getting energy right

So here are some late night notes to Jonathan Cohen, of Imagine Energy, our heating and energy design consultant:

"Jonathan, talking points for your heating consult/design:

main house:

solar hot water: steel collector vs evacuated tubes? recent research suggests my long dislike of the latter may have been misguided, as their embodied energy:btu output ratio seems good, and their shady day output off sets their inferior performance on a sunny day. haven't met with a local supplier yet. plan to.

photovoltaics. obviously a matter of efficiency vs price vs square footage requirements. i have the space for a large array, and have just relocated the woodstove chimney pipe to eliminate passing shade.

in both solar cases, we need to fight for s-clamps on the roof.

planned heat distribution: crosslinked polyethylene tubing in lower level slab (minimal in work room, none in wine cellar, standard in balance, unless we discuss zoning the guest bedroom)

european-style wall radiators in main floor and tower. i believe i forwarded a quote from hydronic alternatives in mass. you might know of other sources, but after the tyranny of runtel pricing for years, these were exciting. a problem exists in the kitchen and dining areas, as there is no real wall place. we may have to consider floor radiant or something . HELP. remember that we'll have a rais sealed combustion stove in regular use in that big space.

do we need to "tune" our window glazing? we're only about a week out from ordering! there is no air conditioning in the house, but aesthetics is an issue while we do what we can to minimize summer heat build up.

we've spec'd only 9 1/4' EPS structural insulated panels for the roof. have we shot ourselves in the foot here? my thinking was that its ONLY a 4500 heating degree day city, for gods sake. we'll also have super reflective metal roofing.

boiler: we have nat gas, so this seems a no brainer. make and model is not as clear, except that it has to modulate and be at least 95% efficient. also, should we tie this into the solar back up, rather than messing with a separate unit, like the navien or other condensing on demand unit? was it you who was saying takagi just intro'd one? i like the idea of the dhw loop off the boiler, for obvious reasons.

for the accessory dwelling unit (my studio); loved your idea of electric baseboard as a money-saving device in a mostly day-use studio/office... until we found we'd be booted from the energy-star and leeds clubs. need to figure out a single source boiler for dhw and heat, with the latter either using a 4 way valve or something. if leeds and energy star will allow electric on demand heater, then i'd be happy, and suggest a steibel or similar."

Lots of jargon, and so much information one has to talk in short hand, barely able to spend the time searching for typos and nonsense. The targets are moving constantly in all the home systems, and at some point triggers need to be pulled that allow us to feel good about our decisions, acknowledging our mortal flaws of limited understanding, limited funds and a forward moving project.