide enough expansion bends/loop to allow for this. There are app notes from most manufacturers on how to handle this.

  2. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #2

    >"However, my ASHP design calls for four indoor units to cover a total of six rooms in the house: two ceiling units in the bedrooms on the second floor, one unit in the kitchen (near the back of the house) and one unit in the livingroom (front and side of the house)."

    The odds of the bedroom ceiling units being so oversized as to be a comfort (and efficiency) problem is pretty high (and maybe the kitchen unit too).

    Have you run an aggressive room-by-room Manual-J load calculation?

    Have you run a fuel-use based heat load calculation, using the steam boiler to measure the whole house load? (See: https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/out-old-new )

  3. Kris Anderson | | #3

    Akos, thanks for the info about the branch boxes. My installer's quote lists a Mitsubishi Multi-Zone MXZ-5C42NAHZ2. I'll look into the possibility of running the line sets inside.

    Dana, my installer says that he'll run a Manual J for any whole house ASHP systems where the ASHP are the primary source of heat. However, I don't even want him to do that. Reason is that next year, an awesome company is going to be doing air sealing and insulation work in the basement, attic, knee walls, and exterior walls of the house. They're working up an energy model using SnuggPro software and they'll be sharing the info they collect with the best guy who can run a Manual J. These folks are going to make sure that we have the correct load calcs, I'm sure of it!

    What I'm not sure about is the design of the ASHPs. My installer has recommended two MLZ-KP09NA one way ceiling cassettes for the second floor, one in each bedroom. The kitchen unit is a MFZ-KJ09NA floor mount and the living room is an MLZ-KP12NA. If I have two outdoor compressors and two zones (one upstairs and one downstairs), would this plan work?

    I've included floor plans, if that's helpful. Also, note that I'm adding a wood burning fireplace insert in the living room for backup heat. And I'm abandoning heating the semi-finished room in the basement. I can't really afford to bring that basement room along for the ride at this time, as I'm trying to budget this project to pay for itself within 10 years.

    Also, thanks for the link to the fuel-use based heat load calculation! I'll check that out later tonight. The load calc is going to change, however, after all the air sealing and insulation work is done in the early spring of 2020.

    best wishes, Kristin

    1. Expert Member
      Dana Dorsett | | #7

      >" My installer's quote lists a Mitsubishi Multi-Zone MXZ-5C42NAHZ2."

      That sucker puts out 48,000 BTU/hr @ +5F, which is probably more than twice your design heat load @ +5F. Your 99% outside design temperature is closer to +10F (a typical 99% outside design temp inside of Rt 128.)

      >"My installer has recommended two MLZ-KP09NA one way ceiling cassettes for the second floor, one in each bedroom. "

      That's great for the installer's ability to make his boat payments! :-)

      The heat loads of most bedrooms of insulated 2x4 framed homes without a lot of bedroom window area (window/floor ratios were lower in the 1930s than in most new construction) is usually well under 3000 BTU/hr @ +10F , or even 0F. The floor plans for the bedrooms wasn't attached, so it's harder to make a closer guesstimate.

      The minimum capacity of the KP09 is over 4000 BTU/hr @ 47F, even when married to a dedictated SUZ-KA compressor:

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_MLZ-KP09NA_SUZ-KA09NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

      For more than 90% of the season the room's load is going to be less than the minimum output of the cassette, which means it will basically NEVER modulate efficiently except during cold snaps.

      >"The kitchen unit is a MFZ-KJ09NA floor mount..."

      The minimum output of the KJ09 @ 47F is 2900 BTU/hr @ 47F when married to the MUFZ-KJ09NAHZ compressor, and won't be any lower than that when married to the MXZ-5C42NAHZ2. With only ~22 square feet of window the design heat load is going to be less than that, which is the same oversizing problem as the bedroom units, but perhaps not quite as bad.

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MFZ-KJ09NA-U1-MUFZ-KJ09NAHZ-U1_ProductDataSheet.pdf

      >"... the living room is an MLZ-KP12NA.

      The minimum capacity of the KP12 is 4200 BTU/hr @ +47F when married to an SUZ compressor, but at least the living room has 46' of window, a heat-sucking fireplace, and an open door way to the foyer & dining area as well as a convection path to the open stairwell to give it some load. Married to an MXZ compressor of sufficient capacity it can deliver 15,000BTU/hr at any outdoor temperature.

      That one might actually be sorta right-sized if married to an MXZ , but the 12,000 BTU/hr of the KP09 is probably more appropriate. I'd need to see realistic room by room load numbers to make that call:

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_MLZ-KP12NA_SUZ-KA12NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MLZ-KP12NA_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal-en.pdf

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MLZ-KP09NA_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal-en.pdf

      With a full basement to work with the 800' first floor (and the basement too) would likely be within the range of a 1-ton low-static or mid-static ducted Fujitsu RLFCD, at a higher HSPF efficiency of a right-sized MXZ ductless solution:

      https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25349

      https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25312

      If not a 1-tonner, the 1.5 ton versions would surely cut it. (In fact, the 3/4 ton might just cover it.)

      The pair of bedrooms can probably be handled by almost any 3/4 ton ducted mini-split, or a pair of half-ton FH06 Mitsubishis, if they can tolerate a high-wall minisplit.

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_SEZ-KD09NA4_SUZ-KA09NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

      To do it with a single MXZ compressor you could probably do this with the 3/4 ton SEZ-KD09NA4 (good for 10,900 BTU/hr) for the bedrooms and an SEZ-KD15 (or KD18) for the first floor + basement, and perhaps an MXZ-3C24NAHZ2 or MXZ-3C30NAHZ2

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD09NA4_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal.pdf

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD15NA_For_MXZ_Submittal.pdf

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD18NA_For_MXZ_Submittal.pdf

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MXZ-3C24NAHZ2_ProductDataSheet.pdf
      https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/29018

      http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MXZ-3C30NAHZ2_ProductDataSheet.pdf
      https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/26173

      This is of course just a preliminary best-guess, pending actual load calculations, and without sufficient knowledge of the floor plan and structural issues to figure out where the ducts and cassettes might live.

      1. Kris Anderson | | #16

        Hi Dana,

        Thanks so much for all the info here. After reading Martin Holladay's new article about heat pumps ( https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/article/getting-the-right-minisplit ), it appears that the correct direction to go in here is with Fujitsu equipment and two ducted zones. There is a sort of a closet in the master bedroom with walk-up stairs to the attic which could house the second floor inside unit and the short ductwork could be well insulated in the attic. There could be an inside unit and ductwork in the basement for the kitchen, office, dining room, and living room. And there could be two outdoor units, one for each zone. This way, if one outdoor unit fails, the other can be a backup heat source (in addition to the living room fireplace insert). Of course, if I go this route, I can't take advantage of my town's special "HeatSmart" discount pricing on the Mitsubishi equipment or work with their selected contractor. So then I need to find a good Fujitsu contractor with excellent ductwork skills in the Boston area. I do have the most awesome person in the world lined up to the do the Manual J load calcs.
        Does this all sound right to you? I'm a little nervous about doing this correctly, as it feels a bit like the early adopter route.

        thanks! Kris

  4. Expert Member
    Akos | | #4

    My feel is a 42k BTU heat pump is significantly over-sized for 1500sqft with some energy improvements. Make sure you get a third party, other than your installer, to determine the loads.

    DO NOT install a 9k multi split head in a bedroom (I have one and it is bad idea). These when paired with a multisplit have no turn down and are way over-sized for the load.

    Usually best to gang a bunch of small load rooms together and use a slim ducted unit to feed them. This would be significantly more energy efficient and offer much better comfort.

    1. Kris Anderson | | #5

      Thanks for your input, Akos!

      I will definitely have a third party, other than the installer, determine the loads with a proper Manual J. I have the best person in New England (and maybe the world) to run that Manual J.

      Regarding the bedrooms: the ASHP installer originally suggested a ducted system upstairs. A small ducted system is possible because there's a walk-up attic space and room up there to install it. However, the attic is outside of the thermal boundary. So I thought that running ductwork in the unconditioned attic would be less efficient than running two ductless heads, one in each bedroom. Is this not true?

      Is there a way to maintain efficiency with individual heads in each of the bedrooms? Should I install a separate outdoor unit for each bedroom ceiling cassette so that they can modulate for optimum comfort and efficiency? Or is it better to install ductwork in the attic and insulate it really well?

      Again: thanks so much for your input here! I have received 7 different proposals from 4 different HVAC installers and the all feature totally different installation designs, ranging in price from $12K-$80K.

      best wishes, Kristin

  5. Matt F | | #6

    I would definitely choose a ducted system upstairs if you can get good insulation on the ducts and a small insulated closet for the unit. That should be pretty doable with two bedrooms and I assume a bath. Do a central return in the hallway and transfer grills, along with interior supply locations setup to trow towards the windows. This setup will keep the ductwork very compact.

    I would also consider a second ducted unit for the first floor installed in the basement.

    Is the person running the manual J also going to do the duct design?

    What on earth was quoted at $80K?

    1. Kris Anderson | | #8

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your input. I’m surprised to hear that ducted is more efficient than ductless! Ducted on the first floor seems wrong. Are you suggesting ducted and two zones with two outdoor units?

      The $80k system is actually a $50k system, apologies for the confusion.

      It’s this, which looks like TWO heating systems, as though the installer thought that the ASHPs needed a backup:

      MXZ-8CXXNAHZ PAC-SJ20BH-E SVZ-AXXAA4 EHXX-MPA-M SVZ-AXXAA4 EHXXMPA-S DPLS 2 PAC-MKA31BC MHK1
      QSMS 2000 Series
      Hyper Heat, Inverter, Hyper Heat Pump Base Pan Heater
      Variable Speed Fan Coil Unit (1st Floor) Back up Electric Heat Kit. (1st Floor) Variable Speed Fan Coil Unit (2nd Floor) Back up Electric Heat Kit. (2nd Floor) Water Level Sensor
      Branch Distribution Box Digital Thermostat
      12” Condenser Stand Media Filter

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #9

        Kristen,

        Your main floor is not open enough for a single head unit. I'm with Matt on this, go with a RIGHT sized multisplit with two slim ducted units, one in the basement one in the attic.

        Generally it is not good to install HVAC in the attic, but in this case it will preform way better than a bunch of over sized heads in every room. Reducing the number of zones also reduces the parts and install cost so it should be cheaper than what you got quoted.

        The biggest issue with the attic install is making sure things are air sealed properly. I would invest in one of the smaller forth pack two part spray foam kits and spray at least around the register boots (both supply and return) and ceiling drywall. Even better, cover the whole supply and return ducts in spray foam.

        Ducted units are slightly less efficient on paper because the fans are beefier, but two right sized ducted units will always be WAY more efficient than half a dozen over-sized wall mounts.

        1. Kris Anderson | | #15

          thank you, Akos! I've been resistant to the idea of ductwork in the basement for the first floor, but I will start accepting that reality right now! It will be more expensive, but it will more livable.

  6. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #10

    >" My installer's quote lists a Mitsubishi Multi-Zone MXZ-5C42NAHZ2."

    That sucker puts out 48,000 BTU/hr @ +5F, which is probably more than twice your design heat load @ +5F. Your 99% outside design temperature is closer to +10F (a typical 99% outside design temp inside of Rt 128.)

    >"My installer has recommended two MLZ-KP09NA one way ceiling cassettes for the second floor, one in each bedroom. "

    That's great for the installer's ability to make his boat payments! :-)

    The heat loads of most bedrooms of insulated 2x4 framed homes without a lot of bedroom window area (window/floor ratios were lower in the 1930s than in most new construction) is usually well under 3000 BTU/hr @ +10F , or even 0F. The floor plans for the bedrooms wasn't attached, so it's harder to make a closer guesstimate.

    The minimum capacity of the KP09 is over 4000 BTU/hr @ 47F, even when married to a dedictated SUZ-KA compressor:

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_MLZ-KP09NA_SUZ-KA09NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

    For more than 90% of the season the room's load is going to be less than the minimum output of the cassette, which means it will basically NEVER modulate efficiently except during cold snaps.

    >"The kitchen unit is a MFZ-KJ09NA floor mount..."

    The minimum output of the KJ09 @ 47F is 2900 BTU/hr @ 47F when married to the MUFZ-KJ09NAHZ compressor, and won't be any lower than that when married to the MXZ-5C42NAHZ2. With only ~22 square feet of window the design heat load is going to be less than that, which is the same oversizing problem as the bedroom units, but perhaps not quite as bad.

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MFZ-KJ09NA-U1-MUFZ-KJ09NAHZ-U1_ProductDataSheet.pdf

    >"... the living room is an MLZ-KP12NA.

    The minimum capacity of the KP12 is 4200 BTU/hr @ +47F when married to an SUZ compressor, but at least the living room has 46' of window, a heat-sucking fireplace, and an open door way to the foyer & dining area as well as a convection path to the open stairwell to give it some load. Married to an MXZ compressor of sufficient capacity it can deliver 15,000BTU/hr at any outdoor temperature.

    That one might actually be sorta right-sized if married to an MXZ , but the 12,000 BTU/hr of the KP09 is probably more appropriate. I'd need to see realistic room by room load numbers to make that call:

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_MLZ-KP12NA_SUZ-KA12NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MLZ-KP12NA_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal-en.pdf

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MLZ-KP09NA_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal-en.pdf

    With a full basement to work with the 800' first floor (and the basement too) would likely be within the range of a 1-ton low-static or mid-static ducted Fujitsu RLFCD, at a higher HSPF efficiency of a right-sized MXZ ductless solution:

    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25349

    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25312

    If not a 1-tonner, the 1.5 ton versions would surely cut it. (In fact, the 3/4 ton might just cover it.)

    The pair of bedrooms can probably be handled by almost any 3/4 ton ducted mini-split, or a pair of half-ton FH06 Mitsubishis, if they can tolerate a high-wall minisplit.

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/M_SEZ-KD09NA4_SUZ-KA09NA2_SUBMITTAL-en.pdf

    To do it with a single MXZ compressor you could probably do this with the 3/4 ton SEZ-KD09NA4 (good for 10,900 BTU/hr) for the bedrooms and an SEZ-KD15 (or KD18) for the first floor + basement, and perhaps an MXZ-3C24NAHZ2 or MXZ-3C30NAHZ2

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD09NA4_For_MXZ_MULTI-ZONE_SYSTEMS_Submittal.pdf

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD15NA_For_MXZ_Submittal.pdf

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/SEZ-KD18NA_For_MXZ_Submittal.pdf

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MXZ-3C24NAHZ2_ProductDataSheet.pdf
    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/29018

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MXZ-3C30NAHZ2_ProductDataSheet.pdf
    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/26173

    This is of course just a preliminary best-guess, pending actual load calculations, and without sufficient knowledge of the floor plan and structural issues to figure out where the ducts and cassettes might live.

  7. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #11

    My lengthier reply seems to be in "Your reply is awaiting moderation" purgatory, but all but the living room's choice from the original proposal's zones are significantly oversized for their likely loads (by 2x or more).

    If you want to do it with a single MXZ compressor a 3C24NAHZ2 or 3C30NAHZ with a low static ducted SEZ-KD09NA4 for the bedrooms and a KD15 or KD18 (if it needs to be that big to also cover the basement) would almost certainly cover it.

    Alternatively, a Fujistu -9RLFCD for the upstairs and -12RLFCD or 18RLFCD for the rest would do as-well or better. The mid-static ducted ARU12RGLX cassette version for the 1-ton AOU12RLFC compressor is slightly more efficient than the low-static cassette in an HSPF test. (I haven't compared it for the rest of the family.) But the mid-static cassettes make it easier/more forgiving on the duct design than the SEZ-KD series low-static cassettes, or even the (beefier than Mitsubishi) ARU12RLF cassettes.

    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25349

    https://ashp.neep.org/#!/product/25312

  8. kjmass1 | | #12

    I'm sure you have your reasons, but you could easily save 30-50% of your heating costs ($1000+?) THIS winter if you are completely uninsulated right now, I'm not sure why you are waiting until next year to do it. I just used MassSave and they are only about a month out scheduling, and even faster if you go on their cancellation list. It would probably offset the work completely.

    Same with getting estimates before getting the insulation work done- seems like you are running in circles. Get the insulation work done, then Man J, then work on mechanicals.

    1. Expert Member
      Dana Dorsett | | #13

      Excellent advice, but could get complicated if some of those steam pipes are currently in exterior wall cavities, or if there is a bunch of knob & tube wiring to replace/retire first.

      With Manual-J in hand and a more appropriate heat pump proposal there may even be 0% seven year financing through MassSave for the heat pump solution.

      https://www.masssave.com/-/media/Files/PDFs/Save/Residential/HeatLoan_HowtoApply_2017.pdf?la=en&hash=E03042BAFEEAA02A7E165652F3A7FFF643BC8048

      FWIW: For reference, I live in a sub-code 1920s bungalow with 2400' of fully conditioned fully above-grade space and ~1600' of insulated conditioned basement, something close to twice the conditioned space, and a much more complicated (read "inefficient" shape, with 14 corners to the footprint. While this house has had some retrofit insulation and air sealing work done on it, the retrofit work is far from done. This is all leading up imply that my Manual-J is likely to be something like 1.5-2x that of Kristin's 1500' cape with the 800' basis.

      The MXZ-5C42NAHZ2 has enough capacity to heat my place to 70F indoors on all levels even at -13F (the lowest outdoor temp at which it's capacity is specified), which means that it's at least 2x oversized for her design load. My 99% outside design temp of +5F is a few degrees cooler than hers, and heat load substantially higher, so it would't be ridiculously oversized for my house. But it it IS ridiculous for hers, especially the "after upgrades" version of the house, and possibly even before upgrades.

      1. Kris Anderson | | #14

        Hi Dana & KJ,

        Mass Save contractors have been out to my house a few times over the years and always agreed to do whatever they prescribed. But the last time they came, in February of this year, all they wanted to do was change lightbulbs. I've got some blown-in insulation in the attic, but it has settled and has never fully covered the attic floor because of a tricky gabled roof in the front of the house. I couldn't get the Mass Save contractors to add insulation to the exterior walls because the house was insulated with rockwool when it was built. Mass Save also wouldn't do anything to insulate the basement and maybe a third of the basement is at grade.

        Dana, you are right - it is complicated and the steam pipes are buried in the exterior walls. But not only are the steam pipes in the walls, but the radiators are all built into the exterior walls, as well! The NG steam heating system needs to go and we need to insulate the holes in the wall after the radiators come out.

        To give you an idea of how leaky my house is:
        My Blower Door Reading is 4108 CFM50.
        Conditioned Air Volume is 21090.33 ft³
        Wind Zone 2
        N-Factor 16.47
        Equivalent NACH 0.71 NACH
        Effective Leakage Area is 231.05 in²

        Luckily the Great State of Massachusetts offers the Home MVP program, which allows for some incentives on insulation work beyond what Mass Save contractors could do: https://www.mass.gov/guides/home-mvp
        There is the most amazing contractor who offers this program and they will do the air sealing and insulation work, remove the steam heat system, and replace a door. But they can't start until the spring of 2020. This because they're so amazingly great, in demand, and busy.

        The reason that I'm trying to get the heat pumps designed first is that I'm also participating in this town program called HeatSmart, which provides 20% off an ASHP system. The program requires Mitsubishi hyper heat equipment and installation through my town's preferred contractor. And the deadline for the signing a contract is December 15.

        Dana, I'll study your recommendation here! thank you so much. I'm still confused about what to do, although it sounds like the upstairs should be a single zone, small ducted system. And should the second floor zone have it's own outdoor unit, for modulation and efficiency?
        Ductwork in the basement for the first floor sounds like a nightmare - are you sure I don't want two ductless units for the first floor?

        thank you so much!

        best wishes, Kristin

        1. Will R | | #17

          Kristin, may I ask who performed your manual J, installation work, and hvac contractor? Any updates on your project. We are outside of Boston and have a 1915 Bungalow 1600sq ft not including the basement that we are updating our old oil forced hot water system.

          Thanks,
          Will

  9. Kris Anderson | | #18

    Hi Will,

    Bruce Harley from Bruce Harley Energy Consulting in VT performed my Manual J and designed my ASHP system. I think Bruce mainly works in VT, so you probably have to find someone else if you’re in the Greater Boston area. But it would be great if you could hire him because he’s extremely knowledgeable. He’s a NEEP guy. Check him out online.

    One key thing that Bruce Harley insisted upon is setting up one indoor unit with one outdoor unit. So, for efficiency and performance, avoid a multi-zone system. Also, if you’re tossing the oil hot water heating system altogether, someone like Bruce *might* recommend a ducted ASHP system for your adorable bungalow. These older houses have so many little books and crannies. Lots of corners! Get someone good to help with the design and don’t be afraid to lean on the experts in this forum. These folks are an incredible source of info.

    New England Ductless did the installation of the heat pumps, under the watchful eye of Jason Taylor from HEET / Byggmeister. Jason Taylor is the guy you want if you’re looking to air seal and insulate your house. He’s meticulous. He’s so good!

    I haven’t used the heat pumps much yet, except on a couple super hot days in the summer.

    I’m participating in a DOER program where they monitor my nat gas and electrical bills for a full year to see how well my house performs. If I do well, they send me a check! I’m hoping to reduce my house’s reliance on nat gas by 75%.

    Best wishes, Kristin

  10. Will R | | #19

    Thanks so much Kristin for your reply. I spoke with Mike Duclos he recommended Jason Taylor! He will be coming by in the next few weeks. Was it challenging having someone who was out of state perform the manual J and design?

    Agreed with you that we may need ducts but have some challenges with kneewalls outside of the envelope and wanting to finish part of the basement at some point. Thanks again.

    1. Kris Anderson | | #20

      Hi Will,

      Working with Bruce Harley was great. The folks at Byggmeister were in charge of the overall project and provided floor plan info to Bruce. Then Bruce came out to physically tour the house. He was only able to come to Arlington because he had family business to attend to. After that tour, I was provided with a Manual J and a plan with a rough budget for the work.

      But, I had to scale back my original plan for the project due to budget constraints. I’m sure I was a bit of a nightmare client in this regard. But everyone was very patient with me.

      The result is that the gas furnace remains, as do the steam radiators that are built into the walls with no insulation!

      So now I have a tight and well-insulated house, with 9.45 kW solar array, a very handsome wood stove insert in my living room, and three ductless ASHPs: a beautiful floor mount ASHP unit in the kitchen downstairs, and two wall mounted units in each of the upstairs bedrooms.

      I ended up spending just as much money on insulation and air sealing as I did on ASHPs. My understanding is that energy conservation will yield a greater payback than any of these fancy technologies. At least, this is true in a leaky old house like mine, which was built in 1934.

      And now there are more fun projects to look forward to in the future: adding closet storage space in the eaves/knee walls, replacing ugly and busted vinyl windows, removing that nat gas furnace and the horrible steam radiators, and installing an HRV or ERV. Hopefully the amazing folks at Byggmeister will wanna work with me again. They are the best!

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