that tip from terry turned out to be super helpful. i visited the site and got a list of small heating oil companies in the area. each had which town they were located in, their phone number, and more importantly, the price per gallon they were selling their oil. the numbers were so low ($2.55/gallon was the average) i had to do a double take and make sure this wasn't a scam website. i tried oil connection in belmont, selling at $2.59/gallon. when i clicked on the name it brought me directly to an order form website. i decided to try elsewhere, at least get a number so i could speak with someone in person. i clicked on amanda's oil in medford, they also seemed to be using an online order form. i then clicked on fireman's fuel in arlingon, selling at $2.49/gallon. even though the company name and logo were cheesy, i decided to give them a try. they were willing to make a one-time delivery without needing to inspect the tank, which is something other companies do (for safety reasons). the $2.49 price was legit, and if i made the order today, i could get heating oil delivered by tomorrow.
so i called up my parents to see if they wanted to try fireman's fuel. at that rate, we'd save over $100 to fill the tank compared to going with fawcett. they agreed, so i called back fireman's fuel to make the order. they take either cash or credit, i gave them a card number, they said they'd have someone to the house by tomorrow. i followed up that phone call with a call to fawcett, to cancel the oil delivery that was coming either today or tomorrow.
with the heating oil business out of the way, i moved on to my second task of the day, resolving the automatic energy reporting issue with our solar installation revenue grade meter. i wrote to phung at united solar again, told her the situation. she wrote back an hour later with this: "i have reached out to solaredge, the problem is the inverter is not reporting its revenue grade meter model to the portal. they're pushing a firmware update on the inverter which should resolve the issue. the update will take a few hours, i'll check back occasionally and once the update is complete. i'll update the settings to let it report to MassCEC PTS." i thanked phung and waited for the update to finish. i knew something was up because the meter was now showing me a "communication pending" status, which is usually what it says before an update.
i saw paul this morning, wasn't expecting him back until this weekend. he was talking outside with our neighbor from across the street. i was hoping annie would leave before he saw her (i never told them i was having a tenant this summer) but he turned his head at the last second and caught a quick glimpse.
about to ride out to belmont, i noticed a neighbor had moved and left a bunch of free stuff on the curb. this is one of the perks of living in a place where a lot of people (like students) rent, because when they move out there's always a bounty of freebies. i see a lot of small furnitures and kitchenware like utensils and dishes. not a year goes by when i don't find something useful. i can go through my house and point to things i've found. i rummaged through the cardboard box and found some ikea cereal bowls and mugs, which i took. i also got what i thought was a large stainless stockpot, but it looked like a double boiler but with a perforated inner pot. i didn't know what it was but it looked expensive so i took it, along with a glass lid. later i found a smaller steamer basket that looked to be a part of the set.
i did some research and what i found was a denmark brand stainless steel 12-quart 4-piece multi-cooker set, AKA pasta steamer (nowadays a "multi-cooker" means a pressure cooker). this one most likely came from bed bath & beyond although they no longer sell it anymore. not sure what the original price was, but i can find something very similar on amazon.com for just $35. it seems like a one-trick cookware, that you can boil pasta and strain it immediately afterwards without using a colander, with a steam basket on the top for steaming vegetables and whatnot. the steaming part seems healthy, but the pasta part not so much, and i don't know when i'd ever need to make 12-quart's worth of pasta. the stockpot might be useful but i may just put the multi-cooker in the basement. likewise with the ikea mugs and bowls, i have plenty already.
i got to belmont by 11am. my father was playing around with the basement window AC, adding some fabric strips to the bottom of the unit to wick out the water. my mother heated up some leftover noodles for me. after i finished eating, we left for a waltham costco supply run followed by the waltham market basket.
costco was surprisingly busy for a monday. my theory was because it was so close to noontime, a lot of people were there getting supplies on their lunch break. or it could be people stocking up for the 4th of july on thursday. we checked out the HDTV's as my 2nd aunt said she wanted to upgrade once they move (which is hopefully soon). they currently use an old-style glass-tube widescreen television my aunt lili originally gave to us. nowadays you can get a 32" LED HDTV with built-in roku for around $100. of course costco didn't carry any of those paltry models: instead it was selling a 55" 4K TCL HDTV with built-in roku for $320, which is an amazing deal.
we also checked out laptops, because my 2nd aunt said she wanted to get a cheap one. not that she ever really uses the computer, but she wanted one for streaming videos. macs were out of the question ($$$), and there were some decent PC's, but i suggested she get a chromebook, because they're lighter, cheaper, and she doesn't need all that much computing power for just streaming. i was trying to find a chromebook around $150, but the cheapest one they carried was an HP chromebook 14 for $300. i'll look elsewhere, as there are also chromebooks with touchscreens, and i think my 2nd aunt would prefer that more.
finally my father and i were there to check out costco's dehumidifier selection. on their website, they carried two energy star rated models with pumps: 70-pint hisense for $220, and a 70-pint whirlpool for $180. i preferred the hisense because it looked like a newer model. plus, i found out that whirlpool doesn't actually make their own dehumidifiers, but instead rebrand 3rd party ones as their own (case in point: we bought a TCL dehumidifier last year from OSJL that we ended up returning; whirlpool has the exact same model). so they didn't carry any hisense models but had stacks of whirlpool dehumidifiers by the entrance. seeing it in person it looked better than the photos, and surprisingly small for a 70-point dehumidifier. it was also cheaper, at $170, so we decided to get one. with the masssave dehumidifier energy rebate we'd get $30 back, and if we donate our old unit during one of those dehumidifier return programs (we have 3 old units), we could get another $30 (per unit), so in the end it'd only cost us $80-110 (before taxes).
afterwards we took the prospect hill shortcut to market basket. because we bought some frozen items at costco and the car was too hot inside, my father volunteered to sit in the car with the engine and AC running while my mother and i went grocery shopping. we scored several cartons of haagen-dazs ice cream on sale, although not the spirit ones. but it didn't matter because when the cashier rang us up, she simply scanned one carton multiple times so we got the sale price anyway.
we got back home close to 3pm. after unloading everything out of the car, my father and i brought the whirlpool dehumidifier into the basement to test out. we powered the unit through a smart plug, set the humidity at 60% and put the drain hose in a bucket in the sink so we could see how much water was collecting.
the shallow lotus barrel looked especially murky that i decided to do a water change. i was reluctant before because i thought the tap water temperature would be too low, but i took a measurement a few days ago and realized it was around 65°F, not too cold. after taking out the potted lotuses, i scooped out the water with a bucket. the water was yellowish green. it wasn't like algae was growing on the inside of the barrel, but rather the algae was suspended in the water itself. how that even happened i don't know. maybe there was some organic debris mixed in the clay that caused the algae bloom, beside i'd think the sand layer would be pretty sterile.
apparently all new coin leaves other than the very first one open up with a reddish color but then over time turn green. this is all based on a single lotus plant, still waiting on the other lotuses to make their 2nd coin leaves to confirm this hypothesis. coin leaves are like floating islands, and seem to attract surface debris, anything from pollen grains, dead insects, and bubble slime. when i pushed the 3rd coin leaf underwater, it started fizzing underneath from all the trapped bubbles.
around 6pm i checked on the status of our basement AC and dehumidifier setup. my father had to lower the temperature on the AC to 65°F, as it wouldn't dehumidify unless the AC was also running to some degree. the humidity on the hygrometer said it was 59% (lowest was at 56%), a decent number, since we set the dehumidifier at the other side of the basement to 60%. there was already draining into the bucket to a height of 2". the solar panels by that point was only generating 1.44kW. but here's the thing: the outdoor humidity was just 43%, while inside the house it was 55%. so even if we did have the AC or dehumidifier running, the humidity would've dropped on it's own to 40-50%. so the test was inconclusive. what we need is a really humid day and running either the AC or the dehumidifier and see if the basement humidity level drops. my personal feeling is the AC only lowers the humidity slightly if at all, with the downside of turning the already cool basement even colder. the dehumidifier is designed to dehumidify, the only downside is it might use more electricity than the AC.
the AC draws 2W on standby, about 70W when only the fan is running, and 720W when the compressor kicks in. in a day on average it'd use 4-5kWh of power. as for the dehumidifier we don't know yet how much electricity it'd use in a day (will have to wait until we can run it for a full 24-hour cycle), but when the compressor is on, it draws 500-600W, less than the AC, but it runs more often.
my mother rendered a costco rotisserie chicken and turned into a broth for noodles. afterwards they tried the haagen-dazs spirits bourbon praline pecan ice cream. they agreed with me, perhaps the most delicious ice cream we've tasted in quite some time.
the clouds today were no match for the power of the sun, as we still made 47.64kWh on this first day of july.
by evening the automatic energy reporting finally updated with a success status. energy reported was 1446kWh, which i take to be the lifetime of the meter (RGM), since our previous lifetime meter reading (as of 4/28) was 11,488kWh, which was also inaccurate as it didn't include the early months (january and february 2018) when we didn't have a RGM. i went to the PTS database to make sure it updated, and it recorded our june 2019 production as 1249.96kWh, which is slightly more than the numbers i have, but i think it might've included a few days in may as well as the first day of july. so it looks like everything is finally working now.
annie sent me a message via wechat last night, said she had an MIT friend interested in renting from my parents for the fall semester, september to december. her friend was trying to make me a wechat friend so we could chat, but i didn't friend her. i spoke with my parents about it earlier, they said they're all booked up, and they may even have an overflow problem where somebody will have to stay at my place for a few months while waiting for a room to be available. so i broke the news to annie. this friend turned out to be another undergraduate, even younger, maybe a sophomore. the fact that annie didn't know very much about this friend makes her friend an unreliable tenant. she said her friend wasn't here on an exchange but actually got accepted as an undergraduate, maybe went to high school somewhere in the US first. also it was weird that this friend wanted to live so far away from MIT.