lundi, mai 01, 2006


Do you know how exceptionally nice HVAC guys can be? Maybe it's sexist to imagine that most of the people who install heating and air conditioning systems are men, but I haven't met a female ductwork expert yet (unless we are talking about the La Leche League of nursing women). I confess that I didn't give HVAC a second thought until a family philanthropist offered to underwrite a new heating system (the old one, electric baseboards and a non-working coal stove, has lost its novelty after the first winter in our house). Taking a hard look at several bids for heat pumps has compelled me to explore some of the fundamentals of how heat pumps works, who makes them, and whose claims survive careful analysis. The fact is that I know as much about heating systems as I do about ancient Syria. Experts, who know a great deal more, warned me darkly that "shills" operate on these websites, paid by the companies to offer advice that suits their own particular bent. But BaldLooney, Robotech and their buddies have been truly kind, explaining the mysteries of refrigerant, different grades of heat pumps, how to evaluate installers, and whether a heat pump should be used in central Wisconsin (ok, it got a little confusing when some other guy jumped into our thread with a question about his house in Wisconsin). The Internet has made it easier to acquire knowledge on almost any subject. There's an exciting kind of democracy about the reams of available knowledge. Pulling up one website after another, piling factoid upon factoid, makes you think you know as much as the person who is selling you something, whether its a vacation in Venice or a used car. But it's also easier to think you know enough to get by when you are still almost as ignorant as you were when you started. As I told my sister's boyfriend, I have more questions than answers, but at least I know what some of the questions are. Maybe, outside of our narrow ranges of expertise, that's the most we can hope for. If you are considering getting a heat pump and you want an educated and well-researched suggestion, I've got some advice for you: ask someone else. You might want to start with BaldLooney.

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