In 1989 when we started our business, The Lovely Marianne asked me what I was going to do to make money for her and our four daughters. I told her I was going to write books, but it would take some time to do that. Then she rolled her eyes and asked what I would do in the meantime. I said that I would look for people who were rich, cold and miserable (RC&M) and consult with them on their troubled heating systems. I promised to be irresistible.

“Where are you going to find those people?” she said.

“They’ll find me,” I said.

And they did because I had studied old steam systems and not many people in this business had taken the time to do that. I wasn’t going to actually touch any of those systems, but I would write good reports that the RC&M could show to any contractor, and I would charge appropriately so that they would respect my advice.