Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home


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Old 03-15-15, 05:14 PM
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Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home

Hello,

I hope someone here can advise me a bit. Pretty simple question. I have a 1958 home and I pay out the ying yang on my electric bill and just trying to seal things up the best I can.

So, I was looking in my crawl space to see one, if it was insulated and two, just how good. Pretty clear it's the original insulation.

The home has two dormers out front and one out back, typical Cape Cod style.

Any thoughts on whether this insulation is worth being replaced or if it will help? Any other ideas on where my dollars are slipping away?

Thanks
 
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Old 03-16-15, 06:18 AM
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Air sealing is always #1 as it must be done before more insulation is added and stopping those leaks saves energy. Link below.

In capes the slopped ceilings are notorious for heat loss because they share ventilation duties with the need for insulation. Air flowing over fiberglass insulation, although necessary, reduces its effectiveness. But that is a bigger project.

The insulation I'm seeing in the pictures appears to have the kraft facing in the up direction. That indicates someone just layed it on top of what was original. Look underneath to see what else id down there. It may have all been removed, but the kraft facing needs to face down to avoid having a vapor barrier layer in the middle of the insulation. Flip it or remove it and start over.

I'd have to check the charts, but your total r-value should be close to r-49. Fill those rafter channels to the top and then add more diagonally to that.

Bud
http://www.efficiencyvermont.com/ste...ide_062507.pdf
 
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Old 03-16-15, 06:36 AM
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Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home

Hi Bud,

Appreciate the response. Just a couple follow ups.

After posting this and seeing a couple youtube videos, the kraft you mention, I noted in this very poor quality short video but the guy got straight to your point and I noticed it facing up. Will check beneath too but understand, it must be flipped.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_Ko84nj97c

When you say fill to the top, I guess you mean the channels as in basically the walls right? I saw this gent known as Dr Energy who blew cellu-stuff down those rafters and then over the top of old insulation and that sounds like exactly my remedy - after of course flipping to not have that barrier between. He fills the rafters right at 10:05 here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQVTcy4SlAk

Sound about right? I try to study quickly to get things going.

Eric
 
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Old 03-16-15, 06:59 AM
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Blown in cellulose is a great insulation, but doing so in a very tight location will mean getting a face full blown back at you, be prepared. You will also need baffles in each rafter bay to be sure the new insulation doesn't block the ventilation.

You can flip the existing fiberglass that is there if there is nothing underneath. If there is more "old" insulation, then something has to go.

Now the bad news, since I do energy audits. Increasing that attic space to 2' of insulation will save about $50 a year at best. That's a WAG (wild a$$ guess) but the heat loss through that ceiling is only a small portion of the heat loss from the entire room. That doesn't mean "don't bother" it just means you've only started.

If you want a more accurate number for potential savings I can crunch those numbers, it's relatively easy.

If you plan on staying in this home forever, a long term plan for additional improvements will eventually show major results. I live in a cape and, although old and slow, I'm making great progress.

Bud
 
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Old 03-16-15, 07:27 AM
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Bud,

Thanks again. Sounds like I should focus first then on air sealing the attic right? Do you suppose there would be much to do there given the picture? Now I'm a bit at odds here and what to do. I first understood I likely have significant loss going through the attic but I tend to agree that if we are talking a guess of just a few bucks that's not going to be worth it.

In the second link i sent, the guy seems to be blow the cellu right down the rafters without any baffles. Maybe I'm just confused though I saw in the document you sent earlier where they go.

I just want to determine where I should really focus effort and what I can do myself. I would probably pay someone if I go the insulation route but air sealing - if I know where, I think I can tackle that.

Thanks,
Eric
 
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Old 03-17-15, 05:49 AM
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Hey Bud,

Back with additional info on that old insulation. Turns out, it has the paper on both sides. I'm guessing your answer will be to yank it and put in all new. Howevever as you say, minimal savings.

Talk to me about crunching those numbers you mention and what IS the best way to tighten up the house to reduce those costs?

Thanks,
Eric
 
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Old 03-17-15, 10:27 AM
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Pulling out 40 year old insulation, even if covered on both sides is a good step. Once out, then the place can be cleaned up and you will have perfect access for the air sealing. Once that is done, it the joists are 16" on center where mfg cut batts will fit in properly, I would opt for Roxul. very DIY friendly and a great product. Add the baffles and then a second layer diagonal to the joists.

I'll use Baltimore with 4,600 HDD (heating degree days)
If I assume 600 ft² of ceiling and that your current insulation is performing at r-10 we get:
Q = u x a x HDD 24 u= 1/r and a = the surface area
I will also reduce that r-10 to r-8 due to all of the ceiling joists. So,
Q = 1/8 x 600 x 4,600 x 24
Q = 8,280,000 btus for current heat loss through that ceiling.

You mentioned your electric bill, so if we use 3,412 btus per KW that would be 2,400 KW hours and at 10 cents per kw hr it is costing you $240 per year in heat loss up there. The HDD is assuming you keep the house at 70°, so less heat loss and cost of you keep the house cooler.

If you increase the effective r-value to double what is there, you cut that wild guess in half. More than my previous wild guess, but still not earth shaking.

You will also benefit from some air sealing, but difficult to quantify that number.

Give me the ceiling area, another big city near you if not Baltimore, and your cost for electricity.

Bud
 
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Old 03-17-15, 10:52 AM
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Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home

Thanks Bud,

What a challenge this will be. I have an opening to the attic that is about 14 inches wide and a couple feet long as noted in attached picture.

I live about 45 miles north of Baltimore so that should work. I'm going to guess 560-600 on the outside for sq footage of that area. That might be high.

My electric bill is thru the roof...literally at some $700-800 a month.

Eric

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Old 03-17-15, 11:38 AM
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My background is actually electronics so I also do electrical power consulting. The first question would be, what are your off peak electric bills, when no heat or ac is being used. That will give us a base load.

I have to laugh at the 14" wide opening. Although I've recently taken off 60 pounds at well over 300 I could only look at those openings and remember when. Diet is doing fantastic, and fitting through a standard stud wall is one of my benchmarks.

Not sure where that opening is, hall or closet, but adding a header on each end and increasing the with to human size is an option.

What is your heat, baseboard electric or electric furnace or other?
What do you know about insulation in the walls?
This is a cape, do you have a full basement?

Looks like my guestimates were fairly close so the savings aren't that impressive, but still worth doing. Give us more information about your house and maybe we can identify an expensive place to do some work.

Bud
 
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Old 03-17-15, 12:31 PM
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Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home

Bud,

Thanks. Glad you find that hole humorous. I can stil fit thank god, just not sure if I want to but I want all the info necessary so at least if I pay someone, i know what's going down. I've been having my 12 yr daughter stand up there and take the inside pics. It is in a small closet beside the chimney.

If I were talking off season, I'd say it reduces by a couple hundred bucks at least for a couple months in spring and fall. I just know my wife cringes every time she opens the damn bill.

My heat is oil and over the years because of the size of the place and those upstairs rooms never being right, we installed wall heat/AC units. Honestly, that didn't drive up too much.

Yes, it is a cape, a full unfinished basement that maintains about 60.

So, the insulation in walls. I do not know the rating but I know it's there. I've checked behind a few plugs to see. Also, in the two pictures, you will notice something odd. A former owner did a professional enclosure of the back corner, amounting to about a 20-32 ft room, which is my key living room. So I have brick internal walls on two of the inside walls. It is pretty well insulated and modern. I can check from my garage and saw last night that the top is well insulated and I've checked walls there as well through outlets. The underneath is also insulated well. The oil tank, oddly is beneath that room so there is about 4 feet of height ranging down to about 18inches near the main house.

When I updated the furnace after I bought it, I went from a 2.5 ton to a I believe 4 ton and ran ductwork to that room.

So, lets see. Oil heat, electric AC, no gas.

Oh, and I didn't mention the cost of oil but we fill that about 3 times during each winter.

EDIT: Oh, I meant to mention, the entire roof/shingles has been replaced since these pictures - if that matters. Architectural, darker grayish.

Thanks,
Eric






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Old 03-17-15, 03:06 PM
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You have an electric hog somewhere to be getting bills that high with oil heat.
How do you heat your hot water, oil or electric?
What temp is your hot water set at?
Do you have low flow shower heads installed?
I see a pool, what do you have the pump set on for cycle times?
Any electric heat tapes or electric heaters that may have been left on?

It doesn't sound like your switch into the heating season is the entire problem.
Excess electric usage can be one or two hogs or it can be an accumulation of little ones. Your hot water source is probably a major contributor.

As for the heating cost, that still applies, it just isn't a big part of the electric bill, fan run time does add in. Forced hot air systems are notorious for being inefficient, especially with older homes. Panned returns, where they used a wall cavity or covered the bottom of a floor joist to use that chase as a duct, will draw air from where it shouldn't which in turn mandates that an equal amount of air be exhausted to balance it.

I will try to find the power company list of typical electrical consumption for home appliances I used to use. They were bought out so not sure it is still available.

Bud
 
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Old 03-18-15, 03:29 AM
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Cap Cod

Thanks Bud,

Yes, it seems I certainly have an electric hog. Maybe my neighbor is connected in to me.

I heat my hot water with electricity. Oil heat and all else is electric.

I do not have low flow shower heads. Do those make that much difference?

I will have to check my hot water temp but I DO knock it up a couple degrees from default.

The pool is off of course in the winter and even when on, the electric bill turns out close to the same as winter while in the middle of summer. I usually run it on 10 hr cycles. I have a hot tub too but I've researched that and it's minimal really.

Just curious but what points you to hot water as a main source?

Thanks,
Eric
 
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Old 03-18-15, 05:38 AM
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Electric hot water is one of, or the, most expensive ways to enjoy that convenience. A frequent comment from people have hot water use problems is their teen age daughters take long showers. That I can sympathize with having gone through a wife and 2 daughters that loved to take half hour or longer showers.

Obviously, if you don't use hot water to excess the contribution to total cost will be minimal. But, if you, your family, and your home haven't been upgraded and use a lot, as high as $200 a month has been my experience.

The nice part about a hot water problem is it can quickly be addressed. I like the low flow shower heads the have a built in control so I can reduce the flow all the way to zero during my shower. It is funny, but years ago an old Jimmy Stewart movie about a large poor family back in the 30's needing to get a family all cleaned up (once a week ) with just one wash tub of hot water that was heated on the stove top. I grew up very poor so really related to the movie and somehow that lesson stuck for me. Get wet, turn the water off. Lather up and everything scrubbed then a burst of the shower and your done. I'm not quite that conservative, but, using the above low flow shower head, we can easily go from each shower using an entire tank of hot water to a mere few gallons. And yes, we can put a number on that too. I love energy auditing.

Enough stories. Clock your current shower heads by timing how long it takes to fill a gallon jug. Use an oven thermometer and let a sink run until at full hot and see what you get.

You can't get hot water costs down to zero, but life can be normal with much lower temps and less use. (do you have teenage daughters??)

But there are still other large users contributing to that bill. A wintertime electric of $200 should be easy. Have you gone for the CFL's or newer LED lights yet?

Bud
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:19 AM
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Attic Crawl Space Insulation - 1958 Cape Cod Home

Hi Bud,

Good stories. I like Jimmy Stewart in some of those old movies. Expecially Rear Window.

So, yes, I do have 2 daughters, the oldest is definitely a violator on the lenthy showers. Been yelling at her for years to trim down the length. The other daughter, myself and wife are pretty quick though.

Guess i will re-address that and try the gallon jug fill.

I am pretty well 100% using the CFLs and a couple LED lights.

So, still need to figure out these other large contributors. I have a couple desktop PCs that I leave on all the time too. I recently ditched a second fridge we had in kitchen for years and noticed no difference.

Eric
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:50 AM
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In my area the local library loan out the "kill-a-watt" power measuring devices. There are other brands and even some that can monitor the whole house consumption. They are not perfect, like no 240v devices, but they do a good job at spotting unexpected parasitic consumption. Another story, I'm terrible.

One of the unexpected energy (little pigs) is a power saver switch on your refrigerator. Now i don't know if they still come on newer refrigerators or not, but most used to have them. Their function was to turn off the heater element installed in the doors of refrigerators to prevent condensation on the outside.

So in which position to you put an energy saver switch to "save energy"? The mfgs, in their infinite wisdom decided that off meant the heaters were off. But unfortunately, most home owners who discovered they had such a switch decided they wanted to save energy so "on" was their choice. The story I started with was simply the choice words and expression on one home owners face after she hurriedly dug through her refrigerator to, yes, discover she had selected the on, because as she more colorfully said, why would any idiot provide a switch to turn off something that saves energy.

Her new refrigerator arrived a few weeks later.

Anyway, take a look at your power meter and see if it is spinning (old style) or otherwise gives you any immediate indications of current power use. If it does, you can selectively turn off breakers one at a time to see if it changes. Taking daily or more frequent readings can also provide a map as to when the power is being used.

Bud
 
 

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