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Where to start....

Post in 'The Green Room' started by sblat, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. sblat

    sblat Member

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    Haslett, MI
    Hi everyone, I bought a PE alderlea T5 late February last year. I can't wait to get going with the up coming burning season. My question is regarding tightening my house for the winter. I want to get started right now. I just went through a full kitchen remodel, so I dont have a ton of excess cash laying around to do everything. Where should I start????

    Our house is 80 yrs old with poor wall insulation in the majority of the house. The attic is ok, but not great by any means. The windows are drafty in a couple bedrooms, but are better in the rest of the house. I usually put film over all bad windows (thinking of doing all windows this year), I am missing anything? Is there a program with power companies to check out your place and tell you where you need help? Any advice or thoughts where I might see the biggest bang for my buck would be great!

    Steve

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  2. stonewall123

    stonewall123 Member

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    Most of your home's heat escapes through the attic, so you would get the most bang for the buck there. As for the windows, I'd just stick with the film, windows are expensive and it takes a long time to recover the cost. Walls are trickier to insulate once finished but there are some options like spray in foam. I'd invest in a good bit of attic insulation and make sure your wood is good to go--let that new stove keep old man winter at bay!
  3. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    Agreed, attic is the best bang for your buck. A big box store, you can rent a machine and buy "x" amount of bundels for pretty cheap. I plan on doing it here shortly, now that its not 120 degrees up in the attic. In the walls yoy can cut pucks out near the ceiling and blow in that way. Still work but it helps. If you have a crawl space some 6 mil plastic is cheap. Staple to floor joists and seal with duct tape.

    Also to find the biggest cuplrets of heat loss an IR thermometer can really point you in the right direction.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Yes, you can pick up an inexpensive IR thermometer and find the leaky spots rather easy.

    Rather than blown in insulation in the walls, you can go with the foam. They will make your house look like a big woodpecker has attacked but it really is great. It is not blown in but more like the little cans of foamy stuff you can buy at the hardware. It expands as they are putting it in so as to fill all the spaces and it will not settle like blown in insulation. Also, as others stated, heat rises so the top is where you'll see the most improvement. New windows can be costly but you can also still get some decent windows for a couple hundred apiece, naturally, depending upon size.
  5. CodyWayne718

    CodyWayne718 Feeling the Heat

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    Insulation wise as others have stated, the attic is the first place I would start. That's where I started with my house, jus don't rule out the walls. We ended up havin the foam blown in our walls the year after I blew the attic.
  6. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

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    Some of the local energy companies will have programs where they (or a contractor working for them) will come out to your home and audit your structure. They will give you a report on strengths and weaknesses. This is a way for them to drum up some business and give you some credits on saving money during the heating/cooling seasons.
  7. sblat

    sblat Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. I thought I was thinking this whole thing through the right way, but wanted to make sure that i was not overlooking anything. Thanks again for all the thoughts. I am going to look into costs between rolling out batting in my attic compared to blown in, and also price out foam for the walls. Thanks!

    Steve
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Rolling out batts is, well, silly. Blow in is easier, faster, flows into nooks and crannies, and provides a continuous blanket.
  9. My Oslo heats my home

    My Oslo heats my home Minister of Fire

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    +1 on the blow in, especially in an attic.
  10. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    You are getting a lot of great advice. Definately inquire with your local utility if there are any utility or state sponsored programs to pay for this stuff. Either way, keep all your receipts for the 10% tax credit.

    Priorities...
    #1Air sealing.
    - Get a few cans of spray foam and high quality caulk (On advice of a contractor buddy I have been using and really like transparent Geocell... lexel is similar and lower odor for indoor). In the attic seal up around every penetration. Can lights in the attic are a big culprit. If they are not the IC rated variedy you can build a box around them and then insulate that.
    - Do the same sealing in the basement.
    - On all outside walls, caulk any gaps in baseboard, crown molding and around windows/door. Put those foam gaskets behind outlets.

    #2 insulation
    - Like everybody says, attic first. Best to do it after the air sealing for most benefit.
    - For exterior walls, its worthwhile to blow in IF they are empty and IF you did all the easier stuff first (air sealing and attic).
    - On the exterior walls you have to be careful about moisture. That usually means really good interior airsealing and dense pack cellulose or foam to prevent convection currents drawing moisture into the cavity.


    #3 Windows
    Just say NO to replacements. Really. Its almost never worth it.
    - Adding a good quality storm window to old single pane windows will give you 80% of the thermal performance for 20% of the price of replacements. One good inexpensive option is the Harvey Tru Channel.
    - If you still have your 80 year old original wooden windows, properly maintained they will last longer than we will (that old growth wood is far more durable than anything made today).
    - Between the high cost of replacement windows and the short life span (you may replace the "replacements" again in 20~30yr; whereas there are examples of homes from the colonial era that still have serviceable original windows) new windows can can end up being a negative ROI.
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Attic airsealing--you have to look under the existing insulation to find major hidden leaks built in when the house was framed. Google "attic airsealing" and read some stuff. This needs to be done BEFORE adding insulation--insulation does not block airflow. And the bang for the buck from airsealing is often more than for the insulation.
  12. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    I also highly recommend the attic. If the home is balloon framed look for open cavities from the living space to the attic. All top plates should we sealed as well as the tops of the exterior walls. If you have any box fans, turn off any appliances that are using gas. Place fans backwards in windows and turn on high. You can walk around with incense or wet the back of your hand and feel for drafts. Its a cheap way of finding leaks. Use expanding foam or backer rod for larger cracks and caulk the smaller. Start in attic then look in basement. I prefer cellulose in the attic, but blown in fiberglass will do. The batts make future work easier, but like said blown is a continual blanket. Gotta love old homes.
  13. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    In addition to the attic and storm windows (both excellent pieces of advice, btw) definitely weatherstrip EVERYTHING. Roll up old towels and tie string (or ribbon if you really wanna get fanciful) and put them on windowsills and along doorjambs, too.

    ~Rose
  14. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    seal the penetrations in the walls. Around the outside of electrical boxes, get some firecaulking and seal the holes around the wires, simple stuff. You only lose 10% of your heat through the walls, much of it is infiltration.
  15. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Agreed! Plugging little cracks with caulk is the best bang for the buck. I'd start with the top by removing light fixtures and caulking around the box and where the wires come in. It will help the chimney draft better also since the house doesn't draft.

    Matt
  16. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    And make an outside air supply for your stove even more important.
  17. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    ANother tip I tthough of for the weatherstripping. When working with old double hung windows 3M "v-seal" was great stuff. Its just about impossible to find these days but here is a substitute

    http://www.energyfederation.org/consumer/default.php/cPath/21_392_973

    I used this on my hundred+ year old windows and they are practically air tight.


    I got the idea for using it from this article on restoring and upgrading old windows:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze7aq8e/homewindowrestorationwork/index.html

    And the building science guys have great articles on weatherization... though I take issue with some of what they do to old houses from a historic preservation perspective (but that's just me on my soapbox... I wont go into it).
    http://www.buildingscience.com/resources/retrofits
  18. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Lots of good advice here. The only thing I haven't seen stressed is that for air sealing, the most important areas are attic first and BASEMENT or Crawlspace next. Windows, doors... in the living space are the most obvious places to start sealing (you feel the drafts there), but are the least important from a heat loss perspective. Hot air escapes out the attic mainly as many have said, and that hot air is replaced by cold air coming in from outside. The cold air will come in fastest through any penetrations in the basement as that is where the negative pressure is greatest. Leaky basement windows, plumbing electrical & exhaust penetrations as well as the sill plate & rim or band joist can let in lots of cold air without you feeling the draft. Also seal penertations in the basement ceiling to prevent the basement air getting drawn up into the living space or straight up to the attic throught the walls.

    You'll be getting very familliar with the caulking gun & canned spray foam by the time you're through ;-)

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