The Inn at Gristmill Square
Nestled in a breathtakingly beautiful high valley of Bath County, Virginia, is a historic Inn with two pioneering Innkeepers. The Inn at Gristmill Square in Warm Springs, Virginia has a history with alternative energy, as it was a working hydro-powered grain mill until 1971. 40 years later, in 2011, it is starting to heat its water with the immense power of the sun.
“The Inn consumes a lot of hot water and before we were heating it all with electricity” said Katherine Loeffler, who runs the Inn with her husband John. “We are doing laundry morning, noon, and night, the guests are showering, and the restaurant is doing dishes all night.” At $0.15/kwh, their electricity is above the national average and once they are fully outfitted with Sunbanks they will be saving thousands of dollars per year.
The first installation at the Gristmill took two people one full day. That includes roof penetration, plumbing, and setting up the unit.
“The installation was a cinch. Our handyman and my brother set it up one day and we were solar the next.”
The Gristmill hopes to be 100% solar thermal in the near future, including their outdoor pool that stays chilly thanks to the cool mountain nights when temperatures regularly dip into the 50s.
“At first we were unsure if the Sunbank was going to fit in with our historic motif, but then we realized that it is just like our air conditioning units and our satellite dishes. First, people rarely look up to the roof and second, it is something you get used to or just enjoy in the first place. We like our Sunbank for how it looks and how much it saves us. We get a lot of comments from guests who are happy to see that we are going solar and want to find out how they can get one for themselves.”