Friday, August 10, 2012

Heating Options and Fate Intervening

Ah, the barn. The drama that never seems to end. We had to make some big decisions way back when regarding how to heat the thing. Initially, we figured going frugal and doing what was simple and affordable, which meant heating with fire (wood or pellet stove), insulating with fiberglass, and then getting some forced air heaters, like the Rinnai heaters we had in Quechee, which worked great. This plan was endorsed by my Mentor, which should have been enough, but lo and behold, I was swayed by the experts, meaning KB and other assorted contractors.

I understand their position. When you’re an expert in your field, you tend to favor the best and most up to date options, not unlike tools or equipment. It’s not unlike asking a race car driver what car to buy. He’s not going to recommend a 4 cylinder hybrid, he’s going to say get the V8. Anyway, several people said to go with a boiler, which would necessitate special insulation, either foam or cellulose. We went back and forth on this one, and at some point KB threw his hands up and decided to wait until we finally made up our minds. This, of course, may never happen.

About a week back, we finally decided to go with the boiler, we were so sick of thinking about it. The boiler is expensive, no doubt, but it gives you heat and hot water, and it seems like something a lot of people use. Plus, a lot of people seemed to give it a thumbs up, although my Mentor was questioning all this. I contacted the boiler guy, who sent me a quote, and told him on the phone and by email that we were interested in moving forward, which I was assuming involved some sort of deposit.

Then a funny thing happened. He never got back to me. I waited and waited, and no response. I figured he was sick of us, as well, and was going to take his time. In all honesty, we get this from every contractor we’ve had to deal with. Then, as luck would have it, I was at the library talking to CF, resident energy efficiency and practical guru, and he told me that a boiler was a waste of time and money. He said they are expensive, they have a high profit margin for installers, and they have more opportunities to break down. Plus, our situation was complicated by the need for special insulation. CF was adamant about how much better Rinnai heaters were, though being the efficiency expert, he said to insulate with foam or cellulose.

I did what I always do in situations of doubt (and even certainty) and contacted my Mentor, who seconded the motion, though he said he thought fiberglass would be fine. He then told me to do what he told me to do several months ago, and that was to go to the Young’s propane, tell them our situation, and find out how much it would cost, then compare.

So I did, and it was informative. I got prices for units and installation, though Young’s did say that they would only install heaters for their propane customers, which we are not. We have Irving, which I like. There are two ways around this situation: we could either become Young’s customers, if only for the barn, and then they could install the stuff, or we could contact our own propane dealer and see what they could do. Contracting with Youngs would have meant having two different providers, which isn’t the end of the world.

I ended calling Irving, and they said they’d send a person out to consult with us. I’ve never really seen an Irving store, so wasn’t sure what to expect. The guy came out the next day, and it was actually very helpful. He, too, endorsed the Rinnai heaters (funny how that works) and went over the pitfalls of boilers, the same ones as CF’s complaints. In the end, I think we’ve decided (for now) that we’re going with Rinnai, it just makes more sense, and they are cheaper. Say no more.

Plus, the guy from Irving was really nice, and he’s a local hockey parent, whose kids we’ve played, so he’s like family. I love when that happens.

Now all I have to do is tell the boiler guy that we won’t need his service, if he ever calls me back. Then again, it’s sort of nice that he’s blowing us off. Serendipity, perhaps?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to buildpropane for the pic.

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