Large House, inefficient!!! Electric Heat.


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Old 12-07-11, 06:52 PM
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Large House, inefficient!!! Electric Heat.

I live in Central Texas, so over all one of the best climates in the United States (yes, I'm proud of Texas<grin>), but even in this climate, my house struggles mightily, especially in the winter. The house is about 3,300 sq ft, 2-story, with a very tall ceiling in the main living area that leads upstairs. In the winter, all the heat shoots straight up to the 2nd floor. On top of that, the genius that built this house didn't plumb the gas line in to the house, so it's ALL electric. This week we had a cold front and it got down to 24 degrees last night! My power company displays daily power usage on their web-site so I'm able to monitor our usage. Yesterday alone was $21!!!

Any suggestions on how I can more efficiently heat this joint???

Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 12-07-11, 07:04 PM
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Do You have ceiling fans ? thats about all that will help get the heat back down to floor level with tall ceilings..
 
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Old 12-07-11, 07:14 PM
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Thanks...I'll give that a shot. I do have my doubts though due to the slop of the ceiling....it's sloping upwards toward the 2nd floor...oh well, we'll see.
 
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Old 12-07-11, 07:18 PM
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I have seen alot of cathedral ceilings with fans mounted at a steep angle... just a pain in the butt to put them in. also makes nice breeze for summer.. its a win win
 
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Old 12-08-11, 08:04 AM
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Hi funkerama,
There is a long list of steps you can take to make improvements. The first step will be to narrow that list down to what fits your house. Now, I'm an energy auditor, but over 2,000 miles away. One step would be to have a full audit done and go from there. The DIY approach can work as well, it is just that you must do the investigating.

Texas home? slab, crawl space, or basement with a foundation?
Electric heat, but is it forced hot air or other and where is the ac/air handler located?
All cathedral or do you have some attic space.
2x4 or 2x6 walls.
Do you know what is in those ceilings for insulation?
Any recessed lights, especially in that cathedral ceiling?
Year built?
Any other remodeling planned or desired, that can be incorporated into some wx improvements?

That will get you started.

Bud
 
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Old 12-09-11, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
Hi funkerama,
There is a long list of steps you can take to make improvements. The first step will be to narrow that list down to what fits your house. Now, I'm an energy auditor, but over 2,000 miles away. One step would be to have a full audit done and go from there. The DIY approach can work as well, it is just that you must do the investigating.

Texas home? slab, crawl space, or basement with a foundation?
Slab
Electric heat, but is it forced hot air or other and where is the ac/air handler located?
Central heat, both A/C & Furnace units are in the Attic in 2nd story attic space.
All cathedral or do you have some attic space.
Attic space on east & west sides of house, but raised ceiling in living has no attic space above it.
2x4 or 2x6 walls.
2x4
Do you know what is in those ceilings for insulation?
Blow in insulation
Any recessed lights, especially in that cathedral ceiling?
1 small recessed light.
Year built?
2002
Any other remodeling planned or desired, that can be incorporated into some wx improvements?
No, but I'm considering having the gas-line plumbed in to the house and replacing the furnaces (and potentially the water heater) if it's not tooooooo expensive. It will be an ROI calculation for sure.

That will get you started.

Bud
Thx for the reply!
 
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Old 12-09-11, 07:35 AM
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Gas would be your cheapest heat source. Given it is Texas maybe as much as one third the cost.
 
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Old 12-09-11, 07:40 AM
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Yeah, we had gas at our old house, MUCH cheaper, but I don't know how much it's going to cost to get the gas plumbed in to the house to the appropriate spots and to get the meter set and to replace the furnaces....
 
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Old 12-09-11, 08:07 AM
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Do the math and see how long the pay back will be.
 
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Old 12-09-11, 08:18 AM
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When my former in-laws built their lake home, they refused to take my advice on many things. One of the things they did was build a loft second story with a 24 foot ceiling in the lower level great room so it shared the ceiling with the loft. They found they could not heat the area of the great room populated by people without the three huge ceiling fans running all the time to circulate the air.
 
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Old 12-09-11, 09:26 AM
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I would start with the heat loss calculations. You will need them anyway if you consider new furnaces. In addition to a total heat loss, the process will help you identify areas for improvement. The catch 22 is, as you reduce your total demand, you also extend your ROI, as your savings go down.

If that is a continuous slab from inside to outside without a thermal break, they suck heat out like mad. If that is the case, insulation can be added around the entire slab, with a rather major landscaping project. Something to think about.

One recessed light is not enough to worry about.

The air handlers being in an attic does create the possibility of some good savings. Between air leakage and limited insulation worth taking a look at. Assuming your attic is ventilated, ducts are frequently covered with something far less than desired, r-6 would be common. Plus, underneath that, there was probably no air sealing done. Moving air inside those ducts increases the heat transfer, so instead of the r-30 or 38 suggested, you should have more. Never done, but as much as possible would be a big help.

There are methods for testing the ducts for leakage with a duct blaster.

Bud
 
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Old 12-14-11, 10:13 PM
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After verifying that the ductwork is properly sealed and there's sufficient insulation in the attic, look into replacing the a/c with a heatpump.

Heatpumps are far more economical to operate than electric elements in mild climates. (30-50% savings above freezing - below that, elements cycle on and off to carry the balance between heatpump capacity and what the house needs)

Gas furnaces are cheaper to operate than heatpumps though.
 
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Old 01-11-12, 08:36 AM
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How energy efficient is the structure of your home? Like windows, doors, roof? Is the siding in bad shape? All of these things can contribute to poor energy efficiency because they affect insulation. I don't know how old your house is, but even older vinyl siding is less efficient at insulating your house than more modern versions. I'm not saying you need to redo everything, but if you were already thinking that maybe you should look into it soon (siding is peeling, windows are sticking, etc) then it's probably worth looking into your better options. It isn't very big, but the ***** has a pretty simple breakdown of a few points about saving energy.
 

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Old 01-11-12, 05:24 PM
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A heat pump would save you a bunch of money! Also if the 2nd story is that much hotter sounds like u have some duct issues. Are u running your blower
 
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Old 01-11-12, 05:48 PM
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Heat Pump!

I am all for recommending the heat pump. Go with a good quality two speed unit. Just running your ceiling fans or blower will help move the heat down to the lower levels but feel drafty. I too am all electric and do not have NG available in a rural setting. You will experience the fan running but with tempered air. My HP puts out typically 100 to 105 on low stage with no electric heat on a 20 degree day. Just do not be a tightwad and keep the stat turned down low. Savings running at a lower temp are negligible and heat pump actually works better with a higher (68 to 70 Deg) return air temp.

Also keep in mind you will cut your electric heating costs to 50% especially in TX. I live in NE and do not lock out the HP till gets below 15 degrees F outside. A properly sized 18 SEER HP with a scroll compressor and TXV should work great in TX.
 
 

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