My Deep(ish) Retrofit Journey

Climate Change Crisis Emergency Environmental

The old fossil gas furnace!

In the mid 2000’s I did a lot to improve the energy efficiency of my house – new windows, envelope sealing (caulking and expanding foam) – eg. around wires and light fixtures in the attic, insulation (doubled in the attic), improved ventilation of the attic, installation of a high efficiency natural gas furnace (done a little earlier).

I had been recording and graphing my energy usage and was able to make a substantial change reduction in electrical use.  I also paid for Bullfrog Electricity.   Bullfrog makes sure that they put into the grid as much renewable electricity as you are using.  Later they offered Bullfrog Natural Gas which does a similar thing inputting as much renewable natural gas (RNG) as you use.  The RNG comes from landfills, sewage digestors, etc.

Even though I know the environmental benefits of heat pumps I was thinking my home’s conversion would be a a few years down the road and my high efficiency 2 stage gas furnace wasn’t that old.

What changed was that a good friend had a low temperature heat pump installed in 2022-February that he said handled the coldest nights of the year. I also enrolled in a training program called Carbon Conversations which includes a personal examination of your relationship to the climate crisis.  This got me thinking that, while much of my per capita carbon footprint* is outside my direct control (e.g. road and infrastructure building and maintenance, government services, the embodied carbon in essential services and purchases, etc.), I wasn’t doing as much with the portion that was within my control as I should.

    • I scheduled an energy audit with Sustainable Kingston (Red Squirrel).
    • Jaymi performed the audit April 27th and found opportunities summarized in the pie chart
    • I got quotes from two local HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning) contractors.  One did not quote a cold climate heat pump so I choose the other contractor which was the same contractor my friend used.
    • On 2022-08-02 the heat pump installation started with removal of the old furnace and air conditioner 

* From Wikipedia: The idea of a personal carbon footprint was popularized by a large advertising campaign of the fossil fuel company BP in 2005, designed by Ogilvy. It instructed people to calculate their personal footprints and provided ways for people to “go on a low-carbon diet”. This strategy, also employed by other major fossil fuel companies borrowed heavily from previous campaigns by the tobacco industry and plastics industry to shift the blame for negative consequences of those industries (under-age smoking, cigarette butt pollution, and plastic pollution) onto individual choices.