Emerson W has acquired his first free-standing home, a Cape built in Maryland in 1952, and in no time he’s compiled a long list of upgrades the house will need — everything from a new heating system to dealing with vented, unconditioned crawl spaces.
In a lengthy post in the Q&A Forum, Emerson lays out the details of current conditions and a tentative plan for making the house more energy-efficient and more comfortable. His post covers a half-dozen major areas of concern. That’s too many for a single Spotlight, so we’ll look at just a couple — how to approach insulation for a a slate roof, and what to do about a 24-year-old oil-burning furnace.
First, the roof. Emerson has apparently spoken with a roofing contractor who believes the slate roof at the front of the house might need replacement in eight years. At that time, Emerson could add rigid foam insulation on top of the existing roof deck, but replacement isn’t in the cards now. On the rear of the house, also roofed in slate, external foam doesn’t look like an option. For those reasons, Emerson thinks an insulate-from-within strategy might be best.
Then there’s the HVAC system. The 4,400-square-foot house is heated with a 24-year-old oil burner with a two-zone central air conditioning system.
“I was leaning toward geothermal,” Emerson writes, “contingent on the 30% tax credit returning, but having read GBA on this topic, I am now thoroughly confused. The house layout would be great for minisplits — it looks like a rancher with a partial second floor. Question: What is current thinking on geothermal vs. ductless minisplits?”
Despite the lack of upgrades, the Climate Zone 4 house sits on a “great piece of property” and seems to have loads of…
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