Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
home improvement ideas?
Old 08-27-2008, 07:39 AM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
Keyboard Ninja's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 157
home improvement ideas?

A friend is buying her first condo in Houston, and she is debating on an electronic thermostat or a dehumidifier for her first "home improvement" purchase. She claims that the electronic thermostat will help cut down the electric bills, but I told her the dehumidifier would probably be my first choice. Humidity sucks and cranking down the A/C doesn't help much in my opinion either. Sure it'll keep things cool, but you'll still feel wet. I'm also thinking with the right dehumidifier her electric bill won't be that bad because she won't need to run her A/C as hard.

So who has either one, and what direction should she go with?
__________________

__________________
Instead of getting angry I just LOL. Can't waste time with stupid people.
Keyboard Ninja is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 08-27-2008, 07:53 AM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
OAG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Central, Ohio, USA
Posts: 2,598
IMO 6 of 1 and a half dozen of the other. However, I would purchase and properly program a set back thermostat (I assume she does not have a heat pump as these have issues especially in the winter) as that will conserve and (reduce the electric bill somewhat). It has been my experience that dehumidifiers (and I do have and use one) are not that efficient in getting the humidity out of larger areas. Maybe in her case the Condo is small enough to use one efficiently. There is a bit of a noise problem with them so she should look into one with a quiet motor (if there is such around) and one that has a timer function where it would turn off when she does not want to hear it (at night). If she cannot find one with the timer function she could DIY with a heavy duty stand alone timer (like the ones used for lights - just be sure it will handle the power load of the dehumidifier - do not want any electrical fires).
__________________

__________________
Vietnam Veteran, CW4 USA, Retired 1979
OAG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 08:21 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
HFWR's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lawn chair in Texas
Posts: 12,964
Seems to me a dehumidifier and A/C are redundant, but I've never lived in Houston, so YMMV.

My next home improvement project involves a kitchen match and charcoal lighter fluid...
__________________
Have Funds, Will Retire

...not doing anything of true substance...
HFWR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 08:34 AM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,151
Assuming she doesn't have a heat pump, go with the setback thermostat. A properly working AC system will do a decent job of dehumidifying, no need for a separate unit.
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 09:47 AM   #5
Confused about dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Oshawa
Posts: 1
She might want to start of with an enegy audit of the condo.

Many local utilities offer them for free. Ours didn't but it was still well worth the $325 we paid.

This way she will have an independent review of the energy efficiency / inefficiencies of the condo before making any $$$ investment in energy saving products.

Personally I'd go with both the dehumidifier (especialy with Houston's high humidity) and the electronic thermostate.

However, the results from the energy audit will guide her on the biggest bang for the buck of energy conservation approaches for her specific condo.

Who knows? The biggest bang for the buck might be caulking around all of the window frames on the outside and inside of the condo? Or exterior solar shades on the outside of the east, south and west facing windows? Or ....

Dan
__________________
DanDHRT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 09:56 AM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Air conditioning units dehumidify as part of their process, and they do it quite aggressively. As soon as warm moist air hits the cold a/c coil any moisture in it condenses on the coil, drips off and goes to the condensate drain. Now if the condensate drain is clogged or its an all-in-one unit thats outside and not tipped at the right angle, condensate can collect in the pan and be reintroduced into the air.

Some more efficient air conditioners do try to limit the reduction of humidity to improve efficiency, since that moisture saps cold from the coil and then runs off into the ground as cold water. In fact, there are some new air conditioning technologies coming out in a year or two specifically targeted towards the pacific southwest that dont do very much dehumidification at all since the air is already dry. Those are expected to be 20% or more efficient that current a/c technology.

Dehumidifiers are essentially very inefficient air conditioners. They shoot to remove as much water as possible. So an average dehumidifier will take more energy than an air conditioner to remove the same amount of humidity. As a double whammy, they produce quite a bit of heat and blow it back into the house, which your air conditioner then has to work to remove. To get an idea of this, the next time you see a window air conditioner running inside a store, put your hand around the back and feel the blast of 120 degree hot air coming out of it.

The electronic thermostat will only save money to the extent that she can program it to automatically drop and raise the temperature of the condo during the night and during the days she's at work. Depending on where this is, how much temp change she feels comfortable with at night, and how much she works, she could save 10-20% on her heating and cooling bills. Or almost nothing at all. She could accomplish the same thing by pushing the buttons on the thermo when she leaves, returns home, goes to bed, and wakes up. Free. See what sort of results she gets.

Get a humidistat and see what the average humidity in the condo is. If its over 50% then something should be done about it. Either the air conditioner needs to run more, you'll need a new one that allows a humidistat and has cycles to run longer to remove more humidity, or you'll need a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture...but the electric bill is going to go UP in that last option, not down.
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 10:50 AM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Leonidas's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Where the stars at night are big and bright
Posts: 2,847
The bunny got it right I think.

I have a dehumidifier I bought a couple of years back, but programmable thermostats were the very first change I made after buying my house twenty years ago. I think the best investment your friend can make would be to first make sure that her place is energy efficient.

That said, the reason I have a dehumidifier is primarily to combat dust mites. The little buggers like humidity and usually die off when it's lowered. I run it during periods of high humidity to discourage dust mites because they contribute greatly to allergies. And allergies are an issue in Houston. I find when I keep the humidity from getting too high that it cuts down on coughing, sneezing, etc.

The dehumidifier does make me feel more comfortable if I use it during high humidity, but it puts out so much heat that it will make a room unpleasantly warm. When I use it, I will run it in rooms that nobody is using at the moment because trying to stay there while it's running is a miserable experience.
__________________
There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it. - Andrew Jackson
Leonidas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 11:11 AM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Dust mites do like humidity, and one of their primary foods is mold spores. Another is dried skin flakes, so dont turn the humidity down too low.

Generally 40-45% is comfortable, not too dry, not too wet, doesnt encourage mold growth, and retards dust mites.

BTW, a good way to do a quick dehumidification is to let the temps in the house get up to 82-84, then turn the a/c down to 70 and let it run until the humidity slips below 45. Then turn it off a while to let the condensate pan fully drain and dry. Then run it again for another long cycle until you get about 40%.

Some newer, more expensive a/c units let you set a cooling humidity level and they'll do all sorts of fancy tricks to get the humidity down automatically. Ours will run the temp a degree or two lower than the set point to continue a cooling/dehumidification cycle and will also cycle on and off to allow the condensate pan to drain.

Best bet is to not build any up in the first place. One of your biggest sources of humidity is not running the bathroom vent fan when you're taking a shower. A lot of people like the "hot and steamy" bathroom, especially on a cold morning. Unfortunately that hot and steamy bathroom will add about 10% humidity to your house. Another big source if you cook a lot is moisture from a gas burner and from foods or boiling water. Use the vent hood on low to disperse that.

As a testament to the heat coming from a dehumidifier, I used to put ours in front of the air return grill for the central air. When it wasnt on, we'd get a 20 degree drop in inlet to outlet temperature. With it on, the difference was 1-2 degrees.

We lived in a tough area though. It was mostly farming, largely peaches, and the farmers would flood the fields every night from their well pumps. Water was 6-12" deep for thousands and thousands of acres all around us. The ground was pretty well saturated and the concrete slab would wick it up. When we swapped the carpet I sealed the concrete and laid down a vapor barrier. That really cut it down.
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 11:15 AM   #9
Moderator Emeritus
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 11,044
I live in humid AL and my A/C system does a fine job of dehumidifying the house. Currently only 42% humidity in the house in the midst of a muggy summer and after torrential rains from Fay. So I'd go with the thermostat. By the way if she has a heat pump, she has to make sure she buys a compatible thermostat.
__________________
FIREd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 11:16 AM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 2,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDHRT View Post
She might want to start of with an enegy audit of the condo.

Many local utilities offer them for free. Ours didn't but it was still well worth the $325 we paid.

Dan
I'm curious. What exactly does an energy audit do? $325 sounds a little too steep for me.
__________________
Sam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2008, 11:25 AM   #11
gone traveling
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,036
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam View Post
I'm curious. What exactly does an energy audit do? $325 sounds a little too steep for me.
I hoping it at least included a couple of those thermograph pictures that shows green good and red, OMG, you're heating the whole neighborhood!!
Otherwise, $325 seems way too high.

Some senior services also provide this audit and will even provide no cost/low cost solutions.
__________________
honobob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 06:57 AM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
Keyboard Ninja's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 157
Thanks for the ideas!! How would someone know if they had a heatpump besides asking? Is there some sort of special feature on the existing thermostat that would tip her off?
__________________
Instead of getting angry I just LOL. Can't waste time with stupid people.
Keyboard Ninja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 07:06 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyboard Ninja View Post
How would someone know if they had a heatpump besides asking? Is there some sort of special feature on the existing thermostat that would tip her off?
Maybe.

If the thermostat has an indicator light labeled "emergency heat" or "aux heat", then it is a heat pump. That system kicks in when the temp gets too low for the heat pump to sufficiently warm the air. See this for more information on how a heat pump works.
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 07:12 AM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
OAG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Central, Ohio, USA
Posts: 2,598
There are a few ways - like how it acts. But the best way IMO is to read the plates attached to the unit(s) - Outside unit and inside unit. Also by taking the make and model number from the plates you could also go to the manufacturer's site. However, it should be apparent from reading the plates. While you are there look for the SEER - and the age of the unit - a low SEER (below 10) and/or an age over 10 years would indicate a very good candidate for replacement (add a Humidity and good Air Cleaner to the unit at the same time). Kind of a tough expense after just buying the Condo but if she plans to stay for a good while it will pay for itself over time.
__________________
Vietnam Veteran, CW4 USA, Retired 1979
OAG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 10:49 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,202
Are you guys missing the fact that a setback thermostat only costs about $40?
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 11:06 AM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,151
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Are you guys missing the fact that a setback thermostat only costs about $40?
Not really. I've never been a fan of using them for heat pumps - at least not for heating. Even though the newer and more sophisticated setback thermostats can regulate the warm-up phase to limit the possibility of the aux heat strip coming on (inefficient and uses lots of electricity), the warm up phase can be very long on nights with the temps in the 30's and low 40's. Not much savings as I see it.
__________________

__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ideas on how to keep home secure when traveling in ER chinaco Other topics 5 05-13-2007 10:04 AM
Any w*rk from home ideas? linkerbink Life after FIRE 16 07-20-2006 11:36 AM
What I learned from home improvement this month. Nords Other topics 20 05-18-2006 01:20 PM
Home Improvement Project: Getting Started REWahoo Other topics 2 03-29-2006 04:37 PM
A home improvement project I could put off fixing... cute fuzzy bunny Other topics 6 03-14-2006 06:48 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:03 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.