We have been in the depths of dust and despair for the last 2+ years over here at the Cobblestone. There have been a lot of collective sighs of “what did we do, why did we do this?” These moments are heavy and more often than we’d like. On top of doing a full renovation 95% ourselves, life has just been hard the last two years. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and man, we are so excited to see it! The Cobblestone has certainly been a place of respite to escape from the world, but also a source of worry and we are finally turning that corner into pure excitement.
To start things off, we finally have HOT water. We knew the house had an electric water heater, and originally planned to switch to a propane fueled water tank because at the time everyone surrounding us said, oh at least it’s not electric (speaking of costs). But then we did a deep dive into solar energy and geothermal heating and our minds were captivated. We had made up our mind and committed to installing solar and geothermal this last summer. Thankfully we did not have any supply chain issues for either install, and both went fairly smooth. Solar installed first, and began generating at the end of July/early August. We now have over 3,000kWh banked with our energy supplier to pull from this winter when our electricity usage will start rising.
I’d like to say we thought of geothermal completely on our own, but it wasn’t until speaking with our solar guy that geothermal was thrown into the mix. We had originally planned on installing new radiators and running them with an electric boiler. We mentioned our plans to the solar team we were working with, and they gave us a quick run through on geothermal and we were SOLD. Our geothermal lines were placed shortly after and boy was that day the highlight of Clark’s week! He got to see the big yellow digger, digging up our north acre. He loved it! We didn’t stay to watch the whole thing, it was pretty repetitive after a while and naptime was calling. But later that day the ground was backfilled and we had two pipes ready to be run inside the house to connect to the actual geo equipment.
Finally, come November, here we are. We have our solar producing and geothermal has been up and running for a week now. Doug is the definition of the jack of all trades. He watched some videos, read some instructions, and asked some questions and now he is plumbing ALL of the new pex lines for the radiators and has successfully connected 2 out of 6 zones to our manifold. It was definitely a confidence booster when our geothermal guy was more than helpful and ran us through all the connections, how to make them, and gave some tips. **If you are on the hunt for a contractor of any kind and they offer to teach you how to do things, HIRE THEM** So far three out of three of our contractors have been this kind and have actually gone out of their way to show us how to do certain things and we couldn’t be more grateful to them.
This will be the first time in a many good years that this house has been heated efficiently. I should mention that we did not heat last year because the house had an oil burning furnace - the cost of oil was insane and during the winter of ‘19/’20 we paid $3000 to keep the house at 45-50 degrees. This was us coming from a tiny 960 sq ft house and never paying more than $150 a month for heating/electric. So to say it was a wakeup call that something had to change was for sure. The house is post and beam so routing any ductwork up to the second floor was a challenge with the previous layout, so the poor second floor ~1,250 square feet only had one tiny duct in the bathroom. We knew we needed to change this but we didn’t want to build out every single wall to accommodate a duct (we can’t go straight up through the walls because we have giant 12’’ beams at the crown of every room).
I had my heart set on finding a radiator company that could make rads to the sizing our home needed and thankfully CastRads had opened their US flagship and worked with us to make this happen! There was 6 months of back and forth making sure our sizing was correct, working with geothermal to make sure they could work with the radiators, and picking final colors. But boy was it all worth it. The radiators are huge and beautiful. We ended up doing mostly 71’’ tall radiators with varying depths depending on the heat loss of each room. The warmth they put out is unmatched. I have always really disliked the constant fluctuations of forced air but have always LOVED the feeling of radiant heat. We are so very happy with our decision and cannot wait to get the rest of the zones hooked up and running!
Needless to say the house finally has a solid set of mechanicals and will serve us very well!