I currently live in a 2 story home with a finished basement, each floor is about 1000 sq ft. I have lived in the house for about 3 years and my heating bills are getting out of hand($300 + a month for gas). The house is only about 15 years old so I guess the insulation is fair. All the windows are original double pane so I guess they are also fair About 5 years ago the previous owners installed a new Trane heating unit(Model xv80 variable speed 2 stage heat) I plan on calling a heating company tomorrow to come out and tell me if the system is running correctly. I live in New Jersey so the average winter temp is 31 deg. My problem is that my master bedroom(about 250sq ft), on the 2nd floor, sits directly above the garage, and my family room on the first floor(about 250sq ft) has a vaulted ceiling. I have a programmable therm. that is located on the first floor and it is set at 71deg, but still my wife and I sleep with an electric blanket and an electric space heater. The ceiling has R-19 insulation and is doubled up in most of the bedroom We have also closed the vents in the rooms we are not using, which includes the entire basement. The kids who also sleep on the 2nd floor are also bundled up. Do you think the house is too big for one unit to heat efficiently. Do you think radiant floor heating would solve my problem? I have received some quotes from online companies that design your system and you install yourself. I am totally able to install this system on my own. I would like to heat the entire 1st floor and the master bedroom on the 2nd floor with radiant heat, the other three bedrooms and 1 full bath located on the 2nd floor would remain on the forced hot air because I don’t want to remove the ceiling to expose the underside of the sub-floor. The price for the staple up type of heating is $3,700 which includes all material and the heat source(Takagi Jr gas tankless water heater). I don’t think this price is bad if it can resolve my heating problem. Even if the heating costs are the same but my family is more comfortable it would be worth it. I am afraid of spending the time and money and getting poor or no results. About 60% of the floor is middle grade carpet and padding that we just installed 2yrs ago.I did my homework and the maximum recommended R value for carpeting and padding is 4, and my present value is 3.49. This is the part that scares me. I had asked the heating designer if that would be a problem and he said that with 12” tube spacing and the aluminum transfer plates(I have a truss system with 2’ centers)that should not create a problem, heat will just take longer to filter through the floor. I hope someone with experience can shed some light on this subject good or bad, as I would like to get started on this project if it seems beneficial. Thanks for your time, Brian.
Just some educated guesses here from non-freezing California.
That is a very large room and it's over a garage. Is the garage heated
You say about 15 years old, so yes the insulation and constructon should be pretty "good", but you are losing heat both through leaks for the heated air in the room and conduction through the floor into the garage. Worse if the garage isn't well insulated.
Thermo dynamics stuff: heat moves toward cold and it isn't always "up" that heat will travel. It will travel in any direction to get to the cold. Better if the conductive path is good (solid materials of density).
Look at your attic and how it's constructed/insulated. You have a leak going through the ceiling and/or walls.
Then look at your floor and the garage ceiling. It should be sealed and insulated well. If the garage isn't heated, then doubly important.
Consider buying a IR heat gun (thermometer). Costco has one for $49 bucks and Radio Shack has one for $49 bucks (we aren't supposed to name vendors, so see if this gets edited out).
Then spot check the whole room before the heater goes on (coldest) and when the heater just turns off.
Check ***EVERYTHING***. Windows (top to bottom, side to side and not nust the window itself, but the surrounding surfaces), oulets (switch and plugs, etc), base boards, ceiling trim boards, fixtures, etc.
Then the floor and all joints.
This will ID where your source of heat excape is and give you a thermal map of the room surfaces and openings. Also will give you the temp gradients from top to bottom of all surfaces. Both a "cold" room after the heat has left and a "warm" room after the heater has finished heating the air. I'd also check it during the cool down and then focus on the spots that get cold soonest, as that is where the heat is leaving first/fastest.
I'll bet that your heat is :mainly" going down into the garage.
As for floor heating, I'd not consider doing *ANYTHING* till after I've found the sources of heat loss. Assuming the rest of the house stays warm longer than your master bedroom, which I think the garage is the main problem.
I'd think super insulating the garage and maybe even heating it would be a better bang for the buck. Kills both the garage and your room, as the heat from the garage will raise to heat the bedroom.
PS....how did you find this board?
Your variable speed Trane unit likely has a SEER of 12...which is very efficient. I don't think $300 is a lot to pay for heat in your neighborhood. The IR gun is a great suggestion. You may have some large air leaks. Check your fireplace damper. You must be pretty desperate to ask Californians for advice on heating. Good Luck
I don't have any informed suggestions, but a few observations.
I lived in Middlesex County for 3 winters (1988-91) in a cookie-cutter townhouse built in 1976. I learned to appreciate that NJ had relatively consumer-friendly construction codes (10 year warranties on new construction, insulation, etc.) although real estate people controlled local politics like most places. Even in 1976, the code has everything you described, and the phenomenon of "sick air syndrome" was getting some attention as new houses were too airtight. Your 15 year house should be well constructed to handle the normal NE winters; I would think heating system (forced air) is efficient enough and adequately rated to heat the house 10 degrees within 90 minutes and cycle on no more than in 30 minute intervals. Once heated, the heating system shouldn't cycle on too often during an hour. If the house is cooling down rapidly (2 degree drops in less than 30 minutes that cycle the blower & burner on), then there are probably air leaks.
Although I've seen radiant heating in those "This Old House" shows, it's not common in the NE. To Ben's point, you need to be sure the house is insulated per NJ standards and find how outside air is getting in; otherwise, it's like heating the whole outdoors (or cooling the outdoors with A/C in the summer by leaving a window open).
With natural gas prices so volatile, you need to analyze this based on energy units consumed (therms) - - are you burning more therms for the same climate conditions (my old Elizabethtown gas co. used to tell me units of energy consumed and average temperature for the same period - - a 1 degree up or down is significant, notwithstanding those neanderthals who don't believe that the world's climate is changing due to development & fossil fuels).
You should not need a "supplemental" heating system - - I agree with Randy .. . without considering this year's higher NG unit cost, my No. Calif gas bill is about $250/mo. for 2 peak months and less for the 1 month on either side of the 2 peak months -- basically, your incremental cost is the cost above your baseline cost heating in "normal" conditions of proper insultaion (heat loss) & weather - - this could be something more like $50-$100/Mo. more during Winter so any fix you are considering would attack that, not your baseline cost which will also be there given the "normal" conditions.
I literally feel for your since I scraped ice off my windshield (all outdoor parking) while in a coat & suit (no casual yet) and understand NE White Christmas' were not that welcomed.
You may also want to try posting your inquiry over at one of the forums at http://www.thathomesite.com
There are separate forums for Heating/cooling, electrical, remodeling, flooring, etc. Some of the regulars are in the trades and good in providing advice.