Author Topic: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house  (Read 6565 times)

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #50 on: September 09, 2020, 11:39:06 AM »
A good summary of hot roofs:

https://thehtrc.com/2011/what-is-a-hot-roof


you probably need to go with closed cell foam which can get very expensive and can also cause other problems down the road.  If youíre using the attic floor for storage, you might need to pull up the subfloor and add more insulation by either scabbing on 2x material on the floor joists, or adding foam board and then plywood back on top.   


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I'll read up on the link you mentioned.

The problem with trying to pull up the subfloor in order to add more insulation is that it is going to be a lot of work (=very expensive). I have to likely extend the floor joists so that a new plywood can even attach on top of the new insulation.

So if I'm following you correctly your ultimate goal is to improve the energy efficiency of your home, and in the process you are pondering whether to bring your entire attic within the building envelope.

For starters, I'll echo what Jon Bon said:  R-18 isn't nearly enough in almost any climate.  New guidelines suggest going all the way to R-60 if you can for all climate zones except the hottest zone 1 (basically southern-Florida and Texas).  Even in the milder Zones 2 and 3 the recommendations are to insulate the attic to at least R-30 if you can.

Bringing the attic into the building envelop is going to be a big job given what you've described.  Currently your attic is designed to vent to the exterior and not into the home --- you'd need to reverse that.  As the bathroom fans are already venting into the attic (which always makes me nervous) they would need to be extended to vent directly to the exterior, and the attic somehow coupled with your homes HVAC. It would also increase the size of your building envelope, and heat would also escape out the attic walls and vents.

If you do go this route, about the only thing which will give you a high eough R-value will be closed-cell spray foam, which is both pricy and environmentally costly.  If you are planning on redoing your roof anyway then the roofers could lay down several inches of rigid foam between the roof deck and trusses, which is how most insulated attics are build today with new-construction homes.  That's only an option if you are replacing the roof already anyway.

An easier approach would be just add to the existing insulation.  You could just blow celluose over top of the existing plywood subfloor (and I'm a big fan of blown cellulose), but as you mentioned that would elmiinate your attic as a storage space.  To account for this you could make a raised walkway above where you will blow the cellulose -- basically build a 'catwalk' along the existing roof trusses.  That's likely to be your cheapest, fastest and most environmentally sound option.

Alternatively, you can add rigid foam TO the existing subfloor WITHOUT pulling it up.  THEN you can lay down additional sheets of plywood to make a walkable floor you can store stuff on.  To get a large enough R-value increase you'd likely need to do two layers of 2" rigid foam boards and offset the seams (4" of total foam, adding another R20 to R24 depending on type. The foam itself (properly taped) will also act as a vapor retarder.  Because the foam will be horizontal you don't evne need to worry about fasteners, instead installing it 'floating' on the existing subfloor. 


Dicey

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #51 on: September 09, 2020, 12:22:51 PM »
Here's the post:

https://manhattan-nest.com/2018/12/07/fall-checklist-diy-spray-foam-insulation-with-dow-froth-pak/

This is a modern day "This Old House" on a budget. Daniel is a great writer and it's a rabbit hole you won't regret.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #52 on: September 14, 2020, 01:13:14 PM »
I wanted to come back to give an update on the Solar stuff + some (hopefully) helpful tips for anyone else contemplating Solar in near future.

The Tesla installers came in today morning and I asked them about the general maintenance issues they get called for. Apparently, birds and squirrels love to nest under the panels and they damage the wires. That is the most frequent issue they see. Tesla does have a "pest abatement" skirt/mesh that they can install. However, my install plan did not include that.

My house is right next to woods/wetland and a brook. Pests and critters are a huge issue for us!!

I made a few calls and the installers were also nice enough to make some calls on my behalf and now I am getting that mesh installed such that the birds and squirrels can't get in below the panels. Installing it after the fact is very labor intensive (you have to take off all the panels and put them back) and expensive ($2k+).

I tried to offer them two cases of beer for doing this for us, but they refused saying they could not accept it as per company policy. Oh, well!!

If you are getting solar panels then please consider the pest problem. It can be a very expensive issue to fix after the fact!!

---------------

The other issue with solar is that Tesla does not automatically install "power optimizers". These are small modules that allow for power to be generated even if part of the solar array is shaded. If you have any shading issue then please make sure you have power optimizers added in your design. Tesla automatically added it to my design since I live in a wooded area. So I was good on this.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 01:31:31 PM by ctuser1 »

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #53 on: September 14, 2020, 01:32:36 PM »
We had a family of squirrels nest under our panels this summer, but thankfully they didn't do any damage.  The advice given to us was to cut any overhanging branches which act as squirrel-highways, and to 'standard' methods of critter deterrants (e.g. sonic devices, frequent 'flushing' witha hose, poison, etc).  As we really didn't want to go the poison route and were just too lazy to get any sort of sonic deterrent and our panels are not hose-accessible we rolled the dice adn.... no damage, this year.

but as ctuster1 said - it's prohibitively expensive to install mesh after the fact, and (i've heard) the mesh also can trap leaf and twig debris.


ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #54 on: September 15, 2020, 06:51:22 PM »
The Tesla installers wrapped up the installation today.

DW found it aesthetically pleasing!! The black Q panels from Hanwha look pretty good, and Tesla does a pretty good job of doing the install with a metal skirt that makes it more aesthetically pleasing than the typical installs around me.

I was worried about this!!
(Background: I was operating under a time crunch to get solar (rebates running out + tax rebates decreasing). So I pushed DW hard one day over dinner once I saw the Tesla price drop. She grudgingly okay'ed it, but remained mad at me for it since then.)

Next steps:
1. City inspection.
2. Utility changes meter to a bi-directional "net-meter".
3. Tesla put a their own "meter" in.
4. Utility PTO (Permit to Operate).
5. System on. Yay!!

-----------
6. Apply for property tax exemption for the increased home value assigned to solar.
https://www.energizect.com/sites/default/files/uploads/CGB/9-Property-Tax-Exemption-Form.pdf
Applicable statute: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0341.htm

7. Figure out if any paperwork needs to be readied up for federal tax credit next year.

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #55 on: September 16, 2020, 05:06:10 AM »
Pics or it didnít happen !!
:-P

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #56 on: September 16, 2020, 05:41:44 AM »
:-D

I'll try going up on the ladder over the weekend to get a pic of one part of the panels.

(I'm trying to keep my real-world profile as disconnected as possible from this one in MMM/Bogleheads. We live in a working class neighborhood and nobody in the real world knows that we are millionaires. So, for privacy, I don't want to post a pic of the house/street that would be easily traceable.).

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #57 on: September 16, 2020, 07:47:08 AM »
Certainly understandable. 
I, too, try to keep my profile as anonymous as possible, living in a Trump-supporting, impoverished area where our views and salaries are out of line... even though theyíd be considered pretty average in most suburban areas.  Our modest solar array jumps out around here.

Still - if you are able to take some pics that maintain your privacy Iíd be interested in seeing how it all looks.  Iíve been particualarly wondering how Teslaís approach looks IRL.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #58 on: September 16, 2020, 06:28:19 PM »
Here are some images.



Trying to figure out how to have the images show up as images on the post. Seems quite complicated.

---------
Attempt 2 at the images (based on the site nereo mentioned below):






« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 07:58:12 PM by ctuser1 »

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #59 on: September 16, 2020, 06:51:22 PM »
In order to have them show up as images you have to have the images hosted someplace on the internet.  Lots of sites will do it for free... for what itís worth I occasionally use www.imgBB.com - but there are thousands of others.

Then copy the image location and place it between the image syntax (use the icon or type it out).

Does that help?

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #60 on: September 16, 2020, 07:59:49 PM »
I think I got the images now. Thx.

There are 36 panels in total. The images show only the few on the back side of the roof. That is the part more readily accessible from my deck.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 08:03:41 PM by ctuser1 »

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #61 on: September 17, 2020, 04:54:09 AM »
I like the flashing around the panels.  Mine doesnít have that.

36 panels gives you... what, an 11.7kw array?  Thatís pretty awesome.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #62 on: September 17, 2020, 06:33:36 AM »
340w X 36 = 12.24kW.


For some reason we seem to use a ton of electricity, especially during the summer months when the A/C runs full blast.

When the electrician tested the panels after installation, they were putting out 5500 watts.

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #63 on: September 17, 2020, 06:38:39 AM »
Have you done a blower-door test and an energy audit? Plugging air leaks is the #1 way you can improve your home's heating/cooling efficiency.  Swapping out incandescents for LEDs is another no-brainer. 

We did, and we're still finding lots of energy leaks.  IIRC you're in need of a lot more insulation in your attic. You can read about it on my blog (which is also dedicated to taking a 100+ year old house and improving its energy consumption).

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #64 on: September 17, 2020, 06:52:17 AM »
I have an energy audit scheduled tomorrow. My house is only 42 years old. But it was just cheaply slapped together by the developer. So I expect that the energy auditors will produce a lot of recommendations.

With the solar, the money calculus on energy saving changes a bit. I expect to meet 100% of my usage for electricity with solar, so any efficiency gain will only be useful for reducing natural gas consumption (i.e. heating efficiency) and for freeing up electricity capacity for a future plug-in hybrid or EV (which will likely be a few years in the future).

I'll look up your blog.

And oh, on the flashings around the panels - I like them too. It makes the whole array more coherent and "put together".

« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 06:55:37 AM by ctuser1 »

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #65 on: September 17, 2020, 07:32:01 AM »
When we installed our panels 6 months ago (and signed the contract about 9 months ago) the best value for us in our area were hte REC N-peak @325w per panel (60 cell). 

After seeing them go up, in retrospect there was another option for 72-cell panels that (if memory serves me) generated 390 watts, and would have fit in our array, but also would have incresaed the per-watt installation cost about 10Ę higher.  I wish I had gone that route... but c'est la vie

We do have the option of adding more panels on a second section of roof at a later date (though tax credit step-downs will make that less attractive after next year), so I've got some thinking (and saving) to do.  As of right now we generate all the power we need given that our hot water is propane and heat on very cold days is too.  But we want to 'electrify' our home more and eventually get a PHEV

Goldielocks

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #66 on: September 17, 2020, 10:33:26 AM »
340w X 36 = 12.24kW.


For some reason we seem to use a ton of electricity, especially during the summer months when the A/C runs full blast.

When the electrician tested the panels after installation, they were putting out 5500 watts.
Bonus - the panels will help shade your roof.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #67 on: September 18, 2020, 04:30:37 AM »
340w X 36 = 12.24kW.


For some reason we seem to use a ton of electricity, especially during the summer months when the A/C runs full blast.

When the electrician tested the panels after installation, they were putting out 5500 watts.
Bonus - the panels will help shade your roof.

Yupp, I'm hoping this reduces the temperature in our attic in the summer.

---

We use a ton of electricity - 13 point something thousand kWH in 2019, which is a lot for a house this size. Most of it is for A/C as we have a bad habit of keeping the temperature low.
The solar array was sized to meet 100% of the needs. Let's see. Hopefully the slightly reduced need due to the shading effect helps.

I'm not sure that the shading effect of the panels will make much difference during the winters and it will probably still get as cold, if not colder because now the sun can't heat up the roof. So it will be interesting to watch the gas bills.

My next research item is Attic Door Insulation cover - which should help with both heat and cold.
https://www.amazon.com/attic-door-insulation-cover/s?k=attic+door+insulation+cover

But none of these in Amazon look like they can prevent air leak. More research to do I guess!


« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 06:43:35 AM by ctuser1 »

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #68 on: September 18, 2020, 06:53:03 AM »

My next research item is Attic Door Insulation cover - which should help with both heat and cold.
https://www.amazon.com/attic-door-insulation-cover/s?k=attic+door+insulation+cover

But none of these in Amazon look like they can prevent air leak. More research to do I guess!


We build our own.  If you know even basic carpentry it isn't hard (actually  it's downright easy actually.  Basically you build a square box around the access with either framing lumber or 1x material or plywood (I used plywood because I wanted a deep box to allow for a lot of blown cellulose), and then run weather stripping (the kind used for exterior doors) around the rim.  Caulk or use spray-foam around the base.  The lid is nothing more than a piece of plywood cut a bit oversize. I bought two latches that pull the box tight.  The entire project used a bit less than one sheet of 3/4" plywood (~$50), one weather stripping pack  ($5) and two latches ($2 each), plus a handfull of screws I had on hand and some GreatStuff.  I used pocket holes for speed and strength (and since I didn't care that they would 'show'.

I then stacked 3 layers of 2" XPS foam on top of the box, attaching them with some adhesive designed to work with foam board (PL.... something).

Probably took me less than 2 hours to build and provided a tight air seal with plenty of insulation on top. 

He's what the latches look like, available at HD and Lowes


couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #69 on: October 08, 2020, 10:05:45 AM »
Thanks for this thread.  We just ordered the Tesla panels for our home, and I'm wondering if yours is one solid square grid or if they work around things like skylights. I'm assuming they do. The $1.49kW price after federal rebates sold us on the installation. 

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #70 on: October 08, 2020, 10:22:00 AM »
Thanks for this thread.  We just ordered the Tesla panels for our home, and I'm wondering if yours is one solid square grid or if they work around things like skylights. I'm assuming they do. The $1.49kW price after federal rebates sold us on the installation.

That's phenomenal.  We were just a touch under $3/kw installed within the last year.

couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #71 on: October 08, 2020, 11:27:37 AM »
Thanks for this thread.  We just ordered the Tesla panels for our home, and I'm wondering if yours is one solid square grid or if they work around things like skylights. I'm assuming they do. The $1.49kW price after federal rebates sold us on the installation.

That's phenomenal.  We were just a touch under $3/kw installed within the last year.
At that price we will see a return enough to justify the cost. Itís more for the energy sourcing vs the actual costs, since we only plan to be in this house 5 years or so. We figure it will help with the sale and not cost us too much extra.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #72 on: October 08, 2020, 11:49:16 AM »
Thanks for this thread.  We just ordered the Tesla panels for our home, and I'm wondering if yours is one solid square grid or if they work around things like skylights. I'm assuming they do. The $1.49kW price after federal rebates sold us on the installation.

It's in the middle of both these extreme scenarios.

They installed three separate solid rectangle grids in order to work around obstructions.

In the front, where there are no obstructions - they installed a big rectangle with a bunch of panels (3X7=21). In the back, there is a big vent fan from the attic + a couple of other pipes jutting out. They installed two smaller rectangles there to work around these.

I have a total of 36 panels.

---------------

I have noticed that tesla designs these layouts quite conservatively, and leaves a lot of clearance from the roof edges and other obstructions. This did become relevant for me as the back of my roof does not get as much sun as the front (TSRF of 55% in the back, where you want a minimum of 60% or ideally > 75%).

They could have fit in a 4X8 grid in the front if they had utilized the full roof - but they kept a bunch of space around the panels (3-4 feet on all sides), possibly as a safety measure for people working on the panels. A few of my neighbors (> half of the houses in my street has solar now) have panels that cover almost the entire roof with barely any margin. Since the front of the house gets more sunlight, this would also have been much more efficient.

I realized this "issue" way too late to easily fix (I had to restart from design -> utility approval, permitting etc). I learned about it from the paperwork related to the CT Green Bank rebate, where some rebate $$ was reduced due to the lower TSRF on the back.

I'll probably have a little less electricity generation due to this for the life of these panels.

---------------------------------

In general, Tesla tends to avoid discussing technical details and parameters with the customer. They have you talk to "advisors" who are hit and miss in terms of their ability and willingness to go into these details. I wish I had realized about this TSRF thing in time to try and insist on changing the design.


ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #73 on: October 08, 2020, 12:05:47 PM »
Thanks for this thread.  We just ordered the Tesla panels for our home, and I'm wondering if yours is one solid square grid or if they work around things like skylights. I'm assuming they do. The $1.49kW price after federal rebates sold us on the installation.

That's phenomenal.  We were just a touch under $3/kw installed within the last year.
At that price we will see a return enough to justify the cost. Itís more for the energy sourcing vs the actual costs, since we only plan to be in this house 5 years or so. We figure it will help with the sale and not cost us too much extra.

If you have any state incentives, that cost will go lower than $1.49/W. (I'm assuming $1.49/kW was a typo)

e.g.

My final cost after CT Green Bank rebates is $19,728.00

I got the exact figure after the rebate application went through (and they dinged ~$800 from my rebate amount due to lower TSRF in the back), and the final loan application was processed with Spectrum CU (entirely arranged by Tesla - I just signed some papers).

I expect to get 26% tax credits on this amount (after state incentives) = $5,129.28

Final cost after all incentives = $14,598.72
System size = 12.24kW = 12240W.
= $1192.72 / kW,
or 1.19272 / W

My friends in MA tell me they have much bigger state incentives compared to us (in CT), so their installed cost was < $1/W.

couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #74 on: October 08, 2020, 01:34:19 PM »
Typo or uneducated on the shorthand!  $1.49W.  Our area does have net metering offered.  If you go over 15, there's a charge from the power company that is written in legalese.  DH is reviewing whether it's worth it for extra panels.  We may end up with a 36 panel system due to the roof skylights. We haven't gotten our design plan back yet, and I now am wondering what it will look like.  I've only seen rectangles on their website, although other neighbors have open spaces around their vents.  N(o one else has skylights.) Our roof surface is just over 980 square feet on the main back roof.  There's another set of two smaller roofs that could have solar panels on them, but I'd really prefer they didn't.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #75 on: October 09, 2020, 06:56:53 AM »
Speculative question for @nereo and other knowledgeable folks.

My A/C system is 15 years old. It probably has another decade or more left in it (The previous to previous owner of the house who installed it was a HVAC tech. It seems he did a good job for his own house). However, it's a freon based system. Freon is very harmful for the environment and hence can no longer be manufactured. Due to this, any time the A/C unit springs a leak, it *may* become cost prohibitive to service it due to the price of freon (that can no longer be manufactured), and I am not a bit fan of spewing out freon in the environment anyway. Due to this, any future leak (which could be 2 days or 20 years from today) may mean we need to replace the A/C.

This is in my radar. I have a handle on how much it will cost to replace this with a "puron" based system ($6-$8k, depending on some of the specifics).

However, do you guys have any opinion/information on replacing an AC system like this with a mini-split heat pump system? How well do heat pump cooling work on the 100 degree + days? Are they cost efficient? More durable? Heat pumps may also be useful in that they will also act as a backup heating system if the need arises. Are they suitable for New-England weather (I'm in CT)?

Yes, I see a lot of promotional garbage on this when I google. :-) I am asking here because I'll get unbiased, real world opinion from y'all.
 

nereo

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #76 on: October 09, 2020, 07:46:57 AM »
Speculative question for @nereo and other knowledgeable folks.

However, do you guys have any opinion/information on replacing an AC system like this with a mini-split heat pump system? How well do heat pump cooling work on the 100 degree + days? Are they cost efficient? More durable? Heat pumps may also be useful in that they will also act as a backup heating system if the need arises. Are they suitable for New-England weather (I'm in CT)?

Yes, I see a lot of promotional garbage on this when I google. :-) I am asking here because I'll get unbiased, real world opinion from y'all.

Happy to give you my experiences and opinions, though whether I'm "knowledgeable" is up to the eye of the beholder ;-)

Quick thoughts on your A/C -- my first question would be "what kind of freon" is your current system using.  Freon is a brand name of refrigerants and there are several kinds of 'freon' sitting in a/c units.  Some are really, really bad for the enviornment (like R-12... reponsible for ozone depletion and banned globally in 1994 but still present in some systems- others are just kinda/sorta bad).
If you change it out, my understanding is that they are **supposed** to capture the freon for reuse or proper disposal, but that's costly and takes time, so many HVAC techs just let it evaporate (either during removal or - if they think the homeowner is watching - when they get back to their shop).  It's illegal but it's done.

Point being - unless you are careful with how its disposed replacing your functining A/C with a newer, cleaner unit might be worse than if you just keep using it til it's end-of-life.

As for heat pumps... they are extremely effective as A/C units.  In fact, their initial market penetration was all in hot-weather regions where they were a much more effective method of A/C than window units.  It's only been in hte last decade or so that manufacturers have improved cold weather performance to the point where they are being installed extensively in cold weather climates like Quebec and Maine.

The same caveats apply -- an appropriate-sized mini split will do an excellent job at cooling the space that it is in.  But they don't do a great job of circulating air throughout your house.  For that you need some combination of ductwork or fans.

I absolutely love our heat pumps because they are the best solution for our 100+year old home with zero ductwork. There was no practical or cheap way of putting ductwork in our home  (we considered it). We've got a couple fo ceiling fans and I'll be installing a few in-wall fans to help circulate air in the upstairs (downstairs is all open-plan and the position of our heat pump allows it to heat/cool  the entire space effectively... or at least heat; have not been through a hot summer with heat pumps in this house in particular).

We also had a heat pump in Quebec and it worked great on the ~6 weeks of the year when it got hot and humid.  We'd run it for a few hours in the late afternoon and then enjoy comfortable sleeping weather.


Papa bear

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Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #77 on: October 09, 2020, 09:12:23 AM »
Heat pumps will also require a refrigerant to work.  You arenít going to avoid using them.  As for costs? I have an ac condenser and coil that uses R-22 which is being phased out.  You can either use a replacement refrigerant (every hvac tech says itís no good) or replace the entire thing when the time comes.  If itís just the AC and coil, you should be looking around the 3-4k range for a 3ton 14 seer.  Iíve had 2 leaks in 15 years, and will replace the system next time it needs charged. 

Minisplits are just smaller heat pump condensers than your central unit.   You can just buy a more efficient large heat pump for your central air system.  They have them up through 21seer or higher, but the prices will go up with efficiency.  Some minisplits are still 14 seer and would offer no efficiency gains from a similar central air unit.


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ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #78 on: October 10, 2020, 09:26:00 AM »
Thanks for the clarifications on the Heat pumps. I will definitely ask for bids on Heat Pumps next time around when I need to replace the AC.

-------------------------------

Solar Cashflow Calc

Coming back to the topic of Solar, I re-did some of the number crunching today morning.

Data Points:
1. In calendar 2019, we had used a total of 12872 kWH of electricity. This translated to a total electricity cost of $3203.97.
2. During the always-at-home COVID times, we are using between 9% to 10% more electricity. The exact increase for 9/20 vs 9/19 was 9.49%. Adjusted for this, total estimated usage per year is 14093.37 kWH -> $3507.95.
3. I went to pvwatts.nrel.gov and did two separate calculations. Front roof, 21 panels, 193-Azimuth, 21 pitch is expected to produce 9145kWH/Year. Back roof, 15 panels, 13-Azimuth, 21-pitch is expeted to produce 4323 kWH/Year. Total expected production in Year 0 = 13468 kWH.

Assumptions:
1. There will be 0.5% loss every year in panel generation.
2. Electricity costs will increase by 2%/year (conservative estimate, increases are generally larger, CT has the 4th highest electricity costs among all states in the US)

My loan payments (20Y term, 4.99% APY and APR as loan is no-cost) are $99.38/month for first 18 months, and $134.82/month afterwards.
Based on this, my first year positive cashflow is expected to be $1958.22.
By year 3, this would become $1627.54, based on the increased loan payments.
By year 20, when loan is paid off, the estimated positive cashflow is coming out to be $2555.27 (2% increase in electricity rates are really adding up now).

Cashflow is king. And I'm too lazy to do a return calculation with NPV, opportunity cost etc!

My plan is to open up a new account at Fidelity, and put the positive cashflow into FXAIX. That should act as a nice buffer for these lumpy expenses someday.

-----------------------

Coulda', shoulda', woulda'

If I had insisted initially that Tesla install a 8X4 grid in the front of my house (that gets more sunlight) and only a 2X2 in the back (=36 panels), then the pvwatts calculator tells me that I would likely have gotten 15088.04 kWH of electricity per year, i.e. a 12% increase in generation.

Oh Well!!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 11:56:10 AM by ctuser1 »

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #79 on: October 11, 2020, 05:42:58 PM »
Quick thoughts on your A/C -- my first question would be "what kind of freon" is your current system using.  Freon is a brand name of refrigerants and there are several kinds of 'freon' sitting in a/c units.  Some are really, really bad for the enviornment (like R-12... reponsible for ozone depletion and banned globally in 1994 but still present in some systems- others are just kinda/sorta bad).
If you change it out, my understanding is that they are **supposed** to capture the freon for reuse or proper disposal, but that's costly and takes time, so many HVAC techs just let it evaporate (either during removal or - if they think the homeowner is watching - when they get back to their shop).  It's illegal but it's done.

Point being - unless you are careful with how its disposed replacing your functining A/C with a newer, cleaner unit might be worse than if you just keep using it til it's end-of-life.

I checked the label on my A/C unit and it seems I have R-22.

Based on your and PapaBear's feedback, I will probably wait out till this A/C unit eventually dies.

--------------------------------

On a separate topic, my dishwasher is generally giving me troubles. It sometimes leaks water. The dishes all come out wet and it is a 2X daily routine for us to put the dishes somewhere to dry (which I find to be a big hassle). I am not sure how old it is - but it looks decades old.

I will likely replace it with a new one next time there is a good deal. My criteria are:
1. Stainless steel tub, I don't like how plastic tubs catch color/odor etc.
2. Dry well.
3. (not a must have) Be as quiet as possible. My current one is very loud. I can live with a loud one, but would prefer quiet.

From some online research, I am kinda fixin' on Bosch 800 with CrystalDry. I don't have hard water, so there is no reason for me to go up to the Benchmarks. Next time I find the 800 with CrystalDry go below $1000, I'm probably pulling a trigger.

Please let me know if you know of any other good make and model that gives me good drying ability + steel tub.

I want to give it a shot to handle the dishwasher installation as a DIY project, but it may not be necessary because I have often seen Lowe's offers on Bosch with free installation.

 
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 05:44:29 PM by ctuser1 »

Dicey

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #80 on: October 11, 2020, 09:28:19 PM »
I'm sitting within eight feet of my running dishwasher and I can barely hear it. When we first moved here, I'd have to bend down to tell if it was on, because I always thought I'd forgotten to hit the button or not gotten the sequence right. And this model is about fourteen years old. The newer ones are even quieter. I've always wondered if insulating the cabinet before the cabinet is installed would be beneficial. I'm sure @nereo would have some valuable thoughts on this.

Y'all are making me jones for Tesla solar panels. Those babies are very sexy. Alas, we have a hill behind us and redwoods on three sides...

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #81 on: October 12, 2020, 09:32:49 AM »
I have a Bosch 800 series that is going on 10 - 12 years old and it's run at least once a day, sometimes up to three. (seven people in the house!) The only problem I've had with it was about six months ago part of the drain system got mildew in it and it triggered the safety to make the pump run continuously. I pulled it out, spent about an hour cleaning it, and put it back in. Perfect since - and even that failure didn't involve any leakage or parts replacement required. You do need to clean the output filter and bottom tray every few months but that's easily done. The noise level is so low I often still accidentally open it to add dishes while it's running. The dishes do not come out 100% dry - it beeps when done and you open it to let the steam out and let the dishes sit for a bit and they mostly dry off. The plasticware doesn't dry 100% even with a few minutes of sitting but everything else does. I love it and would replace it with another if it failed tomorrow.

I love the price on your Tesla solar system and wish we could get Tesla solar here in Ohio.

couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #82 on: October 12, 2020, 11:53:49 AM »
I also have two of the Bosch 800 42dba models.  What I don't love is the handle edges made of plastic. Mine cracked within the first year.  I'm hoping it was just a manufacturing defect where they overtightened it and I'm not replacing the handle edges every year. I love how quiet they are and how well they wash the dishes.  I removed the top rack because there's no way I will put individual silverware in a tray and I like to be able to stand up wine glasses in the dishwasher. 

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #83 on: October 15, 2020, 09:44:50 AM »
So, I finally got the utility approval to operate the solar system.

I turned it on yesterday. Tesla gave me the following estimates for solar power generation:




Let's see how it actually performs.

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #84 on: October 15, 2020, 10:27:16 AM »
So, I finally got the utility approval to operate the solar system.

I turned it on yesterday. Tesla gave me the following estimates for solar power generation:




Let's see how it actually performs.

I look forward to hearing about how closely production coincides with their estimates.  Our system has only been online for about 7 months, but we've exceeded the estimates by a several percentage points for every month except July (which was just below what was predicted).

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #85 on: October 15, 2020, 11:34:20 AM »
So, I finally got the utility approval to operate the solar system.

I turned it on yesterday. Tesla gave me the following estimates for solar power generation:




Let's see how it actually performs.

I look forward to hearing about how closely production coincides with their estimates.  Our system has only been online for about 7 months, but we've exceeded the estimates by a several percentage points for every month except July (which was just below what was predicted).

The Tesla app is still not working for me. So I can't quite monitor exact generation.

However, my utility meter tells me that it received 15kWH today (it was at 7 yesterday night, 22 right now at around 1:15pmEST). So, the panels must have generated something like "15kwH + part of the usage by the home" today.

Things should become clearer once the bloody Tesla app starts working. 

monarda

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #86 on: October 18, 2020, 08:26:23 PM »
Hi ctuser1,

I just found this thread. I love remodel threads.

I'd love to hear about your solar performance. I've been tracking our solar performance since 2011. We just expanded our system in Dec 2019. Both parts of the system (two sets of 8 panels) face due south, but the 2011 system is on a different roof pitch than the 2019 system. It's interesting to compare performance of the two systems. We've had negative electric bills for the past three months. I expect we might start to go into the positive territory again soon, but it's neat to be a net producer for a couple of months.

Your Tesla estimates are weird. How can they say what the minimum is going to be. The panels could be covered with snow for a lot of the winter. At least ours could.

Can you pay off your solar loan early? We bought our panels outright. Our 2019 before incentives was something like $2.70/W, after incentives $1.49/W

You definitely need more insulation. I grew up in CT and live in WI now. R38 at a minimum.
We have a hot roof and put 1" spray foam on the underside of the roof deck, and then filled the rest of the rafter bays with cellulose. Then plastic sheet and drywall. That combination is working very well.

If you vented your attic more extensively, you could still have a few inches of cellulose, or R19 fiberglass batts, and put some kind of platform over the top of that so you could still use the area for storage. It would cost less (I think) than the hot roof route.

Anyway, looking forward to following along!

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #87 on: October 19, 2020, 06:57:47 AM »
Hi ctuser1,

I just found this thread. I love remodel threads.
Welcome. :-)


Your Tesla estimates are weird. How can they say what the minimum is going to be. The panels could be covered with snow for a lot of the winter. At least ours could.
Same for me. I expect panels to be snow-covered whenever there is a storm. I don't quite understand how they handle that. Day before yesterday was overcast, and the panels clearly didn't produce the "minimum".

Perhaps they are just giving out average/min/max numbers? Not sure, I guess I will see how it behaves after a full year with all the seasons.

Can you pay off your solar loan early? We bought our panels outright. Our 2019 before incentives was something like $2.70/W, after incentives $1.49/W
I probably will roll it into my home mortgage.
I am doing a refi on my house and will try taking a bit of cash out ($168k current balance, I will likely take out $180k). That + tax refund next year should pay the solar loan off.

We have $45k in emergency fund and another $100k+ in post-tax investments. However, I'm working on those buckets based on my IPS, and hence hesitate touching them. I am quite irrational in how I bucket money. :-(
 

You definitely need more insulation. I grew up in CT and live in WI now. R38 at a minimum.
We have a hot roof and put 1" spray foam on the underside of the roof deck, and then filled the rest of the rafter bays with cellulose. Then plastic sheet and drywall. That combination is working very well.

If you vented your attic more extensively, you could still have a few inches of cellulose, or R19 fiberglass batts, and put some kind of platform over the top of that so you could still use the area for storage. It would cost less (I think) than the hot roof route.
Do you remember how much your project (spray foam + cellulose + plastic sheet + drywall) cost you, for how much total square footage on the roof? Did you DIY or hire someone?

I'd love to hear about your solar performance. I've been tracking our solar performance since 2011. We just expanded our system in Dec 2019. Both parts of the system (two sets of 8 panels) face due south, but the 2011 system is on a different roof pitch than the 2019 system. It's interesting to compare performance of the two systems. We've had negative electric bills for the past three months. I expect we might start to go into the positive territory again soon, but it's neat to be a net producer for a couple of months.
Given the size of our system (12.24kW, 36 panels) I expected to be a net producer all the time. However, our electricity consumption seems to have increased by ~10% during the COVID times, as we are always home. So, it may be far more neck to neck now.

Bloody Tesla app still does not work. So I am eagerly taking meter reading from the utility meter every so often.

Since yesterday (10/18 morning to 10/19 morning), the following are the meter reads:
Register 4 (Cumulative): 884 to 900
Register 24 (Received Cumulative): 61 to 84.

i.e. in about 25 hours, the home has consumed 900-884=16kWH from the grid, while the panel has sent 84-61=23kWH to the grid => net 7kWH positive for the day.

This is what my billing will be based off of (although this does not account for the usage while Solar is generating, so a very partial picture). Still, it feels good to be building up the reserves for the snowy or overcast days.

I hope that the Tesla app starts working soon.

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #88 on: October 19, 2020, 08:52:58 AM »

I hope that the Tesla app starts working soon.

FWIW, we had to go through a full billing cycle before our app started behaving properly.  Once it did we haven't had an issue since.  Perhaps the issue will be 'self-correcting' as ours was?

couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #89 on: October 19, 2020, 12:24:07 PM »
We got our solar design from Tesla and they put panels on the wrong side of the roof. Not pleased. At least we have a name and an email address to contact now!

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #90 on: October 19, 2020, 01:14:11 PM »
We got our solar design from Tesla and they put panels on the wrong side of the roof. Not pleased. At least we have a name and an email address to contact now!

If you find that your "advisor" is not responsive (that was my case), then you may be able to use the trick I used.
1. Call generic Customer Service number (1 (888) 518-3752)
2. Go to solar -> sales team. Give them the order number and ask them to get an "advisor" online.

The advisors are a hit and a miss. Some are extremely competent, and some are useless. I have interacted with 4 so far through the life of the project - and 2 were very competent while the other 2 were not.

My assigned advisor was quite useless. I still did not complain/rat on her because she sounded like a very young woman with an accent - so she must be just learning the ropes. But if I need any help I would use this trick above to reach an advisor with a better ability to help me.


monarda

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #91 on: October 19, 2020, 09:24:40 PM »

You definitely need more insulation. I grew up in CT and live in WI now. R38 at a minimum.
We have a hot roof and put 1" spray foam on the underside of the roof deck, and then filled the rest of the rafter bays with cellulose. Then plastic sheet and drywall. That combination is working very well.

If you vented your attic more extensively, you could still have a few inches of cellulose, or R19 fiberglass batts, and put some kind of platform over the top of that so you could still use the area for storage. It would cost less (I think) than the hot roof route.

Do you remember how much your project (spray foam + cellulose + plastic sheet + drywall) cost you, for how much total square footage on the roof? Did you DIY or hire someone?


Our project was to put a second story on our house, so there was a lot more than just insulating the attic roof.  We did a lot ourselves, but none of the parts you are asking about. We did finish work.

The whole second floor is between 500 and 600 sq ft. The cellulose and plastic  for the ceilings and walls was $2750.  So it'd be less for just the ceiling. I don't have the number for the air sealing with 1" of spray foam, that was done months earlier by the framers and they didn't itemize parts like that.  The idea was for the framers to get as far as air sealing, so the electrician had room to put all the wires (and plumber put in vent pipes) before the cellulose went in. And so it was warm enough for us to live downstairs while the work was being done (air sealing finished 12/2017, cellulose not blown in until spring of 2018)

Drywall was $1860 for hanging ceilings and two walls (again, it'd be less for just ceiling).  I have a photo of the finished upstairs space in my journal.

Do you want a finished space upstairs? We raised the roof about 6 feet from where it used to be.  Lots of windows up there.

Not sure this helps, I know contractors in CT are expensive. At least in the part of CT where I grew up, they sure are.



couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #92 on: October 19, 2020, 10:15:42 PM »
Thank you for the tip!

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #93 on: October 28, 2020, 07:57:10 AM »
Checking back on the Solar performance.

It's been 13.5 days since I turned the solar system on. Except for 3 or 4 of those days, it has been very overcast and rainy here. So I am hoping Solar performance, on an average, will improve a lot from this in future.

after 14 days, I see the following numbers when I do an "On Demand Meter Read" and do a bit of number crunching:
1. Usage from Grid: 339 kWH (=24.21kWH/day)
2. Sent to Grid:       160 kWH

Net Use: 179 kWH => 12.79kWH/day.

In the Nov2019 bill (Oct12-Nov11), we used an average of 26.8kWH, which isn't much higher than the 24.21kWH/day we have today when we ignore the power "sent to the grid".

Not sure what to make of these numbers yet. I guess the picture will only be clear by this time next year when I should have a bunch of "banked" kWH to burn through during the overcast days.

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #94 on: October 28, 2020, 08:09:39 AM »

You definitely need more insulation. I grew up in CT and live in WI now. R38 at a minimum.
We have a hot roof and put 1" spray foam on the underside of the roof deck, and then filled the rest of the rafter bays with cellulose. Then plastic sheet and drywall. That combination is working very well.

If you vented your attic more extensively, you could still have a few inches of cellulose, or R19 fiberglass batts, and put some kind of platform over the top of that so you could still use the area for storage. It would cost less (I think) than the hot roof route.

Do you remember how much your project (spray foam + cellulose + plastic sheet + drywall) cost you, for how much total square footage on the roof? Did you DIY or hire someone?


Our project was to put a second story on our house, so there was a lot more than just insulating the attic roof.  We did a lot ourselves, but none of the parts you are asking about. We did finish work.

The whole second floor is between 500 and 600 sq ft. The cellulose and plastic  for the ceilings and walls was $2750.  So it'd be less for just the ceiling. I don't have the number for the air sealing with 1" of spray foam, that was done months earlier by the framers and they didn't itemize parts like that.  The idea was for the framers to get as far as air sealing, so the electrician had room to put all the wires (and plumber put in vent pipes) before the cellulose went in. And so it was warm enough for us to live downstairs while the work was being done (air sealing finished 12/2017, cellulose not blown in until spring of 2018)

Drywall was $1860 for hanging ceilings and two walls (again, it'd be less for just ceiling).  I have a photo of the finished upstairs space in my journal.

Do you want a finished space upstairs? We raised the roof about 6 feet from where it used to be.  Lots of windows up there.

Not sure this helps, I know contractors in CT are expensive. At least in the part of CT where I grew up, they sure are.

Thanks for the details.

I don't want to create a finished space in the attic. The reasoning is a little convoluted. I live in an A flood zone (there is a small river behind the house) and any improvement > "50% the value of depreciated structure" (=$50 - $80k for me) within a 5 year period means I need to raise the house to become code-compliant to today's code. I have already added solar (=$28k project as per permit application), so don't want to eat up further into the space in case there is a flood and I need to do some work on the house anyway.

The contractors in CT sure are expensive!! I'll have to look and see if there are folks in rural MA/VT/NH and even NY who will drive down here to do the work for lower prices. I know there are many Chinese contractors in Flushing, NYC who do good work for rock bottom prices, but they won't drive out to the 'burbs. If you have any suggestions how to ferret out good contractors from rural areas then please let me know.


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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #95 on: October 28, 2020, 09:36:20 AM »
Finding contracts has been a stuggle for us as well, and we are in a LCOL area. 
My read as to why is basically this:  Covid cancelled everyone's summer vacation plans and forced them to stay inside their homes WAY more than they ever had, so anyone who's not unemployed is putting their excess cashflow (or rock-bottom refinancing rates) into home improvement.  So there's a plethora of work and a relative scarcity of good, licensed/bonded contractors to do said work.  Supply and demand.  I've had people tell me it would be mid-January before they could even visit my house for an estimate.  And that's just the ones that call back.... about 2/3rds of my repeated calls go un-returned.

Frustrates the hell out of me because we were planning on these Renos back in 2019.

Bottom line:  I'd be surprised if any contractor worth his/her salt has a scarcity of work right now, so convincing one to make a long drive into town is going to be very hard, and take extra money.

monarda

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #96 on: October 28, 2020, 10:21:09 AM »
Hm. I'll send you a PM. Sounds like you're in a part of CT near where I'm from. I can reach out to HS classmates that still live in the area and see if they can suggest any names.  If you're not finishing the space, then you really only need an insulation contractor? One of my classmates is a solar guy in the area - maybe his company installed your solar (!) and maybe he knows of someone.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 11:05:20 AM by monarda »

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #97 on: October 28, 2020, 12:28:15 PM »
Hm. I'll send you a PM. Sounds like you're in a part of CT near where I'm from. I can reach out to HS classmates that still live in the area and see if they can suggest any names.  If you're not finishing the space, then you really only need an insulation contractor? One of my classmates is a solar guy in the area - maybe his company installed your solar (!) and maybe he knows of someone.

Thank you.

I got a quote from them but eventually went with Tesla for the Solar installation because Tesla was cheaper. :-).

ctuser1

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #98 on: November 17, 2020, 06:45:52 AM »
First month's bill showed up with solar. My running spreadsheet tracking electricity cost is below.

It's a bit underwhelming, but I guess things will ramp up in the summer.

couponvan

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Re: Help me fix up my "fixer upper" house
« Reply #99 on: November 17, 2020, 07:43:21 AM »
So your loan payments are $100 and you reduced your electricity bill by $107 over the prior year.  Plus you will get the tax credit this year, correct?  I think that's going to be some nice returns.  How much did you end up paying out the door with the extra netting (which I totally forgot about when we were pricing our system and I will have to call Tesla back.  We ended up with a 14.96 system to be under our county's penalty for generation, and had to put panels on our lower roofs.  We are in the middle of a refi, so we're only going to get the 22% rebate because I cannot see the solar being done by YE given how long yours took.  We do have all the permits lined up though. We are supposed to close on the refi this week, but UGH has that been annoying compared to all other refis we have ever done.