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Thread: Smart Home Automation

  1. #61
    Middle Class Rut TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by JaxRed View Post
    Closed Foam or Open?
    closed. i think open cell has reported health risks.
    There is nothing you keep there is only your reflection.

    "There was like a softness to it, a glow to it. I felt... I felt warm."

    -- Joseph Daniel Votto 7/10/2017

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  3. #62
    Member BernieCarbo's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    And as an aside, probably adding all new insulation in my attic. Discovered I have an attic fan that does not work. So I'm either replacing it or getting it repaired. My attic reaches 160 degrees in the summer.

    Am looking for any suggestions on increasing the energy efficiency and automation of the house.
    One thing about construction in the US, particularly in the Midwest, is that they are so poorly designed when it comes to energy efficiency. When I first moved to Ohio I was stunned at how poorly insulated and drafty the homes are here, and even the new construction isn't much better.

    Regarding the attic fan, a properly vented attic doesn't need one. Take a look at your house- does it have a ridge vent and eave vents? If so, they should create a siphoning effect and draw cooler air in through the eaves and out through the ridge. If you do have eave vents, make sure there are baffles installed in the attic that allowed air to move past the attic insulation (this is a very common mistake that builders and homeowners make; they pack the insulation into the eaves and block air flow). An easy way to check this is to hold an incense stick near a vent and if they are not blocked, the smoke should be sucked up with some pretty decent velocity. Try to avoid the attic fan if you can; ignoring the energy cost to run it, it always made me nervous to think about an electrical device in a hot dry attic where something like a mouse could chew on the wires.

    Ok, now I'm going to rant about general energy efficiency: It always blew my mind that builders put the hot water heater in the coldest part of the house (the basement) and then connect it to ice cold water from underground. One thing I did was put my water heater on the ground floor, and then have the well (or city) water go through a passive heat exchanger, and ironically I used the heat in the attic that you are trying to deal with. I added a loop that fed a 30 gallon tank and copper coils in the attic, and honestly my hot water heater doesn't run at all in the summer. I drain and bypass it in the winter when it could freeze.

    Another thing I did was insulate, insulate, insulate. But not only that, I used staggered studs so that there are no wood studs that bridge from the interior drywall to the exterior sheathing. A lot of builders will claim an R-Value of X, but it has to be derated significantly when you add up the total area of the external walls that have solid wood that bridges to the interior. In my case, other than the windows, I have true R-30 walls with a continuous vapor barrier. Of course, this doesn't help someone with an existing house. But it's something I wish towns would start considering in the building codes. Our homes could be so much more energy efficient at minimal cost.

    One other thing I did was something that drove my contractor crazy (actually, I drove him crazy about a lot of things) was require a 12' basement. The temperature of the earth below 4' is very constant through the year (right around 50 degrees), and even though I insulated under the slab and outside of the walls heavily (he said this was a waste of money), the basement stays cool even during the hottest days of the year. Which, brings me to the next thing that nearly gave him a heart attack- I didn't install air conditioning. Honestly, I never knew anyone in New Hampshire that had it, nor is Europe when I lived there, and I was kind of shocked that it was so common here (I moved here in '94). But, since I insulated my home as though it was in the far north to withstand frigid temps, it worked well with scorching temps. So, by adding a few floor vents and a very low speed fan, I was able to move that cool air in the basement throughout the house and have free passive cooling.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, but it irritates me that our building construction is still so inefficient. Even people who have global warming stickers on their Prius will build a new house that isn't much more energy efficient that my dad's house he built in 1952, because a house isn't a self-contained thing that has a label and unless you studied this stuff, you have no choice but to believe a builder who never studied it either.

    But back to your eaves. Do you think you can see if you are getting air flow? I'd really like to see if we can avoid powering up that attic fan and let physics do the work. Plus, if we can get that attic vented passively, you can just move on to improving the attic batt insulation that you have and don't have to consider the spray insulation. But also note that the high temps in the attic are not really a big deal- the main reason to vent is to eliminate moisture and condensation. The high temps aren't heating the rest of your house.

    As for more ideas, tell us about your hot water heater. One thing that was common where I grew up even in the 60's was to have it on a timer. Many people would be shocked to know how much their heater cycles on and off when they aren't even there, and it's a total waste of money. My son and daughter moved to a really nice, new apartment complex a few months ago, but all it had was a simple on/off electric water heater. It wasn't even insulated on the outside. So, we "jail broke" it and connected a smart timer on it. Now, it comes on at 5AM and 6PM for thirty minutes, plus they can switch it on from their smart phone at other times. By timing the dishwasher and laundry at these times, their electric bill was cut by two thirds with no inconvenience whatsoever. I won't suggest a regular homeowner go to this extent (he and I are both skilled with this stuff), but I would definitely recommend a timer on it so it is shut off when no one is there, and wrap both the tank and accessible pipes with more insulation. Do you see any potential improvements there?

  4. #63
    Middle Class Rut TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    First, keep in mind that here in the part of Texas I live in, temperature extremes are the norm. We've been at or over 100 the last 3 days and in winter we get temps as low as the teens.

    But it's ok as we'll have a nice 30 MPH wind with gusts, so...

    Anyway, the water heater is natural gas powered. In the summer, the gas bill is around $20, so it's cost is minimal. In Winter as high as about $140. It's located in the center of our house, which is ok, though a bit noisy sometimes. No basement, basements are not common here because the soil is clay. Some homes have them, but it's not the norm at all. My water I believe comes through the attic and down. I am thinking of replacing the water heater either with something similar to what you stated, or just go tankless.

    I actually had not considered that my vents in the eaves might be blocked. That I can check today. I do know I feel no airflow in the attic and while the powered fan is not engaging, the fan itself moves easily by hand, so even a slight breeze should move it a little.
    There is nothing you keep there is only your reflection.

    "There was like a softness to it, a glow to it. I felt... I felt warm."

    -- Joseph Daniel Votto 7/10/2017

  5. #64
    Member BernieCarbo's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    First, keep in mind that here in the part of Texas I live in, temperature extremes are the norm. We've been at or over 100 the last 3 days and in winter we get temps as low as the teens.

    But it's ok as we'll have a nice 30 MPH wind with gusts, so...

    Anyway, the water heater is natural gas powered. In the summer, the gas bill is around $20, so it's cost is minimal. In Winter as high as about $140. It's located in the center of our house, which is ok, though a bit noisy sometimes. No basement, basements are not common here because the soil is clay. Some homes have them, but it's not the norm at all. My water I believe comes through the attic and down. I am thinking of replacing the water heater either with something similar to what you stated, or just go tankless.

    I actually had not considered that my vents in the eaves might be blocked. That I can check today. I do know I feel no airflow in the attic and while the powered fan is not engaging, the fan itself moves easily by hand, so even a slight breeze should move it a little.
    Why does your gas bill go up in winter? Do you have baseboard heat?

  6. #65
    Middle Class Rut TRF's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by BernieCarbo View Post
    Why does your gas bill go up in winter? Do you have baseboard heat?
    gas furnace.
    There is nothing you keep there is only your reflection.

    "There was like a softness to it, a glow to it. I felt... I felt warm."

    -- Joseph Daniel Votto 7/10/2017

  7. #66
    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    Quote Originally Posted by JaxRed View Post
    About a month from now I'll be installing a 50 gallon Rheem Hybrid Water Heater. It's wifi connected and has an app although that is not the big draw for me. It works like a mini-ac. It draws heat from the surrounding air and puts it into the water to heat it. It then releases cold air into the room.

    Where traditional water heaters use about $419 worth of electricity yearly, this uses $110. So even though it will set me back $1229, the payback is less than about 3 years. And as a side benefit, it will cool the garage it sits in.

    After it gets installed by my son-in-law (gulp) I'll let everyone know how I like it.
    So hybrid water heater successfully installed by son in law. Sorry I doubted him. Essentially he said only difference between it and a regular water heater was the addition of a condensate drain line.

    The wifi setup was a little confusing. There's lot of talk about EcoNet, and you use the EconNet phone app to monitor and control the heater. But EcoNet is their umbrella electronic platform. For example if you had a Rheem a/c and both the a/c and heater were on EcoNet they can communicate with each other. But to be on Econet, you have to buy a separate econet module and plug it in.

    But the wifi capabilities of this are built in and you can use them out of the box with the EcoNet app. Anyway, one of the things the app does is show me the usage in Kwh, so I should be able to tell how much it costs me per month. I'll provide that in 30 days.
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

  8. #67
    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Home Automation

    OK, so it has been nowhere near 30 days. But I've been getting some readings. And they are very interesting. This thing has been hooked up for about 72 hours, with the wifi running for 48 hours. It has usage data for the day, the month and year.

    So checking the month it says I have used 3.2kWh. If I take the worst case scenario and say I've used that much in 48 hours that would mean I would use 48 KWh in a month. I get charged .11 a KWh (nice rates). That would mean my electric bill for this device would be $5.28 a month or $63.36 a year. It was rated at $105 a year, where regular heaters are about $410.

    But to be honest, I think the 3.2kWh is over 3 days (since I turned it on) which would bring the yearly cost to $42.24. And that includes a "Day 1" where I had to heat the entire 50 gallons from normal to 120. So I expect my numbers to go down for a while.

    I am very impressed so far.

    Disclaimer(s); We're only a family of 2 and neither of us is prone to long showers and we never use tub. Also, I have no idea how much the bill was on our old dumb water heater.
    Last edited by JaxRed; 08-14-2019 at 03:46 PM.
    The lowest acceptable payroll amount for ownership to show they are not greedy pigs is 15 million more than they are currently paying. No matter what that currently is.

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    TRF (08-19-2019)


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