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HVAC/Insulation/Contractors - check in here! (kinda long)

Want to get some opinions on the following....

Bought a 1400sq ft ranch in Ohio in 2005, built in 1960 on a full poured basement. It need a LOT of updating when we bought it and Ive basically re-done everything except put up new drywall.

The house has natural gas heat and central AC. The first 2 years the util bills were pretty high, esp the gas bill in the winter time. I will normally have bills of 120-200 EACH from Dec to Mar. The rest of the year they drop drastically ($20/mo in the summer) with no heat on. Electric normally goes between 65 and 90. We normally keep the heat on 64 in the winter.

The third year i re-sided the house and while doing so, blew insulation into the wall cavities because there was NO insulation prior. In the attic there was one layer of standard faced pink insulation and then some blown in on top which brought it to the top of the bottom piece of the truss. I also added 9 more inches of rolled fiberglass insulation on top of that (perpendicular).

While residing, i also put in new double pane, argon gas filled high efficiency windows (new construction) and sealed around the frames on the inside. Both exterior doors were replaced with fiberglass insulated new doors.

Now each winter since, the bills havent dropped hardly at all even though we now keep the heat on 63! My gas bill for Dec was $201, Jan was $180. Now granted, this has been a VERY cold winter for Ohio, but even the last couple of winters the bills have been about the same. I have noticed that the heat in the winter and the air in the summer seems to have "evened out" throughout the house instead of having hot/cold spots like we used to. The house is pretty cool in the summers but really NOT all that warm in the winter. Sweats and slippers are required at a minimum to stay remotely comfortable.

Ive had the ductwork professionally cleaned (prior owners were smokers and had pets) and keep the furnace filter changed regularly.

The furnace was replaced in 2003 (prior to us buying) with a Kenmore unit done by Sears. I located the paperwork for it and it IS an 80% efficient unit.

I would love to hear any thoughts or opinions on why I havent been able to improve the heating in the house. I wouldnt mind paying the bill if it was ACTUALLY WARM in here! Is it solely because of the furnace? What else can i do to improve the temp of the house in the winter?

Thanks very much!!
Old 02-17-2010, 06:08 PM Tk421 is offline  
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To make the air more comfortable, consider getting a humidifier or two. This gives the illusion of warm because evaporative cooling (your skin) becomes less efficient.

As to your technical problems. If you really have sealed up your house for all cracks etc and blown in that much insulation, there is not much left to do there. What is the efficiency of the furnace? Have you checked for leaks in the ducting?
Old 02-17-2010, 06:17 PM Saxman924 is offline  
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furnace is 80% (suckage) ... but it was new in 2003 so i cant justify replacing it just yet.

ive checked the ductwork that i can see, but a large majority of it (main trunk line?) is covered in the finished portion of the basement.
Old 02-17-2010, 06:43 PM Tk421 is offline  
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Honestly, 200 a month is not unreasonable for heating in the northeast/midwest depending on natural gas costs. I know my parents pay double that.
Old 02-18-2010, 05:42 AM Saxman924 is offline  
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Jehannum's Avatar
What's the construction of your ductwork like? It's basically the last thing you haven't touched...

I know that in my house (a little smaller than yours, but built about the same time), the plenum was built of sheetrock, and was basically collapsed when I bought it. That led to leaks through the roof (flat roofed house, vented at the edges).
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:45 AM Jehannum is offline  
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How long does the furnace run? It is a good chance if Sears did it they just copied the old unit's output and oversized the unit needed.

See this is what I was told by some HVAC guys.

Older units were made to pump out a lot of heat and lower CFM. Newer units have high volume air handlers and blow like crazy but the furnace itself may not actually make as much heat which is ok because less output means less gas/oil used. You are only trying to make up for the heat loss.

The one guy gave me an example which is close to your house.

Older home with a 25 year old furnace somewhere around 70% eff. and an input well above 100,000 BTUs so output was most likely around 80,000 BTUs.

Needs new furnace but insulation was added through the years, new windows, etc... So he does a heat calc and it now only actually needs 60,000 BTU's. If they just copied the old unit it was be grossly oversized which he says is way more common than you think. So get a heat calc done and make sure it is properly sized to the house.

The biggest advice he gave me is make sure your's duct work is leak free, nothing else will matter if you are dumping heat into the walls & floor.

So if your furnace is short cycling or has leaky ducts, nothing esle will prevent you from using as much gas as possible.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:28 AM Thermo1223 is offline  
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can't you get a flow test done at all the registers to help decide if the system is leaking? If its got significant leaks I doubt it will be blowing hard on the far runs. I know at our house we had leaks in our flexible line which ruined it. I replaced it recently and now we get air flow in every room and better flow where it was already working.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:36 AM M-Unit is offline  
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