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Anyone else heating a non-insulated home?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by jwoair23, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. jwoair23

    jwoair23 Burning Hunk

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Just curious what other's experience is with heating a home that has zero insulation. I have a 1929 brick home, and we have gotten our first real cold weather here this year, 21 degrees outside right now. If I have my insert absolutely cranking I can just barely maintain 70 degrees, but it has to be cranking constantly to do it. Overnight it dropped to about 65 in the house while I had the air turned down to get longer burns.

    I have not a scrap/tuft/wisp/piece of insulation anywhere in the house, and sometimes it feels like I'm heating a screened in porch! Even if I let the fire go out and just ran the furnace, it would be on darn near constantly in these temperatures.

    (I know cold is relative and some of you guys would think 20 degrees is warm :) ).

    Anyone else share my woes?

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We started out partially insulated and fairly leaky in this old house. After fixing a lot of these faults I can only tell you that sealing up things and insulating is one of the best investments you can make.
  3. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    & one of the least expensive, too...
  4. jwoair23

    jwoair23 Burning Hunk

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    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have to be honest I have no experience with insulation or the costs involved. If I had to guess I would say we will be here a maximum of another 5 years, do you think the cost would be worth it when dealing with a 5 year timeframe?
  5. michburner

    michburner Member

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    the thumb
    it would help alot if you got some of that plastic window film from your local hardware. That takes care of a lot of the drafts. Its cheap. And if
    all it does is add one hour before you have to feed the stove, you'll be happy for it and so will your sleep schedule.
  6. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    We have so so insulation, and waking up to 65○ F seems pretty good to me. (We get low 60's, upper 50's this morning) With the 40+ mph winds yesterday, it can be a chore keeping the temps up in the house. I have definitely noticed that after being home for the weekend and keeping the stove running, the house tends to stay warmer easier by Wednesday as opposed to maybe not being home on a Saturday, and not keeping up with the stove. The more the stove is running the more the walls will warm up, and keep their warmth, the couch, floor, etc etc etc. Obviously, burning the black locust or oak more btu per load.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A well insulated home has resale value also, so I would say yes, especially if heating prices go up. Not everyone wants to heat with wood.
    laynes69 likes this.
  8. jwoair23

    jwoair23 Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Good point! That's something to consider.

    Also WellSeasoned I 100% agree with the winds we have had it takes a lot more to keep the house warm for sure!
  9. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    We too need to insulate more where we can. I do little a year, and using an IR meter is so helpful no only for the stove but more for targeting where cold air can be coming in at.
  10. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    Same here.when we moved in about half the walls and ceilings were empty, and there were holes in the attic big enough to climb through. Using mass save subsidy and some effort on my part I've sealed and insulated the entire house over 2 years for about a grand. The result is much better but not up to modern code - about R10 walls and R20 to R40 roof.


    I've measured an almost 30% drop in energy use (tracking gas and wood consumption vs degree days), and have significantly reduced the variation in temp through the house. We no longer need to burn at all during the day if its sunny and over 45F, and I no longer have cold days where the stove can't keep up. Also we went from using 2 humidifiers running nonstop to just one that barely runs.

    This is all without touching a single window. Caulk first, then insulate, then maybe look at window improvements.
  11. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Central Michigan
    I too have a loose house. Although built in 2000 it was not built by me and is not super tight or super high quality. I do have decent windows throughout and all but they are entry level. Biggest issue is(was) that the upstairs has seemingly little insulation in the walls. When I was heating this place with propane it was chilly up there at best - with the NC30 I keep it hot in here and sometimes too hot. All that said if I sleep past 7am it is below 70 and sometimes 65 degrees in the house with stove top at or below 300. A restoke and an hour later we are back to 70+. Outside temps are not as big an issue as wind speed. When it is 20 outside and calm I can keep the heat much longer than 30 with 20+ MPH winds. Convection is a B%*ch to keep up with.

    As many here have done - my next investments will be to tighten things up and invest in better insulation but so far I am feeling just fine with the furnace never coming on.
  12. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    Carver, MA.
    True JH even the best windows don't have much of an R-value.. Drafts and cold walls/ceilings will make you feel cold no matter how warm it is.. Start with insulating the attic as this will make the biggest difference..

    Ray
  13. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    Yes, yes,...get that attic insulated! (Remember to leave room for the air to flow up from the eaves when you are insulating). Also, getting the doors and windows re-caulked/sealed will help...along with any other cracks or non-essential openings.
    raybonz likes this.
  14. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    Hard to believe that a house built 12 years ago has insulation issues...someone somewhere failed miserably!
  15. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Central NY
    Big, old house, limited insulation, poor windows. The window film helps quite a bit. I rarely see 70, happy with 65 in the far reaches of the house. Find that to be quite comfortable. By morning, its down to low 60s or high 50s, but it doesn't take all that long to get her up to temp.
  16. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Sound Beach, LINY
    We bought this drafty ranch five years ago. I cannot call it zero insulation, but it is not an exaggeration to call it very crappy insulation with gaping holes. I have ripped, insulated and rebuilt two rooms and caulked throughout where it makes sense. These have proven to have drastic improvements in the feel of our house. We try to do one project/year. I must admit, having an open project or two at all times in this house kinda sucks. I'm really tired of living in a construction site (especially because I am the contractor, laborer, project manager, and paying client). So there has been a trade off for us. But we'll probably be here a while so hopefully it's worth it.
  17. MaintenanceMan

    MaintenanceMan Burning Hunk

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    Southern IN
    As others have said. Start with your attic. It will be the easiest place to start and most effective place to spend your time and money.
    raybonz likes this.
  18. Prof

    Prof Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Western PA
    I feel your pain--my house is lacking in the insulation department too. I have insulated the attic and have new cheapo ($189) windows. At least with the new windows I don't see the curtains move every time the wind blows! Other than that, the walls have zero insulation, and there is not reasonable way to insulate them. I only plan on staying in this house for a few years, and the neighborhood is not great, so there is little to be gained in resale value with more improvements than I have already made. When the wind really kicks up, it is hard keeping the house above 70. Of course, I also have a basement install that is less than ideal. I really can't wait to build a house so I can do these things right.
  19. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I had minimal insulation in our home when we bought it. I won't go into details of all the work that had been done, but I will tell you a few things that made a difference. The downstair floors were cold from the air infiltrating from the basement. I picked up rigid foam insulation board and put that snug up between the joists in the basement. That made a big difference. The floors were much warmer in the winter time. I used an ir thermometer to locate leaks and incense sticks to see how the air flowed in certain rooms and concentrated on leaks from there.

    Just two weeks ago I felt a draft in a corner where the floor met the mop board under the baseboard heat. I ran a bead of caulking in there, but it did not fill it. I found the caulking had run down to the basement in a void. I will fill it with fiberglass insulation soon. Any penetrations through the floor from the basement were filled when I had a Masssave audit done. They found fist sized holes in the floors under walls where electrical wires were run. Electrical, plumbing and even holes for thermostat and speaker wires were filled. Replacing the old single pane windows were done also and that made a huge difference. The wall pockets where the window weights were had considerable leaks. The pockets were caulked and filled with minimal expanding spray can foam.

    Even badly worn door weatherstripping can make a difference when replaced.
    raybonz likes this.
  20. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    You can insulate walls and ceilings (attic floor)in an existing house with blown in cellulose for less than $500. More like $250 for a small house.
    I usually use 25 bags at $10@ for a 1/2 double house. I drill holes from the inside ,then blow the insulation then spackle the holes closed. Theres no reason not to do it unless you dont own the house ,but even them you will spend more to heat it than the insulation cost.
    raybonz likes this.
  21. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Our place is log construction so I guess they provide some insulation, but the wind gets through between the logs and the "plaster." Actually, the inner walls are 1" or more of some kind of concrete stuff, with a skim coat of plaster. Man, that stuff sucks up heat like crazy! If I let the inside temp drop too low, it's hard to get it back up. Less than a degree per hour, less if it's windy. I've started plugging some big air leaks but probably half the heat goes into the concrete walls.
    But as far as insulation, we noticed a huge improvement when we had them blow the cellulose insulation into the attic. I would start there. You can probably also claim an energy credit on your taxes...
  22. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Hmmm, nobody mentioned any energy grants from the government, do you guys have stuff like that down there?
    When we renovated our house we applied for some energy grants, had to have a pre-inspection first before doing the work, then after adding insulation, upgrading windows and new heat-pump etc... , we ended up getting $3,500 back for fixing up our own home.

    One thing I`ll mention that a lot of people seem unfamiliar with when it comes to insulating and sealing up homes is Backer Rod foam insulation. This stuff is cheaper and easier to use then most other types of materials for insulating and sealing small cracks and hard to get places like around windows and doors. Beats using those spray cans of foam insulation, much cleaner and way cheaper.
  23. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Hello, and welcome to the "How The Hell Do I Insulate And Heat This Damn Wind Tunnel" club. I've been a member for seven winters.

    My challenges are:
    • Stone walls, also known as nature's winter ice cubes.
    • Cold rising up from under the floor, yet we have no basement or crawl space. It's like this place generates cold air.
    • Windows that are as tight as screen doors.
    • Doors that are as efficient as Swiss cheese.
    All in all, I'm looking at $20-40k to tighten this 270+ year old bastard up so I am only a little drafty as oppose to a f**k-ton drafty. Several windows have more weight in caulking and spray insulation in and around them than the window probably weighs.

    This place is less drafty than when I bought it, but it is still an efficiency nightmare (The word abor.tion is censored? Really?). Windy days are the worst.

    My solution was to use all three chimneys and get the biggest stoves I could find on a super tight budget. Windy days still suck, but it only sucks because burn times drop a little bit and I might need to use more stoves than a non-windy day of the same temperature.

    Previously, my furnace would run constantly, like yours, to maintain the temperature in the house due to the excessive amount of heat loss. Now, the furnace never runs.

    So, I cut down on my heating bill by about $4k a winter, the home can maintain 70+ degree temps throughout the house (and 80+ degrees in each area with a stove), and I can now slowly begin to tighten this place up without destroying my budget.
    fishingpol, raybonz and rideau like this.
  24. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I'll second all the comments to start with the attic first. Before you lay the insulation, make sure you weatherize and seal all of the openings. The attic hatch is another big contributor - get a good tight seal on that as well. Insulate to about R-50.

    Next, I would insulate the floor/crawl space. I used 6" fiberglass R-19 batts - that seems pretty typical.

    My floor and ceiling cost about $1800 to insulate (I did the work myself) and my heating oil usage went from ~1000 gallons a year to 750 gallons a year.

    Then, I insulated my above ground basement walls with foam and insulated my walls with blown-in fiberglass. I also weatherized my windows (but they were already pretty tight). My oil usage dropped further to 550 gallons a year. Cost was $4000 - the two inches of spray foam was half of that.

    Resource Conservation Technologies website has some good weathersealing products.
  25. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I almost NEVER use fiberglass. Reasons? Blown in cellulose is Cheaper.Quicker and less invasive(when insulating existing wall) more R value per inch and a much tighter pack against air infiltration than you could ever get with fiberglass. Iv also seen fiberglass shrink away from the studs over time making it just about useless.

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