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help an absolute newbie homeowner with heat solution :)

thedusen Member Posts: 5
Can't express my happiness at finding this site. I've been researching and researching... and it only confuses me more :)

We have a house we just bought and are remodeling it on a tight budget. We are trying to figure out how best to heat it... finding the balance of efficiency and upfront costs. The contractor is burning cash, as we expected but couldn't avoid.

Here's the house:



1. no room for a boiler (except outside... but that's a whole other structure to be built to house it)

2. We could put a combi unit in that tiny space next to the bathroom... but then what... baseboard units??

3. We could do multiple propane wall heaters rinnai style connected with smart thermostats... but where to get the most efficiency? That bedroom can barely fit a bed and was never heated (the rest of the house had baseboard that was ripped out and the big living room had a small propane wall unit.

4. We could do split units, but they are expensive. Also, we live in the catskill mountains. It doesn't get astoundingly cold, but we have heard that the reasonably priced split units will shut off at -13 degrees or something like that. I've heard mixed things, but basically that the efficiency drops dramatically if it's trying to heat with quite cold air out there.

Also, to note, there's an open crawl space at the moment, but it's on a hill, so the whole right side of the house (in the picture) is up against the dirt (we know that's also problematic for other reasons).

ANYTHING to run with would be immense help. We're pulling our hair out!




  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    First of all, download the SlantFin heat survey app, and put the dimensions of your walls, etc. in so you can know how much heat you need. You need to enter the design temperature for your town, as well.
    How tall is the crawl space? Bring your room by room heat loss numbers back here when you are done.—NBC
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,780
    Combi makes sense , Use high mass radiation for for condensing boilers. . Radiant or panal radiators . Condensing boilers are designed to run low supply temperatures .
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    Is this place really small? It looks that way on paper, but not knowing actual dimensions.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • thedusen
    thedusen Member Posts: 5
    you all are already decreasing the stress. Thank you.

    I downloaded the slantfin app... no joy. Like a lot of the reviews, it kept crashing.

    I went and got the dimensions. They are below. Everything is feet except if noted. And the living room has a slanted roof, hence the different heights on the left and right sides. You can ignore the "two story tall ceiling." Forgot to remove that.


    Thanks a million, y'all!
  • thedusen
    thedusen Member Posts: 5
    as for crawl space. roughly two feet on the living room side. But over by the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom, it's negligent. It's on a slope. No room for radiant flooring as per the contractor.
  • thedusen
    thedusen Member Posts: 5
    one more note... The only walls that are ripped out are the bathroom and kitchen. The rest of the house won't be getting those removed, so no go on radiant heat in the walls as well (except for bathroom or kitchen I suppose)
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,058
    Have you considered moving the kitchen to the corner of the house near the dinning room?
    Then move the bathroom towards the bed room with the laundry room near that.
    Somewhere in the laundry room for the heating system and DHW.
    If no crawl space there you can fir out the lower part of the wall for piping to BB heaters if that is your choice.
    Wrapping around the outside corner of the new kitchen could be the "bump out" giving you a 4-6" shelf behind the lower kitchen cabinets. Or modify the lower cabinets for this heating pipe space. A toe kick heater or two under the cabinets could take care of the kitchen then BB around the house to the living room.
    There you could drop into the crawl space and pop up for BB in that room.

    You could run continuous BB with the return pipe within the BB.
    Of course any outside doors will mess that up.

    How is this heated now?
  • thedusen
    thedusen Member Posts: 5
    Originally base board. My wife hates baseboard so told our contractor to rip them up before we had decided on a solution. For someone who normally thinks logically, not her best moment.

    Can't move everything around, even though I like your idea. No money for that. We're already going over budget, as to be expected.

    I like the toe-kicker for the kitchen.

    Thinking radiant heat for the bathroom, since that floor is already torn up and there ain't a lot of room for anything else.

    So it really comes down to baseboard vs. panel radiators, right?

    Either that or 3 split units.... living room, bedroom, and one somewhere in between.

    They don't make this **** easy :)
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,058
    What ran the BB and where was it located....assuming it was not electric BB?
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,828
    edited August 2019
    With no access below the floor on the right side and only 2 ft on the left side, did the contractor explain how he was going to run the new piping? All perimeter exposed?
    Some ceilings are 8', 7" and some are 8'. Can you afford to lose 3 to 4 inches of ceiling height for radiant?
    Unless you're getting a stackable washer/dryer, that room isn't large enough to add a boiler as well. Think of the tech who has to service it.
    Women huh? I hope you cut her off.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,105
    best to use the Slant Fin calculator at their site, not the ap
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    If your on a budget, small propane furnace. I bet 40k BUT is enough. Can add a small AC unit too if you want, but probably don’t need it where you are.

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    mikeg2015 said:

    Can add a small AC unit too if you want, but probably don’t need it where you are.

    It's 87 in the Catskills today :#
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el