Daffodils on Display

Hundreds of gorgeous blooms are on display at the annual Nantucket Daffodil Show.

Nantucket Island had a mild winter and very warm spring, so many of the millions of daffodils planted along our roadsides were past their peak by the time the Daffodil Festival took place.  But islanders found hundreds of gorgeous blooms from cool spots around their homes, and they entered them into this year’s Nantucket Garden Club Daffodil Show. Encouraged by members of the Garden Club, people who had never before entered did so, and several of them won ribbons for their efforts.

Held in the Bartlett’s Farm Greenhouses, the show is full of color and fragrance!  Hurry over to the farm before 4 pm today to see the yellows, whites, and pinks of all varieties.


It All Starts with Daffy

We’ve been enjoying the daffodils on Nantucket for weeks now, but tomorrow begins the weekend when we share them with thousands of visitors to our island.

Daffodil Festival Weekend is one of my favorite island events.  It’s one that island residents still attend, and in numbers equaling (if not exceeding) the visitors.  It’s an event that still belongs to us—and it’s so very tongue-in-cheek!  Participants dress up for the day.  You’re as likely to see women wearing extravagent hats as you are a group of young girls decked out like “daffy” ducks.

The antique car parade draws some impressive vehicles that have been housed in climate-controlled garages all winter, but it also includes some pretty funky old cars that the kid out in Tom Nevers has been working on for months to get it running.  All will be adorned in daffodils (real, plastic, and paper), ribbons and bows, and several will be transformed something completely different with drivers and passengers outfitted to match.

And the tailgate picnics…where else can you see people staging a picnic, complete with a musical score?

Nantucket’s Daffodil Festival is the start of The Season, but it’s still fun for us working stiffs who, come August, cannot wait till October.

Look to the Sun

by Guest Blogger H. Flint Ranney

Solar, everyone?

Installing solar panels on your south-facing roof to heat your domestic hot water is a project that can pay for itself in less than four years.

I know, because we did it on our Nantucket house.

After battling with the HDC for a few months in 1980, we received a permit and put four panels on our roof. Pipes were plumbed down through the roof into the basement hot water tank, so that a mix of glycol and water heated by the sun in the roof panels circulated down through the tank in a closed loop and back up to the roof. Sensors turned on a pump when the roof was hot, and the system was entirely automatic. Glycol was added to prevent the fluid from freezing. It can’t contaminate our hot water because it is in a separate pipe in the water tank.

The system worked automatically for 26 years without a hitch, pre-heating the water in our hot water tank from the temperature of incoming Town water at 55 degrees, up to 80 or 90 degrees on a hot summer day. Even when it was foggy we had solar generated hot water. Even in the winter we could hear the quiet hum of the pump allowing the sun to save oil. How good is that?

The original cost was $6,500, but with tax credits in those days the net expense came to about $2,500.

In the 26th year one panel sprang a leak and we just closed it off, leaving three still operating. By the 28th year the plastic coverings had deteriorated from ultraviolet sunlight, had become somewhat opaque, and were no longer very efficient.

During those 28 years we saved an average of a gallon of oil every day. The estimate of total savings in oil not purchased was over $25,000 – a pretty good return on a $2,500 investment. About 32% per year!

We took those worn-out panels down and replaced them in 2008, with just two new panels because technology has advanced and the new ones are far more efficient. The piping and the tank were already generally in place but needed some work, and a new pump and sensors were necessary. While the roof was clear, we re-shingled it.

The total cost after a 30% Federal tax credit was $7,700. With these new panels, the inside tank sometimes reaches 130 degrees, and we have been saving two gallons of oil a day. The system has already paid for itself. At the current heating oil price of $4.26 per gallon, the cost of a new installation today would be covered in 2 1⁄2 years.

Project our experience to the rest of Nantucket: If a quarter of island homes have a south-facing roof, something like 2,500 houses could be fitted with rooftop solar panels at a total cost of about $20 million. If each home reduced its oil consumption by two gallons a day, the owner today would be saving $8 x 365 = $2,900 a year. The island would reduce oil bills by $7,300,000 every year. That $20 million would be repaid in three years. How
good is THAT? Maybe more popular than a wind turbine.