2014 Major Project Goal: Total HVAC Replacement

When we first toured this house during the weird open house, I almost recoiled at the sight of electric baseboard heaters in every room. The house had a central air system, but the unit serving the house was just an air conditioner. Instead of a heat pump, the house has baseboards. Before I moved to Virginia, I lived in places with oil heat or radiators. I heard that electric heat was extremely expensive...and our first winter here supported that.

We have so many projects on our "to do" list, but the top items on the list for this year were to replace the HVAC system with one that had a heat pump and clear some of the sick or dying trees/limbs that are around the property.

There were two hiccups with the HVAC project. We originally wanted the job done last spring, but it took forever to get companies to come and take a look at the unit. I always used Robinson Electric at the condo, but the person who did their estimates was not very prompt with communication. We turned to Albemarle Heating and Air hoping for a better response. The technician who came out told us that we should do the job in October, when there would be some great rebates on the HVAC system. Since we had AC, we went with his suggestion.

We think they just didn't want to do the job because there are some tough logistics. The access to the air handler is in one of Marc's closets and it's tiny.

In the mean time, we encountered the other hiccup. We had heard about some financing deals with the UVa Community Credit Union that basically amounted to getting free money to cover the work. We have a couple accounts at the credit union, so we decided to go for it. I filed the loan documents online and didn't hear back for a few weeks. I missed a call from the loan agent and called right back, but had to leave a message. I never heard from her again. We decided to just fund the project without them at that point.

We were frustrated...and fall had arrived. I asked a colleague for a referral and she raved about Blue Ridge Services. I hadn't heard of them before and after meeting with them, I felt like I was in on one of the best secrets in town. Blue Ridge Services is WONDERFUL. Their estimate was detailed, provided five different options for us to consider, and our contact (Randy Carter) was extremely helpful in explaining all of those options. He said that they would probably go into the attic through the air return, which is in the upstairs hallway and much larger than the closet hatch.

A few weeks ago, the project finally began. A six-person team showed up and somehow got the entire project done in one, long day. But then Randy decided he didn't like how some existing things were laid out in the attic and sent someone back the next day to fix that. At one point, a seventh person showed up and it appeared as though is job was the clean. They said they leave homes cleaner than they found them. Amazing.

When it was over, we had heat! It felt so great to have heat all around me again! This has honestly changed my relationship with this house.

Now, the read the small novel that came with this thermostat!


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