I've got a unique situation regarding heating/cooling in my parents home.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jc0481, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    My parents currently own a 3,204 square foot house with 6 bedrooms and 3 baths. The house was built in 1978 and its a rambler type house. I am staying with them right now until I get my own place with a roommate again. I recently got laid off from a company that laid off 400 of us.
    My sister has been living with my parents basement with her husband and their 18 month old daughter. They have lived in my parents basement for about a year and a half. They plan on saving money to put a good down payment on their new house. They moved from L.A. to Utah. Because they want a better place to raise a family and they picked Utah in case you are wondering. My parents recently put their old cabinets and converted a wet bar in the basement into a full-blown kitchen for my sister's family.

    Here lies the problem. The basement is always a few degrees cooler than the upstairs. I would say give or take 5-10 degrees cooler. In the winter my parents have it set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit all around the house. My sister and her family are not yet used to the cold weather so they bought portable electric heaters. I think they have about 4 of them. I think one is run constantly in the bathroom. I think they turn it off during the day. The others are in the family room when they watch tv and the rest in the bedrooms. I know one is run constantly but not 24/7 in my niece's bedroom. They don't want her to get cold is their reasoning.

    My parents have a central air conditioning system. I am not sure how cold they set it in the house. My brother-in-law went around his part of the basement and put some strong clear tape on some of the vents. He told me the air coming through the vents is too cold. That's why he puts the tape. I asked him why don't you close the vents then? He says they are already closed but still cold air comes in. That's why the need for clear masking tape. So for a happy medium they also open the windows. One in the family room, kitchen and bathroom. I know this because the washer/dryer is in the basement and when they are not there I look around and see all these open windows.

    This bothers me because my father is a retired engineer and my mom has one more year until she retires from being a First Grade teacher. I would like to see them with lower heating and cooling bills. I remember my father showing a $500 dollar electricity bill. No joke. I haven't stayed their long enough to see how it is in the summer and the cost of the bills. I know they want to go on more trips to visit family and friends but utilities bills like these. They can't do it.

    In regards to the air conditioning system I think having the windows open in the basement and the air conditioning coming on. Will only make the air conditioner work harder than it should be. Is their anything my parents can do to lower their heating and cooling bills without kicking my sister and her family out of the home? :)

    I know they want to get new windows they have 10 windows. Should I purchase them a higher end electronic thermostat that can heat or cool two different temperatures for either the downstairs or upstairs? I am not sure if one exists for that. Never looked into it.

    Any good ideas on how my parents and my sister's family can all live comfortably in the home? I hope someone can help out. I would be grateful and I know my parents will too.

  2. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Surely if the house has six bedrooms the arrangements can be sorted so that everyone lives upstairs?
  3. ButtUglyJeff macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2008
    New York. The state, not the toilet.
    If the furnace is in the basement, then heat vents should be easily installed.

    Your problem is, the thermostat is upstairs, so when it's warm upstairs, the furnace is off and the basement stays cold.

    With all these "extra" rooms, what is going on with them? Could they be shut down? Seal them off, and close the vents. This might encourage more heat to go to your sister and brother in-law.

    Either way you wouldn't want then too comfortable, or they miht never move out.;)
  4. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    Why is the air conditioner coming on? If the thermostat is set on "heat", then it shouldn't. The air conditioner is going to use the same vents as the heating system. there will not be separate heat an cool runs throughout the house. NO, you cannot get a thermostat that will set different temps in different parts of the house. You need more than just a wall mounted device. Call a heating expert. The heaters in the basement should be on timers. No need to heat when no one is around. The basement is ALWAYS going to be cooler. Just the nature of basements.

    There has to be more you're not telling us. Why would the windows be open as a happy medium Doesn't make sense.

    As for the costs involved, I hope your sister and her husband are paying rent and a share of the costs. I appreciate the need to save and buy their own, but they are spending your parents' retirement. Like I said, call a heating expert. It can't hurt, and it can only help...
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Ask around the neighbourhood, or your parent's friends, and get a recommendation for a good HVAC (heating and cooling engineer). You have a good intentions, and want to do right by your family. Any advice you get from here will only be hot air (pun intended :D ). We don't know enough about your folk's system to make any kind of informed opinions. Get an expert. If any work is recommended, get 3 quotes from contractors, and generally - don't pick the lowest price.

    There may be some government money to help retrofit the house to save energy.
  6. jc0481 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    Wow good and quick advice

    I appreciate your quick feedback. Mac users are generally very helpful not sure why. :D

    In response to Queso. We can't all fit up stairs. Their are 3 bedrooms upstairs and the 3 bedrooms downstairs. You guys are right I should call a Heating and Cooling expert. I was just hoping by chance that someone would respond to my concerns that is already a HVAC expert. I will call this week and see if they can come by the house.

    Also all the rooms are being used up at the moment. My bedroom, my parents bedroom with an office upstairs. Downstairs my niece's bedroom, my sister and her husband bedroom and a play room/office for my niece.

    I can't remember what they are paying to my parents. But they do pay rent every month. What I mean by "Happy Medium" is that my sister and my brother in law are happier with a breeze from an open window than the cold air from the vents. Which puts extra strain on the air conditioning system.

    But I will call 4 or 5 different HVAC companies tomorrow and see what they tell me. I will explain my situation to them and see if they can come up with a solution. I know they will. Funny comment about the comments being "hot air". :D


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