Over time we hope to get off the energy grid altogether, with solar panels and possibly geothermic energy, which Munich is now investing heavily in. Ralf researched heating systems pretty thoroughly and we ended up buying an efficient, top-of-the-line heating system that also has adapters for these alternative sources of energy.
I won't tell you how much it cost because money is so vulgar but let me just say that between the heating and the AMT tax we had to pay last year we didn't have much spare cash for quite a while.
The new heating system was installed and working before we came home. It is a proud example of German engineering, which means it will probably run forever but I have no clue how to adjust the temperature in our house and am therefore completely reliant on Ralf, who barely understands it himself and likes it cold.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that on more than one occassion this winter he told me he turned up the heat when in fact he just went down to the basement and came back up again.
And now let me just say that the guy who installed our heating is a fine specimen of Bavarian manhood. He looks like a cross between the Greek god Apollo and Juergen Prochnow, who played the cool, blue-eyed captain in Das Boot. His shoulders look like they're going to burst out of his shirtsleeves and he speaks with a thick Bavarian accent that reminds one of hard physical labor. This is the man you want around when your cow is giving birth.
Unfortunately he is not the man you want around when you need to install a new heating system.
We discovered the first problems early on when winter set in. First of all, we couldn't figure out how to make the house warm. That wasn't exactly his fault but he hadn't quite finished initializing the heating unit, either. We worked through that, more or less, but then the new heater in the attic took to banging in the night so ferociously that the entire house shook. It turned out a couple of pipes had been installed wrong, which got fixed in pretty short order.
Then the heater kept turning itself off due to some mysterious internal error code that requires a special handheld device to read. After much time on the phone with the installer and supplier it turned out that there was some air escaping somewhere, blah, blah, blah and the chimney would need to be re-installed or yada, yada, yada. Since this sort of work can't be done in winter the guy from the supplier adjusted the heater to a less efficient setting to tide us over. It wasn't ideal and certainly not the point of buying an ultra-efficient heater but at least we were warm again.
Then we got our Wattson, which indicated out that when the heater first turned on in the morning it was consuming an outrageous amount of energy.
Now that it's spring again the heating guy - let's just call him Apollo - was here this morning to fix the chimney but concluded that there's no problem with the chimney installation that he could find so the guy from the supplier is coming to run some additional tests.
And if the guy from the supplier actually shows up and he finds nothing I guess we're back to square one until our heater starts turning off by itself again next year.