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Old 01-15-2013, 09:49 AM   #1
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Advice from Two-Story Home Owners

Good morning guys,

I am looking for some information from those of you that live in two story homes because the wife and I are looking at buying a new home. We had a deal going on a piece of property where I live that we really liked...but after doing a closer inspection, we are probably going to back out that (that's a whole other story though). We have currently gone back to looking at another house we really liked, but electricity bills in the summer have me pretty concerned being that it is a two story and it is equipped with air conditioning. We also live in a very hot and dry climate, so the majority of people have evaporative cooling (aka "Swamp Coolers") which are typically cheaper to operate. For you humid climate folks that arent sure what that is, here is some help.. Anyways here are some specs on the house...

2 story
2600 sq ft
4 bed, 2.75 bath
Vaulted ceilings in the master bed, and the main living room
Single pane windows throughout

What I am looking for are possibly some things that will help keep the home cooler in the summer...because I am afraid the air conditioning could cause the bills to get out of hand pretty fast. There is also a small evaporative cooler on the ground that is in the window...but I do not see that cooling the whole house. There is also a large fan IN the ceiling of the master closet. It appears to pull air from the inside, into the attic (probably 18"-24" in diameter). I have heard of attic fans, but always thought those were IN the attic.

Sorry for the long winded post...but just looking for some insight. Thanks guys

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Old 01-15-2013, 09:59 AM   #2
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Make sure you have an operational ridge vent. I mean MAKE SURE it works. Our house had one, but we discovered the last company to do a roof job simply shingled over the opening. We had the roof done recently and the contractor showed us, and made sure it was open and functional this time.

Gable vents are also a big plus (the ones on either side of the attic). An attic fan that pull from your upstairs hall and functioning vents in the attic makes a world of difference. We found the same issue with those, that when we had the house Tyvek wrapped, they just covered up the vents. So the dude who did the roof opened them up for us as well.

Efficient windows are also a good energy saver. We got all ours replaced with dual pane, Low-E glass.

Lastly, a modern, efficient A/C unit is a must. We replaced out 20+ year old unit a few years back, and saw a drop of over $100 a month on our electricity bill over the summer.

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Old 01-15-2013, 10:05 AM   #3
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Make sure you have an operational ridge vent. I mean MAKE SURE it works. Our house had one, but we discovered the last company to do a roof job simply shingled over the opening. We had the roof done recently and the contractor showed us, and made sure it was open and functional this time.

Gable vents are also a big plus (the ones on either side of the attic). An attic fan that pull from your upstairs hall and functioning vents in the attic makes a world of difference. We found the same issue with those, that when we had the house Tyvek wrapped, they just covered up the vents. So the dude who did the roof opened them up for us as well.

Efficient windows are also a good energy saver. We got all ours replaced with dual pane, Low-E glass.

Lastly, a modern, efficient A/C unit is a must. We replaced out 20+ year old unit a few years back, and saw a drop of over $100 a month on our electricity bill over the summer.
Good stuff! I am not sure how much attic crawl space there is (vaulted ceilings in a lot of areas)...but it is definitely something we will look into as far as vents are concerned. I know windows will help a lot, but that expense will definitely need to be taken a little at a time (lots of windows lol). I am assuming that the attic fan that pulls from the hall into the attic is similar to what I mentioned was in the master closet? You mind explaining how this works? It seems a little backwards since you are pulling cool air out of the home to put into the attic (then outside through the vents).

Also the Dual pack on the roof looks very new...so that is a plus. We went there last night and turned the heater on and it warmed the house 10 degrees in 30-45 minutes. I would hope the air conditioner worked just as well.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:32 AM   #4
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Attic fans work by pulling the cool air up, since cold air naturally wants to fall, and by creating positive pressure in your attic, pushing the less dense hot air out. No house is sealed, and pretty much all HVAC systems rely on some sort of flow through the home towards the outside to operate efficiently. Why yours is currently in a closet, I don't know. I can only imagine there was already an attic access hole there (like our home), so it was just easier to put it there.

Good heaters are usually a sign of a good A/C unit, should an A/C unit be present.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:44 AM   #5
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the attic fan is a must in a two story. also dual zone a/c really helps keep the bill lower.
my electric bill went down almost 200 per month when i installed dual zone.

you will learn tricks once you are in the house to keep you bill lower and your home cool.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:18 AM   #6
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Why yours is currently in a closet, I don't know. I can only imagine there was already an attic access hole there (like our home), so it was just easier to put it there.

Good heaters are usually a sign of a good A/C unit, should an A/C unit be present.
Thank you sir You are right about the access hole though...it is right next to the attic fan.

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the attic fan is a must in a two story. also dual zone a/c really helps keep the bill lower.
my electric bill went down almost 200 per month when i installed dual zone.

you will learn tricks once you are in the house to keep you bill lower and your home cool.
Thanks! Dual zone would probably be in the future, but moving in, it probably wont be first priority. I have heard many people mention doing this.

As far as tricks, I am sure Ill pick some up along the way. Just looking for some input from guys/gals that have experience in this area already. Ive never lived in a two story so dont really know what to expect.

I have read different stuff about utilizing ceiling fans. Any input on this? There is a room downstairs with a fan, a living room downstairs with a fan, and all three bedrooms upstairs have fans? Is there an effcient way to use these to possibly circulate the air better?
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:23 AM   #7
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My house is nearly identical in spec and sq. footage. The highest bill we got a few summers back was a tad over $750..when the nighttime temps never dip below 84F.
Anyway our house is older...built in '91 and had the original AC units. We recaulked all the windows, got new, higher efficiency units and did 90% solar screens on all the East and West facing windows and it dropped the bill by over 50% this past summer, which was pretty much the hottest summer on record.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:29 AM   #8
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this is what i used to do:

i would come home in the afternoon and open a couple windows and turn on the attic fan. that cools down the attic and removes a large source of heat. i would turn on the ceiling fans and i turn on a couple small fans in the corners of a couple of rooms. the small fans were hidden and quite. the amount of air moving through the house made it feel cool. when it was hot outside, after i ran the attic fan for about 20 minutes i would shut it off, close the windows, leave the other fans on and turn on the air. if it wasn't super hot the fans usually cooled all the rooms by bedtime.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:32 AM   #9
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Zone it, and set up the Honeywell Prestige t-stats, and web access.

Hot day on the bike or in the jeep... Out comes the smart phone, and down goes the temp in the house from a couple of hundred miles out...
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:42 AM   #10
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It's pretty crazy to see the few things you guys have done and how much of an impact it has made on your bills.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
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My house is nearly identical in spec and sq. footage. The highest bill we got a few summers back was a tad over $750..when the nighttime temps never dip below 84F.
Anyway our house is older...built in '91 and had the original AC units. We recaulked all the windows, got new, higher efficiency units and did 90% solar screens on all the East and West facing windows and it dropped the bill by over 50% this past summer, which was pretty much the hottest summer on record.
Nice! This home is quite a bit older though...72. They are big, well built homes though. How are the windows in your home?

Quote:
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this is what i used to do:

i would come home in the afternoon and open a couple windows and turn on the attic fan. that cools down the attic and removes a large source of heat. i would turn on the ceiling fans and i turn on a couple small fans in the corners of a couple of rooms. the small fans were hidden and quite. the amount of air moving through the house made it feel cool. when it was hot outside, after i ran the attic fan for about 20 minutes i would shut it off, close the windows, leave the other fans on and turn on the air. if it wasn't super hot the fans usually cooled all the rooms by bedtime.
That sounds good! Great tip. I have heard the attic fan helps a lot at night as well...when the temps drop outside.

Quote:
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Zone it, and set up the Honeywell Prestige t-stats, and web access.

Hot day on the bike or in the jeep... Out comes the smart phone, and down goes the temp in the house from a couple of hundred miles out...
This guy....gettin all fancy haha. Cool though.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:32 PM   #12
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So after a little research I guess I was using the wrong name for the fan in the master closet. I was calling it an attic fan, when it reality it's actually referred to as a "Whole House Fan."
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:39 PM   #13
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So after a little research I guess I was using the wrong name for the fan in the master closet. I was calling it an attic fan, when it reality it's actually referred to as a "Whole House Fan."
that's what i was talking about and i knew you were as well.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:50 PM   #14
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that's what i was talking about and i knew you were as well.
Ya from the sounds of it, all of you guys caught on to what I meant...it just makes it easier to search for when you use the right name
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:15 PM   #15
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The absolute best upgrade we have done to our two story (2400 Sq Ft) house was a zoned AC and Heat system. It has literally cut our electricity bills in half and doubled the comfort level.. I highly recommend that you look into this option.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:29 PM   #16
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The absolute best upgrade we have done to our two story (2400 Sq Ft) house was a zoned AC and Heat system. It has literally cut our electricity bills in half and doubled the comfort level.. I highly recommend that you look into this option.
Intetesting. I will definitely take a look into it!
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:14 PM   #17
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Interesting...

So I went down to the electric company a couple hours ago and asked for information as far as payments were concerned. She told me that the highest bill in 2011 (the house was listed in 2012 right around summer) was only $260 dollars. This seems relatively low for being such a large, inefficient home (windows, etc) with air conditioning (maybe I am wrong). I am guessing the previous owners were doing something that really cut back on their AC usage. I am curious if they just used the small "swamp" cooler
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:49 PM   #18
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We bought our first home (2 story, 1600sq ft) almost 5 years ago. First year, we replaced the windows with triple paned argon gas filled windows. Didn't help too much in terms of savings.

This year we Replaced the original roof and added a ridge vent to cool at attic properly. Also replaced original furnace and AC (1987) and now finally seeing $50-100 savings. Our energy bill used to range from $120-230/mo. Hasn't gone above $160 now with the heat constantly on.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:53 PM   #19
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We bought our first home (2 story, 1600sq ft) almost 5 years ago. First year, we replaced the windows with triple paned argon gas filled windows. Didn't help too much in terms of savings.

This year we Replaced the original roof and added a ridge vent to cool at attic properly. Also replaced original furnace and AC (1987) and now finally seeing $50-100 savings. Our energy bill used to range from $120-230/mo. Hasn't gone above $160 now with the heat constantly on.
Heat isnt too much of a concern because I believe the heat is gas rather than electric...and gas is significantly cheaper.
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:03 PM   #20
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I haven't been able to compare the AC costs yet until next summer but I'm positive it'll be a lot lower now that I have a more efficient set up. I think the HVAC system is going to be the biggest impact for you...
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:23 PM   #21
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I haven't been able to compare the AC costs yet until next summer but I'm positive it'll be a lot lower now that I have a more efficient set up. I think the HVAC system is going to be the biggest impact for you...
Ya I agree. I am glad that the unit on there is a much newer dual pack.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:38 AM   #22
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Thumbs up

And get a Nest generation II thermostat. The best!
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:27 PM   #23
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I have a two story in Fresno County. If i could go back, I would pass on it.
But, If you have room on the lot, Trees, tall and many. Drake Elm is a start but check your area climate zone.
good luck

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