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Old 03-10-11, 05:56 AM   #1
Arkaneinc
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Default Looking into heating/cooling options for my house

* sorry mods if this is the wrong forum*

Bought a 1950's house a little over 2 years ago in Southern California. Where I live it's not too bad most of the time. During the summer it gets up to 115-117F and during the winter it gets down to 25-30F.

My house has absolutely no insulation. No AC/Heat either. I have someone coming out this week to at least put R-13 in the walls and R-30 in the attic. It'll most likely be blown in to save some money because on top of everything else I'm a single father raising 2 small children.

I'm looking for the most efficient way to do both without spending a lot of money and would like to go as green as possible. We've been using fans during the summer but it only goes so far and is miserable. During the winter we were just using lots of blankets but i think it's time to just improve the house.

I have seen so many options from wood burning stoves to passive solar to heat the house. I've tried researching what I can and just thought I would ask. What would you do and why?

Obviously I know there will be some cost behind it. At some point I'll need to get the house as air tight as possible which I plan on doing. I need new windows as well but would like to start planning the heat/cooling as well.

thanks for all the help.

little info that may be helpful:
House is approx. 1158 sqft. it has a decent size backyard for Southern California standards. I have a train track right behind my house as well.

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Old 03-10-11, 08:12 AM   #2
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I'd definitely start with sealing the house up as much as possible. There are some good guides online. I really like this one: http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partner...e_May_2008.pdf
That is by far the best bang for your buck improvement you can make.

Next, I would look into getting insulation into those walls. The green and cheapest option is pretty much blown cellulose in the walls and attic. They cut holes in the wall and blow it in and pack it in a bit, and just blow it in in the attic.

After that, I'd probably consider a mini-split heat pump like Xringer and a few of the other guys here have. Your house is relatively small and I bet it could easily cool down the whole house to a comfortable level without the larger cost of central air. Xringer also completely documented his install, so you could do most of it yourself if you're handy at all.

Passive solar is great, but tweaking your house after the fact isn't exactly easy. Window awnings or a large overhang to shade from direct sun would be a great addition. Interior storm windows (link in my signature for my project) will help as well in summer or winter to add r-value to a window.
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Last edited by Daox; 03-10-11 at 08:15 AM..
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Old 03-10-11, 09:48 AM   #3
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Just remember...sealing up the house is great, but if you don't have an air exchange unit of some kind like an HRV or ERV, not only will you not have fresh air in the house, but you can cause pressure buildup. From what my energy auditor told me, it's very important to have that in place before you start sealing up the house because then you're just breathing in stale air.
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Old 03-10-11, 01:27 PM   #4
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For the not so hot days and cool nights you could open the windows at night and first thing in the morning close the windows and pull the shades. That will cool the house at night then trap the cool air in the house through the day the interior will get warmer but with good insulation the temp should only get up to the difference in morning temp to day time high. House gets down to 60F high of 90F temp should get to around 75F. This might not work so well depending on how exposed the house is and if there is not much insulation.
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Old 03-10-11, 02:17 PM   #5
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Sealing before insulating is going to be best, cellulose helps seal a bit when it's dense packed in walls, loose fill in attics on the other hand will not seal large gaps very well, so taking a can of foam in a can and sealing around the larger gaps in your attic and at the weak points, like where outer walls meat the ceiling along with any holes made by pipes, wires or vents should be sealed before insulating.
I agree with the air source heat pump, you don't need alot of heating in the winter and running it as A/C in the summer is most likely going to cost about the same in electricity as putting a box fan in every room in the summer.
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Old 03-11-11, 05:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkaneinc View Post
My house has absolutely no insulation. No AC/Heat either. I have someone coming out this week to at least put R-13 in the walls and R-30 in the attic. It'll most likely be blown in to save some money because on top of everything else I'm a single father raising 2 small children.
...
little info that may be helpful:
House is approx. 1158 sqft. it has a decent size backyard for Southern California standards. I have a train track right behind my house as well.
Arkaneinc,

The above advice about air-sealing / weatherizing is great. I would also suggest doing an energy audit on the house so you have a baseline to start with.

The Home Energy Saver is a free, DIY energy audit you can do to get an idea of where best to start on improving the energy efficiency of your house and get estimated ROI on different improvements. I've done this DIY home energy audit for my house and it's definitely worth the time needed to fill in the data.

Even better would be to have a Performance Energy Audit (with blower door test) done for your house. You electric / nat. gas utility may offer a rebate or low-cost performance audit program.

Either way, find out where you are wasting energy/heat/cooling first and then you can build a plan to address those issues.

Tim
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Old 03-15-11, 06:32 AM   #7
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I went through the house and sealed everything that I could find and also in the attic. I have an appointment set up for Saturday to get R-30 insulation blown into the attic and r-13 drilled and filled in the exterior walls.

I've tried the Home Energy saver but it doesn't seem to like me lol. Every time I input my numbers and at the end push calculate it gives me an error..

Apparently having no heat or AC is uncommon lol. I took an energy audit through my gas company I use approx 172 therms annually or about .05 therms. The other numbers are based off the averages of the region which isnt really accurate. I think I will just invent in getting an energy audit of the house first and make the necessary fixes there.

The mini split heat pump looks pretty cool. I'm keeping my options open since I don't need it done right away I can just save for it.

A neighbor of mine uses a wood burning stove during the winter months. He had a brick backslash set up from what I am told. I've never seen it but sounds like it would be nice. Just not sure how efficient at heating it would be. I understand it could heat a room obviously and depending on the size I'm sure it could also heat the house. On an approximately 1100 sqft home what size wood burning stove would be needed. Trying to see if maybe this would be a cheaper alternative
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Zip code: 92506 People living in your Home: 4
Square Footage: 1,158 Heating Degree Days: 1597
Cooling Degree Days: 248 Energy Use Electricity Use: 4,415 kWh Cost: $692 Natural Gas Use: 172 Therms Cost:$191 Total Source Energy Consumption: 68,322 kBtu
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Old 03-16-11, 04:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkaneinc View Post
The mini split heat pump looks pretty cool. I'm keeping my options open since I don't need it done right away I can just save for it.
With a ZIP code of 92506, I'd think that solar would be your cup of tea.


Looks like a heap of people in your area think so, too.

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Old 10-08-11, 12:21 AM   #9
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Here are couple of guides which should help from the energy saving trust.
Cavity wall insulation - Insulation - Homes - Energy Saving Trust
Roof and loft insulation / Roofs, floors, walls and windows / In your home / Home (United Kingdom) - Energy Saving Trust

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