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Bear with me...

We live in a 1928 home with an open wood burning fireplace in it. Read: drafty in winter...even with the draft thingie shut. We've been trying to compensate by stuffing a plastic garbage bag full of pink insulation up the chimney when it isn't in use. It's okay, but DH is afraid we'll forget it's there and light a fire. I'm thinking we need a more permanent fix...like a woodburning insert with glass doors or something.

We need upper floors windows (19) and front door replaced, but not this year.

Our furnace is over 20 years old...a mid-efficiency one. We're thinking it might be time for a high efficiency furnace.

Our hot water heater is natural gas and rented. We're thinking of replacing it with a tankless hot water heater. We have water heavy in minerals...anode rods need to be replaced every two years.

We just had new basement windows and back door installed. We also have a new roof going on this month. We're planning on selling in five years when DH retires. We also need a new kitchen, and entryway, and to refinish hardwood floors. We bought at $90K and the home is valued at $300K.

Question: What priorities would you put to these issues? Are there other energy efficiency issues (or just plain issues) we should be concerned about?

Thanks.

Jean
 

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How handy are you?
We also have an old house (1914) and when we bought it 5 years ago, the windows were the original. I think replacing our windows was one of the best things we did. It helped with the draftiness and the overall comfort of the house. Plus, we found that it was an incredibly easy do-it-yourself project. We ordered the windows from HomeDepot. The hardest and most important thing you need to do is measure correctly. I think they also make it easier to sell. I find that when hubby and I look at houses, we notice if the windows are newer, etc. You may be able to save some money by doing them yourself.

However, it sounds like you have a lot of other things you need to also get. Maybe some others will have better advice. :rollsmile
 
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Bear with me...

We live in a 1928 home with an open wood burning fireplace in it. Read: drafty in winter...even with the draft thingie shut. We've been trying to compensate by stuffing a plastic garbage bag full of pink insulation up the chimney when it isn't in use. It's okay, but DH is afraid we'll forget it's there and light a fire. I'm thinking we need a more permanent fix...like a woodburning insert with glass doors or something.

We need upper floors windows (19) and front door replaced, but not this year.

Our furnace is over 20 years old...a mid-efficiency one. We're thinking it might be time for a high efficiency furnace.

Our hot water heater is natural gas and rented. We're thinking of replacing it with a tankless hot water heater. We have water heavy in minerals...anode rods need to be replaced every two years.

We just had new basement windows and back door installed. We also have a new roof going on this month. We're planning on selling in five years when DH retires. We also need a new kitchen, and entryway, and to refinish hardwood floors. We bought at $90K and the home is valued at $300K.

Question: What priorities would you put to these issues? Are there other energy efficiency issues (or just plain issues) we should be concerned about?

Thanks.

Jean
I'd find a way to make the chimney more energy friendly first. I'd also price out some windows and if you can't get them this year, I'd put up vapor barrier on the inside of your house over the windows to cover any drafts. If you're refinishing the hardwood floors, I'd see about maybe putting something beneath them that will warm them up for you. It'd go perfectly with the new hot water heater that you want. The furnace can be compensated for a bit longer, as I'm in the same place as you are. Our furnace was made in 1983 and we're looking at a newer one, but we can't afford it at the moment, so we're making sure that we help the house in any way that we can.

What about thermal curtains? I'd check the doors in your house and see if you have any drafts coming in, then put in some good weatherstripping. I'd also check the caulk on your windows and put in some new stuff to help with the vapor barrier on the inside of the windows.

I'd leave the big stuff as last priority, being the kitchen and the entryway. Take care of the small stuff now that you can afford and put the bigger stuff on the burner until Spring rolls around. :D
 
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Put something that is a bright color in the fireplace to remind you to unplug the flue before making a fire. Attic insulation should be your top priority. Actually I think a kitchen re make will give the most return on investment.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Attic insulation should be your top priority. Actually I think a kitchen re make will give the most return on investment.
Actually the attic is the one area we don't have to worry about. I don't know the R value up there, but the insulation is about 1' thick! There is new insulation layered over old.

Yeah...I was wondering about the chimney. I haven't had a price given locally, but I'm thinking it might be the next area to attack. We'll see. I want to pay the bills for all the other work first.

Jean
 

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Bear with me...

We live in a 1928 home with an open wood burning fireplace in it. Read: drafty in winter...even with the draft thingie shut. We've been trying to compensate by stuffing a plastic garbage bag full of pink insulation up the chimney when it isn't in use. It's okay, but DH is afraid we'll forget it's there and light a fire. I'm thinking we need a more permanent fix...like a woodburning insert with glass doors or something.

We need upper floors windows (19) and front door replaced, but not this year.

Our furnace is over 20 years old...a mid-efficiency one. We're thinking it might be time for a high efficiency furnace.

Our hot water heater is natural gas and rented. We're thinking of replacing it with a tankless hot water heater. We have water heavy in minerals...anode rods need to be replaced every two years.

We just had new basement windows and back door installed. We also have a new roof going on this month. We're planning on selling in five years when DH retires. We also need a new kitchen, and entryway, and to refinish hardwood floors. We bought at $90K and the home is valued at $300K.

Question: What priorities would you put to these issues? Are there other energy efficiency issues (or just plain issues) we should be concerned about?

Thanks.

Jean

Your house is similar to ours! Ours is somewhat newer, but regardless.. We have some same issues.

We did our masonry fireplace a few years ago too. IT was a huge draft, we boarded ours up, and didn't use it at all. We researched and put a wood burning insert in, it heats our house all winter. This paid for itself in only a year due to savings in gas in two ways, one we weren't losing a bunch of heat to start with, and because we were heating with it, we weren't paying for the gas either. Wood we are able to get for free. Our unit cost us $1400 plus gst, and the install was $150 including the chimney liner. We love it~!

I recently asked my father about the tankless water heater, and he told me it isn't all it's cracked up to be. IT sounds good, and it's ideal for a home that people aren't home much, but how it works is it has to run for a while to get heated, and then will circulate water afterwards too cool it down, for each time you turn that hot water tap on. So if you are in teh kitchen several times a day, using warm water, it's wasting water in a huge way. It's ideal for places like hotels where people really only go back to shower and sleep. and it sits vacant alot. He said it can be pretty efficient if a hot water holding tank is installed, which defeats the purpose, a conventional high efficiency tank is more effective in the typical home. So it may be worth asking some one who knows the units to explain it.

After the fireplace, I think the furnace would up the value, as people to look for that when shopping . Windows as you can. If any are particularly bad, then those. We replaced some drafty windows, and while it made a difference in the actual room, I didn't notice a difference in our gas bill at all. I don't remember, the realtor we used when we sold before, told us it rare that you make your money back for your renovations, unless the house was in really poor shape. If you aren't planning on staying of long, kitchen reno's go upwards of 7K if you install yourself. I'd do things that will benefit YOU right now, the fireplace insert, windows in the rooms you use, furnace IF it's failing. Kitchen, you'd put alot of money and time into something you really won't get to enjoy and frankly won't up the property value for the amount you'll pay.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
We did our masonry fireplace a few years ago too. IT was a huge draft, we boarded ours up, and didn't use it at all. We researched and put a wood burning insert in, it heats our house all winter. This paid for itself in only a year due to savings in gas in two ways, one we weren't losing a bunch of heat to start with, and because we were heating with it, we weren't paying for the gas either. Wood we are able to get for free. Our unit cost us $1400 plus gst, and the install was $150 including the chimney liner. We love it~!
Thanks. It's nice to have a quote to compare to. How long ago did you do your chimney? We've toyed with the idea of making a fireplace plug, but we have this old andiron set that pokes out onto the hearth into the room, making it very difficult. I'm thinking we should just get rid of the set (it's solid brass) and put in the insert.

One problem we do have is the location of the thermostat is about 10' from the fireplace. When we're using the fireplace the furnace turns off, making the rest of the house like a refrigerator by the time the fire is put out and we head to bed! Consequently we have not used the fireplace much. We're too afraid of freezing pipes in the basement with this setup.

I recently asked my father about the tankless water heater, and he told me it isn't all it's cracked up to be.
this is good to know too.

After the fireplace, I think the furnace would up the value, as people to look for that when shopping . Windows as you can. If any are particularly bad, then those.
We'll see about the furnace. DH says it was on the other day. So maybe we'll be alright. But it is absolutely frigid in this house in winter. He sets the temperature at 68 F, but it is only 61 F in the basement then. I'm thinking the single pane windows are the problem. We replaced the basement windows and back door this year. We put storms up on the upstairs windows permanently, and have sheers and drapes, and sometimes even mini-blinds beyond that on them. But it's still chilly and I ache from fall to spring. One reason I'm thinking of selling and moving to a warmer climate!

If you aren't planning on staying of long, kitchen reno's go upwards of 7K if you install yourself. I'd do things that will benefit YOU right now, the fireplace insert, windows in the rooms you use, furnace IF it's failing. Kitchen, you'd put alot of money and time into something you really won't get to enjoy and frankly won't up the property value for the amount you'll pay.
Thanks. The kitchen is one area we could do ourselves pretty much, if DH decided to. It depends. As you noted, they can get expensive!

Jean
 

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We purchased our fireplace insert almost 5 years ago, so I'm sure they are more. We got a Napoleon.

For us it has worked wonderfully, we have a 4 level home, and the fireplace is on the 2nd from the bottom, one below the main floor. We have heating vents in the ceiling int he room with the fireplace which tie into the ones on the top floor, so it easily heats 3 levels. The lowest level is cooler, but the kids prefer it, with some fleece jammies, they are fine. And our thermostat is one level away. We have friends in a 2 story that got one, bragged itup, then winter hit, and if they use it the basement is icy and the top floor as well, so it does depend on the layout of the house. It might be more effective to use insulation and board it up for now, and just not usei t, and with the money savings start replacing some windows int he most used rooms. We did the kitchen 8 years ago, and that did include lino flooring. Cabinets were the less expensive at home depot and we'd installed ourselves. If the cabinets themselves are decent, you might be able to replace the doors and give it a nice fresh look. Or even paint can stretch that out to look great.

Dh doesn't want to hear about my reno plans..lol. It involves knocking out walls, moving plumbing and doors :hubba:He'll get over it when I tell him it'll be CASH(in about 5 years..lol).
 

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Although redoing the hardwood floors isn't one of your top priorities, I thought I would mention that they are pretty easy to DIY. I (27yo female)did ours this spring. We rented a sander from Menards (like Home Depot). I had to sand them 3 times, each time with a different grit sand paper, wash them, and the apply 3 coats of top coat/ sealant. I did 3 rooms in about a day and a half. It cost about $200 total.

Also Home Depot has some nice stock cabinets, we got the maple ones. They are still a little pricey but it is alot cheaper than custom cabinets. We got a 30"base cabinet, 36" base cabinet, a spacer, and a fake granite counter top for about $500. It may not be top of the line but it looks really nice.
 

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Stop renting the water heater first. Tankless is expensive, but so is renting. What are you paying to rent the hot water heater now?
 

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Thanks russ and greebo. Greebo, the water tank rental just burns me up. It's $110/year...all because DH doesn't want the responsibility of acquiring a hot water heater and changing the anode rod ($21) every two years. I'm with you on replacing it. He isn't though... If I knew what I was doing, I'd be able to change the rod myself...I think. But then there's the upfront cost of a natural gas hot water heater...

Jean
 

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The upfront cost of the heater is about $300 + installation. If you replace the rod every 2 years, it should last you 20 years. That's 10 changes at $21 ($210) plus say $400 total for the unit. 20 years renting is $2,200, vs. $610 over 20 years buying.

Tell that to DH. :)
 
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Question: I have a gas hot water heater and have no idea what an anode rod is or that I should have been replacing it every two years....:nerv2:

could you fill me in? thanks!
 

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Question: I have a gas hot water heater and have no idea what an anode rod is or that I should have been replacing it every two years....:nerv2:

could you fill me in? thanks!
Jen, you don't have to worry about it. It's only a problem in places with extremely hard water...like the prairies. The minerals build up on the anode rod and it doesn't do it's job...whatever that is...can't remember off hand. But here in Saskatchewan south we have to change it every two years. Most of us just rent water heaters and have the guys we rent from maintain them.

Jean
 

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Um - not entirely true, Peanut. At least, not as I understand it...

Any time you put water and metal together, you will get corrosion. Anode rods provide a metal that is more corrosionable (is that a word?) - and so the rod rusts out before the tank. Changing the rod every 2 years protects the tank no matter the hardness of the water. You may get away with it every 3 yrs in softer water tho.
 

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Actually, this is the only place we've lived (and we've lived all across Canada) that we've had to worry about replacing a rod in the water tank. We never had problems in N.S., N.B. or Alta. But maybe there was maintenance happening I wasn't aware of? Just seems odd we never did anything in our old home, which we lived in for over 7 years. And I don't remember Dad doing anything while we were growing up, and we lived in one of our homes over 20 years. Hmm...now you have me wondering. I'm going to have to ask Dad when I talk to him next.

Thanks for the information Russ and Greebo.

Jean
 

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If you don't replace the rod after 2 years, your tank isn't gonna spring a leak the next day. It'll just last maybe 10 years. If you do, it'll last closer to 20, or longer.
 
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Another thing you can try is to put plastic (I call it shrink wrapping) over the windows. The kits are inexpensive and it does help. You shrink the plastic with a hair dryer and therefore you can see right through it. That measure alone has saved us a lot of money.
 
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