Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Project

By: Danny Lipford
Single story ranch house with almond colored vinyl siding, brown shutters, and white trim.

Energy efficiency project house.

To improve the energy efficiency of my daughter, Chelsea, and her husband, Brandon’s house, we replace the old central heating and cooling system with a new Carrier Infinity® heat pump system.

An Infinity Touch control—which can be accessed remotely by smartphone or tablet—was installed to control the temperature, humidity, and ventilation in the house.

Since the ductwork for the new HVAC system was located in the attic, rather than in the crawlspace under the floor, we also had to patch the holes left by the old ducts in the wood and tile floors.

To save even more energy, we installed Roxul stone wool insulation in the crawlspace under the floors.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re helping add energy efficiency for a young family who’s expecting an addition of their own.

Chelsea Wolf: Brandon and I are expecting a baby.

Danny Lipford: I just think that’s pretty cool. Three years ago, my oldest daughter Chelsea bought this little house. It was definitely a fixer-upper. Since then, she’s gotten married. So my son-in-law, Brandon, has taken over as the go-to manual labor for Chelsea’s projects. Now, they’re planning for another addition.

Chelsea Wolf: Brandon and I are expecting a baby.

Brandon Wolf: Yeah.

Chelsea Wolf: So, that’s why I haven’t been able to help Dad and Allen out on the show lately. As a family, it changes what kind of projects we’re doing. Everything’s about the baby and getting the house ready for the baby and…

Brandon Wolf: Try to save more money.

Chelsea Wolf: Yeah.

Brandon Wolf: ‘Cause we know she’s going to use up a bunch…

Chelsea Wolf: Who? Me or the baby?

Brandon Wolf: The baby. ‘Cause she’s going to be just like you.

Chelsea Wolf: We had already decided that we wanted to get a new air conditioner. And we had kind of talked about getting some quotes for it and about that time when our air conditioner went out.

Danny Lipford: So, now, there’s a different kind of planning to do.

Chelsea Wolf: We knew this day would come. You always told me when we remodeled the house, the first time you said that not to get too attached to the closet in the hallway because that would probably have to go if we upgraded the unit.

Danny Lipford: My friend, Steve Davis, is a heating and cooling contractor and I’ve asked him to drop by and evaluate the house to make some recommendations. He also managed to get the old system running, at least temporarily, until he can replace it.

You know, it was really cool to find out that because of all of the things that we did to the house a few years ago with the increase in insulation, the insulated vinyl signing, the new windows.

All of those things made such a difference that she was able to go from a four-ton unit down to a three-ton unit, I mean a difference of 25% on what she needed to heat and cool the house that’s fantastic. But Steve has some concerns about simply installing a newer version of the same type system that’s already here.

Steve Davies: There is no vapor barrier. With the packaged unit and the existing duct work in the limited crawl space that we have to work with is going to be very difficult to, to replace that duct system and ensure that it has the proper vapor barrier on the ground, so that it’s an energy efficient duct system.

Danny Lipford: So he’s showing Brandon and Chelsea some other options.

Steve Davies: There’s two alternative that we can utilize. One is to, uh, put a heat-pump, fan-coil unit which will fit into this closet without a great deal of modification.

Chelsea Wolf: Without all that stuff in there, I’m assuming.

Steve Davies: Yeah, we’re going to have to take all of the shelves out, but what that affords us is the opportunity to have a better filtration system…

Chelsea Wolf: Okay.

Steve Davies: Which will enable you to have better indoor air quality for the house.

Chelsea Wolf: Okay.

Steve Davies: Since there’s going to be an addition to the family here pretty soon, we want to make sure that we can have it as clean as possible. The second alternative for this closet, still utilizing this closet, but if we use a gas furnace, it requires a little bit deeper closet; and so, it would kind of go into the closet.

Chelsea Wolf: Oh, no…

Steve Davies: Directly behind it.

Chelsea Wolf: Okay.

Steve Davies: We take about 10 more inches in that closet.

Brandon Wolf: Is there a difference in efficiency between the two options?

Steve Davies: They really operate for our climate… They both operate extremely well and so the efficiency in which your savings is about the same.

Brandon Wolf: Okay.

Chelsea Wolf: So the difference is 10 inches?

Steve Davies: The difference is 10 inches in the wall, that’s right.

Chelsea Wolf: Okay. And that would be out of this closet right here?

Steve Davies: That’s correct.

Chelsea Wolf: Okay. Let’s see. So, 10 inches from there. It’s already such a small closet to begin with.

Brandon Wolf: Yeah. And is there a price difference in these two since you said they are of the same efficiency. It takes about the same amount of time to install one…

Brandon Wolf: Okay.

Steve Davies: Versus the other.

Chelsea Wolf: Sounds like a no brainer to me then.

Brandon Wolf: Yeah. I agree. You need your closet space.

Chelsea Wolf: She needs her closet space.

Brandon Wolf: I think she has more closet space then I do. She’s not even born yet.

Danny Lipford: Now that they have made their decision, Steve is showing me what we need to do to modify the closet for the new equipment.

Steve Davies: Well, first off, we just need to remove all the shelving. This end here. I’d really like to take that down to the floor level, because we want to get as much area as I can to build the platform here. And we got a filter rack that we’re going to put in the bottom of the unit so I can use a two-inch pleated filter and get more surface area on it.

Danny Lipford: Oh great. So that will slip in a tray right under…

Steve Davies: It will be a little door that opens up. Slide right through here.

Danny Lipford: So, we can leave this the same just like it is.

Steve Davies: You can leave that just like it is. Correct.

Danny Lipford: Awesome, good, good, good.

Joe Truini: Today’s clothes dryers are more energy efficient than ever before. With a few simple solutions, you can cut energy consumption even more.

First, after every load of dry cloth, always remove and clean the lint screen. Pull it out and by hand, unroll and toss out the lint.

But before putting the screen back in, use a vacuum with a crevice tool—a little narrow crevice tool—to clean up the port where the filter goes. This will catch any remaining lint. That’s all, that’s all you need is just three or four seconds to clean that out.

Now, the second tip is to every time you’re drying a load of wet clothes, take a dry fluffy towel and toss it in with the clothes. Now, the dry towel will absorb any excess moisture and your clothes will dry a whole lot faster.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re upgrading the heating and cooling system in my daughter and son-in-law’s house. You know the whole story of Chelsea buying her own house when she was 22 years old. Ah, that’s pretty cool, just that.

Then, spending all of the time, yeah I helped her out a little bit with the renovations to get the house in great shape. Then her getting married to Brandon a few years later and now they’re having a baby and bringing my grandchild home to this nice house and in the nursery that she’s worked so hard on, I just think that’s pretty cool.

My friend, Steve Davies, is a local carrier dealer and he’s helped Brandon and Chelsea choose the perfect system for their home.

It’s an Infinity heat pump system that offers super efficiency, humidity control, and indoor air quality. To accommodate that equipment, Allen and I are making some minor changes to a linen closet in the hallway.

When Steve’s crew arrives, they begin working to install the new ceiling resistors for the more efficient duct system that will run through the attic. Meanwhile, Allen, Chelsea, and I decide to clear a path to the outside unit. We need to trim all of this back…

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And then, really look and see if there’s any way we’re going to be able to get that big boy out of here so they can put the smaller one in.

Allen Lyle: You got some trimmers?

Chelsea Wolf: Yeah, let’s go get those.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: You know one of the big advantages of this new central air and heat system is this system is going to be a lot smaller and a lot quieter and the baby is going to love it. I ain’t sticking my finger in there.

Allen Lyle: Go ahead. You can trust me.

Danny Lipford: Never trust someone that says, “Trust me.”

Allen Lyle: “You can trust me.” Now, shape it don’t scalp it.

Chelsea Wolf: Dad.

Allen Lyle: Shape it don’t scalp it.

Chelsea Wolf: Stop. Stop it.

Danny Lipford: What?

Chelsea Wolf: Stop.

Danny Lipford: I’m just shaping it.

Chelsea Wolf: It’s different to have Dad working on the house, now that I’m married because he’s not the man of the house anymore. Even before I was married, he still kind of was because he’s my dad and that’s what he does for a living is home improvement. But now that Brandon’s here, I think that’s hard for him to adjust to.

Chelsea Wolf: All right, Dad. Dad, back away from the jasmine. Dad. Dad, stop.

Allen Lyle: It’s like, it’s like crack or something.

Chelsea Wolf: There’s not going to be anything left.

Allen Lyle: He’s addicted.

Chelsea Wolf: Should we just cut it at the root?

Danny Lipford: Need about 36… If we clear enough space to get the old unit out, getting the new, smaller one in will be easy. Back inside, the progress continues with more resistors and duct work going in. But like anything, there’s a price.

Chelsea Wolf: I knew they were going to be cutting holes in the ceiling so I thought the dust would just be right underneath that or in the box that they were holding, but it’s on everything. All my little knickknacks on all the tables and the pieces of furniture around the house, on the floors, like where there’s never been dust before there’s dust now.

Danny Lipford: So, Chelsea distracts herself with a project. What are you doing here? Another, looks like you’re making a table cloth.

Chelsea Wolf: No I’m going to make a Roman shade or two Roman shades for the nursery.

Danny Lipford: What is that? What is a Roman shade?

Chelsea Wolf: It’s like a curtain that rolls up, or kind of floats up and then comes back down.

Danny Lipford: Okay, you… Well I’m pretty good at this sewing stuff if you need my help.

Chelsea Wolf: Oh, darn it. No, I don’t

Danny Lipford: I got plenty to do. Steve has discovered a snag with our plan.

Steve Davies: And our thought was that we’d pull the unit up through the scuttle hole access and drop it down into the closet. But we’ve… Which turned out we’ve got limited space…

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah.

Steve Davies: To be able to make that happen.

Danny Lipford: So, I imagine, you can tilt those things sometimes, but you don’t have any kind of play at all.

Steve Davies: Yeah, we don’t have any room to play so what… an alternative that we’ve come up with, that I want to discuss with you, is we’ve, we’ve, decided that we can put the unit in a horizontal application. We’ve got enough room in the attic.

Danny Lipford: Gotcha.

Steve Davies: We’ll run an extended plenum down, uh, the back wall of the closet here and that will, actually, give them some linen closet back to the conditioned space.

Danny Lipford: Chelsea can have a little… Okay. She’ll love getting some closet space back.

Steve Davies: I thought she might.

Danny Lipford: Almost any time you do any kind of remodeling project, and I’ve done a lot over the years, you almost always run into something that throws you off a little bit.

But, just like this, it turns out for the best because the unit being positioned in the attic is going to be a lot quieter and Chelsea and Brandon get back a closet that they thought they were going to lose.

Jodi Marks: You know there have been a lot of innovations when it comes to light bulbs, making them more energy efficient. But when you make it more energy efficient bulb, it actually kind of jacks the price up, so the downside of that is that they can be really expensive.

But GE has come out with the bright stick, and I actually have this right here in my hand. This is an LED light bulb that is instantly bright the second you turn it on, because that’s actually another complaint of LEDs is that it takes a little bit of time to warm them up before you get the brightness that you need.

I’ll show you right here. I can turn it on, I can turn it off, and it is instantly bright. Now, this profile is perfect for any of your light fixtures, and it fits in all of your light fixtures unlike some LED lights.

You can save up to six dollars a year for every fixture that you have one of these light bulbs in. Now, you’re saying, “Six dollars a fixture, Jodi, really?” But think about it. How many fixtures do you have at your home?

And again, you’re getting three bulbs now for what it would cost if you’d have buy an LED when they first came out. So, they’ve gotten a lot more reasonable in price, too.

Danny Lipford: My daughter Chelsea is getting a new heating and cooling system installed and she’s distracting herself from the chaos with a window treatment project for the nursery.

But while work on the new system continues, there are a few other projects, like filling in the old floor resistors, which are no longer necessary, because of the new ceiling vents. If we can co-exist in this room, I’m going to tackle this vent and fill it in with wood. Does that work?

Chelsea Wolf: Oh, that sounds awesome.

Danny Lipford: And Allen’s ready to do the easy part…

Allen Lyle: I am.

Danny Lipford: In doing a little ceramic work in there…

Allen Lyle: Oh, yeah, real easy.

Danny Lipford: If you have that, uh, kitchen outlet in there as well.

Allen Lyle: You, uh, going to be okay by yourself? I know you get lonely.

Danny Lipford: You’re going to be next door?

Allen Lyle: I’ll be right next door if you need me.

Danny Lipford: I may call you then, okay. Since this duct is still connected to the old air conditioner, I’m sealing it up before I begin cutting out the short pieces of flooring with an oscillating saw.

The idea here is to weave in the new pieces of flooring so the repair isn’t obvious. Back up in the attic, they’re installing a pan that will go under the new fan-coil unit. This is important to prevent any condensation that overflows out of the unit from leaking into the house below.

You know, Chelsea did a really smart thing by holding onto a little bit of everything we used when we renovated the house and as a result she has the perfect pieces of wood we need to ensure that this will all blend in as we patch the floor.

She also saved a number of the ceramic pieces, helping Allen out in the kitchen. The first step in his project is removing the grout around the affected tiles using a rotary tool, with a growth removal bit.

Allen Lyle: If it comes out in one piece, great. If not, no big deal, ’cause I’m going to replace it anyway.

Danny Lipford: Once the tiles are out, the thin set that held them in place is chipped up. Then the hole from the resistor is filled in and the new tiles are cut to cover the space.

After applying some new, thin-set adhesive to the back of the tiles, they can be set into place and carefully leveled with the surrounding tiles. When the adhesive dries, it’s ready for grout.

Meanwhile, I’m making more cuts beyond the resistor and chiseling out sections of the floor, so I can weave in the new wood. Once I fill in the void in the sub-floor, where the resistor was, I add a vapor barrier and carefully begin cutting the new pieces of flooring.

Chelsea you were so smart to save every little thing like this. This is really coming in handy. Come here and take a look at this.

Chelsea Wolf: I get my hoarding tendencies from you, Dad.

Danny Lipford: And, so you know, that this is the right stuff, right? The right stain?

Chelsea Wolf: Yeah. Well, I knew until you asked me that.

Danny Lipford: Look at that. That’s the stuff.

Chelsea Wolf: I think I lost track of which one’s new, and which one’s old.

Danny Lipford: That’s the spirit.

Chelsea Wolf: I just have to toot your horn so you’ll come back.

Danny Lipford: That’s all it takes.

Chelsea Wolf: So, I’m really impressed with how he weaved the old material with the existing and it just looks perfect.

Danny Lipford: Well, I’ll tell you what, the stain and the putty there looks pretty good. Okay, so your project what I’m confused about… I mean, I think this is going to look pretty good ’cause that’s a similar color to the ceiling in there…

Chelsea Wolf: Yeah, it’s the ceiling paint

Danny Lipford: But, paint’s going to crack if you pull these things up and down, won’t it crack?

Chelsea Wolf: It would but I added a, like a fabric additive to the latex paint.

Danny Lipford: What does that do?

Chelsea Wolf: It helps it soak down into the fiber, so it’s not going to crack.

Danny Lipford: This will take a long time.

Chelsea Wolf: All right, here’s a paint brush.

Danny Lipford: No. You know, you don’t want me to do that. I got some things. I need to help the air conditioning guys with.

Chelsea Wolf: All right.

Danny Lipford: After Steve’s crew completed their work in the attic, they ran the air return chase to the back of the closet.

Now, Allen and I can cover that duct board with dry wall and rebuild the shelves right where they were, just slightly more shallow than before.

An additional air return vent is also added in the dining room, to help even out the temperature in the house. Outside, the old unit is being removed and replaced with the smaller one. All of this equipment is managed by a cool thermostat, the Carrier calls the Infinity Control.

Steve Davies: The Infinity Controller works specifically with the Infinity Carrier product. STEVE: It’s able to tell itself, if it needs to run at a lower CFM or higher CFM, and actually does a great job of dehumidifying and you’re not going to get that in any other type of setup.

Danny Lipford: This unit is even Wi-Fi enabled, so you can control it remotely with a smartphone.

Chelsea Wolf: Does it have a lock on it, where I can lock it from an app? And keep Brandon from controlling it while he’s home.

Steve Davies: I’m not going to answer that…

Chelsea Wolf: I got a sweaty mouth.

Danny Lipford: Speaking of Brandon… Hi, glad you made it home from work. I got to little project for us.

Brandon Wolf: Oh, did the AC guys already finish?

Danny Lipford: Yeah, AC… Matter of fact they’re completely finished, and believe it or not, that compressor is running right now.

Brandon Wolf: Really?

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Brandon Wolf: Wow.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that is… I’ve never heard one that quiet.

Brandon Wolf: I can hear the neighbors above that one.

Danny Lipford: That’s true. Okay, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to have a lot of fun. All right, so… Since everything is… You might want to put that on.

Brandon Wolf: All right.

Danny Lipford: Since everything else is so energy efficient on this house, the only thing we can make even better is by installing some of the mineral wool insulation up underneath the house.

I thought we’d start right here at the nursery and work our way across there. And, so, here’s how it works, I got these little tension wires, that, when you push the insulation up, in between the joist, these are going to just slip right up in there, you don’t have to nail or anything, and it’ll hold it up.

With the old duct work removed, there are plenty of voids under the house for Brandon to fill, and this rock wool material, from Roxul, is ideal for this application, because it resists both moisture and fire, so my granddaughter will be safe. Brandon, may have the last job of the week, but it’s certainly the dirtiest.

Danny Lipford: People always ask me what they can do to save money on their energy bills. Obviously, a new more efficient heating and cooling system is one way, but there’s lots of others.

If you have old single-paned windows, replacing them with new double- or triple-pane units, is a great idea. The air space between panes acts as insulation. And if you choose vinyl frames, rather than aluminum ones, you create a thermal break that keeps heat from transferring as easily.

Your water heater accounts for about 13-percent of your overall energy usage, so updating it will save a significant amount. Especially if you choose a super-efficient unit, like the tank less gas models that are available today.

These improvements aren’t cheap, so the utility bill payback takes a little while. But there are inexpensive weatherization chores—like replacing weather stripping around doors and windows, replacing worn thresholds or sweeps at doorways, and filling gaps and cracks around the outside of the home—that’ll start showing you savings, right away.

Danny Lipford: Replacing a heating and cooling system is a big deal for any homeowner but even more so, when a new baby is expected, within a few weeks, but with the help of Steve and his crew, we were able to pull it off. Not only are we keeping Brandon, Chelsea, and my granddaughter comfortable, we’re reducing some of their monthly expenses.

Chelsea Wolf: We’re glad to have, something that’ll help us reduce what we’re already paying, as far as our utility bills. And then we also don’t have to worry about the heat going out in middle of the night and worrying about her freezing, while we’re warm and cozy under our blankets.

Brandon Wolf: Yeah, it’s just great peace of mind to have that, to know that the baby will be taken care of.

Danny Lipford: And Chelsea finished her final baby prep project, by hanging the shades she made for the nursery.

The installation of the heating and cooling system worked out really well, for Chelsea and Brandon and they were able to save the little hall closet for extra storage. You can never have too much storage. And the new wireless thermostat is all programmed and synced up to their smartphone.

And they’re going to be saving so much money on their energy bill, they’ll be able to buy a few extra toys for my new granddaughter, that’ll be here soon, Mary Helen.

But I thought, what I would do, is make a little something, so that even, when I was traveling and not able to be here, she would always have her pop daddy near by.

I’m Danny Lipford, thanks for being a part of this special, Today’s Homeowner episode, and we’ll see you next week.



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