Author Topic: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!  (Read 1679 times)

FIBy30

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Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« on: April 30, 2013, 11:33:23 PM »
I recently bought a fixer duplex which I will owner occupy on one side with a friend who will pay rent, and rent out the other side.  I am doing renovations on the other side, and either ductless heat pump mini-split system or new windows will be put in and I am trying to decide on one or the other.  I brought Energy Trust of Oregon out and they said there will be a much bigger payoff money wise with heating and insulation upgrades rather than windows replacements.  They argued that windows are the most marketed weatherization package but don't neccesarily pay off the best.  I understand they are more aesthetically pleasing than a simple ductless heater, but that seems to be it.  What do you think would help my rental the best to prospective tenants? (FYI there may be enough money to do both after I do all the other work, but there may not be...) Keep in mind I am in the Portland Metro Area so temps are pretty mild and that is exactly where Ductless seems to thrive. 

FIBy30

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 11:34:25 PM »
One more thing... existing windows are single pane aluminum and I would upgrade to double pane vinyl or something like that. 

ncornilsen

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 08:53:08 AM »
Windows generally do not pay off, unless the current windows are non-functional. In that case you don't have a choice. They don't pay off in property value, or energy savings, combined.

Ductless heating generally does pay off, BUT, it's only going to put money in your tenants pocket. I'm not sure you can charge more rent to offset that.

What kind of heating do you have now? Is it functional?

Zaga

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 11:06:11 AM »
We had 50 year old single pane aluminum windows that leaked badly in a 2500 sq ft ranch.  Replaced them several years ago and saw better than a 30% decrease in heating oil usage.  They were really terrible though, and HAD to be replaced.

So if they are bad, do the windows first.  It's also a comfort thing, it's so very nice to sit in the living room in the winter withough a cold breeze going down your back.

Mountainman75

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 02:32:26 AM »
Evaluate the heating system, and determine how much longer it will function adequately.
If it has less than 4 years left in it, go ahead and replace it now. Much less of a headache to deal with it while it is empty than while it is occupied.

Replacing the windows yourself is a fairly straightforward task. Pop the trim off with a prybar or 5-in1 tool and carefully work your way around till window itself is exposed. Remove the glass and screens from the old window, or take it out as a unit. Vinyl double pane replacement windows drop back in with a minimum of fuss and effort. Place them in, shim to level, screw them to the jamb, and caulk to seal. Replace the trim...

Hardest part is measuring correctly on the existing openings. Drop by your window supplier with a picture of the window and ask how to properly measure it. They should be happy to help you out, and if not find someone else.

I'd look at replacing the windows that are in worst condition, and/or face the worst elements or street traffic. New windows will make the place more efficient, but also reduce the traffic sounds etc. which can be used to attract better tenants. You can always replace the windows one at a time, and after you figure out how to DIY them you'll have no problems tackling them.

Changing out a few windows every other month or so is a lot less disruptive for a tenant than a heating system upgrade. I'd lean towards doing them on the half you live in first, as it will lower your direct costs sooner.

velocistar237

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 06:57:30 AM »
If possible, add insulation first. Walls cover most of the envelope.

If the windows are in good shape, add storm windows.

Take the time to assess what order to do energy upgrades: http://homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/

earlyFI

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2013, 11:21:34 PM »
If possible, add insulation first. Walls cover most of the envelope.

If the windows are in good shape, add storm windows.

Take the time to assess what order to do energy upgrades: http://homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/

2nd the storm windows, they can make a huge difference, if the windows are still functional.
Make choices that give you more choices.

jamccain

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2013, 10:39:33 PM »
Tape bubble wrap to the inside of the window in the winter time...I did this in CO and it always made a really big difference.  I took it down in the summer or when I wanted to access the window.  It's an additional layer of insulation, it's a really cheap DIY trick and does the job.

This solution may not work for the rented side for obvious reasons.

Rollin

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2013, 12:43:53 PM »
If possible, add insulation first. Walls cover most of the envelope.

If the windows are in good shape, add storm windows.

Take the time to assess what order to do energy upgrades: http://homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/

Based on this calculator windows are WAAAY DOWN the list as far as returns on investment.  Some things to consider:

1.  Charge them rent and include the utilities (they might assume a larger number and you will benefit since it will come out lower).  If they go over a certain amount, charge them extra;
2.  Charge rent only and let them pay the bill.  Explain to them rent is $X and their power bills should be significantly lower, therefore actually a better deal for them;
3.  Let them choose which way to go.

Remember you will likely get a tax benefit for anything you do and you are increasing the value of the unit as well.  You want them to be able to afford the place and if their power bills are super high you might have trouble collecting the rent.  Also, there is that "good for the environment" thing too - regardless of what the spread sheets say.

Another note - I do not believe that a power company can put a lien on your unit if the bill is not paid, but in my area if the water bill is not paid you could get into a sticky - the water company can lien your home and foreclose to collect.
I love being outside.

oldtoyota

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 09:35:31 AM »
Based on my experience with my house, I would say go for insulation before windows. Our attic was not insulated when we bought it. We added insulation, and I noticed a tremendous difference in the winter time. Huge.

I can't speak to windows, but I am glad to hear opinions about them not paying off. I find them so expensive.

woodgeek

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Re: Ductless Heat Pump or New Windows?!
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 06:59:00 PM »
I'd go for the ductless minis.  The trick is getting the right sizing.  Might want to get a season of heating usage to estimate BTU usage/unit sizing and financial payback.

Generally the best payback is airsealing...start in the attic and basement.  Payback usually is <<1 year.