[personal profile] drscott
Temperatures are rising here. I started looking at alternative methods for cooling in December -- I thought it would take a few months. After dropping one contracting team for incompetence, found a good one with JR's help -- but they have been very very slow to get going, largely because the owner doubted the newfangled two-stage evaporative cooler would work well and he was worried I'd come after him; he believed only poor people would use swamp coolers and that our house was "too nice" for them. Well, months of no progress and a bit of education later, he seems almost ready to start; Friday he came by with a carpenter (to move the screening wall on the roof) and a roofer (to fix the foam where it'd get torn up by the work.) So I am hopeful, and I'll give him a call to see what's moving. We need it!

Contracted for two enormous automatic shades for the west side of the house. Giant roller shades, tan fabric, automated, with sensors for sun and wind. The largest is 26' wide. When they are closed, all of the west windows in the Great Hall will be shaded. Remote control for operating or programming. We may then ditch the inside shades, which even when open take up too much space and view.

LEDs: finished replacing all the recessed halogen spots (except in the Great Hall) with Cree inserts. Highly satisfying, 10.5W replacing 60W. Better, more uniform lighting as well. One circuit with only three on a dimmer in a bit wobbly, so the lights flicker; otherwise all the dimmers perform well with them. Next generation will be better but it's not available yet; GE-Rambus vying with Cree and Philips for the prize.

Landscape lighting: 6 months after replacing them all with cheap Chinese LED spots, 3 of the 30 or so have already failed, which is a little high. Whether that rate will continue as they age or trail off remains to be seen. In any case, they've already paid for themselves in savings.

Solar pool heating: installed last month, rushed a bit so James could use the pool more. Does a good job keeping the pool warm much earlier in the season than would otherwise be practical. Ended up burying pipes to the main house roof, since the casita roof was a bit to small. Using up considerable main house roof space, and after the new coolers are installed, there will be just enough left for photovoltaic panels.

New art: I had hoped James would paint some things for us, but he never got focused enough to get to it. Looking at a 70s bronze sunburst sculpture, some aluminum-backed reproductions, and maybe a late entry from James. Tempted to paint some canvases myself, or go into art-on-Mac to create mockups to paint from. Many people suggest things but they have to fit with the current scheme. In other words, I don't need guidance, there are too many specific requirements, and I know what I like (hi, Paul!)

Control: so far have done little with the Z-Wave stuff. Until I install z-wave dimmers in quantity, the signal can't hop throughout the house -- a mesh network needs elements. Have 4-5 switches, a test dimmer from GE, and a test thermostat from Trane. I'll try a little toy network in one area to see if they all work.

We didn't get more than half the visitors we expected over the winter. Many people who said they'd want to visit never got around to it. There was more than enough happening here with James, though.
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