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-   -   1200 sq. ft. home in Texas (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/showthread.php?t=4697)

ToddT 03-01-16 05:13 PM

Regarding the storm windows, I found magnetic interior storm windows had a 38 month return on investment but that was buying them made and installed.

A few other tricks from decades in Louisiana and now back home to south Arkansas:
Water fog mist on the outside AC unit. If you have hard water, add a polyphosphate filter to essentially soften the water to avoid salts plating out on the metal.
Water spray on the roof. Even with our high humidity, an alternating wet/dry cycle didn't use much water but kept the roof temperatures down. It can increase the life of your roof and cool your attic. If you have really high R values in your attic insulation, the return isn't as great. But, it's cheap. I got a repeat cycle timer and a thermostat switch. When the attic temps hit 90 degrees, it started a repeat cycle of 30 seconds of applying water followed by 15 minutes of evaporating.
Shade the outside unit. The AC needs to get rid of heat, tough if your outside unit is being baked by the summer sun. You never want to block the air discharge above the unit nor put anything to restrict airflow from the sides. I made a shade screen out of 2x2's and black shade material from the home center. I left about 24" around the AC unit and had the shade panel on short legs so fresh air could be brought in freely.

ME_Andy 03-01-16 05:27 PM

I appreciate it, Todd. It sounds like misting the AC is something we could do. (Kind of like putting an AC unit inside a swamp cooler, I guess).

The windows are on hold for now because a leak sprang up from the spigot of our water heater. After replacing the spigot, we saw it was nearly clogged with lime. I think our next upgrade will be the water heater ASAP.

http://pvcharts.com/blog/assets/imag...ged_spigot.jpg

The contractors Home Depot sent out quoted $2700 to bring it up to code. That was a lot more than we expected, but I can do some of the upgrades myself. Our water pressure was 95 psi, so a lot of that expense comes from a pressure relief valve and an expansion valve.

This is the replacement model we want, unless anybody else can suggest something better/easier to install.
Rheem Performance Platinum 40 Gal. Short 12 Year 40,000 BTU Energy Star Natural Gas Water Heater-XG40S12DM40U0 - The Home Depot

Elcam84 03-01-16 08:04 PM

95 psi is too high for residential. Find the pressure regulator near the meter and lower that pressure. 40 to 50 is typical though 95 would help with irrigation...

Double pane windows aren't too bad these days. I replaced all of ours and the most expensive ones were the two front pairs of 3'x6' windows. They were about $450 for each pair. The other windows were mostly stock sizes and around $80 for a 3'x5' and as low as $50 for one of the small ones. They are vinyl double pane and work great.
If I hadn't done it before the summer two years ago we would have had a hard time keeping it 85 in the house that summer... It was 117* every day for two weeks with lows of 85*. Unfortunately man j uses 100* for here which ends up in hot houses. We typically get 100 or more days above 100* with much of that near 110* ugh too hot here...


The water spray on the roof saved us a couple summers and helped make up for an undersized unit. I was working on a new system with mini sprinklers but since we are moving in a year it's not worth it. Water is cheaper than electricity in fact free since we use under the minimum anyway...

ME_Andy 04-09-16 12:11 PM

Energy Star hot water heater is in
 
I appreciate it, Elcam. The new hot water heater is in and they installed a pressure relief valve at the same time. The difference is noticeable: our bath faucets used to leak when taking a shower, but they just trickle now.

A new blog post talks about whether it is worthwhile to buy an Energy Star model. I don't need to tell you guys this, but it definitely is. The cost difference (basic vs. Energy Star) was ~$150, the warranty is twice as long, the burner is more powerful, we should save ~$30/year on gas...

Then we get a $100 rebate from Texas Gas Service, which basically brings the cost difference to zero. It amazes me that most people aren't doing it. The plumbers looked at us kind of funny when we said, "We want Energy Star," then they tried to explain how it would cost thousands of dollars more. Total bull****.

Here's the model we got:
Rheem 38-gallon Energy Star

And another interesting model. It's tiny, but it heats the water very quickly, so it can keep up with the big boys:
Rheem Performance Platinum XR90 29 Gal. Tall 12 Year 60,000 BTU Natural Gas Water Heater-XG29T12XR60U0 - The Home Depot

http://pvcharts.com/blog/assets/images/hwh.jpg

I'm going to need to reorganize that blog pretty soon, it's getting large.

jeff5may 04-09-16 01:45 PM

Nice water heater! Good point about the salesmen and the "regular" installers. They serve each other in a way: the sales reps know most people are concerned more with price than longevity, and will coach the fickle into a unit that is inexpensive and that the contractors like to install. The service pros will do the same thing if you ask their opinion. They know most people will forget about the unit until it breaks down again. Without preventive maintenance, a high quality unit will break down in about the same time frame as a less expensive unit anyway.

Now that you have an awesome new unit, don't forget to do PMS on it! Flush the sludge out of it every year, and it will live much longer than its rating. My buddy got 25 years out of his 6 year unit. The burner finally died last fall. It popped the heat fuse in the thermocouple, and the thing had a weird reverse thread in it which was no longer available. It now sits in my truck bed, waiting to be used as a heat store for a future project.

ME_Andy 05-28-16 05:47 PM

Ever since they lowered our water pressure from 100 psi to 50 psi or so, we had one toilet that was constantly leaking and one whose tank hardly refilled. And our water bill had gone up about 20%. :( So today I replaced the two fill valves-- that was surprisingly easy. :D

Last month, our utility bill was $110 for everything but gas, and water was the majority of that. (The average electricity bill in our area was $105.) So I'm thinking the $14 for new fill valves will pay off fast.

With these speed bumps out of the way, it's on to the fun things! My project list:

1. Clear out one of the bedrooms to rent it.
2. Rehab the 2000 Schwinn Homegrown mountain bike that I bought on Craigslist for $250. This is a truly iconic mountain bike, from the last year before Schwinn sold out. Hand-welded aluminum in the USA, etc.
3. Replace the windows with double-pane.

oil pan 4 05-28-16 10:59 PM

I love having 100psi of utility water pressure.
That will raise the boiling point of water up to around 330F and keep the water heater from cavitating.
Also install a magnesium anode in your water heater, it really cuts down the buildup in the heater and in the pipes.

Elcam84 06-17-16 04:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ME_Andy (Post 50287)
Ever since they lowered our water pressure from 100 psi to 50 psi or so, we had one toilet that was constantly leaking and one whose tank hardly refilled. And our water bill had gone up about 20%. :( So today I replaced the two fill valves-- that was surprisingly easy. :D

Last month, our utility bill was $110 for everything but gas, and water was the majority of that. (The average electricity bill in our area was $105.) So I'm thinking the $14 for new fill valves will pay off fast.

With these speed bumps out of the way, it's on to the fun things! My project list:

1. Clear out one of the bedrooms to rent it.
2. Rehab the 2000 Schwinn Homegrown mountain bike that I bought on Craigslist for $250. This is a truly iconic mountain bike, from the last year before Schwinn sold out. Hand-welded aluminum in the USA, etc.
3. Replace the windows with double-pane.

Good to hear. Course not sure what toilets you have but the best bang for the buck are the toilets that Sam's Club sells. $89 dual flush and are quite hard to plug up and come with everything for install even a soft close seat. But never use a wax seal. Get the urethane one as it fits odd floors and is reusable.


That's pretty low for utilities. We will probably be in the 150 range this month for electricity as summer is here now. High 90s to 100 and barely getting below 80 at night and high humidity. IE 96* and 53% humidity. And the heat isn't even here yet. Will see if the new ac really uses less electricity...


As for the schwinn. I used to have an old one. The one with the two long levers to change gears. It was awful for shifting as you just moved the lever and hoped it would hit the right gear. Rode allot of miles on it then bought a mountain bike. Didn't ride it much and it's been stored at my parents place for 20 years or so. Last time I rode a bike I nearly killed myself. Yes you do forget how to ride a bike or at least loose confidence in turning and leaning over.

ME_Andy 06-29-16 02:54 PM

Here's an AC mister along the lines of what some of you suggested. $400 though!
Mistbox - Air Conditioner Energy Savings

Elcam84 06-29-16 03:16 PM

You can buy allot of electricity for $400. The big issue is making sure the filter is very good as you don't want any minerals getting through and depositing on the coils or causing corrosion.


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