Time for Some Upgrades

After spending the last 20 years in the San Fernando Valley with only portable air conditioners and paying outrageous prices for energy Betty and I decided it’s time to spend a little of that money we’ve been saving for so long.

We figured the main problem with the energy cost can be improved with a quadruple prong approach.

  1. Install central air conditioning.
  2. Install modern windows.
  3. Add insulation to attic
  4. Install solar panels.

We have #1 done and have #2 in the works.  We hired a window company and the measuring guy is here while I’m writing this.

#3 is going to be done tomorrow.  We are having cellulose blown in to bring it up to R-38.  I’m guessing right now it’s R-0.5 as the insulation in the attic is probably an inch thick.

#4 is going to be the long pole but should also be the biggest return.

I have asked Donna and Daryl both for as much information and feedback as they can give and it’s been very helpful.  Of course they both have solar systems on their houses.  Richard does too but his is a very different animal.

I’ve gotten multiple quotes and I’ve looked at both lease and purchase and I’m leaning more towards the purchase option.  Daryl purchased and Donna prepaid a lease.  Both have pluses and minuses but one of the things I’m trying to do is increase the value of my home.  Having a prepaid lease solar system does improve your value but not near as much of it is going to end up in your pocket if you sell.

One thing we learned yesterday and today is different companies will give you wildly different price quotes.  For instance the first company that quoted our windows said they could do them all plus 3 doors for a bit over $16,000.  That really seemed high to me.  I figured probably $10,000 but wasn’t sure.  While we were about to go with the high price I got a call from another guy who said he thought he could beat the price by $6,000.  We sent the first guy away and had the other guy come quote.  He did quote at a tad over $10,000.  While that guy was quoting Josh remembered there was a guy on his pool league who owned a window and door company so today he came out.  He is going to do everything for $9,000.  Moral of this story is never take the first quote unless you really know what it’s going to cost.  We might have paid a bit more than we needed on the A/C but I did research that beforehand and feel we got a pretty fair price.

On Friday the A/C was installed and they left around 8pm.  By 9pm Betty and I looked at each other and said we had never felt the house be more comfortable in the 14 1/2 years we’ve lived here.  Another plus is we don’t have that annoying window or portable air conditioner noise.  It’s just quiet and comfortable.  I wonder why we waited so long.

All of these projects also qualify for government and power company rebates.  The biggest one will be the federal rebate on the solar panels.  That’s currently at 30% so will be close to $10,000.  The power company rebate will be around $4,000 so it makes a big difference to the actual cost.  The other upgrades also qualify for rebates at different values.  Well, except for the A/C.  If we had gone with a 16 SEER unit we could have gotten $400 back but it would have cost $1100 for the upgrade.  The A/C guy said we wouldn’t really benefit from the extra SEER based on where we live so he suggested we not do it.

Along with all the upgrades we also plan to throw a bunch of junk away and generally clean.  Painting the exterior is probably in the future but we don’t have anything scheduled yet.

Lots of stuff going on in our house.

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8 Responses to Time for Some Upgrades

  1. Richard says:

    Sounds like some nice upgrades. I’m sure you will enjoy all of them.

  2. Donna says:

    You will be very happy with all these upgrades once they are done and especially when you are reaping the $benefit$. I need to blow insulation into my attic. Daryl said he would help me when the weather cools off, so I guess that means … never. (jk, probably in a couple months).

  3. Heather says:

    That is some exciting upgardes!

  4. Dale says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun! Nice to read a blog from you.

  5. Mom says:

    Now I know why I haven’t been hearing any quick monitorings from you; you’ve been really busy!

  6. Daryl says:

    Busy, Busy!

    Cool stuff (pun intended). It’s neat to do upgrades like this and then see that they really had an impact.

    Can you monitor your power usage online and see how much difference the central air made? You might see a drop from day -1 to day 1.

    I assume you already had central heat, so they were able to use existing ducting. Otherwise I would think putting ducts into a house could be challenging.

  7. Daryl says:

    One other comment — central air might not be much cheaper if you previously had a habit of turning air off when you left a room. Now you will always be heating the whole house, which will make you more comfortable but might actually cost more. Of course one central unit can be more efficient than many old window units, so that might make up the difference. Curious to see how it works out.

  8. Don says:

    I didn’t see your comment until today Daryl.

    I can’t monitor my power online yet. I will be able to after the solar panels go in. I do know we had roughly 5 tons of air conditioning in the 4 portables and the one window unit.

    We did not have central heat. They had to put in all new ducting. Apparently they do it all the time. It’s called a Cut-in. They also removed our 3 wall heaters and one window unit and put a rough patch over the holes. Our window guy is going to finish the patch.

    We didn’t have that habit of turning air off when we left a room. That was mainly because we wanted the rooms cool for either watching tv, computer, or sleeping. The one in our bedroom was on almost all the time to keep it cool at least during hot days.

    Since my new central unit is 4 tons and should be MUCH more efficient we should save a lot just from that. We shall see.

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