Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Tis the Season

Well, it looks like December may hold the record for the fewest number of posts in a month. 'Tis the season.

Since I last posted, we've gotten snow four or five times, amounting to eighteen inches or so of snow (45 cm). We have a snow blower, so it isn't too bad to deal with. They are predicting another two to ten inches in the the next twenty four hours. If things keep up at this rate, it's going to be a very snowy winter.

We've been busy at the House of 42 Doors doing Christmas things - decorating the tree, making cookies, sending out cards, buying and wrapping presents, etc. This year we are trying to establish some additional Christmas traditions. Ms. Huis created an advent calendar which we were very diligent with for the first two weeks, but things have gotten a bit hectic here at the end and we've been slipping. We wanted to pick out a nice, large log from the firewood pile and burn the "Yule Log". It hasn't happened yet. I wanted to open and share the "Christmas Coconut" with everybody. The coconut we bought ended up being rotten. The one tradition we'll keep from last year though is to leave out cookies, milk and a shot of whiskey for Santa.

Even though it sounds like a bit of a disaster, it has been a good Christmas so far. We'll be spending next week in Minnesota with family and friends, so I don't expect to be doing much posting.

As usual, I have any number of small projects going on in the house. The attic door is in place, but still needs insulation added. I have it set up with a counterweight so it can be easily opened and closed with one hand, despite that fact that it weighs between fifty and one hundred pounds. I've been plastering over some of the holes in the walls. I've put some brass weatherstripping around one of the doors and I'm working on sealing up some of the other air leaks around the other doors.

I think that the new roof is having an unusual secondary effect on the basement. Last year the temperature in the basement never fell below 52 degrees Fahrenheit, even when it was -20 outside. This year the temperature in the basement has been hovering around a very chilly 48. I think that because the attic is a cold attic now, with roof vents, heat is rising from the basement, between the walls and into the attic where it quickly exits via the roof vents. This air movement is pulling more air in from the outside then it did last year and therefore, cooling the basement off.

Because there is no insulation in between the joists of the basement ceiling, the first floor wood floors are really cold. I have a lot of air leaks to plug in the basement, both to the outside and also in the air cavities that feed up to the attic. And of course, our six inches of fiberglass insulation in the attic, really does not meet the recommended R-49 value for our climate. We're short about twelve more inches of insulation. That's another area for improvement.

We've been living in the house now for a year so I compiled our electric and gas bills for the year to see what we're consuming in electricity and natural gas. It's really quite horrendous and I can see a lot of room for improvement. If anybody else is doing the same and wants to compare, between November 2007 and October 2008, we used 12,465 kilowatt hours (avg of 1039 per month) and we used 1,631 therms of natural gas (avg of 136 therms per month).

Well, I showed mine. Anybody else want to share theirs?


ShoNuff said...

Our friend, I will call him Buther, took a training class to be able to do the spray in polyurethane insulation and was able to rent one. May be worth it to do the same for you, because that stuff is super efficient and could probably put your attic in a much better space.

Good thing for Santa the reindeer know where to go...

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I've been meaning to calculate my usage for a 24 hour period, just so I have some idea of how absolutely insane my gas bill is going to be. For some reason, though, I keep putting it off. Fear, I think.

Jaysan said...

I would calculate it out for you, but we are soooo far on the other end of the spectrum that it's just not right to compare.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Ok. Last 24 hour period, thermostat at 60, we used about 1,500 cubic feet of gas. Ugh.

Mr. Kluges said...

Christopher - 1500 cubic feet of natural gas is about 15 therms. That should come out to 450 therms per month. We keep our thermostat at 63 during the day and 56 at night. Misery loves company.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I'm not sure what sort of heating system you have, but if you have hot water (as opposed to steam) or forced air, new systems can give you 95% efficiency, which would probably pay for itself in 5 or so years. I just addressed the issue of a new boiler over in my blog.