Energy Usage Update #2

Now that our first heating season is essentially over, I thought I’d provide an update on the cost of heating the house.  As mentioned in a prior post, I wasn’t able to track the energy used by the heat pumps until December 7th, when I installed the eGauge energy monitor. For that reason, I had to estimate the heat pump usage prior to that date.  To do that, I first determined our average non-heating electrical usage during December through April 22nd (the end date of our most recent electric bill) and compared that with the total electric usage in October and November, as reported to us by the electric company.  The difference is approximately the amount of electricity that was used for heat.  It’s not exact, but I’m confident that it is reasonably close to actual.  Here’s the actual summary from eGauge:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 10.55.26 AM

So using the above data, and estimating the usage for the period before December 7th as described above, at our current rate of 15 cents per kilowatt hour this heating season cost us approximately $390.

As previously discussed, I put that in perspective by viewing it relative to our prior house, which is located about four miles away.  That house was larger (2800 square feet vs. 2000 square feet), had two-by-six walls with three-quarters of an inch of exterior foam and was heated with propane.  It took and average of 1,080 gallons of propane to heat that house each winter, at a cost of $2,430 per heating season (based on our most recent cost of $2.25 per gallon for propane).

So from a comparative perspective, given the facts discussed above, when adjusted for the difference in the size of the two houses, our current house costs us about 22% of the amount it cost to heat our prior house.

One other factor can’t be easily be quantified in dollars and cents.  Specifically, we had a programmed thermostat in our prior house, and kept the temperature at 69 in the evenings when we were home, and 61 when we were at work and through the night.  In our current house, we kept the temperature at 69 to 70 degrees the entire winter.

Finishing the Interior Trim

For the past few months, I’ve been working on finishing the interior of the house.  I’m almost finished with the first floor trim.  So I thought I’d offer up my approach, which can hopefully be used as a point of reference for other non-professionals who are considering doing the same.

I’ve installed 14 of the 16 interior pre-hung doors, many of them with a great product called “The Quick Door Hanger,” which you can purchase at Home Depot for about $5 per door.  It makes the job much, much easier than dealing with shims.

I decided to trim out the doors and windows with a craftsman-style trim, primarily because I wanted to give the interior some character.  I could have had the drywallers run the drywall around the window jambs to finish the window openings.  That would have saved a fair amount of money (actually a bundle) and a lot of time.  But things are turning out well, so I’m happy with the choice I made.

IMG_0920IMG_0923 IMG_0922

Trimming out a one of these windows isn’t cheap.  It takes six to eight eight-foot boards finish a window, depending on the size of the window.  That translates to about $60 to $80 per window.  That could have been about 25% less if I used MDF instead of finger-joint pre-primed pine.

One thing I found amazing, is how much wood it actually takes to trim out the interior. Given the 16 interior doors, 15 windows, and the necessary baseboard, I figure I will use about 200 eight-footers (mostly one-by-sixes) to finish everything out. At about $12 per board, that’s about $2,400 in materials.  I could have saved some money by making the verticals for each door and window 3.5″ wide.  But the proportions seem to look better with 4.5″ “legs,” a 7″ headpiece (which consists of a 1×5, a 5/4 top piece and a 7/16″ lower trim piece), and an inch-and-an-eigth sill (which is the actual size of a 5/4 finger-joint pre-primed board found at the local Home Depot.  I used the same basic dimensions for both doors and windows.  For the baseboard, I used one-by-sixes with a base cap on top.