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Thread: Empty House

  1. #1
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    Empty House

    I have 2 customers who are working on remodeling and selling their houses. The houses are empty, as in no furniture of any kind. Both complain of high heating bills.

    Now coming from a refrigeration background, I know that it takes forever to cool an empty cooler or freezer and putting empty boxes in the walk in helps speed the process. I wonder if the houses being empty is causing the high heating bills since there is nothing in the house to hold onto the heat.

    One house has a heat pump and the other is a gas boiler with baseboard convectors.

    Any input is appreciated.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  2. #2
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    Under renovation and high bills?

  3. #3
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Under renovation and high bills?
    All work is being done inside. No drywall dust. Just some minor modifications to meet code.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  4. #4
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    That's still a lot of traffic in and out with no mass to temper the changes!

    Like your example a WI with nothing in it short cycles, never stabilizes. Very inefficient!

  5. #5
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    That's still a lot of traffic in and out with no mass to temper the changes!

    Like your example a WI with nothing in it short cycles, never stabilizes. Very inefficient!
    Not really a lot of traffic in and out. Work done by owners on weekends. But are you in agreement that an empty house will cost more to heat than one that is lived in with furniture?
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by joemach View Post
    Not really a lot of traffic in and out. Work done by owners on weekends. But are you in agreement that an empty house will cost more to heat than one that is lived in with furniture?
    Mathematically I don't know! Its the same volume, same infiltration, same heat loss. The only difference is the contents.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Mathematically I don't know! Its the same volume, same infiltration, same heat loss. The only difference is the contents.
    Just trying to get these customers to understand the high heat costs. In my mind, since there is nothing for the heat to be absorbed by, the heat costs would be higher.

    I am thinking more along the lines of, if in the summer you turn off the A/C for a full day when it is 95 degrees outside and the indoor temp goes up to say 85. Then when you come home that sofa, dishes, coffee table and everything else in the house is radiating 85 degrees into the space. So by the same token, if there is nothing there you don't have that situation.

    Just some thought on why these 2 customers might be having high bills.

    I might be totally off base here, but it seems to make sense to me.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  8. #8
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    Turn the t-stat down. 55^F more than enough to avoid freezing.
    A full freezer verses a an empty one is that when the door is opened, the cold air escapes and warm air enters. It is not about the cooling space when the door is closed.
    Also occupants add heat and use electricity. One KWH equals 3,414 btus of heat.
    Regards Teddy Bear
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  9. #9
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    I don’t see an empty house causing the heating bill to be high. At the end of the day the heat leaves the house through the walls, ceiling, and windows due to temperature difference and r values.

  10. #10
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    Tell them that houses sell better with furniture in them. It's a realtor trick. Make it look lived in and the houses sell 45% faster.

    The stuff in the house may make a difference if it holds the heat and radiates it out into the air slower than the r-value of the walls. But that's a stretch.

    It's more likely that the contractors are leaving the doors open and turning up the heat excessively.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Marc View Post
    Tell them that houses sell better with furniture in them. It's a realtor trick. Make it look lived in and the houses sell 45% faster.

    The stuff in the house may make a difference if it holds the heat and radiates it out into the air slower than the r-value of the walls. But that's a stretch.

    It's more likely that the contractors are leaving the doors open and turning up the heat excessively.
    I agree on the furnished house selling faster. I have a rental and the pictures I took with it furnished when I lived in it. I have never had a vacancy in 6 years.

    I know it is a stretch that an empty house will need more heat, and I would believe that it didn't matter if it was empty or furnished if it was only one, but two of them with the same complaint? And 2 different customers?

    I guess what I am thinking is that there is nothing to absorb the heat, so it finds the path of least resistance and "escapes". I know, funny thought, but somehow it kinda-sorta makes sense in my mind.

    I am sure there is much more to know about this thermodynamics thing. I just wish I had some science to back up my thinking.

    As far as leaving the door open, yes on one of them. The one is for sale and the realtor takes his Open House literally. Last time I stopped by the front door was wide open on a 30 degree day.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  12. #12
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    What is considered high by them. 80% of when they lived there, 50%, 35%?

    The one with the heat pump, will have a high bill if they keep it cool during the week, and then have the aux heat come on to recver.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  13. #13
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    Teddy Bear hit the nail on the head. People, pets, activity, cooking, bathing, clothes washers, lights, computers, tv's all add humidity and heat.

    Yes contents as in furniture will give off heat but not enough to make a real difference as most are wood and textile based so they are more like insullation and or reduce the size of the space being heated or cooled.

    Turn the T-stat down. 55F and long sleave shirt is pretty comfortable when working.

    Some people have a combine gas and electric bill, some have separate. In my area electric is one company and natural gas is a different company. Surely as you decribed the situation they significantly reduce the electric consumption which was adding heat to the space. Now the gas has to offset what was being added by the elctricity and people and/or pets.

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