Home>Discussions>INSULATION & HVAC>Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?
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Bark
Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?

Hello, all. First post here. We are considering the purchase of a 170-year-old home in Maine and I am trying to think through some winter strategies for energy savings. There's a lot of info out there about the obvious (efficient boiler, weather stripping doors/windows, etc.) but I'm not finding much about what seems to be a potentially effective approach: drastically cutting back on living space during winter by closing off rooms and "moving into" two or three first floor rooms, e.g. the kitchen, a bedroom, and perhaps a single living area. These "winter quarters" would be insulated from the rest of the house and would be the only areas to be heated.

Seems to me interior walls/ceilings leading to unused rooms could be insulated, and radiator plumbing could be zoned in a way that would allow for shutting off flow to radiators of unused rooms. Is this crazy? Am I missing something? Seems like adding a layer of rigid foam + another layer of drywall (and adjusting casing/trim as needed) for affected interior walls would work and laying down some kind of seasonal insulating "blanket" of some kind on the upstairs floors would help create this protected area.

Would love to hear thoughts/comments. Thanks.

Ben

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?

Some cautions
1-If the house has Knob and tube wiring you cannot insulate the walls and ceilings where there is any wiring.
2-Shuting off the radiators in the unheated part of the house leaves the pipes and radiators filled with water which can freeze and burst.
3- you failed to mention bathrooms, again any in the unheated areas would need the plumbing drained not just shut off.

Pumped in foam insulation in the walls, including interior walls, and ceilings would work well and require little repair after the job is done and would not require changing trim work.
Rigid foam could be used over doorways to the unused area.
If you can zone you heating system consider thermostat control set to say 50 degrees in unused area to prevent freezing.

Jack

Bark
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?

Thanks, Jack. Yes, I was envisioning a fair amount of plumbing work done to allow selected shutoff/drainage of radiators and supply pipes in areas that wouldn't be heated. Good points about insulating interior walls - I thought about basically framing out a new wall right up against the old one - and filling it with some kind of insulation overlayed by drywall - but your suggestion would probably be cleaner.

Still chewing on ideas for upstairs floors (temporary winter coverings to keep rising heat downstairs). Maybe reflective tarps or space blankets covered by something like these? (Amvic Insulated Radiant Pex Panel)

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Amvic-24-in-x-4-ft-R-11-Insulated-Radiant-Pex-Panel-AMPEX2020F/205310292?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-BASE-PLA-D22-Insulation%7c&gclid=Cj0KEQjw8tbHBRC6rLS024qYjtEBEiQA7wIDeQc_krsdKsJsnRmq9XS0ihUYjbvJlD4HJ3ohsfpWNlgaAsth8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

bill
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?

further to what JLMCDANIEL said , you must keep the foundation above freezing or the ground will freeze around the house and collapse the foundation walls.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?

If you have sprayed in foam installed you can us it in the downstairs ceiling and not need floor covers.

Jack

Dobbs
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?
Bark wrote:

Hello, all. First post here. We are considering the purchase of a 170-year-old home in Maine and I am trying to think through some winter strategies for energy savings. There's a lot of info out there about the obvious (efficient boiler, weather stripping doors/windows, etc.) but I'm not finding much about what seems to be a potentially effective approach: drastically cutting back on living space during winter by closing off rooms and "moving into" two or three first floor rooms, e.g. the kitchen, a bedroom, and perhaps a single living area. These "winter quarters" would be insulated from the rest of the house and would be the only areas to be heated.

Seems to me interior walls/ceilings leading to unused rooms could be insulated, and radiator plumbing could be zoned in a way that would allow for shutting off flow to radiators of unused rooms. Is this crazy? Am I missing something? Seems like adding a layer of rigid foam + another layer of drywall (and adjusting casing/trim as needed) for affected interior walls would work and laying down some kind of seasonal insulating "blanket" of some kind on the upstairs floors would help create this protected area.

Would love to hear thoughts/comments. Thanks.

Ben

Ben,

You mentioned the word "zone" in the 2nd paragraph of your post, and THAT is a very popular way that heating technicians tackle & solve this problem --------hot water heating systems are very amenable to installing 3 or 4 "zones" (zone valves) of hot water heating plumbing (providing the cellar is open (dug out) and allows access to install the copper tubing (or PEX plastic tubing)-----each room in the house is piped to contain 3 or 4 separate zones, each controlled with its own T-stat, so that the T-stat to the rarely used room could be set to 50 or 60 degrees, while the frequently-used rooms can be set to 72 degrees .

Google "Taco Zone Valves" to view what these valves look like and Google "Zone Valve hydronic piping arrangements" to see how the zones are arranged in a typical residential house-----this work would require an estimate from several hydronic (hot water) heating installers in your area to get the best price estimate.

In practice, each room(s) would be on its own separate T-stat throughout the house, and the heat to that room could be easily raised if it had to be used periodically by simply turning up the T-stat to that particular room---the other rooms in the house would be "on their own set T-stat", of say 70 degrees for the frequently occupied living quarters.

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20045338,00.html
http://highperformancehvac.com/boiler-water-loops/
http://www.home-heating-systems-and-solutions.com/hydronic-central-heating.html

Dobbs
Re: Creating "Winter Quarters" Inside Large House?
Bark wrote:

Hello, all. First post here. We are considering the purchase of a 170-year-old home in Maine and I am trying to think through some winter strategies for energy savings. There's a lot of info out there about the obvious (efficient boiler, weather stripping doors/windows, etc.) but I'm not finding much about what seems to be a potentially effective approach: drastically cutting back on living space during winter by closing off rooms and "moving into" two or three first floor rooms, e.g. the kitchen, a bedroom, and perhaps a single living area. These "winter quarters" would be insulated from the rest of the house and would be the only areas to be heated.

Seems to me interior walls/ceilings leading to unused rooms could be insulated, and radiator plumbing could be zoned in a way that would allow for shutting off flow to radiators of unused rooms. Is this crazy? Am I missing something? Seems like adding a layer of rigid foam + another layer of drywall (and adjusting casing/trim as needed) for affected interior walls would work and laying down some kind of seasonal insulating "blanket" of some kind on the upstairs floors would help create this protected area.

Would love to hear thoughts/comments. Thanks.

Ben

Ben,

You mentioned the word "zone" in the 2nd paragraph of your post, and THAT is a very popular way that heating technicians tackle & solve this problem --------hot water heating systems are very amenable to installing 3 or 4 "zones" (zone valves) of hot water heating plumbing (providing the cellar is open (dug out) and allows access to install the copper tubing (or PEX plastic tubing)-----each room in the house is piped to contain 3 or 4 separate zones, each controlled with its own T-stat, so that the T-stat to the rarely used room could be set to 50 or 60 degrees, while the frequently-used rooms can be set to 72 degrees .

Google "Taco Zone Valves" to view what these valves look like and Google "Zone Valve hydronic piping arrangements" to see how the zones are arranged in a typical residential house-----this work would require an estimate from several hydronic (hot water) heating installers in your area to get the best price estimate.

In practice, each room(s) would be on its own separate T-stat throughout the house, and the heat to that room could be easily raised if it had to be used periodically by simply turning up the T-stat to that particular room---the other rooms in the house would be "on their own set T-stat", of say 70 degrees for the frequently occupied living quarters.

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20045338,00.html
http://highperformancehvac.com/boiler-water-loops/

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