Contemplating adding an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) to an existing reside
nce in Portland, Oregon. In California this was called a "Mother-in-law Ap
Unit to be in basement. Main floor already has owner and two room mates sh
aring utility (gas and electric) bills. ADU will be 2 bedrooms and a large
open kitchen-dining-family room. Separate street entrance. Approximately
800 square feet.
HVAC guy says electric heaters are out of the question due to utility costs
. Next best would be 3 mini-splits (different sizes). Down side is the hi
gh initial equipment cost ($4-5 k) plus installation. Also it's kind of wa
steful since the air-conditioning capabilities of the mini-splits will rare
ly be used.
Most favorable would be keeping the existing furnace and adding additiona
l ducts for a separately zoned system. Low initial cost, only one piece o
f equipment to maintain, easily serviced and easily replaceable.
Said furnace is gas and I need advice on how some of you have split the uti
lity bill. To date the heating (furnace-air conditioning and water heater)
averages about $70 per month. If we follow this model (splitting cost) wh
at prevents the basement tenant from cranking up the heat to 90°, either
on purpose or carelessly while away at work?
There are plenty of solutions to separate the electrical charges (second se
rvice, private meter etc.). However don't see an easy way to split out the
bill for a single gas furnace that is zoned to take care of two areas.
I'm sure some of you have already solved this. Subject is new to me.
BTW, would it be legal for me to place a temperature sensor (full disclosur
e to tenant) in their unit and ding them for heating above a certain temper
All suggestions greatly appreciated.
Basements are sometimes quite difficult to convert to legal apartments.
Investigate your local building codes.
As you clearly see, the heating plant will take some thought. How old is
it? New heating plants may be much more efficient than your old furnace.
An alternative that you have not considered is including the utilities in
the rent. That way you'll not need to install a bunch of new meters
I really do not see any way to avoid giving your tenants a thermostat
Your floor plan seem to ignore a bath room. This may not be wise. Has a
plumber looked at your basement? You may need a pump.
That is right, just include utility cost in the rent. Little things like
smoke detector, fire exit, etc. In our city if the basement suite passes
the inspection, it is allowed to be rented and considered as a secondary
residence. In case of illegal one, the penalty is pretty high as well it
is a matter of zoning of the neighborhood too.
Connect a running time meter to the tennants zone.
Calculate and agree upon a fair $ per hour to charge.
The more time that zone runs, the more you charge.
Much better answer compared to adding resistive heat or a heat pump.
You can probably find an old mechanical odometer time hour meter on ebay.
I've known of people (tenants, not utility
bill payers) who max up the heat and regulate
temp by open windows. I think that's a major
insult and injury to the landlord. (Likely why
they do it.....)
Christopher A. Young
learn more about Jesus
On Thu, 9 Apr 2015 14:59:36 -0700 (PDT), Ivan Vegvary
Are you the owner? You live there all year round?
3??!! One for each room?
What does the HVAC guy care. He's not paying. In fact I'm bet his
making money on it.
My basement is cool all summer
A separate thermostat that he doesn't know about that you control. You
could set it to 74 maybe. Or 70.
When I was in a small college fraternity, which used what had been a
farily large private home, the house manager (one of the members), the
thermostat was in the dining room, and he drilled a hole in the
indicator plate on side which had marks for the degrees the stat was set
to, and he put a screw in the hole so the lever could not be moved
higher than the screw allowed. Maybe 74 when he set it for 70, or 72
when he wanted it set for 68.
And some of the guys would turn the thermostat up to the maximum. But
the house manager was my roommate and I learned that the thermostat was
not actually connected to the furnace. He had another thermostat
somewhere else that controlled the furnace. It was warm enough for me
all the time so I never followed the wires or searched for the other
(He also thought we watched too much TV, so he took the plug and ripped
out one prong, and plugged it back in. We didn't really watch much tv
(I didn't watch at all) or someone would have wanted the set fixed, and
it never came up at the once-a-week chapter meetings. It was a serious
school and no one goofed off much, and most went on to grad school, so
TV was really not a big thing. )
Tnese are college stories but I see no reason you can't do the same
Itemize the percentages and show the past bill (bills when there are
more than one) and point out how cheap it is. Tell 'em, iti's as fair
as I can make it and it's defintelty cheaper than anywhere else. Or
any other way, like minisplits.
I had a 2-BR apartment for $175, and 2 straight guys trying to save
money wanted the second bedroom. So what is fair? Who knows, but I
thought 75 for me and 100 for them seemed pretty close to right, and
they said fine, and it was fine. They also had a living room that
iirc they never used, a kitchen and a bathroom for 50 a piece .
I don't see why not but you'd better get every detail in the lease.
What happens if the price of gas goes up or down. What happens if one
moves out. Or don't base it on the price of gas. Still, it sounds
complicated and a source of friction. Despit your sensor, he'll say he
never turned it up, if it went up it's because of some weird thing your
furnace did. Your furnace, not his.
Maybe best to include heat and just not let it get too hot,
Or Itemize heat at so much per degree day -- boy that sounds like a lot
I'm not sure why electric heaters are out of the question. They are quite
popular here in the Pacific Northwest thanks to our mild climate and low
We live about 20 miles away from Portland. Our house is 1456 sq/ft and is
heated entirely with electric wall heaters (Ours are made by King Electric,
sold at Lowes stores). Our monthly bill is under $150 which includes
heating, hot water, lighting, and all appliances. That's for a family of
three and a home based business. We also have 12-14 foot vaulted ceilings.
Electric heat is easy to install, easy to zone, and safe to operate. It's
also one of the least expensive systems to install and maintain. Gas or
heat pumps may be more efficient, but the high installation costs would
take a long time to pay off, especially for 800 square feet.
If it were me, I would spend more money on insulation and weatherproofing
to minimize heat loss in the first place. That will also help cut down the
noise between units.
According to my last electric bill, we pay 8.16 cents per KWH.
We do get a .119 service credit per KWH, which amounted to a whopping $1.67
off last months bill. :)
We are all electric, no gas or heat pumps.
Last month we used 1400 KWH, but we typically average about 60KWH per day
in the winter and 30KWH per day in the summer. In other words, at least
half of our electric bill is for heating hot water, and running the
lights/appliances. I work from home so my computer, lights, and heat are on
We built the home in 2004 with typical insulation. R30/38 in the ceilings,
R21 in the walls, R30 in the floors. Double-pane vinyl windows. Nothing
On Friday, April 10, 2015 at 12:57:28 AM UTC-4, HerHusband wrote:
The big factor here too is that it's a *basement*. Assuming most of that
is underground, then it's around 50F outside temp he's dealing with. Easy
to heat, easy to cool. In a relatively mild climate, underground, electric
heat may not be a bad option. The problem with trying to zone the existing
furnace, I'm not sure how well that will work. If he needs AC too though,
then the mini-split option would seem to make the most sense. It costs
some money, but having something that works, is cost effective, etc would
seem to be worth it, especially when he's going to be presumably collecting
some rent money. A year of rent and it's paid for.
Install a mechanical (not electronic) thermostat cut into the line that
controls the furnace. Install a security cage over it to prevent adjustments
and set it at the maximum temperature that you want the tenant to have. This
will override the thermostat that they have to control the temperature.
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