Recently, most of us have been doing and wearing things to stay warm at the same time that we are turning down thermostats to save heating energy in our homes.
Trying to do two things at the same time is tough enough anytime.
But in cold weather the dual assignment becomes more complex. Maybe a few simple guidelines will have some value. A call went out to Ralph J. Johnson, who has a master's in engineering from Harvard and a working lifetime in housing. A Bethesda homeowner, he earns his licing as president (newly promoted from staff vice president) of the NAHB Research Foundation, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders. His shop is next to the Maryland motor vehicle department in Rockville.
Johnson, a fellow whose body configuration indicates a respect for physical insulation, pointed out that most homeowners or tenants can decrease their fuel bills, other than for electric heat with heat pumps, by 3 per cent for each degree that the thermostat is turned down over a 24-hour period.
"And if you turn it down 10 degrees at night for eight hours, you can probably save 10 per cent on your fuel bill," he added. The advice does not hold for electric heating with heat pump, where there are unusual conditions.
He also advocates closing off rooms that are unused. "Close the heat vents in a room that you are not using and shut the door tight," he advised.
And while winter is a difficult time to do caulking around windows, joints and crevices, it is the time to note them so proper recaulking can be done before another heating season rolls around.
"If your attic floor is not well insulated, you should consider so doing and also get an estimate on having insulation blown into your walls. If the house is more than five years old, it's likely a candidate for new insulation," Johnson said.
Meanwhile, he added, homeowners should shoot to have more than an R-19 (the thermal resistance) factor of insulation on the attic floor. "Don't think in terms of inches but in terms of the R factor. The higher the better, up to a maximum R-38. We put the NAHB Research label on insulation products that we have tested," he said.
What are home builders doing to make new dwellings more responsive to the higher cossive to the higher costs of electricity, oil, and gas?
All of the builders are trying to reduce air infiltration into their homes by using a mastic or sill sealer at the top of the foundation wall under the sill plate that anchors the structure," said Johnson. "And there is greater use of double-glass windows and doors. Also, heat pumps are being installed to reduce electric heating bills and some builders are using air conditioning units with higher energy efficiency ratios. They are also using heavier insulation in side walls and special foam plasticsheathing outside the rough walls and special foam plastic sheathing outside the roughwalls."
In recent years, some area builders - notably the Ryan and Ryland firms in the volume home construction business, have provided insulation exhibits at their models to inform prospective buyers about energy conservation construction methods and materials.And almost all builders khave doubled the batt insulation between studs of walls since electric heat has become widespread.
Additionally, many new homes now have metal front doors filled with insulation and seals at the edges to provide an almost air-tight-fit.
When a house is built on a slab (without a basement), impregnated felt or styrofoam is placed under the floors to provide more warmth.
The higher acosts of energy used to heat and cool houses and the long spell of winter weather have combined to increase kthe business of area insulating companies. But Carol V. Davenport, president of an insulation firm in Springfield, Va., and Cellin Manufacturing, which produces cellulose fiber (from recycled newspapers) at a plant in Lorton, Va., said that the frigid weather has had little influence a fairly booming on business in recent weeks.
"I just got off a dynamite letter to President Carter," said Davenport. "I pointed out that homeowners are not really responding to the energy crisis and that government should lead the way by adding insulation to its structures. For instance, some of our schools are like sieves. It's my business to create and apply insulation and it's a competitive business. But both builders and home owners could be more aware of possible savings with more insulation."
Davenport lauded the program of the Washington Gas Light Co. under which customers can add insulation to their homes and have the cost prorated on their monthly utility bills. Davenport estimated that the usual job of home reinsulation averages between $300 and $500.
Meanwhile, another weather-related innovation occurred last week at a Montgomery County site. CKC Associates, Inc., of Gaithersburg, which does custom home construction, began the first installation of what they said was the first all-wood foundation in the county. It support a contemporary house that the firm of young builders is constructing on Carteret Road in Burning Tree Estates.
James Chiavelli, who works with his brother Steven and Charles Kerr in the firm, said they needed special clearance from the county to put in the foundation.
"We use pressure-treated plywood and studs for the foundation, which can be placed in cold weather when it is impractical to lay blocks or pour concrete," he said.
The foundation comes from Barnes Lumber in Charlottesville, Va., and is FHA-VA approved, Chiavelli said.
Placed on a bed of gravel 6 inches deep, four men can bolt and nail the 25 panels in a day.
The concrete basement floor will be laid later when the weather warms up.
The wood studs and basement walls also enable the basement to be insulated easier than when a block wall is used, Chiavelli said.
Incidently, the NAHB Research Foundation did some of the early testing of all wood foundations at the Rockville lab. Shortly
The high cost of heating homes prompted Potomac resident Stanley Cotton, who runs an advertising agency in his home and also does free lance writing, to speculate that middle-aged,pre-retirement couples with large homes may have to seek out "new plans and goals concerning their future housing. Appallingly, the biggest waste of heating energy is in large homes occupied by one or two persons." In a nutshell, and probably because he's been thinking about doing it, Cotton advises empty-nesters to consider selling large houses and moving to something smaller - a condominium townhouse or apartment. He also suggests that the middle-aged couples bargain with the lender who has their likely low-interest mortgage on the present house to get a better shake on a new mortgage on a condominium dwelling. And also he suggests bargaining with the seller of condominiums because there's some overbuilding in that market. In some cases, however, the prices have already been lowered on some repossessed condo developments in this area.
Sales agent Jean Jonnard, of the Shannon & Luchs office in Tysons Corner, handled the transaction in which incoming Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) bought a $155,000 range new colonial in Peacock Station in the McLean area. Mrs. Jonnard got the tip on the sale from boss Kenneth J. Luchs, who knew Lugar from earlier real estate and college contacts. The senator was so pleased with the service of the agent that the Lugars treated the Jonnards and Luchs and his wife to dinner.
Other really transactions that have gone to record recently include Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D.N.Y.) and Mrs. Moynihan buying a Capitol Hill residence for $156,500 from M. Beigue and others. Riggs National Bank placed a $116,500 mortgage on the property . . . And Hamilton Jordan of the President Carter staff bought another Capitol Hill house for $93,500, from L'Esperance, a general partnership. Perpetual Federal S&L placed a $74,800 mortgage . . . And veteran advertising executive Henry J. Kaufman sold the office building at 1050 31st St. NW. in georgetown for $1.9 million to Riggs National Bank as trustee for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
Sarah Garretson, a resident of Reston and an agent with the Wellborn Co. there, has a printing machine attached to the telephone in her home. "It was given to me by my brother-in-law, who is deaf, to enable us to communicate with him and also with any potential real estate buyers or sellers who are deaf," she said. Her relative, Dr.Marvin Garretson of Silver Spring, is president of the National Association of the Deaf and dean of pre-college studies at Gallaudet College. He uses the device similar to telegraph and telex machines, to communicate with his relatives and deaf friends who also have them.
Developer Marshalll Coyne is preparing to start a $8.5 million, 12-story office building at the northeast corner of 19th and L streets NW. The Weihe Black Jeffries and Strassman architectural firm is designing the reinforced concrete structure, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 1978. Another new office building on the northwest corner of the intersection has been started by Donohoe Construction for developers Thomas,Raymond and James Brown. And the same Weihe et al firm is architect. Both sites formerly were parking lots!
Is this a sign of the times? When a group of Silver Spring neighbors got together recently to mark the birthday of one of the group, the conversational topics started with a comparison of recent gas and electric bills! Then came property reassessments and then the current prices of houses being resold in the area. From there the conversation went downhill.