Thursday, May 2, 2019

Adventures in Home Ownership - Paralyzed By Perfection

Since becoming a homeowner, I’ve come to realize why mom always made sure we turned everything off before we went outside to play; to cut back on the amount of money flying out of her wallet to pay the utility bills.

I think every home buyer has “a must have” and “a nice to have” list when searching for a home.  For us, it was a quiet neighborhood, preferably on a dead end, a garage, and a potential photography studio space.  That’s what Sarah and I found when we moved into our wonderful home in Bellingham, MA.  We absolutely love it here.

That said, there are always compromises when searching for that perfect home.  For us, our home had oil and septic.  Two things we really didn’t want, but the home met the rest of our criteria.  This past winter, while not a cold one, made us realize that oil is really not efficient, and tends to be expensive depending on the current demand for home heating oil.  Once winter was over, we decided that we need to find a more suitable way to heat our home efficiently while drastically reducing our utility bills; every home owners dream, right?

Luckily for us, my dad knows all the right trades people on top of being a plumber.  We discussed options, and laid out the plan.  At first, after doing a bit of research (weighing propane against oil), we were going to swap our current electric water heater (15 years old) with a “hybrid” water heater, and live with oil and the rest of our appliances as is, or until they need to be replaced.  A solid plan, or so I thought... 

During this time, I had put a stop on our automatic home oil delivery with every intention of switching to propane.  I had put in a call to Medway Oil and explained the situation, and was preparing to have us added back to their auto delivery schedule, when the nice receptionist quickly said, “Are you sure?  You should really talk to Jeffrey (the owner) first, I think that’d be best before making that decision.  He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to fuels for your home.”  Later that day, Jeffrey had called me and told me I was crazy for not switching to propane, and even crazier that I’m not jumping at the chance to make the change with my father being a plumber.  After some back and forth, I was back to my original plan; switching to propane we go.

For those of you who are reading this and don’t know me incredibly well, I’m an engineer.  I tend to over design and read into everything I’m about to invest in.  This “research” I do goes for everything, from my truck, to my house, to the golf gear I buy.  Needless to say, I threw my dad for a loop when I had decided to not go with his typical Navien solution.  Instead, I had designed a completely separate solution, complete with tankless water filtration (to cut back on scale).  I’ll be the first to tell you that my dad loathes having to do any work at my house; not because it’s a difficult house to work on (it’s actually relatively open and easy to swap just about anything), but because I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to anything.  I’ve been told, and I’ve witnessed it myself that my perfection can sometimes paralyze me, but it’s who I am.  It doesn’t mean I’m perfect with everything I do, it just means that I have a certain way I like things to look, or be installed, or utilized.  Needless to say, because of my customized design, we went without hot water or heat for (5) days.  Luckily the days weren’t that cool, and family close by allowed us to utilize their shower in the interim (Thanks Jay and Monika). 

Now that my post is a bit Tarantino’ed for you, I can share on the solution I ended up designing (with the help from my dad’s friend George).  We ended up installing a State ProLine XE Combi Boiler (propane) with a Watts OneFlow Anti-Scale System for Tankless Water Heaters.  The boiler does both heat and hot water.  The heating side (water) is fed into a heating coil into our First Co High Efficiency Air Handler.  For cooling, we went with a Goodman 13 SEER air condenser.  On top of this, we’ve also swapped our stove from electric to propane.

I share this simply because we’ve already seen a drastic reduction in our electricity bill, and thought others may want to learn a bit about how hydronic heating works, along with a possible solution.  I’ve come to learn there really isn’t a whole lot out there on the Interwebz on hydronic forced air heating since it’s a relatively new method for heating homes.  While I’m sure others have an opinion on how they choose to heat their home, this is my preferred method.  Not to mention the 95% AFUE my new tankless boiler is capable of.  By the way, now that my brain is on information overload for tankless solutions, please feel free to reach out to me and pick my brain.  I’m happy to provide any insight along with things I’ve learned during this process.  I may not have all the answers, but I know where and who to ask to get you the appropriate answer.

I know I typically don’t write long blog posts, but after all the long hours, the coordination, prepping and planning I have a list of people and businesses I want to thank for this efficiency change to our home (anyone will tell you and share this is no small feat by any means).

My Dad (CCH Plumbing and Heating) - Thanks for bearing with me for this design, working out the kinks, and the long hours.  Sarah, the kids, and I are beyond lucky to have you in our lives.

My Brother (Sean Horman) - Thanks for all the hours and time you put in to help with the install.  Again, not your’s and dad’s typical tankless install, so thanks for trucking through the design and helping me to figure out the best implementation plan.  It’s good to have another engineer in the family!

Medway Oil (Jeffrey Mushnick and his team) - Thank you for sharing your knowledge, guidance, and insight.  The Medway Oil team was an absolute pleasure to work with from removing the old propane tank, prepping for the new tanks, and the install.  After my experience, Medway Oil now has a lifelong customer!

Glen Stoddard (from Hunter William Carpentry) - Thanks for lending a hand, repairing the siding, and building the foundation for my upgrade.  The work you do is amazing, and we’ll continue to lean on you for projects to come.  You are my first recommendation when anyone asks for carpentry work!

George Cook (Cook Services HVAC) - Thanks for the insight and knowledge to HVAC systems, your recommendations, and the installation.  I can’t appreciate my dad enough for recommending someone of your talent, skill, and attention to detail.

Jose Echaniz - Thanks for lending a hand to make sure everything was wired for power appropriately, and tailoring the wiring to meet our desired needs.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

I love you.

As I stand here making dinner, and listening to one of my many playlists playing throughout the house, I can’t help but think how lucky I am to have three of the most wonderful people in my life.  I’ve come to realize my music playlists all consists of songs that make me think of you three. Including but not limited to Mirrors by Justin Timberlake.  What can I say, the he sings from the heart and is now a reoccurring artist on my playlist.

Boe - What can I say, you’re simply the best!  Without you continually being my cheerleader, pushing me, making me realize I can reach my goals if I just push a little harder, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Or rather, where we are today. I hope others are as lucky as I am to have someone like you in their lives.  You constantly remind me that we are an unstoppable team, a power couple, and amazing parents.  You constantly remind me how proud you are of me, and tell me there’s very little I can't achieve.  Thanks for being my partner in crime, and my best friend. I love you.

Teagan - When you came into the world, I was overthrown with emotions, including the realization
that I have a child who will depend on me, look up to me, and snuggle me. You’re attitude of being courageous, passionate, and motivated has made me a better person.  Without a doubt there are times when I need to make a challenging decision, and in my mind I continuously ask myself, “What would Teagan do?”.  You continuously amaze me with your smarts, wit, and always wanting to try new things.  I never thought I would have an 8 year old who loves to golf, ice skate, and snowboard.  Thanks for being you and making me a better person and dad without even trying.  I love you.

Magoo - You are the spicy child I needed in my life to teach me patience, and perhaps a little taste of karma for the hellion I was growing up.  You continuously amaze me when you put your shyness aside and push forward to try something new and daring.  While you are only 5 right now, you certainly act much older unexpectedly.  Watching you do homework at night and seeing your face light up when you get the right answers is the smile I need at the end of long day.  The extra “See you in the morning” when I put you to bed leaves me with a smile as I walk away from your room.  You are certainly strong willed, but I’m sure it will pay dividends as you get older.  Thanks for always being honest, polite, and the little bit of spice I need in my life.  I love you.