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Old 10-08-2008, 06:33 AM
Location: Fairfield
588 posts, read 1,626,794 times
Reputation: 275


There's all this talk about how to more effectively warm your home, so here's my problem. My house was built in 1960, and the only insulation is 2 layers of batts (I think that's what the rolls of pink stuff is) in the attic - 1 really old and 1 a bit newer. An insulation contractor said it comes out to about R30. We found out that there is no insulation in the walls, and the windows are nice and drafty. Last winter I was working out of the house, and we went through about 120 gallons / month of oil. That was keeping the house at about 60 at night and 64 during the day. I also used an electric space heater in my office. The house is about 2200 sq ft (I know - excessive for 2, but we bought a fixer-upper that we can grow into as we start our family).

My problem is that our first child is due in 9 days (yikes!) and with both him and my wife home full time, we'll need to keep most of the house warm. I've gotten quotes for blown-in insulation that range from $3600 - $4k. New windows would cost us about $8k. I've looked into a pellet stove, and a good one to help would cost in the neighborhood of $2500 + pellets. With the heat off, the past few nights its dropped to 56-58 inside... When the temperature outside drops even further, and the winter winds kick in, it gets really frosty in there.

So, my question for all of you is: where can I get the most bang for my buck? I'd rather not spend a huge amount of money on new windows and insulation because if we end up having to leave the house in the next year or 2 (it's really difficult to afford it on 1 income) then we'll never break even on that part of the investment. But more importantly I need to make sure that my wife and son are warm enough during the day without bankrupting us on oil.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:36 AM
2,766 posts, read 8,840,570 times
Reputation: 1566
I can only sympathize with you as I currently Stay home with our two young children and we spent 700 a month heating our house last winter since the newest baby was a newborn then and it had to be kept warm all the time.
Though ask your wife how she feels about a stove before putting one in.
We had one in our home but once our children were mobile I would no longer allow it on unless my DH was home, because they do get very warm/hot to the touch and not very child safe..
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:55 AM
Location: U.S.
1,581 posts, read 4,768,954 times
Reputation: 1103
I would spend the money and have the insulation done, but leave the windows as they are. I am really surpised that a 60's house doesn't have wall insulation - did you check or did a contractor tell you that?

Also, do your current windows have storm windows? or just the single pane windows from the 60's?

I agree with KH02 about the stoves being a saftey hazard although some people do put gates up around them. We actually stopped using our fireplaces last year because our youngest would constantly want to be near them or standing near them and it made us a bit nervous.
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Old 10-08-2008, 03:23 PM
Location: West End-Hartford
625 posts, read 1,744,751 times
Reputation: 375
Buyers are looking more and more closely at homes with updated windows and those that can boast "insulation!" and prove it. Gas instead of oil is also becoming a big selling point.

I would say have a free energy audit done by the gas company (if you are on gas) and have them tell you if you should have insulation blown in or your windows replaced. They will tell you where you're losing the most heat in your house and can provide better guidance.
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Old 10-10-2008, 12:34 PM
Location: Fairfield
588 posts, read 1,626,794 times
Reputation: 275
Thanks for the advice!

From what I've read, the new pellet stoves are cool enough on the outside to touch. We would of course surround the thing with a barbed wire fence (or at least a baby gate), but this winter our child won't be old enough to lift his head let alone crawl over to the stove. Next year will be a different story, though...

We checked on the insulation, but had it confirmed when we did some work on the wall separating the house from the garage (separately added in the 60's) as well as ripping the kitchen completely out. There's nothing but a brown fiber-board type of substance that we were told is "fireproofing." We also had an insulation contractor come out to look.

The windows do have storms, but they don't seem to help much. The windows have those "weeping" gaps - I forget the technical term but basically an opening between the sill and the storm's frame for any water to run out instead of sitting there. And, some of the windows have cracks in them. So all in all, a good amount of air blows through here...

I would love to use some sort of gas, especially w/ cooking, but the gas co doesn't have service to my street. I tried when I moved in, and they said no way jose.

Amy - are there any other (preferably free) resources that you know of that would be able to do an energy audit? I'm open to suggestions, but would like to limit the amount of $$ we have to spend...
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Old 10-10-2008, 12:57 PM
5,065 posts, read 13,271,278 times
Reputation: 3497
Originally Posted by toddb View Post
We would of course surround the thing with a barbed wire fence
A barbed wire fence? That will certainly teach baby to stay away.

I've heard some people say that finding wood pellets can be difficult in the winter. I'm not sure if that is true or not. Otherwise though, I've heard pellet stoves can be truly energy efficient. It is something we have talked about doing, but are waiting to hear more from people who have tried it.

If new windows are not an option, you can get some kind of thin plastic covering to go over your windows from stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's. It looks a little like Saran wrap, but it will help keep out the drafts.
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:46 AM
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 3,959,623 times
Reputation: 922
There are a few things to think about. One is with the current economy and our economic outlook will you be able to move in a year or two? Banks are much more picky about who they will loan money. The other is when you sell the house the buyers will have to know by law that there is no insulation in the walls. Then you end up having to drop the price of the home or have to fork up money to pay or help pay to have insulation put in. My thought is it's cheaper to do it now. You will save a great deal of money on your heating costs right off the bat and it will be cheaper to have it done now rather than wait several years when the cost of labor may be higher. If money is tight you can cover the windows with 3M window insulation kits(the plastic mentioned in the previous posts). It's sold at most hardware sores this time of year and the claims are up to 90% improvment on the R value over single pane windows. A few years down the road you can save up and have the windows replaced.
As for the insulation in the attic that older layer of insulation is just about worthless. If it has compacted to about 2-3 inchs there is very little R value. For insulation to do its job it need to have air space within itself. Once fiberglass or wool type insulation compact the R value is reduced by a large margin.
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Old 10-13-2008, 09:32 AM
Location: Connecticut
427 posts, read 1,210,566 times
Reputation: 351
Insulation is always a good thing, and you'll probably get that back if you sell.

As for the windows, I have the same problem, and I have a fairly cheap and easy solution, Plastic window installation, I can not for the life of me remember the eaxct name, but it works.

They sell the kits at wal-mart and target, basically you put the tape that comes in the kit around the window, then attach the plastic, tighten the plastic with a hair dryer, and your all set. You can do about 3 windows for $10. It works wonders my room got about 10 times warmer. chaep and easy.
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:38 PM
371 posts, read 1,390,266 times
Reputation: 183
I used that plastic covering on my windows and they work wonders! Go to homedepot though-you get more for your $.....
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Old 10-14-2008, 08:16 PM
37 posts, read 98,769 times
Reputation: 27
The energy audit costs money if you don't heat by electricity, but CL&P has an energy audit they can do for you. We are getting a woodstove installed and I am a stay at home mom of 2 little ones. I am buying a fireplace gate from One Step Ahead...it will go around the woodstove to keep them away.

Another cheap way to help keep drafts down is to hang some insulating curtains over the windows. In the winter, I open the curtains in the day to let the heat in, but then close them at night to keep the drafts down. That plastic over the windows doesn't look great, but it does work. I also swear by the small electric heater to use only in the rooms that we are in when it is cold...we also keep the temp down on the thermostat and it helps to have this. And if you are really in a pinch, growing up, my mom would hang a blanket to close off the room we were in and have an extra heater on. It really kept the heat in!
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