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Old 04-19-13, 11:06 AM   #11
AC_Hacker
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Originally Posted by Weather Spotter View Post
other ideas pending cost and payback:
solar water heater?
Solar heat?
In my opinion you should begin with the thought in mind that you want to do everything possible to prevent the heat you have from escaping. This begins with preventing infiltration. This should be a major effort to find every crack and leak... and to keep tracking and sealing and filling. Next comes finding and installing the very best insulation you can muster, and as much of it as you can possibly fit in.

This will also include improving windows, and you probably live in an area where triple glass windows will have a big pay-off. There have been some really good discussions on EcoRenovator regarding factory-made high performance windows, and home-made performance improvements to existing windows. I'm sure that if you read through these discussions, you'll find the option that best fits your needs.

Remember, insulation keeps working, day and night, summer and winter, 24 hours a day, and it never needs a service call.

If you look at insulation as a financial investment, it is ultra low risk, it definitely has a positive return (in terms of reduced expenses) which is more than you can say for the finance industry's offerings, and you can count on the fact that your returns will continue to improve in the future.

Only after you have tackled the heat-retention phase should you consider solar, or other energy efficient heating options. A big reason for this is that once you reduce your heat loss, your heating needs become far less... and the low heat-density (also cheaper) heating options become a possibility.

As you consider solar, bear in mind that large tree(s) planted on the sunny side of your house can save you $$$ in air conditioning costs.

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...
A. 7 of 11 windows are original signal pane. the other 4 are 5-15 yr old vinyl
B. ceiling only has R19 fiberglass batts
C. two year old 80% NG Forced air furnace.
D. Need to get a new washer/ dryer.- should I go gas or electric?
E. Craw space with marginal room to get into.
F. Leaky roof around non flashed chimney (high on the fix it list)
G. old electrical wires but new outlets (non grounded) and new service.
H. Lack of lighting in home- I was thinking of using the attic space to put in Can lights (short ceilings), I was thinking about going with LED's. Any ideas on good ones?
I. Block walls with limited insulation on the outside under aluminum siding.
J. Lack of roof venting
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H. Lack of lighting in home- I was thinking of using the attic space to put in Can lights (short ceilings), I was thinking about going with LED's. Any ideas on good ones?
I would advise against using can lights, because unless you get air-tight cans (at extra cost) each one is a route for air and heat to leak out. Putting in can lights limits your flexibility as to how you want to live in your house and where the proper lighting should be. Recessed lighting was developed in the 30's, when it was cutting edge, but the can light look is getting 'dated' and in my opinion, it never really looked all that great, anyway. I have a buddy that is putting in scores of those things in his house, but this is the third wave of his never ending remodel. 'Never ending', because none of the remods have been well thought out.

I like the idea of a wall light near a room entry switch, but I think that room lighting should come from wall lamps or table lamps or an occasional hanging lamp. This gives you maximum flexibility at minimum cost, and easily allows for technical advancements in lighting... after all, LED ighting may not be the last chapter in lighting efficiency.

Plan for two kinds of lighting, fill lighting and task lighting. fill lighting could be a table or wall lamp that gives off diffused light to illuminate the extent of the room, it doesn't need to be so bright. This can be done with light bounced off the ceiling, or with wall lamps or hanging lamps, or table lamps all of which would have translucent shades. Right now, CFLs are the best for this. They are cheap, they come in a large variety of shapes and brightness, and they are, lumen for lumen, more energy efficient than LEDs. Then there are task lights, where you need to see what you are doing... they should be direct light, with high contrast and as bright as your eyes need them to be. So here, LEDs are good performers and also halogen lights, which have better color rendition, but are not good energy performers.

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Originally Posted by Weather Spotter View Post
I. Block walls with limited insulation on the outside under aluminum siding.
Block wall, huh? This is probably a real thermal leaker right now. I think that the previous post that suggested a rigid foam exterior house wrap is a very good idea. You'd want to use XPS because it is non-hydroscopic (doesn't absorb moisture).You have sufficient overhang to make it work.

If you did wrap and seal the house in foam, you'll certainly want to insulate the inside with densely packed cellulose, as a humidity moderating measure. Fiberglass doesn't have the same ability to moderate humidity.

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Originally Posted by Weather Spotter View Post
D. Need to get a new washer/ dryer.- should I go gas or electric?
I use a smallish Euro-sized front-loading washing machine. It is amazing how much clothing you can pack into something that small. The tumbling action doesn't beat up clothes as badly as an agitator type, and it uses much less water. A modest additional benefit is that much less washing products are required... mine uses uses about 1/4 what a top loader would use, and washes the same amount of clothes. Get one that has a really aggressive spin cycle, as has been mentioned before, the less wet your clothes, the less drying required.

I have used a gas dryer for a very long time, and it has been a consistently reliable and thrifty performer. However, my recent work with a CO2 sensor has taught me that you need to be very careful that your venting is excellent. I would suggest that if you go with gas (this includes your furnace), you make sure that the appliances have sufficient outside air feeding their combustion, and that preferably, the envelope that they are operating in is separate (sealed) from your living space. This has all been a big eye opener for me, because of my CO2 sensor work.

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J. Lack of roof venting
I'm going to disagree here with some previous advice... A proper venting arrangement from eve-to-ridge, will really help to dump heat in the summer time, and reduce your need for air conditioning, considerably.

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G. old electrical wires but new outlets (non grounded) and new service.
Don't know if you have electrical skills, but you should have grounded outlets, for your safety.

So now you're talking about ripping off all the sheet rock, and rewiring. I think that more outlets are better than fewer, I go with one duplex every 4 feet. I have also discovered how useful it is to split the duplex plugs, so that one is controllable from a wall switch, and the other is always on. You don't need this on all duplexes, but a few are a real blessing.

Best,

-AC

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Old 04-20-13, 06:59 PM   #12
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Unless you have walls up to around R 40 and also really tight and low U windows I can't recommend more than 18" of cellulose in an attic. If you make a pie chart of your loss and gain at R 60 an attic will be an invisible sliver compared to everything else so the ROI is nonexistent. Also I can't recommend fiberglass. That stuff is a mouse magnet. They destroy it and fill it with urine and feces. I'm beginning to wish I didn't use it in my basement. In retrospect I think I'd rather live with the lower R value than fiberglass.

Honestly the best advice I can give you is to get the house structurally sound, use more insulation than less and to do your reading. You are getting a lot of different opinions here in this thread and some of them are conflicting. Only you can satisfy yourself as to what's the best for your house. As for me personally, there has been at least one point in every post in this thread I don't agree with. Who's right? Green building has a lot of different options and facets. Not all agree on all points. Most agree that more insulation is better than less. Most agree that a structurally sound house is better than one structurally failing. Take your time. Do as much reading as you can. Wait until you're sure you know what you're doing then keep reading for another six months or so before you start your work.

Just this morning I had a man adamantly insisting that his house was perfect. It had R - 27 for a wall and an admirable 1.8 ACH50. I personally wouldn't be satisfied with either of those numbers. Especially in new construction, like his house was. Oh, and he had fiberglass in that R 27 wall.

There are some really great and relevant points in this simple article that I think everyone should read:
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...ding-beginners


I wish you the best of luck. I hope you ultimately you end up with a comfortable and durable home which is reasonable cost effective to occupy.
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You know you're an ecorenovator if anything worth insulating is worth superinsulating.
Quote:
S-F: "What happens when you slam the door on a really tight house? Do the basement windows blow out?"

Green Building Guru: "You can't slam the door on a really tight house. You have to work to pull it shut."

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Old 06-02-13, 06:48 PM   #13
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time for a bit of an update.....

Closed on the house two weeks ago and the projects are coming fast.

I am updating the bathroom and kitchen and finding great deals on CL for cabinets and things I need. In the process of projects I have taken out three small single plane windows and found that the house is aluminum siding right on 4 hole cinder block (8") and then 2x2" strips on the walls and then 3/8" or 1/2" drywall. From what I can tell the walls are non insulated!

I am just starting the wiring upgrades and will also be re doing most if not all of the pluming (supply and drain) in the house.

What are peoples thoughts on putting plastic down on top of the dirt in the craw space?

If I decide to redo the siding I was thinking of putting 2" of ridged foam on the outside (glued to the wall). but I am not sure how to attach lap siding on top of that? Ideas that keep the wall thickens from getting huge?
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Old 06-02-13, 09:45 PM   #14
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Covering the crawlspace floor with plastic will reduce the amount of moisture coming up into the house. The installation does not need to be perfect, anything is better than bare dirt.

If I was insulating a concrete block house, I'd glue on at least 4 inches of XPS in two layers, then fasten furring strips or sheets of OSB on top using Tapcon screws. Then nail the siding to the furring strips or OSB.

This is also the time for new windows. The new windows should be installed flush with the foam, otherwise there is a thermal leak.

If I could afford it, I would use polyisocyanurate insulation (the foil face stuff).
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Old 06-03-13, 08:59 AM   #15
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...Ideas that keep the wall thickens from getting huge?
What are your concerns about thick walls?

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Old 06-08-13, 02:39 PM   #16
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Weather Spotter,

I will try to address some of your questions and ask more to help you on your journey renovating your new home. I am not a master expert guru, but many members here are.

From this quick reference:
Ashland, WI Weather, Forecast, Temperature and Precipitation Statistics - CLRSearch
We can tell that your main concern regarding energy usage will be heating. With about 7500 heating degree days vs. 700 cooling degree days, your heating demand is roughly 10 times cooling demand. With average January lows approaching 0 degF and most likely many sub-zero nights, you will spend a boatload of money every year to heat your home, even if it is "well insulated".

What you need to be thinking of is "super insulating" your home by today's residential standards. The home-builders of today are not highly motivated in terms of energy savings after they have reached the minimum amount required to get you a government rebate. In contrast, spending an extra thousand dollars on this or that material up front, especially on extra insulation or infiltration barrier will forever change the way your house acts when it gets cold or windy. Done properly, improving your home's resistance to mother nature has the potential of murdering your utility bills for the foreseeable future.

A first step to pursue is to define what you have just purchased. I assume a decent home inspection was done prior to closing. Next, a thorough energy audit needs to be done. From these two preliminaries, you can define a baseline as to the present condition of the home. If you can contact a previous owner, they could provide a trove of historical data. Doing your homework in this area will compound itself in labor and time savings the earlier it is done. For instance, identifying a leaky, over-sized heating system or a poorly designed electrical system would dictate rework before finishing or insulating around these defects.

Concerning the siding and interior/exterior components of your envelope: it all depends on how you want it to look when it's finished. This should be integrated into your plan before you start your project. If you're not much of an architect or carpenter, that's okay. Just surf the internet and find design elements you like. Print out or save some pictures and put a folder together along with pictures of your home. Then seek advice from others with design skills.

The methods and practices of work involved are all well established and will pretty much reveal themselves once you figure out the finished product. But the surface cosmetics should have much less to bear on your project than what lies between the drywall and the siding or shingles. Like the builders say: "Drywall, paint and plastic is cheap."

With respect to lighting, most manufacturers make products that fit in with the status quo in building methods. This usually means drilling big holes in your walls or ceilings (or drop-ceilings) to install boxes or cans, because that's what contractors do well. There is a whole forum on this site devoted to eco-lighting solutions on this site with innovative solutions that do not violate your envelope and perform much better than the industry standard. Your imagination is the only barrier in this realm.

As to your space and water heating, these will be revealed once you analyze your home. If you have sufficient hot water and heat now, concentrate first on reducing your exergy leakage first. No need to spend up-front money on something that works as-is. These systems can be researched and upgraded later if need be.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I cannot over-emphasize the importance of assembling a detailed plan before you get involved in performing work. I wish you the best and look forward to your success.

Jeff

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Old 09-01-13, 08:46 PM   #17
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Time for another update:

Plumbing is all new. New drains from the septic tank connection to every fixture, new Pex manifolds and runs to each fixture

All the Electric is done (except for one bed room thats yet to be remodeled).

Two leaky widows removed (bathroom and what will be a closet), this took out 20% of windows in the house.

roof patched (minor old tar was coming off making a small leak).

Bathroom is all new!

Kitchen is all New!!!!

utility room is almost done.

Garage is cleaned out, new electric run, work benches and shelf's built....


Still working on the insulation and siding issue. After spending $1400 more then budget on the plumbing and $ 1000 over on electrical. I had to redoing the whole kitchen as some helpers went to town busting out the old cabinets and flooring so that caused more $$$$ to be spent on non energy efficiency upgrades. Now I am living in the house and have used up the fix it up budget

Some things I am noticing, even on hot sunny days the house does not heat up as much as I would expect for a house with no wall insulation. The attic does have ~R22 worth of insulation. If in the morning the house is 70F when I leave for work and I keep it closed up, at 5pm its only up to 74F or so. Outside temps will be in the 90+ F range and it takes over a week of these to get the house up to 80F. Is this the thermal mass effect in action? If so how well will this work in the winter?

How do I calculate U values for a wall thats aluminum siding on 8" cinder blocks with a 1.75" air gap and then a sheet of 3/8" drywall? the wall air gap is mostly blocked off to the attic and eves but not completely, some areas are wide open and with a very shallow roof pitch I cannot get within 4 feet of the wall from the attic. If I even think hard about taking the nailed on original 1953 soft off I will never get it back on

Ideas?

How bad would it be to take off the current siding and insulate and leave the old windows and doors on (sunk in 1-4 inches) till I could afford to replace them?
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Old 09-02-13, 10:29 PM   #18
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You're thinking in the right direction here. Work on the stuff that has to be done first (plumbing, electrical structural, etc.). As usual, everything with a home ends up costing more than originally planned. This is why contractors usually double their estimated cost up front, because they've been there and done that, and they can't afford to run out of money a week before completion of a project. Don't be afraid to wait if you can't afford projects yet, just make sure when you actually do them they end up like you wanted. A house is not a money pit (usually) if things are done right the first time through.

As you are observing, stone walls have a huge amount of thermal mass. This does not necessarily mean that they have high r-value, though. I believe concrete block walls have an r-value close to 1. The airspace and gypsum probably have close to the same r-value, but they have very little mass. The result is that the wall gives up and takes in lots of heat, but it takes a long time to feel the change indoors. This effect will catch up with you in the winter, right around the holiday season.

The quickest and easiest way to insulate your block walls is from within. Injecting foam into the hollow cavities inside the wall will increase the r-value to somewhere above 10, and you don't have to rip your siding off to do it. This will give you the most bang for the buck, especially if you DIY. It also will seal the block wall, killing infiltration issues. The stuff goes in like shaving cream and sets in 2 minutes. Plug up the holes you drilled and it's done.

Here is a site pitching their brand of the product.

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Old 09-03-13, 04:26 PM   #19
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Have you had an energy audit yet?

If not, get one now, before you start ripping your envelope up.

If so, how did you fare? This will serve as a baseline to quantify your future improvements.

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Old 09-05-13, 04:09 AM   #20
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... The quickest and easiest way to insulate your block walls is from within. Injecting foam into the hollow cavities inside the wall will increase the r-value to somewhere above 10, and you don't have to rip your siding off to do it. This will give you the most bang for the buck, especially if you DIY. It also will seal the block wall, killing infiltration issues. The stuff goes in like shaving cream and sets in 2 minutes. Plug up the holes you drilled and it's done.

Here is a site pitching their brand of the product.
What, R10?? How? This is like taking a steel building and putting cavity insulation in it, you accomplish very little in regards to insulation. You fill up the insides of the cinder blocks and then the joining parts of the concrete still have full thermal conduction. You don't gain much here. What really should happen is there should be an insulating layer on either the outside or the inside of the concrete layer to be effective.

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