Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

What's a good first project

register ::  Login Password  :: Lost Password?
Posted by flip+spiced_ham on September 25, 2005, 11:37 pm

Hey all.

So, I want to do a good first project to help supplement our
heating this winter, and perhaps help with DHW next summer (depending
on the options selected.)

First what we have:
1873 built victorian home... likely balloon framing.
3 floors + basement... no heat on the third floor. Small attic space
above 3rd floor. More likely than not, no insulation anywhere.
(None that i've seen anyway.)

Front of house faces SSE. (in line with the street, see:)
http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q 8+W+Prospect+Ave,Pittsburgh,PA
(latitude ~= 40.4N)
Weather stats at:

I have access to most of the floor joists on the first floor from the
basement. (near the outer walls is more difficult to access, as it
goes out beyond the foundation wall).

Current heating is a circa 1955 (the company stopped doing business
under the name on the boiler in 1955, so it could be earlier, or it
could be later with a leftover and unrelabled unit... a new family
moved into the house about then, so it's a good guess) nat gas boiler.
The boiler is for hot water (not steam) radiators.

Some solar thermal options:
1: Add 4x8 Air heater boxes to the outside of the "south" windows on
   the 2nd floor onto the front porch roof.  There are two windows on
   which i could do this. The angle would be approximately 30-40 deg.
   (with top on windowsill and bottom on roof)
   The design i was thinking of had the following layers
           dark colored baffled "air" area (heated air outlet)
           air gap (room air inlet)
the room air would go into the lower air gap, pulled by convection of
the hot air in the upper baffled area leaving into the room.

2: Some sort of liquid based collector that would circulate into the
   basement, heating that area, which would then heat the first floor.
   My guess on design would be:
           Serpentine run of copper?
           metal plate (optional?)
   Designs/sites with designs/suggestions are welcome.

The placement of these would be tricky.  I'm already iffy on putting
something on the front porch roof.  No homeowners association, but i
do have a busybody neighbor who might report anthing too non-standard.
My guess is that they'd have to go on the west side of the house, or
in back far enough that the house doesn't shade them all day.
This means the runs into the basement might be long and "exposed".

3: Evacuated tubes?  Are they typically air heaters?

Some non solar options (no particular order) that i have:
1: insulate attic space above the third floor rooms.
   attic is currently "truncated". The edges of the 3rd floor rooms
   have a hint of the roof peak, but the peak itself is above a ceiling.
   the space above would be pyrmidical or extruded triangle, depending
   on to which area you are refering. Longer term plan is to vault the
   ceiling in the 3rd floor, eliminating the "attic". I was considering
   adding at that time an insulated channel that ended up in a plenum
   at the peak that would have vents to redirect the heated air
   wherever i needed it-- heat water, direct heating of house, etc),
   so blowing insulation into the current attic space means i might
   have to remove it later have

2: Blow insulation (cellulose, though i really wanted foam) into north
   wall cavities.  One of our "dream" plans is to extend the house
   which is currently "T" shaped, with the tail or the t facing NNW by
   filling in the West side of the "T", and perhaps out the back.
   This would mean insulation there might get torn out in the future.
3: (air source) Heat pump that would heat the basement. (and indirectly
   the floors above) (not really interested in adding duct work to let
   the heat pump heat above floors directly.  Is there a heat pump
   that would have house side liquid loop that could heat a radient
   floor loop to heat the first floor?)

4: I should probably have a blower test done to find any major leaks
   in the building envelope.  We seal up windows, unused doors, etc
   in the winter, but i'd rekon we could use a much better seal.

5: low e film added to the windows?

I'd like to keep my "homemade stuff" budget under 1000.
Insulation, heat pump, and other "permanent" fixures might get a
higher budgetary allowance from my other half.

Anyone have any opinions on what will give me the most bang for the

I think the air heaters are probably going to give me the most
value for the least investment (time/energy). It's passive and
relatively contained.

I know insulation is always good, but I would hate to have to take out
anything for future house modifications. If the payback is fast enough
I might not mind so much.

The air source heat pump might be able to be located under a porch
space that might give it a microclimate slightly warmer than the
surrounding ambiant air temps.  (I'd really like to do GSHP, but
that's probably *lots* more)

Any other ideas?  I've tried to answer questions likely to be asked.
let me know if you need me to answer something else.

Any opinions on if I post this to alt.home.repair / alt.hvac to
get opinions on the non solar options?

be safe.
(Remove stuff beween + and @ in my address to reply directly,
make sure you leave the +.)

This Thread
Bookmark this thread:
  • Subject
  • Author
  • Date
please rate this thread