### Author Topic: Home Insulation ROI  (Read 322 times)

#### AlanStache

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 1334
• Age: 37
• Location: South East Virginia
##### Home Insulation ROI
« on: March 19, 2017, 08:01:33 PM »
Wanted to get some opinions on the ROI of adding insulation or new windows to my home.  Home is single family ranch style, built in '63 has maybe 4'-5' blown insulation in the attic, none in the crawl space and old school single pain windows with storm windows.  I bought in Sep 2015.  Is natural gas heat (& hot water) and electric AC.

Looking my power bill when the AC is off (ie winter) they run 45\$-50\$
My gas bill when the heater is off (ie summer) run ~20\$

So if I take these and look at how much higher the bill is when using the heater or AC I can see how much each costs and by extension how much could be saved with better insulation.

Electric bills: 48, 49, 49, 46, 63, 133, 164, 145, 109, 46, 45, 50 (\$)
Gas bills: 82, 103, 71, 37, 22, 21, 21, 19, 21, 23, 38, 56 (\$)

The cost of running the AC is: (63-50) + (133-50) + (164-50) + (145-50)  + (109-50) = ~364\$
The cost of running the heater is: (82-20) + (103-20) + (71-20) + (37-20) + (38-20) + (56-20) = ~267\$

So heating and cooling cost 631\$ / year.

Attic and crawl space insulation would run ~2k\$
Windows run say 400\$/each * 16 -> ~6400\$

So say I did both and cut my utilities in half the pay back period is: (2000+6400)/315-> 26.5 years.

Mark me underwhelmed.  Is my math wrong in some way?  I would very much like to use less resources and lower my utility bills but this is a stretch.

I will grant better insulation/windows would be more comfortable and quieter.  The ac does have trouble keeping up in the summer (I had it inspected it is fine-just small).  Better resale value-blah-blah-blah.  But 8400\$ would buy A LOT of fuzzy slippers and cold beer.

Note 1: I installed a Nest last Oct so any betterment from it is only in the gas and not the electric.
Note 2: I have ceiling fans in the main rooms they are great.
Note 3: I have not had an energy audit but there are no obvious air drafts of leeks.
Note 4: For the most part no one is home during the day.
Note 5: The temperature gun shows the coldest surface of the house is the windows when the blinds are open - but they are most keep the closed.
Note 6: House is 1400 sqft.
Note 7: Roof is 1 year old and has a new attic fan.

Any thoughts are welcome.  Does this line up with others math?  Am I missing something?  What payback period would you need to invest in efficiency?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 06:55:00 AM by AlanStache »
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#### obstinate

• Pencil Stache
• Posts: 560
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 09:51:26 PM »
You either live in a very mild climate or have a very wide range of temperatures you're willing to exist at, or your dwelling is tiny. Whatever the cause, if you have low bills already, you inherently cannot reduce them by much.

#### Laura33

• Bristles
• Posts: 344
• Location: Mid-Atlantic
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 06:16:09 AM »
I have a big old drafty house that we have been trying to make more energy efficient for the past 13 years, so here is my experience:

1.  Attic insulation gives you the most bang for your buck.  If you have room to blow in more up there, that is likely worth it. (We have a hipped roof with dormers on all 4 sides, which means we're basically screwed)

2.  Do you have an attic fan?  Venting the hot air out of the attic can help keep that area cooler and decrease the overall heat load your attic insulation needs to manage (not to mention potentially increase the life of your roof).

3.  If you already have and use storm windows, you will not see much of an upgrade from installing new double-paned windows.  Plus, speaking as someone who inherited a bunch of 15-year-old vinyl double-paned windows:  the cheap ones are total crap -- they look great at first, but bend, warp, and generally make gaps that the cold air can get through in just a few years.  There are some wonderful insulating windows out there, but they generally don't run \$400 each.  We would *much* preferred to have bought our house with the original single-paned windows with storms than the cheap-ass "modern" windows that leaked like sieves and needed to be replaced after less than 20 years.  Storms + windows + closed drapes is sort of a DIY-version of triple-paned anyway, minus the argon. :-)

4.  Get an energy audit.  Even if you can't feel them, I bet you there are gaps in the caulking, missing weatherstripping around doors, and other similar things you can do to tighten up the envelope of your house.  But from your numbers, it looks like your issue is more summer than winter, which brings me back to 1 and 2.

5.  How is your roof?  Whenever that requires replacement, consider a lighter color; you might also be able to install an inch or two of board insulation underneath the asphalt/tile/shingles/whatever (this is our plan given our limited ability to insulate the attic).  Also a good time to doublecheck your roof ventilation.
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#### Jon Bon

• Stubble
• Posts: 110
• Location: Midwest
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 06:26:43 AM »
Alan,

If you are badass enough to think all of this through and write a legit question about it. Then you are way more badass enough to insulate your own house. Blown in insulation in the attic is super cheap and easy (but somewhat messy) You could easily do it for a few hundred bucks and the help of a friend in a single afternoon. Get some rolls for a big box store and do the crawl space, again a few hundred bucks and a day of work.

As for windows:

The payback on windows always sucks, I think you math is probably right there. HOWEVER I don't buy windows for the energy savings alone. They add a lot to the curb appeal to your house, look nicer on the inside, and gawd are SO EASY TO OPEN compared to old worn out windows. I also assume you are missing screens, broken parts, etc. Bottom line its just nice to have nice replacement windows, there is value there, but not the kind you see in your electric bill. New windows are kind of one of those things that shock you at how much nicer then make everything look. As always, YMMV

Good luck.

#### Papa bear

• Bristles
• Posts: 403
• Location: Ohio
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 06:47:30 AM »
Blown in attic insulation DIY \$200, batt insulation in crawl space, \$200, new windows, bought wholesale 170/window.  Misc. install costs, 15/window.

200+200+2960 = 3360.

And you'll be warmer, cooler, cheaper, better for the environment, and have better resale.

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#### AlanStache

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 1334
• Age: 37
• Location: South East Virginia
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 06:53:31 AM »
Thanks for the replies!

In the winter the heat is only on for an hour or so in the am and then before bed.  At night I have an electric heater in my bedroom and set the house to 55.  So I am probably saving there.  Then in the summer the ceiling fan helps lots.

The roof is ~1year old and got a new attic fan at the same time.  The roof is black-it looks great but might have been the wrong color for the ac bill.

There is plenty of room for attic blown insulation.  Only pause there is getting the electrical wiring above the insulation.

The crawl space is very small and has the central heat/air ducks running in it so just moving yourself and materials is very hard.  Few months ago I tried putting in a vapor barrier and gave up after 45min when I had only got half way from the entry to the opposite wall.  I would definitely hire this out.

I broke one of the storm windows the first week I lived there, have not bothered replacing it as new windows were on the list... Otherwise they are in good shape.  But yes they can be a bit hard to open and opening both then lowering the screen sucks.  The house would definitely look much nicer with out the storm windows.

The house is 1400 sqft and all rooms are open and used daily.
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#### Fishindude

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 1228
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 07:32:33 AM »
Like others have mentioned, you have pretty cheap utilities to start with, so getting a ROI will be a long process.
It's true that windows (and doors) are probably the slowest to pay back, but if you like fresh air and open and close them a lot, new windows that operate smoothly are a real pleasure if you've been dealing with old wood windows that get jammed up, won't open all of the way, need new screens, etc.

#### Matt

• Stubble
• Posts: 149
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 08:30:29 AM »
Just tossing this out there.  Some utilities will provide energy upgrades for free if the ROI is there.  Basically they provide the capital for the upgrade and retain 80% of the savings until it is paid back.  Your bill goes down immediately, property value goes up and once the original investment is paid back you keep 100% of the savings.

Check with your energy provider to see if they use the PAYS model for energy efficiency upgrades

http://cleanenergyworks.org/blog/pays-financing/

#### nawhite

• Pencil Stache
• Posts: 918
• Location: An RV somewhere in the West
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 09:47:35 AM »
If you already have storm windows you'll likely not get much improvement from new windows. If you're looking for a cheap improvement for the windows though, I strongly recommend those plastic film insulator kits like: http://amzn.to/2n0Nq4y This one is \$13 for 5 windows and you leave it up all winter long (or all year long if you never open that window).

Basically you run double sided tape all around the window frame and stick the plastic film to that as best as you can. Then you use a hair dryer and the film contracts until it pulls all the wrinkles out and makes it look completely transparent. We added that film to our old single pane windows and immediately saw our bills go down.
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#### Laura33

• Bristles
• Posts: 344
• Location: Mid-Atlantic
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 10:51:58 AM »
If you already have storm windows you'll likely not get much improvement from new windows. If you're looking for a cheap improvement for the windows though, I strongly recommend those plastic film insulator kits like: http://amzn.to/2n0Nq4y This one is \$13 for 5 windows and you leave it up all winter long (or all year long if you never open that window).

Basically you run double sided tape all around the window frame and stick the plastic film to that as best as you can. Then you use a hair dryer and the film contracts until it pulls all the wrinkles out and makes it look completely transparent. We added that film to our old single pane windows and immediately saw our bills go down.

+1 -- Forgot to mention we used this until we finished upgrading all of our windows.  Really, really works well.  Also showed me just how bad my old windows were by ballooning in the wind. :-)

Agree with others above:  it is totally legit to replace your windows for workability/aesthetic purposes.  Just don't do it expecting a big return on the energy bills.
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#### hankscorpio84

• Posts: 50
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 10:57:35 AM »
Your house may not be perfectly insulated, but your utility costs are very reasonable.  At the risk of derailing this thread into an entirely different topic, have you considered offsetting the high summer electricity bill with solar?  Obviously there are lots of factors to the feasibility, and some numbers to crunch in terms of ROI.  Insulation is usually the simplest way to conserve energy, but if its possible, why not just make more (cheaper) energy?  Just throwing it out there.

#### AlanStache

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 1334
• Age: 37
• Location: South East Virginia
##### Re: Home Insulation ROI
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 11:38:29 AM »
Ok so my math is not wrong, that is reassuring :-)

Matt: Had not seen that program before, dealing with the upfront cost is not the core problem for me but still it might be worth it as a zero interest loan.

plastic film insulator kits: I remember those from growing up in the norther-midwest.

Solar: have looked very quickly at that before.  Virginia has no/low state level incentives (coal interests I assume) so the numbers were not as good as they would be elsewhere.  It is very much on my radar, my roof gets great morning and mid day sun.  But again upfront costs vs pay back period.

papa bear: diy windows had sort of been out side of scope but maybe taking a week off work and doing it could be fun and save lots of cash.  house is all one floor and there are windows in back to practice on first.  this is what youtube is for right?

I think after a few things get finished up and off my plate I will get the energy audit, with an eye towards insulating soon.  The audit may come up with other stuff too.
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