Friend Data

My pal L. and his family live over in Vermont, where it’s colder than here.   This is their place:

It’s quite old, it’s made of stone, and it’s not small– it used to be a country inn.  L. recently sent over a chart of their heating oil usage since buying the house eight years ago:

Nice, huh?  They do use a wood stove, too, but L. reports their wood consumption has been pretty steady over these years.  I asked him what factors he thinks account for their steady decline in oil use.  He replied:

“After the 1st heating year we did our kitchen renovation [so the kitchen became the main winter hang-out location]
After the 2nd heating year I changed the heating system from steam to hot water [and increased from 1 to 8 zones]
After 4th year we did 2nd floor renovation, and moved our bedroom to the newly insulated section.
After 6th I put a small electric water heater after the furnace-fired one. So in the summer we can stop running the monster just to heat water daily. In the winter, when the furnace is running anyway, it pre-heats the water fed into the electric.”

“But”, he reported, “probably most signifant change is the gradual hardening off of my wife.”   Ha ha!  That made me laugh.  His wonderful wife is from the south (Connecticut) and went to graduate school in the tropics (Virginia), so I guess she did have some acclimating to do.  She is certainly a good sport.

[P.S.  Friend also reports that the previous owners, when running the place as an inn, with one thermostat zone, used about 2,700 gallons of oil per year.  Makes me shudder to my bones.]

6 Responses to “Friend Data”

  1. Janet Says:

    You wouldn’t want to see a graph of this winter’s consumption for my old house. The house, my husband and I are not the problem. Add in two California transplants and a baby and oil consumption goes UP. But they have done well with acclimating to this house and didn’t grumble after coming back from a visit to NM where the family there has a passive solar house and heated floors…just lovely.

    • Leif Says:

      I’m owner of house in question: Included in that chart is the addition of two babies. And the youngest just now learned to use blankets properly – so down goes the thermostat for their zone.

  2. Amy K Frank Says:

    Any chance he mentioned the cost(s) involved? I know the kitchen renov. isn’t really considered a step toward lowered consumption. As far as the improvements done to lower usage– what do you think total costs of the changes amounted to?

    I am stumbling around asking the question. I am tying to determine if it always costs a lot to make these changes or if a person can make a big yearly/monthly difference by making lost cost changes.

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      Nope, no idea on the costs– but he’s extremely handy and did much of the work himself (including the entire heating system replacement), so I doubt the dollar figures would compare to the average homeowner’s anyway. Their kitchen renovation (more like relocation) wasn’t specifically done to lower the heat bill, but it did give them a comfortable place that could be sealed off from the rest of the house– they even have a sofa in there (which was what gave me the idea to do the same at the previous Cold House.)

      As for your second question– whether “a person can make a big yearly/monthly difference by making lost cost changes”– I think we’re living proof of that. We’ve only done efficiency improvements of the nickel-and-dime variety. We’ve made some minor modifications to each of the two houses, but most of the changes have been in our own behavior and expectations. I think the most cost-effective purchase so far has been the Yeti Hat.

    • Leif Says:

      Let’s not think about the $ cost of the kitchen & 2nd floor renos.
      Heating system upgrade was about $3500 for materials + a hundred hours of labor.
      We’re thinking about re-insulating the rest of the house, but can’t make the economic argument for it. It may stay as built 100 years ago – and stay cold (heated to 45 degs) all winter.

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