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Old 04-15-2010, 04:24 AM
 
67 posts, read 154,164 times
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Hi! We are examining an option to move to the Springfield-Hartford Metropolitan area (live Simsbury? work Springfield). I've never owned a home in a climate colder than DC. So, I'm not sure about all the different heating options I'm seeing on the home listings. In your experience, what's the least expensive option? What's the option that new buyers salivate over? Are they the same?

Second area of concern. I'm seeing lots of houses that say Septic System and Well Water. Well, I've never owned a home that didn't have public services. My sister has a well and scary stories to go with it (sulfer, well dried up and had to be replaced, etc.). Can anyone help me understand if these are big negatives? Since I doubt this next house will be our forever home, I need to make sure that it will be easy to resell down the road.

Thanks in advance for any and all info.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:52 AM
 
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well as far as heat goes, electric is going to be the most expensive. Gas is good but its really about how you heat the house. For instance I leave my heat at 50 until get home and shut the bedrooms and such and only heat the rooms i will be in like the living room. Most friends I know wear sweatshirts or hoodies so they dont have to turn their thermostat over 60/65. My mom on the other hand turns her thermostat up to 75 and winds up paying a fortune in heating costs.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:07 AM
 
Location: New England
8,155 posts, read 18,197,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MishaMacDowell View Post
Hi! We are examining an option to move to the Springfield-Hartford Metropolitan area (live Simsbury? work Springfield). I've never owned a home in a climate colder than DC. So, I'm not sure about all the different heating options I'm seeing on the home listings. In your experience, what's the least expensive option? What's the option that new buyers salivate over? Are they the same?

Second area of concern. I'm seeing lots of houses that say Septic System and Well Water. Well, I've never owned a home that didn't have public services. My sister has a well and scary stories to go with it (sulfer, well dried up and had to be replaced, etc.). Can anyone help me understand if these are big negatives? Since I doubt this next house will be our forever home, I need to make sure that it will be easy to resell down the road.

Thanks in advance for any and all info.
1. High Efficiency Oil is the way to go. Units like the Buderus we installed can get into the 90% range. Some people like gas, but gas has less thermal output and is more expensive. I burn wood, which IMHO is the ultimate in comfort and cost. If you have the coin and can go geothermal, that's the latest trend, but it's not cheap and takes YEARS to recoupe on investment.

2. Septic systems work fine and with very little maintenance. Depending on the size of the tank and your family, you'll need to have it pumped every 2-4 years. If they are maintained, they can last a very long time. Some people say 20 years max. I'm on a 60 year old system that still works excellent. We regularly treat it with bacteria to break down the fats.

3. Well. I prefer it. Here in CT we don't have a lot of well problems you find in the rest of the country aside from extra minerals in the water. In fact, many public water systems in the state are suplimented by wells.

Both well and septic are common here and not a bad point. Folks understand it can go either way.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:11 AM
 
67 posts, read 154,164 times
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Is "High Efficiency Oil" different than "oil" in the listings for homes for sale? You burn wood in addition to the oil? Geez, I feel like an idiot but I don't know enough to know what to ask. Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:17 AM
 
Location: New England
8,155 posts, read 18,197,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MishaMacDowell View Post
Is "High Efficiency Oil" different than "oil" in the listings for homes for sale? You burn wood in addition to the oil? Geez, I feel like an idiot but I don't know enough to know what to ask. Thanks for your help.
Yes. Just saying "oil" can mean anything that burns oil. If the home has been updated with a modern high efficiency unit it will save you a ton of money.

To give you a comparison, traditional oil furnaces have to be vented in a chimeny because the exhaust gas is so hot. The high efficiency units recover so much of the heat being produced, you can use a plastic pipe to vent them out of a wall if you want.

I heat with a wood stove inserted into my fireplace. I suppliment with oil. I only spend $200-300 per year on oil.

I have a couple acres with overgrown oaks so I have more wood than I can burn so my house is never "cold" and the radiant heat from the wood stove just warms your bones on a chilly snowy day.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:16 AM
 
Location: W Simsbury
164 posts, read 281,913 times
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Well water and septic systems are pretty common in the Simsbury area, and it's a desirable town, so I wouldn't worry about that hurting resale value. If either the well or the septic is especially old, that's obviously a consideration. If there is a major problem, yes, it could be expensive to deal with, but I personally wouldn't use the existence of either as a reason to exclude a house from my list.

With well water, you'll certainly want to run some extensive tests on the water as part of the inspection. We had to put in a $3k water treatment system to deal with a high level of iron. Hardness is a more common issue but, depending on how hard it is, you may be able to live with it as-is.

As for heat, baseboard heat is considered to be a fairly decent and comfortable type of system that is fairly common in the area. If there's gas on the street, you may find that, but oil seems far more common in this area. I have a rarity: Propane (in-ground propane tank). When I lived in PA for a couple of years, this was extremely common (oil was rare), but here it's the opposite. Forced hot air isn't as comfortable, IMO, but it makes it cheaper to add central air later (if the house doesn't already have that), since you won't have to pay for the duct work.

As far as luxury is concerned, radiant floor heating is supposedly wonderful. If you're not looking at super-expensive homes, you probably won't find many that have that. Sometimes a house may have that in just one or more bathrooms.

I live in Simsbury, so if you have other questions about the area, I'd be glad to help out as best I can.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
64,982 posts, read 47,303,288 times
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Electric: Most Expensive but quietest, cleanest and least maintenance.
Oil: 2nd Most Expensive and dirtiest.
Natural Gas: Most Dangerous and least available but Least Espensive.
Solar: Initial expense is big but free energy is great and ability to sell back power to utility company (they give you credit for power not used)
Wood Stove: My favorite and Cheapest way to heat your home. $1000-2000 up front to buy and install

Avg. Monthly Bill To heat a 2000 sq ft home in winter(Nov.-March) being conservative with T-Stat:
Electric: $425 a month
Oil: $300 a month
Nat Gas: $175
Solar: $0 then credit back to you
Wood: $0 if you split your own wood
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:33 AM
 
3,325 posts, read 3,260,957 times
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First of all, go to Longmeadow! No reason to commute from Simsbury to Springfield. Second of all, the way the heat is distributed in the house is of more consequence than the substance burned. With gas, you don't have to worry about running out because the delivery truck can't get through the snow, or having the burner cleaned annually.

Forced air is very dry, takes a long time to heat up a house, needs to have well-insulated carrying trunks or you lose much of the heat to the basement space. It is also dusty. There are add on humidifier systems, but they don't work well. I hate it, but it's what many homes have, because it's cheap to install, and you can use the same system for A/C, although the A/C vents need to be at the ceiling level, and the heating vents need to be at the floor level, so it's not great to use the same system for both.

I would recommend baseboard hot water. It's not dusty, works faster, not as dry. I wouldn't be too put off by either oil or gas - they're both fine.

As for the well issue, if the test comes back okay, and there are no known issues in the area with pollutants, and the well has good flow, you're probably okay. You will need to give your kids flouride pills, your water will probably taste great. Problem is, you have only the test to go by - that doesn't tell you about flow, nearby future sources of pollution.

Septic systems are fine, except when they aren't, and then they are a nightmare. Massachusetts has laws regarding septic inspections when houses are transferred; I don't know about CT. You have to consider where the leaching fields are placed in relation to the house, since effluent flows downhill, and pumps fail. If all this is new to you (wells and septic), I would seriously consider buying in Longmeadow. Nice suburb, very close to Springfield, good schools, and I'm pretty sure it has public water and sewer. Also, if your kids are young, what's most important to them is the social life on the street. In Longmeadow, you can find streets with houses closer together, where the kids do come out to play.
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Old 04-19-2010, 07:28 AM
 
Location: NJ
3,726 posts, read 8,498,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott R View Post

With well water, you'll certainly want to run some extensive tests on the water as part of the inspection. We had to put in a $3k water treatment system to deal with a high level of iron. Hardness is a more common issue but, depending on how hard it is, you may be able to live with it as-is.
I would definitely test the well water. I have family in that area that had to get a water softener/filtration system installed because the hardness of the well water was eating away at the pipes. They were having major problems with leaks that went on for years. Finally that stopped after the water softener system was installed. During your home inspection I would take a good look at the pipes in the basement. If you see a lot of newer looking sections mixed in with older sections that's a good sign there were problems with leaky pipes.

As far as electric heat, it is incredibly expensive. They were paying about $600/month this past winter just to heat 3 rooms in the house. On the contrary, my house has natural gas and I heated my entire house for about $300/month.
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