Wednesday, December 28, 2011

House Facelift Finished

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Just in time for the New Year I guess, we have mostly finished the facelift on the house, which really started out as making sure we had a good coat of paint on the house so it doesn't deteriorate more than it already has!  We're very happy with how things came out, just need to get some walkways in and start on some landscaping next.  Did a little walk around with the camera yesterday so you can see how things look.

You can click on the pictures to see larger versions.

Garage on the left, house in background on right

You can see the full garage and side of house

Rear view of house

Another rear view

Side of house, shingles went up in all of the gables

Front of house on the main entrance side

Main entrance with it's new roofline

Main door, we still want to replace this door

Mudroom door

Side entry to mudroom

And back to the full front view of the house

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Water Heater Upgrade: The first month

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In an earlier blog entry I covered our purchase of a new hybrid water heater which has now been running for a full month and we're starting to realize some of the power savings.  

We finally received our first PG&E bill with this new water heater.  As mentioned I had measured my electrical usage on the water heater circuit for 19 days prior to the installation.  For those 19 days we used 197 kWh of power just on the water heater.  The 19 days after the installation, we used 117.60 kWh, a 40% savings in power usage.  

Now, the original water heater was about 20 years old (best guess, it came with the house) and was set at 130 degrees, the new one we have set at 140 degrees, so we had a 40% drop in power even though we are running it 10 degrees hotter.

I also had a full month PG&E bill (it was installed on the 19th, billing period started on the 20th).  The month prior we used 1,988 kWh of power, the first month with the new water heater we used 1,366 kWh, roughly 32% less, which roughly correlates with my water heater circuit measurements.  We did use the heater a little this month too (it's an electric heat pump) and hardly used it the month before.  

Just one months data, but I'm thinking it would be safe to say a 30-35% drop in power use is easily achievable if you're moving from a standard water heater to this one.  The tough thing is figuring out how much dollars that equates to because of PG&E's tiered billing.  If I look at last months bill it was $505 for the house, this month was $306.  Can I say that’s all due to the water heater, I'd like to think so, but we’ll see how it goes after a few months usage.

Other than that, it's been uneventful, hot water has been plentiful, no issues with hot water supply, recovery, etc.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Color starting to take shape...

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The colors are starting to be applied to the house so you can get an idea as to how things will look (of course the colors on your monitor may not look right, but you'll get a rough idea).  Unfortunate thing is we are hitting weather issues which we were trying to avoid.  They had to stop early today, will have a short week next week too.  But we're getting close to wrapping up!

By the way, we're using Kelly Moore Paint Colors.

The main body color is Voysey Gray (has a greenish tint)
The trim is their Navajo White
And the accent is Ruskin Bronze (a dark greenish tint)

Click on the pictures for a larger view....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Almost ready for paint

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We're hoping that some paint will be put on the house this week, so these are the last photos prior to color changes.  You can see the changes we made to the front of the house with a more "formal", clearly identified front door and now the mudroom entrance comes in the side.  All of the window and door trim has been replaced and we added the gable roof over the front entrance.  All of the gable spaces will be treated with redwood shingles for accent after the paint is done.  Additionally the railings have been redone front and rear, we'll be coming back with some wrought iron accents between the rails later.

Click on the photos for larger versions.

The newly re-designed front entry

Full front view
Side entrance to mudroom

Side entrance

Back railing, we have gone around the tree growing through the deck to give it more room too.  Had to rebuild a bit of the deck back here to make it safe until we can completely rebuild the deck, but that is a much bigger job.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We almost have new stairs

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The crew did not get a full week in this week, but they almost have the new stairs done.  By the end of next week they should be done with most of the work and hopefully starting on paint so we can wrap the job up!

Click on any photo below for a larger version

The new entrance to the front door on the left

The sides will be covered with the same treatment as the rest of the house

The old ramp is still in place (for now), new stairs to the right.

The new side stairs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Water heater gamble?

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Had our new GE GeoSpring Heat Pump electric water heater installed today.  We had a ~30 year old electric water heater that was here when we bought the house. I've been monitoring the power that it has been consuming with my Ted5000 Power Meter for a couple weeks and I'm estimating that it was contributing to about 18% of our energy usage in the house.  This is after I turned it down to 130 degrees, it had been set to 150 degrees and was cycling on and off about every 40 minutes.

Now I could have changed this out for a propane model, but that would have involved us getting gas (nothing in the house runs on gas right now) and a bunch of venting that is not currently in place.  Switching it to another electric model would likely have saved some energy just based on the greater efficiency of the newer models, but this model is supposed to be far greater than that. 

According to the Energy Star rating for this unit it should cost less than $200 p/year to run for an average household, which is less than any gas or electric model by far.   On the GE Website they say you can save about $320 p/year based on a standard electric water heater usage of 4,881 kWh p/year.  In looking at my energy usage average over 19 days and multiplying that by 365 days, I'm tracking towards 3,784 kWh of usage.

I'll be able to track usage now going forward and until my next PG&E bill where I'll really be able to see what the actual impact is, since we're on tiered billing, it's difficult to calculate the actual savings until we see the bill.  My service billing happens to start on the 19th, which is the day it was installed, so I'll have a full months billing with the next bill we receive.

The hard justification on these water heaters is that they are expensive, the up front costs are a bit.  However, they just had a big sale, GE had a big discount program going on taking about $400 off the price of the unit, bringing it to $999.  On top of that there is a $300 Federal Tax Credit we'll get and a $30 PG&E rebate which brings it down to $669 (not including installation costs).  So we'll see how long it will take for me to make up the difference in the electric savings, but it may not be too long.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

3 Years of Progress

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We've started work recently on some changes to the outside of the house.  Most of the work is mostly in prep of getting a good coat of paint on this place and to do that we had to get rid of a lot of stuff that was just rotting because it had not been taken care of.  But we're also making a few changes like changing all the window/door trim, putting different stairs on the porch to make the front door really seem like the front door and we'll be adding some different accents and changing the color too which you'll see in later photos.

In any case, here's three different photos from roughly the same perspective.  One taken in November 2009 when we first saw this house, the second in November 2010 and the third taken today.  I've also included a closer shot of the front door changes where you can see the window and door trim too.

Click on the photos to see them larger.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Big trees a'comin down....

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We had Ric Yost by today to take down a couple very tall Ponderosa Pine's that are a couple feet from our house...  He does very precision falling work, and the proof is in the video!  Take a peek at these videos of the two trees, especially the last video on the page.  In that video he put the second tree right between the "goal posts", which are two fence posts we left standing up.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Uncle Bob West Coast Visit

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Thought I would post the whole family shot we took yesterday.  Uncle Bob is winding down his big West Coast Visit (quite a big trip for a young 87 year old) and this time the whole family got together for a photo, we haven't been able to do this for some time so it was nice.  And of course it was great to see Uncle Bob too!  Click the photo for a larger version.

From left to right: Mary Jane, Chris, Liam, Margarete, Vincent, Uncle Bob, Ken, Billy in the back with Archer, Dad up front, Bob, Camille and Caroline

Friday, August 19, 2011

Uncle Bob visits MountainEars Farm!

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My Uncle Bob visited us the last couple of days all the way from Michigan.  Had a wonderful visit with him and my Dad staying with us over night.  Barbara came up for dinner and brought a marvelous cake that we enjoyed after dinner.  On the second day of his visit we visited a couple of local landmarks as well as a tour of two of the fire stations.  Uncle Bob used to own a Studebaker of his own, so he was impressed to see the fully restored Studebaker engine the department uses for parades. 
Pictures below, as always click on them for larger versions.

Dad and Uncle Bob with the Studebaker Engine

Uncle Bob and I at Station 61

Dad and Uncle Bob @ Buffalo Hill Cafe

Uncle Bob and Chris with Angus

Dad, myself, Chris and Uncle Bob ready to have dinner (Barbara handling the camera!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Isn't it summer?

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We had temperatures in the 90's a couple of days ago, now rain again.  Thankfully it's a brief pass through of a weather front, will clear up after Wednesday and come this weekend we'll probably be complaining about triple digit heat!  Fun!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Stellar's Jays are growing up...

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The Stellar's Jay babies are all doing well it seems!  Chris found out that the parents mate for life, not sure if this is the first go around for these two or not, this nest has been on the porch so it may be a nest that they are coming back to from last year.
There are four babies, they are getting bigger.  Both Mom and Dad participate in the feeding.  The webcam shots are not the best, but in the one below you can see both parents in there and one of them actually in the process of feeding the babies.  I also included a cell phone picture I took while they were off the nest.  You can click on the pictures and see larger versions.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Snow, in May? Come on....Really?

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Yikes, it started snowing at our 2500' elevation early this morning, go figure.  Been snowing off and on all day, must be crazy up in Tahoe if we're getting it...

The Pasture WebCam picture below is from this morning, before we lost power.  Back on now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Steller's Jay babies are here...

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The eggs have hatched, I was able to catch the momma off the nest and grab a little video of the tiny blobs that will grow into Stellar's Jays...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New baby birds!

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We have a Stellar's Jay nest out on our porch, I put a web cam on it so we can keep tabs on them, couldn't get a good angle though without really disturbing things so it's a little hard to see, otherwise I would stream it live so people could watch.  In the picture below you can see the father bird bringing some food in, the momma is hard to see in the nest.  The birds hatched today.  It looks like the momma leaves the nest a bit during the day, so if I can I'll grab a quick photo of the babies....

Monday, May 9, 2011

What a rain season!

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Rain season for our area is October through April.  During that period of time, my weather station measured 62.26" of rain and that doesn't include any water run-off from the snow (click here if you want to see the data)

There is another personal weather station a few miles away at a slightly higher elevation, they measured 62.17" of rain during the same period, so I don't think my gauge is off!

My weather station wasn't around for the 2009-2010 season, but the other one was.  They got 48.82", so this year it was 13.35" more than last, that's quite a big jump!

Lots of water this year, that is for sure...and it's May, it's we're getting thunder / lightening and rain right now! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2011 Divide Firefighter Academy

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Academy is done, graduation is on Friday at the IOOF. 

Here is the 2011 Divide Firefighter Academy graduating class of recruits after their last day of formal training at the burn tower! 

As always, click on the photo for a larger view.

Brian King and Christian Eldridge are from the Mosquito Fire Department.  Dave Manley, Parker Ferguson, Jason Royal and Gary Staves are from the Garden Vally Fire Department.  And Joe Law, Kristin Keller & myself are Georgetown Fire Department.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The return of snow

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Once again we were hit with snow, and this may stay with us a little bit.  Came early in the day, which was unusual too, I don't think many around here were expecting it to come today.  It captured nicely on our webcam though, watch the short video and check out the build up grow on the fence line in the foreground!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tree vs Snow: Snow wins

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Big snow!

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I'll get some pictures up later, looks like we've had close to 8" of snow overnight and it's still coming down.  Power is out, we lost a big tree down at the barn that took out a bunch of paddock fencing (more work for Vincent!), thankfully no animals or structures were hurt!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More snow!

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They were right, we are getting more snow.  Been pretty much snowing all day, finally this afternoon it really started to stick.  Took a few random pictures and a short video of Angus and Shorty running in the snow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random update

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Things have been a bit busy for Chris and I so we haven't had a chance to post much information recently.

Have been enjoying some nice, spring-like, weather for a while, but interestingly enough winter returns quickly!  Forecast is actually showing snow for the next 3 days but I'm not so sure how much we'll actually see, we'll report back.

Other than that, Chris has started her new job at a local hospital, no more long commutes and staying overnight at friends houses.   On top of that change, I've started (since January) training with the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department which has been tying up my time on Tuesday nights and Saturdays.  This will continue until the end of April and assuming I pass I'll begin my second job as a volunteer for the department, taking calls that I can. 

Once things slow down a little, we'll try to get some better updates happening again!