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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 09:17 AM   #21
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Re: Building the Retirement House

We've got about the same summer heat situation here as AZ has. I put in a gable fan a few years ago in my old mcmansion. It definitely reduced the attic temps and cut back on how quickly the upstairs got warm on a hot day. The fan WAS audible as it introduced some "hum" into the framing.

I finally decided (without any supporting data) that while it was useful, the sucker ran from about 10am until about 9pm, and I figured the electricity used running that 11 hours a day might outweigh a little extra AC running.

What HAS been extremely useful to me, and I recommend highly to anyone living in an area where its hot during the day and cool at night, is a whole house fan.

In my old mcmansion, and current house, all I have to do is run the whole house fan from about 10pm until 6am. Even in August that will bring the entire house down to the nighttime low in the upper 60's. When I get up I close all the doors and windows. It isnt until about 5-6pm that the interior temps hit 78 and the a/c kicks on.

It wasnt rocket science to install either. I just got the smallest one (24") for about $100, and I braced it into the attic access hole that I had/have in both houses, which was/is conveniently located in the master bathroom closet. That way I can keep the windows in the master bedroom closed and the drapes pulled...no outside noise or 6am sunlight, but I still get great pull through ventilation from open windows on the opposite end of the house.

My first couple of months in the new house were July and August...electric bill in july using only a/c at 78 degrees was $240. In august using the house fan, $145.

Very handy in a backwards manner in the spring and fall...right now its in the 50's at night but hits 70-75 during the day...so I run it from noon until 4pm and warm the house up, which generally lasts until morning.

Its also great for when you "smoke" something in the kitchen or feed too many leftovers to the dog...
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 04:02 PM   #22
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Painfully - we went the opposite direction - when 95 tornado took the roof - I took out our 48* whole house fan and went window units. At 1200sq ft roughly reversed TH's numbers. All electric - $180 - 200/mo - level load bill(12 month running ave). Over 120 was high before.

BUT - the lower humidity with A/C means I'd get shot trying to go back.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 06:40 PM   #23
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Re: Building the Retirement House

Hi Judy,

Lots of good ideas on this thread.

Definately consider a whole house fan but keep its wiring simple if possible. I dont like the idea of those automatic temp/humidity controllers. Turn it on/off when YOU want. In the event of a fire I dont want the fan to kick in and "fan the flames".

To go with your "hosable bathroom" think about a "worry free" laundry area. The idea is a giant fiberglass or tiled drain pan under the washer/dryer and hot water heater if nearby. So if the hoses burst or HWH starts to leak, its OK because leaking water drains safely away. Only downside is that you barracade those appliances behind the pan lip. I saw this in a mansion and liked the idea.

Shower stall... Jacuzzi offers a 4 ft. sq. fiberglass stall base. Optionally you can have the installer pack the underside with soundproofing... I didnt do that. With one that big you can enjoy the luxurious space now and have room for the handicapped seat later.

Ret. homes are like making a final stand against the world. Landscaping for the future is fun and cheap. Plant accordingly. Todays saplings are tomorrows natural privacy barriers. Why not set all these brainstoms up on a program like Floorplan or some such and see it cyber-like. Have fun

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Speaking of laundry & showers
Old 11-07-2004, 07:51 PM   #24
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Speaking of laundry & showers

As the water-soaked survivor of a ruptured hose INSIDE a washing machine, I highly endorse Bum's recommendation. Our washer now sits inside a plastic pan with a 3" lip but that's not as elegant as an entire room. And if you spill soap or bleach you can just hose down the floor.

As a former submariner, the only shower big enough for me is outdoors. And even then I'd probably run out of hot water. But it seems redundant to have to clean/maintain both a shower stall AND a separate bathtub. We renovated our master bathroom from its "standard" equipment to a 48"x72" whirlpool tub and we added a wall-mounted shower nozzle. The tub was only $1500 including pump, heater, & plumbing attachments. The tub's not big enough to eliminate a shower curtain but it's certainly big enough for everything else... and I don't miss those streaky glass doors one bit.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 09:04 PM   #25
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Re: Building the Retirement House

On my whole house fan (and other stuff) I installed some of the x10 home control stuff. Fairly useful. I can turn the fan on and off from one of several remote controls, or from a clock radio that has a series of 'on/off' buttons on top. Further, the clock radio can be programmed to turn it on and off at specific times...so I can go to sleep with it on and have it shut itself off at 6am before the heat comes up.

I also have the outside lights, our air purifiers, my pool and my pond connected to it so I can turn stuff on and off. Nice to push one "all off" button at night and have all the elective electronics shut off at once.

X10 and its ilk can be had cheaply. They keep offering little package deals at absurdly cheap prices to get you hooked, figuring you'll come back for more parts. I've bought about 9 of the combo packs.

If you havent used one of these 'home control' products, they're fairly easy to put in. You have a main control module with a little antenna on it. It receives commands from the remote controls wirelessly, then sends command codes through the a/c wiring to x10 modules that replace your light switches, a/c outlets, exterior lights, etc. There are also little plug in converters for appliances and so forth. Each plug has an "unit #"...you specify the unit # you want to address and can then turn it on/off/dim. If you want to turn several things on and off at the same time, you give them the same unit #. Pretty much plug and play.

Easy to use, we have a couple of remotes about the size of my hand with on/off buttons all labeled for what they turn on.

Its nice to pull in the driveway, click on all the exterior lights and the ones from the garage into the kitchen with one button on a keychain remote.
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Re: Building the Retirement House
Old 11-07-2004, 09:13 PM   #26
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Re: Building the Retirement House

....and don't forget the neon house numbers
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