Thursday, January 22, 2009

Surviving A Cold Spurt Down South

I live in the south, South Carolina to be exact. They DO NOT build houses in an energy efficient manner down here. I am basically living in a large, expensive card board box...complete with all the drafts.

We have had a pretty good cold spell down here and it has really opened my eyes to how poorly they build houses down here. Here are some good examples.

I can stand three rooms from my front door and SEE daylight all around my front door.

My hot water heater is in an UNHEATED garage - I mean how damn stupid are you to do something like that....I mean AT LEAST insulate that thing with a jacket!

When I stand or sit next to a window I can feel the cold air seeping in.

My outside faucets don't have a shutoff inside the house! I can't drain them for the winter so the pipes freeze everytime it dips below 32 degrees. This is just moronic in my opinion. When I lived up north the shutoffs where in the heated portion of the house so cold exposed pipe could be drained in the winter.

My siding is right over the house wrap...NO DAMN styrofoam insulation at all!!!

I could go on but to continue would just piss me off even more and ruin my day...SO here is what I am doing about it!!!!

1.) I installed a insulated jacket on my water heater - not ideal but better than nothing. Ideally the water heater would be in a heated portion of the house. I am actually looking at replacing it with an "on-demand" water heater.

2.) I installed weather stripping around my front door. I also plan to install a storm door as well this should drastically cut down on the draft coming in the front door.

3.) I installed that plastic sheeting insulation on the windows. I hate this but it was the best I could come up with.

4.) I have plans to replace my sheetmetal garage door with an actual insulated garage door up north had 1-2 inches of styrofoam between the layers of sheetmetal. My current door is a piece of garbage....just don't have the funds to replace right now.

5.) I put pipe insulation and tape on all exposed copper in my garage to try and help with the pipes freezing. I may have a plumber come in and install shut off valves in the garage in the future.

This is my meager plan so far...if you have any ideas, please pass them along...I am all ears!

...that is all.

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  1. All great tip's! I've blown in about 6 more inche's of insulation in the attic,updated the window's a few yr's ago,still not as good as I want,but.. If possible,heavy curtain's are better than venetian blind's too. Here inArizona,winter isn't that severe,but the summer's are killer's! If it's in yor budget,rather than replace the garage door, just get some styrofoam, cut it to fit in the space's in the panel's,it help's! My garage door face's south,in the summer it's too hot to touch. I've planted tree's in the front to block the sun in the summer to reduce the AC bill a bit. All common sense thing's, everything help's!

  2. I like your idea of cutting styrofoam to size and fastening to the door panels! I can't believe I didn't think of that myself!!!

    I need to get on that...I guess it if had to I could probably just fill the panels in with fiberglass insulation as well. The hurricane bracing would hold it right in place!

  3. Not sure what would be cheaper,the foam or fiberglas..guess it depend's on the door panel width. We use plumber straps to hold the foam in,don't use the glue as it may attack or corrode the door metal.I know from experience that liquid nail do's not like heat! Maybe thin strip's of 1/4 plywood,won't need much to hold it on. I've also taken small piece's of plywood,that can fit thru my attic door, made a floor in my attic. Add's storage space, prevent's me from slipping and putting a foot thru the ceiling, and add's a dead air space. Here in AZ,with the AC on in the summer,the attic hit's well over 140 degree's.. maybe I need a solar water heater up there! maybe dehydrate food! Anyway's, weatherstrip is the easiest and cheapest way to start. I wish I had the room and zoning,air quality and such, to add in a woodstove/fireplace,not that I use the furnace that much.Just another option! Oh,just another idea. If you don't have it,get carpet! I just remodeled my house,put in ceramic tile in place of the carpet. IT SUCKS! My feet are alway's cold! When you wake up at 3 am to let the dog's out,your feet are frozen by the time you get back to bed! Worst idea I ever had.. beside's getting married..

  4. I forgot to add.. supposed to be 73 or so today,got to get out and pick lemon's and orange's,grapefruit,tangerine's.. suck's to live someplace warm! (I love rubbing it in!)

  5. Yeah, it sure does suck to lay out gobs of cash to buy a house, just to have to lay out gobs of cash to put everything to right.....

  6. I can see your frustration. Seems like you have good plans to rectify at least some of the problems. Blown in insulation could be worth doing.

  7. Heya Flea. For some reason, the comment box won't come up on you Survivalist post, so I'm commenting here instead.... Just wanted to say that 25 sites is great! I'm gonna plug the ring again today and se if we can't get that number up to 50! Then 100! Then 1000!!!!

  8. I got some weather stripping for my door from Home Depot for about 1.50 a strip, cut to length, they fixed the gaps around the door, and I placed a foam shim, under the door (though installing that meant taking the door off of the hinges, which was a pain... steel doors are surprisingly heavy when they are suddenly in one hand, and not on hinges) as for the idea of a on demand water heater, you may want to find someone who has one first and try it...when we lived in Italy, we had an on demand system that to put it nicely was crappy. For short bursts it could make darn near boiling water on demand... but for any length, like say taking a shower, the water temp was suddenly not nearly as high as I would have liked it. The same was true in the winter when the water comming from the pipes was insanely cold.

  9. Foam or fiberboard generally has a higher R factor than fiberglass batts of the same thickness. A reflective back/front can also help.
    You can use blow fiberglass insulation for your attic, cheap for what you get. There's also some folks blowing pieces of mylar in attics to form a reflective barrier. This works as long as you don't disturb that mylar.

  10. Flea,

    Save some money by putting in the shut-off valves yourself. It might cost you more because you have to buy the tools to do the job, but you get experience doing the task and now you have the tools/supplies to fix broken pipes in the future. Do a google search "Install Shut-off Valves"

    Anonymous has a good idea on cutting insulating foam to place on the garage door, but make sure you do a really good job. You will be looking at that job everytime you leave the garage. Plus will it add or subtract to your home's resale value and will you have to undo your "fix" if you sale your place?

    Also do a cost comparison on a new door compared to buying and installing the foam and don't forget to add your time into the cost. Also look around at salvage yards/Craig's List/Freecycle for a used insulated door.

  11. To Someone,
    Shutoff valve are a must have! I re plumbed my place a few yrs ago,those cheap twist valve's suck! Every pipe got a stainless lever type installed! No need for a pipe wrench anymore. As far as "looking at that job", or resale value,it do's not have to be permanent. If you can trim thin piece's of paneling or plywood,just slip in the foam and twist in the wood. If you want to sell,just tap out the wood. Beside's,in today's market,anything that help's is a plus.