Work seems to be progressing but mostly in the design space at the moment. The electrician finished up the low voltage wiring and all but one of the new 110V circuits. We have settled on a solar contractor and a rough set of specifications for the solar PV. The contractor is now working on a specific design and a bid. We have requested that the contractor have on-site at all times someone who has worked for the firm for at least one year, so we don't get burned again by an incompetent employee that was hired a few months ago. The insulation bids that were solicited by The Project Manager Who Shall Not Be Named were, as with most of the work he did, inadequate and Paul is re-soliciting based on my feedback. Our 200 amp upgrade request is in with PG&E and we are trying to find out the schedule. Projected completion is beginning of Feburary, but I believe that may stretch out depending on the solar PV installation schedule. But best of all: The Lovely Wife seems to be happy with progress!
I had a moment of concern that the extra 100 amps for our grid connect might not be enough after I found out that the on-demand hot water heater has three heating units, each of which requires 220V/40 amps. That is an enormous amount of power, 8.8 kilowatts, but applied over a very short period of time, maximum 20 minutes for a shower, so the net energy used is less, about 3 kilowatt-hours. The electric car charger only requires one 220V/40 amp circuit, but charges over a period of 6 hours. I did a rough calculation assuming a 440V/100 amp upgrade to the existing grid feed (440V/100 amps), which seems to be fine for our current set of appliances, and it should hand the on-demand water heater, electric car charger, and HRV (the HRV is peanuts, maybe 40 watts maximum).
I also did a short tour of the gutted interior looking for holes. One "feature" of older houses such as ours is the shoddy sealing of exterior penetrations. Here is an example:
Gaps also occur between the interior wall space and the living space, as in this picture:
Another gap has even more serious effects:
Here's a gap that is not quite a hole:
This is between the fiberglass window frame and the wood frame of the house. There is no insulation here although the space is sealed on the outside, but this gap acts as a thermal wire, allowing warmth to escape from the house in winter.
The disturbing aspect of these last two examples is that they are in areas where we had contractors work in the 7 years since we owned the house. They are not from the original framing or from work done by previous owners. You would think that, in the 21st century, contractors would have some clue about building science and make sure that the work was up to the latest knowledge at best quality. But most contractors are clueless about how to properly insulate a building. They are still working with knowledge they gained in the 70's when they started working.
Finally, and example of the attitude toward proper insulation in the 70's when our house was built:
The picture is a perfect example of the attitude about proper thermal sealing in California in the the 1970's. It seems to be: "oh, California is such a mild climate and gas is cheap. Let's throw in a couple pieces of insulation here and there to say we did it. No need to do a through job". We saw exactly the same kind of shoddy insulation above our kitchen ceiling when we had a sun tunnel installed a couple years ago.
This example is why I disagree with people such as Matt Golden at Recurve, who claims that there is lots of "low hanging fruit" in energy efficiency. The number of houses that have no insulation at all and can be reinsulated at relatively low cost by drilling through the drywall and injecting blown in cellulose is far exceeded by the number with shoddly installed fiberglass batt insulation like ours. Most houses with no insulation were built before 1970 and there are far fewer of those than were built between, say, 1970 and 1995 or so with shoddily installed insulation. The cost and hassle of reinsulating a house like ours using the existing building technology, as we are finding out, far exceeds what most people are willing to go through.