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RE: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

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  • Gary Beck
    $500 dollar 3 Day FirePlace Make-Over: Day 1 - Friday - Planning Enjoy red wine and cheese while you check Craigslist for a Chimea and for a used 26 to 36 or
    Message 1 of 12 , Feb 8, 2010

    $500 dollar 3 Day FirePlace Make-Over:

     

    Day 1 - Friday - Planning

    Enjoy red wine and cheese while you check Craigslist for a Chimea and for a used 26 to 36" or LCD TV.  The red wine is necessary to help you make good impulse purchasing decisions.

     

    Day 2 - Saturday - The Work Day

    Early on Saturday morning get a small strong coffee (see attached) from StarBucks and go buy the Chimea and the used LCD TV before anyone else gets them.

    On Saturday afternoon close your flue. Add a plywood insert with a gasket to improve sealing the chimney.  

    Hang a little sign from the plywood that say 'Remove This Before Burning Anything Here'

    Then set up LCD TV inside in the fireplace with a hidden DVD player. Get a DVD with a variety of fireplace videos.

    While you watch the videos go online on your phone and find a better electricity provider with a lower rate.

    Use the savings each month to buy some caulk and re caulk your windows.

    Before you start caulking stack the wood outside next to the Chimea.

     

    Day 3 -Sunday - Relax and Reflect

    Burn the wood in your new Chimea while you enjoy more red wine and cheese and check Craigslist for more impulse purchases.

     

    Gary Beck

    Eco-Holdings Engineering Services

    4010 Blue Bonnet Blvd. Ste 114

    Houston, Texas 77025

    Tel: 713-377-4209  Fax: 832-201-5338

     

    SECB certified in the Practice of Structural Engineering, a structural inspector for the Texas Residential Construction Commission SIRP program, and a listed Engineer for the Texas Department of Insurance Wind Storm program. Member ASCE, SECB, USGBC, GHBA, NAHB, and ASHRAE. Eco provides Engineering and Engineer's Inspection Services for Residential, Commercial, Lodging, Educational, Industrial and Government Facilities. Eco's design engineering services include AutoCAD based construction documents for permitting and building foundations, structures, storm water systems, and detention ponds; and Autodesk Revit based 3D Building Information Modeling for green building practices.

     

     

     

     

    From: hreg@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hreg@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Andrea Wisner
    Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 11:25 AM
    To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

     

     

    It's regular masonry but with a gas line going into it. It's standard size and shape, but there's an overhang at the top which keeps heat from escaping from the fireplace. We've used wood a couple times and you can sit right in front of it and barely feel anything. Also, a friend volunteered to cover the fireplace with some spare marble tiles he had, so it looks great but I think if we do anything with the fireplace we're going to end up cutting into the marble.

     

    I did find out that there are certain fireplace inserts which qualify for the 30% energy efficiency tax credit, but what I've seen so far is $1500 minimum cost just for a unit (not sure if it's even tax credit qualified), and around $2500 seems pretty common. A kit would be great! I need to keep looking.

     

    Your question about water near the fireplace  - a "heat sink" - is a good one. I was planning to ask questions on the issue someday. I think black stone is supposed to be a good heat sink. Also, the electric "radiator" space heaters use some kind of oil. I suppose water loses heat pretty fast.

     

    Any input from the experts on heat sinks would be great! I'd like to know how to take advantage of our south-facing picture window in the winter. A list of useable materials would be great.

     

    Andrea

    --- On Sun, 2/7/10, William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@...> wrote:


    From: William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@...>
    Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?
    To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
    Date: Sunday, February 7, 2010, 11:07 PM

     

    Is it a regular masonry FP or one of those gas log things? When I lived in Portland OR. they used fireplace inserts, kind of like a pot-bellied stove but built into a FP opening. Alot of people then used a cooling thermostat and an inline exhaust fan to suck out some of the hot (and I mean hot) air and pump it to the bedroom areas or wherever was needed via an AC duct in the ceiling. Another device was the same cooling therm and fan in a room with windows that faced south and dark tile floor/wall. The passive heat build up on sunnier days could be moved around the house as well. Take some pics so we can see the situation, there's always a way to pester something.

     On a side note, the oak from Ike that I stacked last year came in pretty handy this winter. Got a little needed exersize as well splitting it. Burns hot and relatively clean as fire wood goes. I wonder if  large tanks of water near a hot FP could hold the heat for awhile??? Hmmm. Anybody?

     Bill

     


    From: Andrea Wisner <amwisner@yahoo. com>
    To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
    Sent: Sun, February 7, 2010 8:43:37 PM
    Subject: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

     

    We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?

     

    We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.

     

    Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?

     

    Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.

    Andrea

     

  • Andrea Wisner
    Been there, done that except I didn t know what a chimea was, I think LCD is a little expensive right now (and I don t watch tv), I don t drink wine and I
    Message 2 of 12 , Feb 9, 2010
      Been there, done that except I didn't know what a chimea was, I think LCD is a little expensive right now (and I don't watch tv), I don't drink wine and I don't impulse shop. Anyway, my husband is a contractor (everything but gas/electrical), my father is an electrical engineer, my daughter is in her 4th year of civil engineering study and I am brilliant, creative and driven, so we'll think of something.
       
      Not everyone has money to spend on things that take over 5 years to pay for themselves.
       
      If you know of a local fireplace insert dealer (preferably not located in a high-rent area), please let me know.
       
      Thanks.
       
      Andrea

      --- On Mon, 2/8/10, Gary Beck <eco@...> wrote:

      From: Gary Beck <eco@...>
      Subject: RE: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient? [2 Attachments]
      To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Monday, February 8, 2010, 11:24 PM

       

      $500 dollar 3 Day FirePlace Make-Over:

       

      Day 1 - Friday - Planning

      Enjoy red wine and cheese while you check Craigslist for a Chimea and for a used 26 to 36" or LCD TV.  The red wine is necessary to help you make good impulse purchasing decisions.

       

      Day 2 - Saturday - The Work Day

      Early on Saturday morning get a small strong coffee (see attached) from StarBucks and go buy the Chimea and the used LCD TV before anyone else gets them.

      On Saturday afternoon close your flue. Add a plywood insert with a gasket to improve sealing the chimney.  

      Hang a little sign from the plywood that say 'Remove This Before Burning Anything Here'

      Then set up LCD TV inside in the fireplace with a hidden DVD player. Get a DVD with a variety of fireplace videos.

      While you watch the videos go online on your phone and find a better electricity provider with a lower rate.

      Use the savings each month to buy some caulk and re caulk your windows.

      Before you start caulking stack the wood outside next to the Chimea.

       

      Day 3 -Sunday - Relax and Reflect

      Burn the wood in your new Chimea while you enjoy more red wine and cheese and check Craigslist for more impulse purchases.

       

      Gary Beck

      Eco-Holdings Engineering Services

      4010 Blue Bonnet Blvd. Ste 114

      Houston, Texas 77025

      Tel: 713-377-4209  Fax: 832-201-5338

       

      SECB certified in the Practice of Structural Engineering, a structural inspector for the Texas Residential Construction Commission SIRP program, and a listed Engineer for the Texas Department of Insurance Wind Storm program. Member ASCE, SECB, USGBC, GHBA, NAHB, and ASHRAE. Eco provides Engineering and Engineer's Inspection Services for Residential, Commercial, Lodging, Educational, Industrial and Government Facilities. Eco's design engineering services include AutoCAD based construction documents for permitting and building foundations, structures, storm water systems, and detention ponds; and Autodesk Revit based 3D Building Information Modeling for green building practices.

       

       

       

       

      From: hreg@yahoogroups. com [mailto:hreg@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Andrea Wisner
      Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 11:25 AM
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

       

       

       

      I did find out that there are certain fireplace inserts which qualify for the 30% energy efficiency tax credit, but what I've seen so far is $1500 minimum cost just for a unit (not sure if it's even tax credit qualified), and around $2500 seems pretty common. A kit would be great! I need to keep looking.

       

      Your question about water near the fireplace  - a "heat sink" - is a good one. I was planning to ask questions on the issue someday. I think black stone is supposed to be a good heat sink. Also, the electric "radiator" space heaters use some kind of oil. I suppose water loses heat pretty fast.

       

      Any input from the experts on heat sinks would be great! I'd like to know how to take advantage of our south-facing picture window in the winter. A list of useable materials would be great.

       

      Andrea

      --- On Sun, 2/7/10, William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@swbell. net> wrote:


      From: William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@swbell. net>
      Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Date: Sunday, February 7, 2010, 11:07 PM

       

      Is it a regular masonry FP or one of those gas log things? When I lived in Portland OR. they used fireplace inserts, kind of like a pot-bellied stove but built into a FP opening. Alot of people then used a cooling thermostat and an inline exhaust fan to suck out some of the hot (and I mean hot) air and pump it to the bedroom areas or wherever was needed via an AC duct in the ceiling. Another device was the same cooling therm and fan in a room with windows that faced south and dark tile floor/wall. The passive heat build up on sunnier days could be moved around the house as well. Take some pics so we can see the situation, there's always a way to pester something.

       On a side note, the oak from Ike that I stacked last year came in pretty handy this winter. Got a little needed exersize as well splitting it. Burns hot and relatively clean as fire wood goes. I wonder if  large tanks of water near a hot FP could hold the heat for awhile??? Hmmm. Anybody?

       Bill

       


      From: Andrea Wisner <amwisner@yahoo. com>
      To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
      Sent: Sun, February 7, 2010 8:43:37 PM
      Subject: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

       

      It's regular masonry but with a gas line going into it. It's standard size and shape, but there's an overhang at the top which keeps heat from escaping from the fireplace. We've used wood a couple times and you can sit right in front of it and barely feel anything. Also, a friend volunteered to cover the fireplace with some spare marble tiles he had, so it looks great but I think if we do anything with the fireplace we're going to end up cutting into the marble.

       

      We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.

       

      Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?

       

      Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.

      Andrea

      We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?

       


    • Stephanie Edwards-Musa
      I would think that having any opening would still cause air loss regardless of season....which is why there are many new homes that do not have fireplaces to
      Message 3 of 12 , Feb 9, 2010
        I would think that having any opening would still cause air loss regardless of season....which is why there are many new homes that do not have fireplaces to begin with.
         
        Even switching to gas it would still have to vent which would be an opening.  There are faux fireplaces that you can put in to an existing opening after you seal it off.
         
        I know that Green Builders Source on the north side of town has them.

        Stephanie Edwards-Musa
        Realtor, Certified EcoBroker
        Mobile:  281-635-9444
        Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors
        www.TurningHoustonGreen.com
        Steph@...


        On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 8:43 PM, Andrea Wisner <amwisner@...> wrote:
         

        We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?
         
        We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.
         
        Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?
         
        Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.
        Andrea


      • Stephanie Edwards-Musa
        Decided to add one more thing. I missed the part as to why you use space heaters around the house..and it sounds as though you guys understand how efficiency
        Message 4 of 12 , Feb 9, 2010
          Decided to add one more thing.  I missed the part as to why you use space heaters around the house..and it sounds as though you guys understand how efficiency works - But if you have an older home - not brand new or energy star rated - then freelightingcorp.com will come out and weather strip, caulk and seal some things at no cost to you.
           
          They will also look at your fireplace to see if it could be sealed to reduce air loss - all after performing a blower door test. 
           
          Check out their site to see if their service would work for you.  They do have some, very few, restrictions on what homes they can test.

          Stephanie Edwards-Musa
          Realtor, Certified EcoBroker
          Mobile:  281-635-9444
          Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors
          www.TurningHoustonGreen.com
          Steph@...


          On Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 12:27 PM, Stephanie Edwards-Musa <steph@...> wrote:
          I would think that having any opening would still cause air loss regardless of season....which is why there are many new homes that do not have fireplaces to begin with.
           
          Even switching to gas it would still have to vent which would be an opening.  There are faux fireplaces that you can put in to an existing opening after you seal it off.
           
          I know that Green Builders Source on the north side of town has them.

          Stephanie Edwards-Musa
          Realtor, Certified EcoBroker
          Mobile:  281-635-9444
          Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors
          www.TurningHoustonGreen.com
          Steph@...


          On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 8:43 PM, Andrea Wisner <amwisner@...> wrote:
           

          We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?
           
          We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.
           
          Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?
           
          Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.
          Andrea



        • Andrea Wisner
          Thanks! I hadn t found those sites, and the second one has a good possibility at around $1000, 75% efficient wood burner.   I forgot to mention that I had
          Message 5 of 12 , Feb 9, 2010
            Thanks! I hadn't found those sites, and the second one has a good possibility at around $1000, 75% efficient wood burner.
             
            I forgot to mention that I had read that the only inserts/wood stoves that qualify for the tax credit are pellet burning and wood burning. I was surprised at the latter. Why wood and not gas?
             
            Andrea

            --- On Mon, 2/8/10, William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@...> wrote:

            From: William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@...>
            Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?
            To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Monday, February 8, 2010, 7:17 PM

             
            It seemed to me there was a fireplace burn rack that was tubular and in the shape of the letter "C". In that air would circulate in at the bottom and expell out the top without any smoke. Any heavy metal (cast iron, steel ) should hold some heat for awhile. Copper heats quickly and radiates heat well, it just does not store it for long. When not using your fireplace do you shut the damper to keep homr heat in? I would seem  a way to stop drafts when ALL coals are out is to cover the opening/seal it.
             Some of these sites you may have already been to


            From: Andrea Wisner <amwisner@yahoo. com>
            To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
            Sent: Mon, February 8, 2010 11:24:57 AM
            Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

             
            It's regular masonry but with a gas line going into it. It's standard size and shape, but there's an overhang at the top which keeps heat from escaping from the fireplace. We've used wood a couple times and you can sit right in front of it and barely feel anything. Also, a friend volunteered to cover the fireplace with some spare marble tiles he had, so it looks great but I think if we do anything with the fireplace we're going to end up cutting into the marble.
             
            I did find out that there are certain fireplace inserts which qualify for the 30% energy efficiency tax credit, but what I've seen so far is $1500 minimum cost just for a unit (not sure if it's even tax credit qualified), and around $2500 seems pretty common. A kit would be great! I need to keep looking.
             
            Your question about water near the fireplace  - a "heat sink" - is a good one. I was planning to ask questions on the issue someday. I think black stone is supposed to be a good heat sink. Also, the electric "radiator" space heaters use some kind of oil. I suppose water loses heat pretty fast.
             
            Any input from the experts on heat sinks would be great! I'd like to know how to take advantage of our south-facing picture window in the winter. A list of useable materials would be great.
             
            Andrea

            --- On Sun, 2/7/10, William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@swbell. net> wrote:

            From: William & Cynthia Stange <stangfam@swbell. net>
            Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?
            To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
            Date: Sunday, February 7, 2010, 11:07 PM

             
            Is it a regular masonry FP or one of those gas log things? When I lived in Portland OR. they used fireplace inserts, kind of like a pot-bellied stove but built into a FP opening. Alot of people then used a cooling thermostat and an inline exhaust fan to suck out some of the hot (and I mean hot) air and pump it to the bedroom areas or wherever was needed via an AC duct in the ceiling. Another device was the same cooling therm and fan in a room with windows that faced south and dark tile floor/wall. The passive heat build up on sunnier days could be moved around the house as well. Take some pics so we can see the situation, there's always a way to pester something.
             On a side note, the oak from Ike that I stacked last year came in pretty handy this winter. Got a little needed exersize as well splitting it. Burns hot and relatively clean as fire wood goes. I wonder if  large tanks of water near a hot FP could hold the heat for awhile??? Hmmm. Anybody?
             Bill


            From: Andrea Wisner <amwisner@yahoo. com>
            To: hreg@yahoogroups. com
            Sent: Sun, February 7, 2010 8:43:37 PM
            Subject: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?

             
            We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?
             
            We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.
             
            Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?
             
            Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.
            Andrea



          • Andrea Wisner
            There are faux fireplaces that you can put in to an existing opening after you seal it off. - I actually like that option, although we still need to
            Message 6 of 12 , Feb 9, 2010
              "There are faux fireplaces that you can put in to an existing opening after you seal it off." - I actually like that option, although we still need to determine how we're going to heat this house since the gas is not hooked up and we can't depend on space heaters forever (and I'm a bit "cold-blooded").

              --- On Tue, 2/9/10, Stephanie Edwards-Musa <steph@...> wrote:

              From: Stephanie Edwards-Musa <steph@...>
              Subject: Re: [hreg] retrofitting fireplace to make energy-efficient?
              To: hreg@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 1:27 PM

               
              I would think that having any opening would still cause air loss regardless of season....which is why there are many new homes that do not have fireplaces to begin with.
               
              Even switching to gas it would still have to vent which would be an opening.  There are faux fireplaces that you can put in to an existing opening after you seal it off.
               
              I know that Green Builders Source on the north side of town has them.

              Stephanie Edwards-Musa
              Realtor, Certified EcoBroker
              Mobile:  281-635-9444
              Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors
              www.TurningHoustonG reen.com
              Steph@TurningHousto nGreen.com


              On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 8:43 PM, Andrea Wisner <amwisner@yahoo. com> wrote:
               
              We have realized this winter that the fireplace in our house has no function except to suck all the heat in house out the chimney. Rather than sealing it off, is there an inexpensive do-it-yourself option to turn it into a space-heater of sorts? I'm thinking gas, but maybe electric. If gas, what would be the best option for venting?
               
              We do already have gas heat, although it's not set up properly and we've been using electric space heaters in kitchen and bedroom and leaving the rest of the house cold. The gas source is just outside the chimney.
               
              Also, I'd love to receive recommendations of someone to integrate the gas with our new AC system, which wasn't done for some reason. Or are we better off not using the gas for heating the house?
               
              Any (inexpensive) suggestions would be appreciated.
              Andrea



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