Meet Hilary Hatch: Violinist, Cat Lover, and Solar Heat Pump Homeowner
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about the planet. I’m passionate about seeing what’s good in people and trying to realize that fundamentally we are all the same being—from the tiniest thing in the world to the universe. We are all made of the same stuff, we all came from the same place, and we’re all fundamentally part of one another. It’s important to keep that in mind.
Tell me about your cats!
Bonnie and Clyde! Bonnie is eleven years old, and they came together. They were rescued from some place down south. In the early morning hours of the day that I was going to have to bury my husband, my son from New Jersey and his wife who were then fostering cats brought me these two—and that day I woke up to two kittens in the house and that was life instead of death, and they’ve been my pals since then…and they’re just as much trouble as their names imply.
When did you meet Jeff?
I met Jeff back in in 1981, and we were married 26 years. We both made each other the best possible human beings we could be – it was unlike any other relationship I could imagine. He’s still here around me – he shows up in the form of bluebirds and songs in my head that are speaking to me.
So you play violin for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra?
I’ve played violin since I was 10, and I’m still trying to do it right. My greatest joy is playing with other musicians and spending time on the road taking music to all 4 corners of the state.
Did Jeff play an instrument?
No! Which was fine with me—he thought everything I did was wonderful! He used to brag that he played the radio. He wasn’t crazy about classical music, but he was always supportive, and when I became a nurse at 50 he was always there for me.
So tell me about the decision process to go solar?
When you’re in the garden you have the illusion of control but the only constant in life is change and it’s usually not at your behest. I like the Quaker hymn lyrics “Tis a gift to be simple Tis a gift to be free, Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.” And I feel that is what has happened in a large part of my life—Jeff and I certainly had that feeling when we found this house. And then for whatever reason the whole solar thing started to happen without my pursuing it—the neighbor next door mentioned SunCommon and I thought, “well that’s worth looking into, “ and then another friend mentioned heat pumps, and I thought “gee that sounds really bright.” I know how much money I spend on energy, there’s no way around spending money keeping a place warm during a Vermont winter—but I’m also aware of its toll on the planet when it’s taken from certain resources, and I just hate supporting that. So, the more I got involved in SunCommon the more I realized this was a great option. I’m going to be spending money, I might as well spend it in a kinder and gentler way and get what I need without doing damage to the planet and without doing damage to my bank account. How can you lose? And then, once I started to work with SunCommon—the people there just made it obvious that this was supposed to happen. Everything fell into place, and they helped it fall into place. I mean literally, it was just happening around me. It took so little effort on my part, and everything ended up exactly where I would have put it in terms of aesthetic considerations—where the panels went, where the heat pump went, it just happened, and everything is where it ought to be, and I just couldn’t be more thrilled.
Why did you decide to get solar heat as well?
I decided to do the solar heat pump because it was sort of part and parcel of an intelligent approach to what is one of the biggest energy expenses in Vermont, and certainly in this house – which is oil. And it was not very expensive for what I was going to get out of it in terms of heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. I don’t have windows in this house that actually work with air conditioners, so the house can be cool if I keep it shut up, but some days it was just fan city, so the idea of a house being cool- great! And all with solar power – better! So, it’s terrific.
How does the heat pump work?
I know exactly how it works! It’s magic! There’s a unit that sits outside that’s not very large, and it does some sort of magic with the ambient temperature to produce either more degrees or fewer degrees in the house, whichever you desire, it’s magic – works for me.
Is the system loud?
As a musician, bizarre noises, background noises of any kind really can make me crazy. If there is a sound in the car—something jiggling, I will stop the car and find it because I can’t deal with it. SunCommon told me the solar heat pump would be quiet, and I said “oh, ok, quiet is relative,” and you know what – it’s just barely there! Birds are louder than the heat pump is.
What is maintenance like?
The only maintenance that was discussed was maybe once a year changing the filter in there, and I don’t need a new filter I just have to wash off the old filter, and that’s it—this is a maintenance free solar and heat pump system. And when you are a person like me who doesn’t have all the skills in the world when it comes to keeping a house standing or running – that’s what I want to hear – especially when you’re dealing with magic!