Solar Champion Stories

Weathering Life on a New Hampshire Island Charles Lassen Portsmouth NH Solar Heat Pumps Island Home

Charles Lassen's island home stands just offshore the Portsmouth, NH mainland, surrounded by the gusting winds, changing tides and abundant wildlife of the Piscataqua River. It's an ideal place to call home for Charles, an avid sailor who has spent much time on the water.

Originally from the UK, Charles Lassen first landed in Portsmouth in 1999, arriving by sea whilst delivering a boat from Canada to Long Island. He was getting ready to retire as an engineer in the electronics industry. "I bought a starter home in the South End, sold my business and set off on a North Atlantic cruise from New York to New York by way of Norway, Morocco, Cape Verde and the Caribbean in a 37-foot sailboat," said Charles. "Having got that out of my system, I tried to retire gracefully in Portsmouth."

He quickly found that he wasn't ready for the typical definition of retirement, however.

"We bought a house on Salter Street, and I used to walk down to the Back Channel with a cup of coffee each morning and gaze out toward Round Island, a small clump of land 300 yards offshore with a building that was fast sliding into the river. This unique property clearly needed some attention."

Charles had found his next project. He purchased the property and began renovations in 2007 that took 3 years to complete.

Sole Residence of Round Island

Like a boat on the water, his new habitat was constantly influenced by the wind and the waves around it. "Having spent a lot of time on boats I was acutely aware of the importance of getting the core systems of our living environment right at the outset," Charles explained. "Heating is one of the most important aspects of living on an island on the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire." Surrounded by water, the wind chill can be quite severe.

The Lassens considered this in the renovation of their home: the south face of the building was heavily windowed to take advantage of natural sun, while the north face was insulated and housed a library. They heated with a wood stove in combination with underfloor electric water heaters which Charles said were nice but expensive. "They did not seem to know if their job was to soften the permafrost or to heat the house," he added. Even so, the equipment installed allowed them to live comfortably, if not efficiently.

However, in 2017 the time had come to review their heating options, as the Lassens were looking for something that was less expensive and more efficient. The standard heating solutions that might work for a typical home were soon ruled out because of the difficulties of installing on an island. Charles sought a system that made sense for their location, that they could also walk away from whenever they wanted to travel.

Heat Pumps are All-Around Winners

Charles was already familiar with Mitsubishi Electric from his previous work as an engineer and owner of a consulting company, and he was impressed by the Japanese engineers he had met and the technology. He insisted on the use of Mitsubishi Electric heat pumps when asked to help with renovations at Strawberry Banke, noting their efficiency, quiet operation and unobtrusive installation with minimal impact on the interior of a historic house. So, when he started to rethink heating solutions for their own home, these characteristics were at the forefront of his mind.

Charles learned about ReVision through friends and discovered that we are a Mitsubishi Electric Elite Diamond Contractor , a designation awarded to installers with the highest level of training and experience.

Early last winter, he contracted with us to install a multi-split air source heat pump with two indoor units to heat the main living space on the first floor of their house. The open floor plan of the home made the 2 units even more effective for the whole house, because of how freely the heat can travel. Charles said the system has been especially useful because it provides a reliable heat source that keeps the house a constant temperature throughout the night. "ReVision did a great job of locating the indoor units, very effective in terms of directional flow but also unobtrusive," he noted.

He's looking forward to each month's electric bill - compared to his previous electric heating system, the efficiency of the air source heat pumps will offer significant savings on operation costs.

In fact, Charles said that he has been so pleased with the installation, he's looking into a ReVision solar electric system to complement the heat pumps and further reduce his electric bill. Of his experience with ReVision Energy, he concluded, "One can always buy cheaper but give me some competent people whose values are quality and fairness and I will recommend them every time. Great technology, great people, don't even think about going anywhere else!"