Hot and bothered…or frigid?

Shortly after we received our first gas bill after moving into our house in WV, we started on the path towards reducing our energy usage.  The house was built in 1939 which is apparently before anyone invented insulation as our house had absolutely none.  I have been tearing things apart and installing new insulation in every nook and cranny.  We have replaced and sealed most of the windows and all of the little entries into the house, we replaced the ancient furnace with a new, high-efficiency one and we have installed CFLs everywhere.  It has made a significant difference in our energy bills so has been well worth the effort.

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The family room, office and lower bathroom are the worst as far as cold goes.  The walls are solid masonry…outside->brick->block->plaster->inside…basically a huge cold conductor into the house.  We demolished the office and bathroom first and have studded out new walls from the masonry and added water-proofing and insulation.

Uninsulated wall
Uninsulated wall

For my birthday, my brother-in-law and his wife bought me a thermal leak detector…one of those devices that can take instantaneous  temperature readings from a distance.  So, now that I have the office studded out and insulated, I thought it might be fun to compare the wall temperature of the new area with the uninsulated space of the rest of the area.  The entire area is basically unheated now as we are working so I suppose the difference would be more significant if we separated the areas a bit more and actually heated the area properly.  Anyhow, in the new area, my temperature reading was 64.7 deg F.  Not more than 5 feet away, I took a reading on the uninsulated part which was 54.5 deg F!  So, without separating the areas much at all, I can still see a 10 degree difference!

Insulated wall
Insulated wall

I took some additional readings which I thought were interesting.  In our bedroom, we suffer the same problem as the other rooms…the walls are uninsulated.  Although the are made of different materials, none of those materials is warm!  So, I took a reading on the bedroom wall which was 64.9 deg F.  I then moved to the new insulated window that replaced the old fashioned original windows.  The temperature of the window (windows are generally considered not to be great at keeping cold out) was 70.8 deg F!  I couldn’t believe the window was a better insulator than the wall!

The wall
The wall
The window
The window

So, I am certain now that the insulation projects I am doing are beneficial and the new windows I installed are well worth the money!

So what about you?  Ever quantify changes you’ve made to your place?  Have any good insulation stories to tell?

16 thoughts on “Hot and bothered…or frigid?

  1. We had the floors insulated in our crawlspace which helps. There was a little insulation but not much. We have a window in our bonus room that does not close very well and we my replace it along with all the windows on that side of the house at some point. The other problem area is the door that leads to our attic. We put some bubble wrap looking stuff on the other side of the door which I think helps. However in general the bonus room is hotter than the rest of the house or colder. It is the farthest away from our heating/cooling system and the ducts take too many turns. Overall our house isn’t like the cool air conductor yours appears to be so I can’t complain that much. I hope it gets better.

  2. That gizmo is way too cool. I don’t know how useful it would be in these parts. We like to pretend it gets cold or hot, but mostly we are weather spoiled. I will have to dream some excuse to buy Geoff one of those tools though…

  3. Interesting, I’ve always wanted to get a Kill-a-watt.

    I used to try to plug every leak in my home, but now I’m not as worried about it now. I now want to make sure I keep some fresh air in my home.

  4. Well….our house is probably a poster child for what not to do. Since we heat with wood, we haven’t worried about it too much. We did greatly increase our ceiling/roof insulation (it’s one system, no attic), and the addition of the log room on the front of the house has made a huge impact because it is so solid that it blocks a lot of wind (except when Larry is in there) and therefore drafts.

    The upside is that we have great ventilation 🙂

  5. We replaced all our windows, the new ones are energy efficient.
    Love that little gizmo you got there. I hope you didn’t point that at yourself and say “hot stuff”(I’m ashamed to say I have done it). 🙂
    .-= YDavis´s last blog ..Golden Friday =-.

  6. While remodeling our old house we found layers of wallpaper and old 40’s newspapers pasted on the inside of the exterior walls and under the layers of old linoleum flooring. So we had some fun reading too.
    .-= Gary Dillon´s last blog ..Firewood =-.

  7. It’s hard to imagine that a window would be that warm. My computer sits beside a new window and believe me it’s not very warm.

  8. The old house I am currently in has no insulation except for about 4″ of fiberglass blown in, in the attic, that is at least 20 years old. All the windows are good double pane, but the framing around them is completely uninsulated.

    Right now I’m working on two things. The first is reinsulating the attic with R25. This is messy because I’m removing the blown in, a section at a time, then replacing with rolled fiberglass. The second is the windows. I’m removing the interior fascia boards and filling the LARGE open air “boxes” with insulation, then sealing the drafts with foam spray insulation.

    We can’t fill the walls because they are cross braced throughout, so I’m still trying to figure that one out. But a ceramic insulation paint may be the only thing I can do there. Not sure what we’re going to do about the crawlspace, as it is only 11″ high in some areas.

  9. i haven’t worried about it since we run a woodburner nonstop, but I guess i should think about it since in certain spots i can feel drafts. that is quite a difference in temperatures
    .-= Kris Bair´s last blog ..Show results =-.

  10. Oooo, fun new toy!
    I’m surprised there isn’t anything in the walls. Folks would often use newspaper if they didn’t have anything else. Keep up the good work on getting the house done. One step at a time.
    .-= Ceecee´s last blog ..My Husband and Christmas =-.

  11. Neat gizmo. My husband built our house-so any problems are totally his fault : ) One thing he and I wish he had done was insulate the basement ceiling-maybe one day we’ll get it done.
    .-= tipper´s last blog ..The Santa Train =-.

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