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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Upper Bucks County, PA
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    1

    Question I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    We are the new owners of a 160 year-old stone house, 4000 sq. ft., 9 ft. ceilings throughout. Due to outrageous energy bills (Oil is primary, electric baseboard in sunroom addition where we 'live' and another addition that we never use) we keep our thermostat very low (60-62, 65 in the sunroom when I can't take it anymore). My husband doesn't mind it, but I can't take it and it's only Nov. 4th. We can't afford to replace old insulation or windows (we have both old and new). I had an idea, but I know my husband won't go for it unless I have several other opinions on whether or not it will work.

    Let me preface my idea with the fact that the 2 ft. stone walls tend to hold temperature in..... for example, in the summer, the first floor stays relatively cool and we only need air conditioning upstairs and in the sunroom. So I was thinking.... if we raised the heat throughout the whole house, to like 75-80 for about a day, wouldn't that heat absorb into the stone walls? I'm thinking it's kind of like raising the "core" temperature, so that it wouldn't be as hard to maintain??? It's like our "core" temperature is 60, it's going to always stay at 60 because we don't really raise it in the main part of the house, so how could I possibly get any warmth? But if is suddenly 70, maybe it will stay warmer, longer even though the thermostat is is back to 60?

    Or am I completely off my rocker here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,258

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    I think you'd be better off keeping the temperature at a more reasonable setting like 65 or 68. Something you can acclimate to, rather than sweating at 80 and then freezing at 60.
    Budget for the insulation.
    Down vests, longjohns & slipper socks.
    Get a woodstove.
    I like it cool, but 60 is too cold even for me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    666

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Ill preface by saying that directly off of my dock at work is a rail line spur that goes to a coal fired electric utility plant. It amazes me on how many coal cars go into that plant each day.

    My own bills and a decision to use less energy along with the rest of the world and Ive made a decision to cut back seriously this year and this means going back to a life my grand parents lived.

    My home will be kept at 62F this winter but I will live in my study which will be kept at 70 but only when I am there. My study can be closed off from the rest of my house with a couple of doors and done with supplemental heat .

    The one thing I find is that as long as I am moving I can deal with temps in the low 60s. Put me sitting and I need 70+

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    550

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Robyn,

    This type of house is notoriously hard to heat.

    You didnt mention if you have forced hot water or forced hot air as your oil heat component---I'd also like to know if there is a cavity between the outside stone & the inside stone portions of the walls--there often is in this construction.

    For what it's worth, you're not alone---the web is full of stories from people in Penn. Dutch country that have stone houses, or coverted stone barns or brownstones in NYC.

    The problem with stone is that it has very little insulation value--the heat seeps right through the stone.

    You also have to be aware that heat goes from heated area to cold. unless impeded by a thick layer of insulation to stop its path.

    A house 4000 sq.ft. is a lot to heat to begin with--this would require a boiler that puts out 160,000 btu even in a well-insulated home---could you list the heat output of your furnace/boiler???

    The consensus as to the best way to handle this problem is to install a 6" inside wall using 2 X 6 wood studs interspersed with R19 or R30 fiberglass or foam insulation, then covering with 1/2" finished sheetrock.

    You would lose the appearance of the stone, and lose a few inches from each room diameter, plus the cost of the installation, but it seems this is the only effective way to prevent all your heat from bleeding right through the stone.

    Perhaps the renovation could be done for the first floor only as a preliminary step---another strategy in conjunction with this is to close off most portions of the house during the winter months---if you have forced hot air, this would not jeopardize any heating pipes, although some bathroom fixtures would have to be shut down & drained.

    An area centered around the sunroom, where you probably spend most of your time, could be subjected to the extra wall insulation as an initial project.

    Google "high heating bills in stone home" for more info.

    http://www.todaysmodernwoman.com/Mai...irs/180222.htm
    Last edited by NashuaTech; 11-04-2008 at 09:41 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Quote Originally Posted by RobynInPa View Post
    We are the new owners of a 160 year-old stone house, 4000 sq. ft., 9 ft. ceilings throughout. Due to outrageous energy bills (Oil is primary, electric baseboard in sunroom addition where we 'live' and another addition that we never use) we keep our thermostat very low (60-62, 65 in the sunroom when I can't take it anymore). My husband doesn't mind it, but I can't take it and it's only Nov. 4th. We can't afford to replace old insulation or windows (we have both old and new). I had an idea, but I know my husband won't go for it unless I have several other opinions on whether or not it will work.

    Let me preface my idea with the fact that the 2 ft. stone walls tend to hold temperature in..... for example, in the summer, the first floor stays relatively cool and we only need air conditioning upstairs and in the sunroom. So I was thinking.... if we raised the heat throughout the whole house, to like 75-80 for about a day, wouldn't that heat absorb into the stone walls? I'm thinking it's kind of like raising the "core" temperature, so that it wouldn't be as hard to maintain??? It's like our "core" temperature is 60, it's going to always stay at 60 because we don't really raise it in the main part of the house, so how could I possibly get any warmth? But if is suddenly 70, maybe it will stay warmer, longer even though the thermostat is is back to 60?

    Or am I completely off my rocker here?
    Try it and find out.

    Unfortunately I don't think it would work..... something says to me the thermo mass of the stone wouldn't absorb much ...if any ...... heat simply by raising the temp to 80 in hopes for the walls to radiate heat.

    You would also have to account for heat loss and cold infiltration from the other areas of the home.... like the attic and windows. Chances are that 160 year old home has it's share of drafts.

    Perhaps sweaters , slippers and blankets will help ... works for me.


    Just a thought.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    if you have oil fired furnace i'll add that moist air is far more comfortable at lower temperatures than dry air. when we add a humidifier we are far more comfortable in the high sixties than we were with dry heated air in the lower 70s. electric baseboard heat is also very drying. a room humidifier in those areas will help make it feel more comfortable at lower temperatures, also reduces static electricity. don't forget to use moisturizer in the winter dry skin you'll be more sensitive to dry drafts and makes you feel colder.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue RidgeParkway View Post
    i'll add that moist air is far more comfortable at lower temperatures than dry air. when we add a humidifier we are far more comfortable in the high sixties than we were with dry heated air in the lower 70s.
    I'll add that cool moist air makes me chilly and uncomfortable. Our finished basement it usually is around the mid 60's and when the humidity level is high it's less comfortable than when the level is lower.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Quote Originally Posted by RobynInPa View Post
    So I was thinking.... if we raised the heat throughout the whole house, to like 75-80 for about a day, wouldn't that heat absorb into the stone walls? I'm thinking it's kind of like raising the "core" temperature, so that it wouldn't be as hard to maintain???

    I would think you probably wouldn't gain much by doing this. It would probably be just as efficient, or more so, to raise the thermostat up to 68 or so full-time.

    A couple of comments--
    1) Someone mentioned building new, insulated walls inside your stone walls. That's a lot of work and you might not want to lose the stone look. You might instead try hanging thick d****ries along the walls. That should help some, and if you do it right, it could look really good-- kind of medieval, maybe. Hanging quilts would look good too, and give a rustic farmhouse look.


    2) Another thing to do is to find the places where warm air is physically escaping your house. Heat rises, escapes near the top of your house, causing cold air to infiltrate at lower levels wherever it can get in. Turn off fans or blowers, then light an incense stick and walk around with it. See where the smoke goes, and plug up the leaks. Check windows, attic hatches, openings for light fixtures and switches.

    3) Finally, maybe you should get a small, portable electric space heater with a blower and use it wherever you are in the house. Tell hubby he'll have to just accept it if he wants a happy wife.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Another alternative for you....
    Since you are in Upper Bucks, you have a great source of cheap (relatively speaking of course) fuel available to you - Anthracite coal. It would run you around $200 / ton delivered up there and you would probably use about 4-5 ton a year (just a guess based on my usage). Here is a link to a fuel calculator to see what the comparison would be to other fuels. I couldn't figure out how to attach a .xls so I just linked to the website which links you to the fuel cost calculator.

    http://nepacrossroads.com/about4344.html

    It takes some effort, how much depends on the type of stove, but you could completely heat or add supplemental heat to your house in this way. Some benefits vs wood...A loaded coal stove will burn longer than a loaded wood stove which ='s less stove tending, coal doesn't care about getting wet when stored, more BTU's per pound, can buy coal in bags or loose bulk, IME less mess inside than wood. Some drawbacks....emptying ash pan daily, if buying in bulk a coal bin is helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: I am sitting here in a parka with gloves on!

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue RidgeParkway View Post
    if you have oil fired furnace i'll add that moist air is far more comfortable at lower temperatures than dry air. when we add a humidifier we are far more comfortable in the high sixties than we were with dry heated air in the lower 70s. electric baseboard heat is also very drying. a room humidifier in those areas will help make it feel more comfortable at lower temperatures, also reduces static electricity. don't forget to use moisturizer in the winter dry skin you'll be more sensitive to dry drafts and makes you feel colder.
    I realize when we are talking in matters of "it feels like" it is more a matter of Perception and not something of "proveable fact" but there are references on this matter and they all seem to agree that high humidity at colder temps is less comfortable then dry air at the same temp.

    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasc...0/wea00133.htm
    http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/weather/A0824520.html

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