New Furnace or Insulation?

I bought a house just about a year ago. It is a small 3-bedroom and based on previous houses that were the same size or bigger, I am paying a lot in heating.

The house is 20 years old (propane heating) and the furnace is original. What is a good way to determine if my house’s insulation is insufficient or if I need a new furnace?

(oddly, I work for an HVAC company, but I don’t work in that side of things…)

You can look in your attic or check an outside wall’s innards through an electrical outlet or cable outlet.

We just had some insulation added to our home and it made a huge difference for us!

Another place that bleeds heat is windows. If your windows are drafty or were cheap single pane windows a lot of your heating dollar is escaping outside through there!

20 years is also close to the life span of a furnace… we did a natural gas conversion when we moved into our house and got a new high efficiency one. Then we added insulation in the attic and walls and are slowly replacing windows. Good luck to you :slight_smile:

Thanks for the responce tanookie. I don’t have an attic, so that’s out. I covered my windows with plastic, which should have reduced some of the draft. It made a slight difference, but didn’t cut the energy drain.

Maybe I should think about replacing the furnace…

How exactly do they add insulation in the walls?

I can see how one does it in the attic (we don’t have an attic, so that one’s not for us), but I can’t imagine how one would do so in the walls without making a great mess of things.

Our forty-year-old home could certainly use it! When I ripped out one of the upstairs ceilings, the insulation I found looked like a moth-eaten old army blanket. Unfortunately, the beams are only 2x6, so I could only get R-13 in there. You can tell which room got the special treatment when you look at our snow-covered roof from outside: One square of the roof retains its snow.

I don’t know if it’s the case with propane furnances, but NG furnances have increaesd in efficiency from 50 to 80% over the last 20 years.

Interesting. One would think that the same would hold for propane. I’ll have to investigate this.

They can do it a couple of ways, one way is to drill 1/2" - 1" holes on the outside of the house into each stud cavity (about 16"apart) blow in insulation and then plug the holes, paint to match. Another way is remove the base trim in the house and drill into the wall and blow in insulation then re install base board.

I have a 90-something percent efficient furnace. It direct vents to the outside through PVC instead of my chimney… I’d have to go down cellar to get the exact % and I’m in my PJ’s so that’s out for now :slight_smile:

We had blown in too… they did holes through the outside… lifted one piece of siding drilled and filled and replaced the siding…

We don’t have much of an attic. They put blown in insulation there too… there was about two inches of old ratty garbage up there… they went in through the small access hole, added a couple of roof vents (they used the vent holes to pump in the insulation) and then installed the vents and climbed out the access hole and screwed it shut.

One obvious side effect is that we don’t hear nearly as much ambient outside noise as we did before.

Oh… and I don’t know about Pennsylvania but here in Mass the gas company offered us nice rebates for all the work we had done. In the conversion (house was oil heat) they gave us the furnace. When we added insulation it was a 20% rebate and depending on the R value the windows get a rebate too!

The truth is, like many questions of this sort asked on here, this is a very difficult thing to answer. It’s hard for us to tell you what exactly constitutes a well-insulated house in the specific case of your installation in anything but general terms. And the same applies to your furnace.

If you work for an HVAC company, is it possible at all you could find a kind expert there to inspect your house on the side for a small consideration?

Anthracite has a good suggestion.
You can probably have the house inspected by a insulation contractor and pay a small fee.
Don’t forget the basement.
You will lose most of your heat through your ceiling.
Next will be windows.Then walls and finally the basement.
Simple things like foam wall outlet covers help.
New caulk around windows and doors is something most homeowners can do.
If the old chimney is not used anymore you may consider removing it.But that will mean possibly a new roof.
If your basement is unheated insulate the floors. If it is heated then look to the walls. In either case insulate the plate.
Remember insulation works both ways. It helps in cooling too.
Hope this helps

Well I guess I didn’t read the topic.
You can also have your furnace inspected by a pro for a small fee.
Its probably refundable if you buy a new one.
Remember they are generally salesmen.

Giving you the furnace makes sense, since you were converting from oil to gas. But the idea of a gas company giving you a 20% rebate on insulation is, um, stupid, don’tcha think? The company is rewarding you for reducing the amount of gas you’ll be buying in the future?

D’you think those nice generous people at the gas company might have had their arms nearly twisted off by, say, the Mass state legislature?

Well Tbone2… I’m pretty sure they have their arm twisted by someone and who knows maybe the government gives them some kind of benefit for offering those programs… but my point was to say there are programs out there that can help take the bite out of the cost of making your home more energy efficient.