Bonnie Kuhlman

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since Sep 08, 2015
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Zone 7a, AZ
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Recent posts by Bonnie Kuhlman

Definitely give Deb a call!!  She's on a whole other level above most realtors and just a dear all around good person to know.  I believe you would enjoy working with her.  

2 weeks ago

C. Letellier wrote:
S Bengi said a mouthful.  

The most important one is you are paying to heat your house with the dehumidfier.  It makes the house far hotter.  In my climate we run swamp coolers that takes outside air and cools it by evaporating water.  The phase change from liquid to air absorbs large quantities of heat from the air thus cooling the air.  Well in your case you are doing the reverse taking gaseous water and making liquid so if the humidifer doesn't have a mechanism to carry the heat out adds large quantities of  heat to your air.(most dehumidfiers do NOT have a mechanism for heat removal as then they would be air conditioners)  Worse yet they are relatively inefficient so the energy needed to make this happen also ends up heating air too.  

Given your description of needing multiple dehumidifiers I am going to guess your house is poorly insulated and poorly sealed?  If this is the case likely and ERV would be wasted effort.  Now if your house is tight and well insulated it might get you gain.  If poorly insulated and sealed fixing that might be one of the most cost effective things you can do to fix things.

Given your description you might find a window air conditioner more efficient if you have a good place to put it.  Location should be shaded during the hot part of the day, have good air flow.  My reasoning is this.  If your house is poorly insulated and sealed the lower insulation value of the air conditioner itself matters less.  Mini splits get much of their efficiency gains thru not creating heat leaks into the house and by having larger outdoor radiators to get rid of the heat.  But if your house leaks anyway the heat gains thru the unit matter far less.  But the one thing an window air conditioner does is runs the condensate to the outside where the fan splashes it on the condenser thus re evaporating some of that water making it more efficient.  So far as I know there are no mini splits that do this.  Now if I am hot and super humid, rare in my area, I know a window air conditioner puts more water outside than the fan splash will get rid of meaning it still drips to 2 to 4 gallons per day.  If you can route this condensate water to the right location this might keep a shrub alive that keeps sunlight and thus heat off your wall.  Gains are small but a percent here and a percent there can still add up if you do enough of them.  Even if it simply reduces water needs it is a gain.

So now what about more permies type options.

1.  Greenery to shade the building from direct heat.
2. insulate and seal.
3.  change your paint color to white or light colors including painting the roof white.
4.  Here is another possible solution geothermal cooling.  Will only work in areas with cool soil temps that are diggable.

5. and here are 2 video covering another option  Will do air conditioning poorly but is a solar powered dehumidifier.  The solar panels and other stuff here can also shade the building providing more indirect cooling too.


Now personally I think the dream system would combine 4 and 5 into a single system.  Better yet it might heat household hot water too if combined with more systems.

C., I am very thankful for all the help and information.  I just wrote a lengthy reply and the computer ate it.  I still have some questions and will reply here later.  For now, the A/C is repaired but may not last.  Please forgive me, I had to be out of town twice the past two weeks, and also had a family medical emergency.  
1 month ago

S Bengi wrote:Those dehumidifiers are adding alot of heat to the house and over loading the AC units, It's too hot to run dehumidifiers.

Reduce Heat Source
Outside Clothes Dryers
Outside Showers
Outside cooking in a instapot/onepot
Remove Dehumidifiers
Grow some Vines/Plants to shade the walls/etc
Seal the house from air infiltration.

Install a ERV
This will bring in fresh air but also dehumidify it and chill it with the stale air that is going out

Mini-Split AC
Install a 4-ton mini-split system for alot less, $5000
there might be federal and state programs for "heating" and cooling with a heatpump/mini-split to heat/cool your house.
The Mr-Cool mini-split AC units comes pre-charged and so you don't need an actual AC person to come out and install. Just a regular $15/hr handyman. to left up heavy stuff.

AC Sizing
Can you tell us what size ac unit you currently have? Maybe you need to add an extra ton, due to lifestyle changes?

AC Demands/Maintenance
How ofter are the coiled cleaned, do you use a filter are those being changed out every 3 months due to the extra dust? Assuming that the AC unit used to work properly before the past 3 years? What has changed, do you now stay home more now and cook more? Do you now have a dog and leave the doors open more often? Is there a "new hole in the wall" letting in more hot air? Did you cut down a tree that used to shade the house. Do you have the AC guy come out and top off the refridgerant in the AC? Did you remove the air filter in the air handler and now the dust is clogging the fancoil in there?

Malfunction Clarification
Is it the AC that is failing or is it the blower? Is it the outside unit or the inside unit? Is it failing due to a shorts? Has the AC guy changed out the controller board the past 3years?

Price Quote Clarification
At the very least ask the contractor for an itemized list for that $17,000 price tag with material and labor seperated. Will all the walls be re-insulated? Will there be all new ducting? Will it be a new geo-thermal heat-pump system? Will it be a new system with zero refridgerant going into the house and instead it will be chilled water?

Grants, No Interest Loans, etc
There are non-profits that might do the labor for free if you buy the material and or there are senior programs that will help, have you checked into any of these programs. I see a $10,000 grant

S Bengi, thank you!

I know the dehumidifiers are adding heat, but I believe thy are necessary, at least for now since we are having to empty them at least twice a day - that's a lot of water they are removing.  

I do dry most clothes outside, and have considered cooking outside.  We have large, shady pecan trees on the east, north, and west sides of the house.  Sealing is on the list, and I believe this house is a sieve.

What is an ERV?

I will look at the links and the programs you sent.  Thank you, again for the info about those and mini-split options.

We bought this property 2.5 yrs ago from a couple of guys who were flipping it.  I knew there could be some issues that we didn't find.  Last year, we had someone blow 8" of insulation into the attic.  Previous insulation was almost non-existent, and in one section that was an add-on, there was NO insulation.  We also had an attic fan installed, and put a 'box' insulation in the attic stairs.  

The repairman fixed something in the outside unit.  I wasn't here so I don't know what it was.  The blower/fan was previously working, it just wasn't cooling.

I will definitely ask for an itemized list if we need to have the unit replaced, as well as the other items you mentioned.  I just found out they are replacing all the coolant within the next year with some new poison that will not be compatible with existing systems.

1 month ago

Deane Adams wrote:Bonnie,  I hope you will find a quick fix for your AC unit.

I hope that I'm not treading onto bad ground here, but seriously, tool probation???  I mean jeez Louise like how long?  Days, weeks, this month, please don't tell us that it's for  ---  no, how horrible, LIFE???


Thanks Deane.  I was out of town for the weekend.  It was repaired on Friday, but the tech said it may not last long.  

Serious.  I wish it wasn't so, and yes, it's for life.  Seriously, he doesn't like fixing things; he'd rather replace them.  He usually causes more harm than good (you can read that on SO many levels).  It is what it is.  
1 month ago

Jack Edmondson wrote:The small units are referred to as Mini Splits.  they are more economical if you are cooling small areas; but are more efficient than the older window units (as I have been told).  Whole house units are expensive.  $17k sounds really expensive.  I believe a family member in Houston swapped out a 3 ton unit for about $5k a while back.  I have not seen prices in the market in a few years though.

How big a place are you trying to A/C?  I know A/C is essential and can't be turned off for a long period in that part of the world.  However, you might be able to 'zone' a large house where the a/c in non used rooms run at night to eliminate moisture; and only run the rooms needed during the heat of the day.

If you can find a Goodman or Daikin dealer; ask them if they could get you a better deal on a second.  The warehouse often bumps units.  If it is cosmetic they will sell to dealers at a discount before they write the entire unit off the books.  It is worth asking your A/C service person about it.

Jack, thank you for all your advice!  I thought $17K sounded high, but I can't convince my husband of that.  $5K would be more doable.  

The house is a little over 1800 sq. ft.  Our utility bills are just as high as they were in our previous house that was 3000 sq. ft.  There are a few more items to try to seal off leaks - door weather stripping, fire place.  

If we need to replace the A/C, I will definitely look for a Goodman or Daikin dealer and ask about seconds.  
1 month ago
We're in south central TX.  We could probably live without heating, but A/C here is a must.  We're on a fixed income and cannot afford to replace the forced air HVAC unit for $17,000.  I know there are small units usually mounted high on the wall.  Are there other affordable options?

We have a couple window units, but not enough to cool the house.  Ceiling fans in most rooms, and a couple small desk fans.  We also run 3 dehumidifiers constantly.  It is very very humid here.  

We are retired, in our mid-60s.  My husband is not permie minded nor is he allowed to play with tools.
1 month ago

Denise Cares wrote:Thanks for the link Carla. I cannot take her offered course at this time so if someone could still please explain about the alcohol questions I posted prior...

Hi Carla, the formula is 1 part dried powdered herb to 1/2 part alcohol (vodka is fine), to 7 parts olive oil.  Mix dry herb with alcohol in a wide bowl just to moisten, cover with a towel/cloth, and leave several hours or overnight.  Combine this with the olive oil and blend until it's warm, repeating blending several times, or keep on very low heat for a few hours.  If I'm making a quart or less, I sit this on a mug warmer.  For larger amounts, a crock pot on low works with the lid ajar.

Strain through cheesecloth or flour sack towel, twisting and squeezing to get all the oil out.  I then save the marc in the towel in a plastic bag in the freezer and use it as a poultice.
1 month ago

Carla Burke wrote:Here's a link to Kami McBride's website. This one is to a specific recipe, but it will give you the opportunity to check out all of her offerings:

Thanks for getting that, Carla.  I was unable to get back to her quickly.
1 month ago

Cathy Fleischmann wrote:While I agree with the soaking in alcohol first before adding herbs to oil, I don't believe that alone will change the colour of the salve. I follow Kami's technique and it is the blending of the herbs that pulls out the chlorophyll from the plants. The final result changes the colour of salves and oils greatly. This can be a good or bag thing. For instance, when I use Kami's technique to make my calendula infused jojoba oil, I get a very orange face oil, that is not attractive in the least. I have also given my very green salve to someone, who didn't like the green because it stained clothes. So, while I believe Kami's technique results in a superior product, it is not for all.

Cathy, I agree the blending is also important.  I didn't take time to give complete instructions.  I still think the alcohol is most important.  Just blending without the alcohol will still not open the plant 'pores' to allow the oil to extract the plant constituents.  

Any oil will stain clothing no matter the color.  Anyone using oils should be aware of this.  
1 month ago
Bethany, I'm going to offer you some good advice and constructive criticism.  I can tell from your picture that you soaked dried herbs in oil without alcohol.  

You need to moisten your dried herbs with alcohol for a few hours to overnight before putting them in oil.  This opens up the pores of the plant material.  The alcohol will evaporate and there is no concern about mold.  When I make comfrey oil it comes out such a dark green it's almost black.

Kami McBride has an excellent herbal oils program, or you can look up books by the well known herbalist Micheal Moore, who is no longer with us.  

You will get so much more out of your oils by using alcohol first.
1 month ago