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Tofuball 01-17-2008 05:03 AM

A challenge!
 
Allright, I am faced with an interesting challenge, and I think I'll turn to you guys for help.

I just bought a house that I plan to live in for at most 5 years while I build the real house in the back yard, then destroy this house.

This house has an electric heat pump, and is very badly put together. It has no insulation in the walls, but very good windows. It has no insulation under the floor or in the crawl space, and it has no insulation around the ducts that move through the crawl space to each room. It has insulation in the attic, but it is very poor.

This house is very small,

I'm already using a caulk gun constantly to seal most drafts I find, and I put down some carpet on the floors to help with that.

My question to you guys is, what suggestions do you have for keeping my heating bills lower, given that any money or time spent on this house is wasted on something that will only last, at most, 5 years?

Rick Rae 01-17-2008 05:50 AM

For a "free" reduction, you can try heating only where you "live" instead of the whole house. Pick one room (bedroom, kitchen, home office, whatever) where you're going to spend most of your time. Either keep the door closed or hang a bedsheet/drape/whatever over the doorway. Use a small heater (electric, kerosene, whatever) to keep that one room comfortable. Turn the heat pump way down for the rest of the house -- say 50F or 55F -- only enough to keep the pipes from freezing and so on.

And dress warmly, of course. Sweats are comfy and you can keep the temperature a lot lower than you can if you're wearing e.g. jeans and a tee.

I'll be interested to see what ideas others offer -- I'm always looking for ways to reduce costs.

Rick

bones33 01-17-2008 06:10 AM

Good suggestions and good work with the caulking gun. Be sure to use it in every ceiling penetration and cracks. I've heard that a home should be caulked like an upside down swimming pool, where the heat (or water) leaks out through the ceiling. So work from the top down, and be anal about getting every last seeping hole.

If you can, insulate some areas of the house with the plan to move the same insulation into the new house.

101mpg 01-17-2008 06:34 AM

Blow in insulation - a lot cheaper than pulling down walls & putting them back up. Helps immensely over 5 years.

Tofuball 01-17-2008 07:03 AM

Awesome. Thanks for all the suggestions so far :) I'll definitely look in the ceiling for things to caulk.

I do currently heat the house to 60F and then heat one room with an electric heater.

I will look into the blow in insulation, is that cheep enough to really recoup the cost over the course of 5 years? Is that something I can do myself?

skewbe 01-17-2008 09:36 AM

You can also slap scrap styrofoam you find on construction sites or wherever on all the walls of the exterior walls, and the attic, assuming you are a bachelor, and make your house into an oversized cooler. Will make it real quiet inside also and pencils will stick wherever you throw them :) (might need to touch it up a few times over 5 years)

Tofuball 01-17-2008 09:40 AM

Hey, If I throw enough pencils at it, the pencils themselves will start insulating too! :)

palemelanesian 01-17-2008 10:49 AM

I made the decision NOT to insulate my floor, above the crawl space. All my plumbing is down there, on the ground and not on the underside of the floor. The heat that leaks down there helps keep the pipes from freezing. It's already happened once here in north TX.

Better sealing along the foundation wall has stopped any more pipe freezing, but it depends on the heat from above.

Just another thing to consider.

GasSavers_Erik 01-17-2008 12:57 PM

You can check the price of blown in cellulose insulation at your local Lowe's, Home depot etc. Many of them have a blowing machine that you get to use for free if you buy x amount of cellulose insulation.

Its very dusty to blow in, but not hard and it insulates well. I put 5 inches in my garage attic a few years ago and it makes a huge difference during summer and winter. You will need a helper to feed the machine while you point the hose in the attic.

kamesama980 01-17-2008 12:57 PM

carpet any room without in the winter to hold in heat (course this'll decrease what gets below) and pul up carpet in the summer

Tofuball 01-18-2008 05:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kamesama980 (Post 88803)
carpet any room without in the winter to hold in heat (course this'll decrease what gets below) and pul up carpet in the summer

Thats a good idea :)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erik (Post 88802)
You can check the price of blown in cellulose insulation at your local Lowe's, Home depot etc. Many of them have a blowing machine that you get to use for free if you buy x amount of cellulose insulation.

Its very dusty to blow in, but not hard and it insulates well. I put 5 inches in my garage attic a few years ago and it makes a huge difference during summer and winter. You will need a helper to feed the machine while you point the hose in the attic.


I was just checking that yesterday, 20 bags at $9 a bag gets you a free rental at Lowes. Each bag is good for 40sq feet, depending on the R rating you want. Have you ever used the wet spray stuff? I'm interested in spraying that on the underside of the crawl space.

I'm glad to hear feedback on the stuff, I plan to do it sometime next week :)

GasSavers_Erik 01-18-2008 06:24 AM

No- I've never used the wet spray material.

There are some people that believe that its more cost effective to insulate the foundation walls and leave the underside of the floor uninsulated. Then you seal up the crawlspace vents so your crawlspace stays ground temperature- 50-55 degrees in most areas. This really cuts down on the amount of insulation you need since the footprint of your house has many more square feet than the surface area of the foundation walls. The only catch is that you must have a good vapor barrier (plastic sheet) on the ground in the crawlspace, or else moisture from the ground will rot the floor joists. Of course, in your case, maybe that would be a good thing since it will make things easier to tear down in 5 years:D

Are you planning to build the new house yourself?

9 years ago, I did the same sort of thing that you are doing (living in old house while building a new house on the same property). I bought a 50 year old house with some real repair issues at an auction. I initially thought I could repair it, but other people made me realize that I'd put just as much time into it as building a new house and half as much money- and yet still it would be a 50 year old house.

In 9 hard months, my dad and I built forms and poured a solid concrete foundation, framed the house (1500 square feet, cape cod style, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom) wired it, plumbed it and did everything else except the sheetrock and insulation. It was countless hours of work, but you save sooo much money vs letting contractors do it for you. I was impressed at how reasonable and helpful the plumbing and electrical inspectors were (even though I failed the plumbing inspection the first 2 times)


I tore down the old house by hand (about 1200 square feet- single story) and was able to sell the trusses and other materials out of it for about $400.

Tofuball 01-18-2008 08:26 AM

Thanks for the informative post!

The house I am in is almost 70 years old! Then it was renovated by someone who must have done a lot of LSD - he must have thought the walls were growing, nothing lines up :O

I am definitely planning on building the new house myself, but I plan to have someone else do the basement/foundation.

Do you think it is really worth it for me to level out the ground in the crawl space so I can put down a vapor barrier? What about radon?

GasSavers_Erik 01-18-2008 10:18 AM

You can probably get an electronic radon detector for less than $75. That will show you if you need the vapor barrier for health reasons.

If you are going to tear the house down in 5 years, I seriously doubt that it would rot that fast without the vapor barrier (unless the floors are already springy).

I know from experience that its no fun working in a tight crawl space for longer than necessary.

Be sure to check with your county planning commission to see if building permits are required.

Around here, construction within city limits requires a permit, approved blueprints and inspection of the framing footer etc. Construction outside of the city limits does not need plans/permit and only the plumbing and wiring have to be inspected. But it depends on your state/county as to what they require. Also consider the setback requirement- in some areas, you cannot build a house within X feet of the property line.

Tofuball 01-23-2008 01:19 AM

^ Thanks much :D The floors aren't rotted, though they are quite wavy, with up to a 3/4 inch difference in some places!

So, I've almost got done insulating the attic, patched a half foot hole in the roof (!!!) and plugged most of the air holes in the basement. (If only duct tape would stick to cinder block, I'd have a much easier time!)

Now, the house can maintain about 62 degrees before the heat pump never turns off.

Next up, blown-in insulation for the walls.



So, the windows are nice Energy-Star rated windows, however I can feel cold air leaking in from around them, on the sills. Is there an easy solution for this, or will I have to just seal the whole window off?

GasSavers_Erik 01-23-2008 02:00 AM

If air is leaking in through the cracks in the house's wooden frame around the window, then caulking the cracks up would help.

Most windows will create a localized "mini draft" as air is chilled and cold air falls down the pane and spills off the window sill- but this is just because cold air is denser than warm air.

Tofuball 01-23-2008 02:22 AM

Already caulked around the windows, my house is made out of caulk now :P

I'm hoping the "mini-draft" is the problem then, so I'll just film the windows.

Tofuball 01-25-2008 01:16 AM

Another Q for you guys!

Storm doors: Is it worth it if I'm going to be getting rid of the house in 5 years? Will it really save that much on my bills?

skewbe 01-25-2008 01:19 AM

Oh, hot glue a nice thick layer of styrofoam on your doors too :)

GasSavers_Erik 01-25-2008 01:46 AM

Sure- good fitting storm doors will help. If you have the money now, you might as well pick out the storm doors for your new house and put them on you current old house, then switch them to the new house in 5 years.

Before you do this be sure you know which side your new house doors will open from (right hand vs left hand). Its a little awkward, but if you need to, you can put a right hand storm door on a left hand entry door (if you know your entry door for your future house will be right handed but your current door is left handed).

Tofuball 01-25-2008 02:04 AM

Thanks Erik, you've been a major help :)

Quote:

Originally Posted by skewbe (Post 89549)
Oh, hot glue a nice thick layer of styrofoam on your doors too :)


I really like that idea, but I'm trying to get my new neighbors to like me :P


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