winterizing house

We are planning on retiring to a small lake house located in the NYS Fingerlakes region in 2010. We will need to totally winterize the house for year round living and have no idea where to start.. This is the current state of the house: -homeosote and plywood exterior (painted) -no insulation -PVC piping - not insulated -metal roofs -wood stove available but not hooked up -gas heat not an option (no gas lines on our road) -propane heat IS an option -no basement or crawl space -windows are in good shape -house was built in the 1950's - and is rock solid
Our first thought was to insulate the pipes, side & insulate the house and put in a propane tank for heat. Is this a logical starting point?? Thank you Melissa
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On Dec 9, 9:26am, thelarkinn_at_yahoo_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (mlarkin) wrote:

Get an energy audit and blower door test first, code is minimum for insulation. Unless you know houses and I dont think you do, an inspection is a good idea. There are many types and R values of insulation, to much for anyone to tell you how to do a house on everything, www.energystar.gov is a place to start learning, A written load calculation is necessary at different levels of insulation before you get a heating system.
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On Dec 9, 7:26am, thelarkinn_at_yahoo_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (mlarkin) wrote:

Is this a logical starting point??
No,
you to evaluate the structure in its current state.....energy audit or home inspection (or both) but front loaded by revealing the desire for year 'round use.
Determine the insulation "requirements" (codes are minimums), how cozy you need the house to be for comfort, trees, sun exposure, etc all play a part. Slab on grade construction in a super cold climate maybe be a deal killer. Windows that you consider are in "good shape" may be totally inadequate for winter occupancy.
The cost to retrofit may be prohibitive.
The house was built as a summer / lake cabin....not for year 'round use. The heating demand in your area is in the same ball park as winter / ski resort demands.
Propane heat can be really expensive depending on regional weather and home conditions.
It would be a shame to start this project "incorrectly" only to find there is no way to achieve the desired results. :(
cheers Bob
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And depending on where it is electric could be cheaper, although its rare.
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I'm guessing you are going to pull off the plywood to insulate? Or are you coming at it from the inside? The slab may be your biggest problem. Do you have enough ceiling height to put a floor on top of the slab with space for insulation? The more insulation you can get into the structure the better off you will be.
Unfortunately propane is about the most expensive heat source. At your location a heat pump is not going to be viable for the full winter. If budget is not a real big issue I would look at a heat pump/propane hybrid system. That way you can at least take advantage of the cheaper heat pump during milder parts of the winter. Get all the insulation done first so that you can size the heating system properly. If you are planning on living there full time for an extended period you want to be as accurate as possible on the heating system size. Your biggest utility cost is going to be winter heat.

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On Dec 9, 10:26am, thelarkinn_at_yahoo_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (mlarkin) wrote:

Anywhere near Ithaca? If so, you've got a group of some of the most dedicated environmental and green building people around there and can get plenty of advice. You should be able to find competent people to do some great work.
On the heating system, as people noted, propane is just about the worst decision you can make from a cost perspective. Depending on your budget, consider a ground source heat pump or a Hallowell heat pump - either should be able to deal with your heating demands through the winter, if sized properly.
Go all-out on insulating *right* and tight and the heating system will be less important. But make sure you design properly. Get a local expert to walk you through a proper whole-house design - don't approach this piecemeal or you'll risk creating an unsafe living environment. Having gone through piecemeal renovations myself, and having evaluated numerous houses in my area, I'd want to rip it down to the studs from the outside, rewire as needed, spray foam the outer envelope - walls and ceiling, making sure that the pipes are all protected and not left exposed to the cold. Maybe add an inches of board foam to the outside. Sheath. Side. Then add an energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator to provide fresh air.
But as noted, the right approach is to find someone local you can trust to guide you through the entire process and tailor the solution to your specific needs and home.
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Don't get me wrong, ground source heat pumps are a great idea. But I do not recomend them for most people because there is not enough volume to bring the price down and it is difficult to find experienced technicians that will install them correctly and keep it running properly. Presently they are damn expensive and there are numerous horror stories about local service guys f#*king them completely up. That's why I suggested a hybrid heat pump/propane solution.
(mlarkin) wrote:

Anywhere near Ithaca? If so, you've got a group of some of the most dedicated environmental and green building people around there and can get plenty of advice. You should be able to find competent people to do some great work.
On the heating system, as people noted, propane is just about the worst decision you can make from a cost perspective. Depending on your budget, consider a ground source heat pump or a Hallowell heat pump - either should be able to deal with your heating demands through the winter, if sized properly.
Go all-out on insulating *right* and tight and the heating system will be less important. But make sure you design properly. Get a local expert to walk you through a proper whole-house design - don't approach this piecemeal or you'll risk creating an unsafe living environment. Having gone through piecemeal renovations myself, and having evaluated numerous houses in my area, I'd want to rip it down to the studs from the outside, rewire as needed, spray foam the outer envelope - walls and ceiling, making sure that the pipes are all protected and not left exposed to the cold. Maybe add an inches of board foam to the outside. Sheath. Side. Then add an energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator to provide fresh air.
But as noted, the right approach is to find someone local you can trust to guide you through the entire process and tailor the solution to your specific needs and home.
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wrote:

Hi James,
Another good option for existing construction is a ductless heat pump. I put one in my home four years ago and it has cut my heating costs by more than half (I have an oil-fired boiler). Tomorrow morning, I'm installing a second, high efficiency, inverter model to better serve my lower level (a Sanyo 12KHS71).
This Sanyo works down to -20C and provides over half of its nominal heating capacity at -18C (0F). I paid $1,350.00 CDN for this unit, plus another $220.00 for misc. hardware; a buddy of mine and a friend of his who is a licensed HVAC tech will be handling the install. Altogether, my cost comes to just under $2,000.00 (US$1,600.00).
As an added bonus, I can run it in "dry" mode during the spring, summer and fall and finally rid myself of my noisy, power guzzling, got-to-empty-the-damn-bucket-yet-again dehumidifier.
Cheers, Paul
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On Sat, 13 Dec 2008 17:42:54 -0400, Paul M. Eldridge

Well, the installation was completed this earlier morning and I have to say I'm very pleased with the results. Right off the bat, the first thing you notice about this model is that it's incredibly quiet, both inside and out. Secondly, it produces a tremendous amount of heat -- the current temperature outside is -3C and the air coming out of the vent is reading +42.8C. Most importantly to me, with this second heat pump now in place, I don't expect to burn another drop of oil from this date forward.
You can view a picture of the outdoor compressor at: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-d770b0a1.html
A picture of the indoor air handler can be found at: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-6e8eedde.html
Cheers, Paul
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On Dec 9, 7:26am, thelarkinn_at_yahoo_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (mlarkin) wrote:

The first thing to do is have a professional Home Performance test done. If I understand youre in NY state. Id recommend having a BPI certified contractor. The state of NY has many of them.
A HPT is like having a physical. They should be looking at the air tightness of the house and the ducts if there is a forced air system. The pressures of rooms when the forced air is on and interior doors are closed. The level and quality (quality can be more important than quantity) of insulation in the attic, walls and floor.
Sounds like the floor is a slab and the advice of building up the floor and insulating is what Id do if your can providing the pipes are not in the floor. Remember that doors, counters and stairs will not fit and may deed to be raised. Second choice although not as good is to insulate the perimeter. This needs to go deeper than the frost line and there are areas such as steps and cement that do not allow for total perimeter insulation.
Insulation types have different R-values, some stop air flow some depend on other wall materials for an air barrier. One material to beware of is Radiant barrier. It works great in a space suit but not in most conditions on Earth in a home. If the purchaser fully understands it benefits and limitation and gets a great price (nearly free) then it can keep heat out but keeping heat in it is not effective. If you need more info on insulation types let me know.
Geothermal heat pumps. Look at the extra cost and put that money into a better thermal envelope and in the long run your will be happier. If you choose a geothermal heat pump it is critical that they get all the mass flow rated correct or it will not perform and you will not be happy. And it is difficult to get anyone that knows how to service them. My money is on the thermal envelope, done correctly it will perform and never in your lifetime need maintenance.
As for the cost of fuel, this can vary a lot from one region to another. I know places that electricity can be the least expensive and others that it can be the most expensive. The other issue is what do your think the inflation is for different fuels and what is the environmental impact. I have a spreadsheet for the cost per million BTUs if you would like it. Just e-mail me snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net and ask for it.
To recap a great thermal envelope is the single most important thing you can do then get the heating system sized and installed to ACCA standards (this is critical), correct location and type of grills and air velocity into the unoccupied space of the room. The last would be a tricky complicated system which is not needed if the rest is correct.
The last thing to do is have another HPT done as a test out to be sure it all works as planned. Then check the utility bills as that is the proof it all really works.
I hope this helps
Im glad to see some great advice of others on this thread
Andy
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