Heat pumps are here to stay
Apr14

Heat pumps are here to stay

For Vital Communities Imagine a refrigerator that increased threefold anything you put in it. Nice thought. But what sort of device multiplies by three what’s put into it? Heat pumps do. Every BTU — or British thermal unit — of electricity used by a heat pump produces three BTUs of heat, or thermal energy. That’s 300% efficiency. Compare that with 90% or lower efficiency of heaters using fossil fuels, wood or electric resistance. This...

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Finding ways to be energy efficient
Apr14

Finding ways to be energy efficient

Valley News Correspondent Kim Quirk, branch manager at ReVision Energy in Enfield, studies sustainability and energy efficiency. In 2009, she started Energy Emporium, a business that helped people move towards energy efficient, fossil fuel free homes. Quirk merged her business with ReVision Energy in 2019 and continues to provide the Upper Valley community with services such as solar panel installation, renewable energy products and...

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‘Being able to solve issues every day’
Apr14

‘Being able to solve issues every day’

Valley News Correspondent For decades, the trades have seemed like an unconventional career path for women and the statistics back that up: According to a 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data report, only 1.7% of electricians in the country are women. Undeterred by the statistics, two female electricians from the Upper Valley have found joining the trades to be a smart and rewarding career choice. Both women described what it’s...

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‘We still need tradespeople’
Apr14

‘We still need tradespeople’

Valley News Correspondent BRADFORD, Vt. — Garret Girard decided early on to pursue a career in the trades. For Marc Tetreault, the decision came a little later in life. Now both men have full-time jobs in their chosen field while enrolled in the four-year apprenticeship program for plumbing at Vermont Technical College in Randolph as they work toward becoming licensed as journeyman plumbers. “I was in the flooring industry from 2013...

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Is wood heat still good heat?
Jan20

Is wood heat still good heat?

For Vital Communities Here in northern New England, wood heat is in our DNA. We live by that old “saw”: “Wood heats you four times: when you cut it, when you split it, when you stack it, and when you burn it.” But now we’re also being warmed by climate change — which is caused in large part by combustion, including of wood. In light of this fact, can wood heat still be considered good heat? The argument against wood heat starts with...

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‘It was this mysterious thing’
Jan20

‘It was this mysterious thing’

Valley News Correspondent STAFFORD — Jeffrey Gale was working as a naturalist in New Hampshire when a couple of books by Eric Sloane — Seasons of America’s Past and Reverence for Wood — inspired him in a way that led to a livelihood as a basket maker. From his first basket nearly 40 years ago, Gale, 69, has made baskets in a traditional way, harvesting most of the wood for his baskets on his property and using only hand tools. He...

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‘What it takes to build a structure’
Jan20

‘What it takes to build a structure’

Valley News Correspondent CLAREMONT — Wood, as an instrument for education, can do more than teach someone to build a structure or a piece of furniture: It can also build confidence and a valuable skill set. At the carpentry I class at the Sugar River Valley Technical Center in Claremont last semester, students spent several weeks constructing three large kiosks for the city’s public works department. The kiosks will be placed at...

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‘It is the aesthetics’
Jan20

‘It is the aesthetics’

Valley News Correspondent WINDSOR — Wood — how it is harvested, sawn, shaped, fastened and finished — has changed dramatically since colonial days. But what has not changed is the appreciation for the look and durability of products made from wood. The appearance of a finely crafted solid wood dining room table of cherry or oak, maple cabinetry or other pieces of furniture invites an irresistible urge to run our hand slowly over the...

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Restoration as an avocation
Oct14

Restoration as an avocation

Valley News Correspondent ENFIELD — Bob LaCroix grew up in West Canaan and after graduating high school in 1967 he enrolled in the National Institute of Dry Cleaning, anticipating he would build a career in the business. But while his head may have been in dry cleaning — where he worked for a few years — his heart and mechanical mind were under the hood of automobiles.In the early 1970s LaCroix began working at a tire business and...

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