a huge step in the warmth department

Some exciting news – as I sit and write this, some men are putting up the insulation in our crawlspace!!!

It’s been over a year since we took it down to treat some bugs. We decided to wait and see about the foundation before putting the insulation back up, but when we realized we didn’t have the money to fix the foundation this summer, I told Paul I didn’t want to do another winter with no insulation. That main level gets *cold*!

I know not to expect any miracles, but I’m hoping this helps with our heating bills as well. If nothing else, I should be able to walk around in just socks again.


on the coldest day of the year…

It’s not really the coldest day of the year. I’m just being dramatic. :-) But, it’s been one of the coldest days of this season – highs in the mid-30s, I believe. Sometime last night, our heater stopped working. We thought it was odd when the house was so cold when we got up for church, but didn’t deal with it until we got home and messed with the thermostat and realized that the heater wasn’t blowing warm air. Paul checked for a pilot light, but there was none.

My uncle stopped by and he and Paul troublsehooted the heater until the found the problem – the part that ignites the pilot light went bad. They were able to replace it without too much trouble, and our heater is working again. Thank goodness my uncle was able to come and find the problem, and thank goodness Home Depot was still open!

A part of me was hoping just a teeny-tiny bit that we would have to replace the whole unit. Of course, I don’t REALLY want to spend that money right now, but if I *had* to I would certainly be glad to have a more efficient HVAC unit! Oh well. :-) I guess we’ll have to wait and do it the old fashioned way, saving up for it.


ducts in a row

Our inspector told us when we moved in that we needed to get the ductwork cleaned. Supposedly, cleaning them results in lower energy bills and reduced dust/mold/allergens in your house. We suspected it had been a while since they were cleaned, so yesterday when I saw an ad in the mail I decided to finally call and set up an appointment.

According to the ad, it would be $110 for 15 vents and one return. What I didn’t realize is that they would have to do more than that $110 price point, so it ended up costing us almost $800. Yikes! Didn’t plan for that, but it came out of the “house renovations” budget and we have a lot of money floating around in there thanks to not having enough to get the foundation fixed. Our house has 2 returns (upstairs and down in the den), and 3 main trunks that distribute the air (one for each level I think?). So, we had to pay extra for those things, since that original price only covered one of each. Also, they had to add access panels to the main trunks, which means the system has never been cleaned in the 50 years this house has been around. (More $$$.)

Another thing they did was inspect the furnace. Unfortunately for us, the original owner was quite a DIY-er. I don’t want to put down DIY projects – they are great if you can do it well and do it right! However, this guy either didn’t do it right or didn’t do it in a way that it would last. Our HVAC unit was put in 1997, and it was hooked up completely wrong. I can’t remember how it is – I think it’s cooling the air before it’s filtering it… but whatever it is, it’s causing the unit to get gunked up with air particles and run more inefficiently. Someday when we win the lottery we really need to replace the whole thing with a unit that works correctly.

So today they cleaned the whole furnace – the AC coil, the heating coil, and the blower house. These really, really needed to be cleaned for the reasons I mentioned above. So even though that added $$$, it was good that we went ahead and got it done.

While the ad didn’t lie, I feel like it was a bit misleading about the price. They should have mentioned that there are other things involved that you *have* to do (you can’t just skip that part). Oh well.

I told the guy about our house heating unevenly, and he said that putting insulation in the crawlspace and putting in a return for the main level would help with that. Apparently the return that’s in the hallway upstairs is sucking up some of the warm air from downstairs. We’ll add that to our list, though it will probably fall in the “only if we stay here 40 years” category, right under replacing all the paneling with drywall.


gas is expensive!

Originally published at twentysixcats.com

So we got our gas bill yesterday – $365!! Unfortunately it’s a monthly bill. I looked at all the things we use gas for, and really the only logical culprit is the heat. We don’t cook enough (and we rarely bake) for it to be the oven/stove, we don’t take showers very often (being honest here!), and I always wash in cold water.

I thought we were being conservative with the heat – we keep it at 65 during the day and turn it down to 57 at night. I also try to turn it down when we’re not home for several hours or more. So, I’m disappointed that despite our efforts we still have such a high bill.

To be honest, this is really going to stretch us financially if it’s the norm.

We turned off the heat last night and today. The thermometer in our house said it never rose above 61 upstairs and 58 downstairs. I was so cold! Savannah and I sat in the guest room all day in front of the space heater. I could hardly bear to go downstairs. I did take a nice walk around our neighborhood in midday, but it wasn’t quite warm enough to just be outside. Maybe tomorrow!

I asked Paul if we could at least keep the heat at 62 degrees tomorrow. It’s just way too cold to have it completely off. And I worry about how it will affect Savannah – she wouldn’t nap at all today and so was fussy all day. It could have been a coincidence, but I wonder if it was because it was so cold.

This is making me rethink our priorities with our house projects. It’s really hard to save the money for repairs to fix the energy inefficiency of the house when you’re spending so much on the bills! So maybe we should bump those to the top of the list?

The biggest thing we probably should do is put insulation in the crawlspace. I hope that helps! The other big thing that will probably help will be to put new windows throughout – we still have the original 1960s single pane windows, and 3 of the windows are broken. I would LOVE new windows for the sound factor alone! But with 12 windows plus a sliding glass door and a bay window, I’m not sure when we’ll be able to afford it. (Anyone have new windows installed recently? How much did it cost, ballpark range?)

Making the house warmer would be nice! But it also would be nice to fix the rust in our water so we stop having to buy bottled water, and so that the rust doesn’t ruin Savannah’s diapers. And it would be nice to get some drainage ditches put in the yard so it stops flooding, which is contributing to the sinking foundation. And I really want carpet in the den. And of course we do need to fix the foundation which is the least exciting project. Where to put the money first??

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, fixer-uppers are fun when you have the money. :-) When you don’t… well they can just be frustrating.


welcome to our sauna!

Originally posted at twentysixcats.com

I’ve had a productive day so far. I finally tackled the linen closet. Because we moved from a fairly big bathroom to a pretty small one, I had a lot more stuff than room. So, I spent an hour organizing the shelves, trying to get everything to fit, and then putting the rest of the stuff in our bedroom to be dealt with at another time.

Spending all that time upstairs has gotten me frustrated about the temperature of our house!

I’ll start at the beginning. You see, when we had the house inspected before we bought it, we found out there were powder-post beetles in the crawl space. The cost to get them exterminated was covered when we closed, but first we had to remove all the insulation from the crawlspace. Because of Paul having to be at CNN so much, he didn’t get a chance to do that until last week. They came and sprayed the crawlspace on Monday, and we now have to wait a few weeks before we can put the insulation back up.

In the meantime… MAN I am noticing a difference in the temperature of our house without the insulation! The main level of our house is really cold. We turned on the heater to see if that helped, and it has.

HOWEVER…. now the upstairs is a sauna! It is *SO* hot up there. It’s like 80 degrees, and the heat is blasting. We have all the register vents closed, but it doesn’t seem to help. So we have to turn the heat completely off at night, which isn’t a problem, but it gets quite chilly in the wee hours of the morning. :-) (This morning, Savannah’s feet were like ice. Since Paul had already left for work, I brought her in the bed and under the covers with me and rubbed her feet until they felt warm. Poor baby.)

So, does anyone have any ideas of how we can regulate the temperature? It is really quite unbearable upstairs. Is this just normal with two-story houses, or is there something wrong with our heater? Perhaps putting the insulation back will just do the trick.

Anyways, after spending an hour and a half upstairs sorting the closet, I am back downstairs and feeling much cooler. In fact, it’s rather pleasant. When I get too cold, I’ll go back upstairs. ;-)