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What do you wish your home had, and what do you love in your home?

 
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Travis Johnson wrote:
GREEN SWITCH! (Not yelling at you though, just excited to share this with you)



I LOVE THIS IDEA! (Also not yelling! :-) )
 
Erica Colmenares
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J Anders wrote:On Garages

I do NOT like attached garages.



I appreciate this sentiment. We've never had an attached garage. I believe a couple folks in this same discussion listed it as a "must have," which got us thinking about it. My husband is definitely in favor of an attached garage. But I'll keep this in mind.

I'll be back after dinner to respond to you other very thoughtful and helpful post. Lots to think about!
 
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Erica Colmenares wrote:

J Anders wrote:On Garages

I do NOT like attached garages.



I appreciate this sentiment. We've never had an attached garage. I believe a couple folks in this same discussion listed it as a "must have," which got us thinking about it. My husband is definitely in favor of an attached garage. But I'll keep this in mind.

I'll be back after dinner to respond to you other very thoughtful and helpful post. Lots to think about!



I have lived in a house with an attached garage for over 7 years and while it was a beautiful attached garage, didn't even have a direct connection to the house- there was an attached porch that one had to walk through to get to the house proper, I NEVER quite felt as comfortable doing garage things in the garage because it only took one mistake and I'll burn the house down too. I also felt like I needed to keep it cleaner than I otherwise would have cared about if it was detached. You will have to decide for yourself if you want a room to park a car, or an actual garage to do actual garage things. Drive through any modern suburb and look inside the garages. You'll see that 99% of them are just rooms to park cars... hardly anyone uses them for actual garage things. Take a look at 99% of detached garages- you'll find them being used for actual garage things. One recent example is I went garage saling a few weeks ago in a town nearby and saw a couple of detached garages. One of them even had a car hoist inside and the other one the guy had decorated it with Harley Davidson. For some reason I have never seen an attached garage that was done up like that. A detached garage makes a GREAT mancave, an attached garage makes a good room to park a car.  A detatched garage can always be added onto, expanded, raised, or what ever you want to do. An attached garage can't be rationally changed without changing the house.

 
Erica Colmenares
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I learned a lot from your post. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

J Anders wrote:
CELLARS
In my opinion- a basement should be just that- a basement. In my work as a handyman- I have seen about a thousand finished basements. And they all have water, mold, or paint issues. The best basements I have ever seen are always those that have never been finished nor painted.


I love the idea of having the basement unfinished. I think we will definitely pipe in for a (future) bathroom, but perhaps we'll wait on doing any framing. With a nice smooth concrete floor, it will work for the things that are most important - my husband's treadmill and a place to spread out an ongoing project.

I highly recommend using fiber cement siding

If that's the same as Hardie board, I think that's what we'd go with. Our last house was painted cedar, and we always wished that the prior owners hadn't painted it.

BUILDING
With all the experience that I have- I would NOT want to hire a general contractor- I would rather act as my own GC. Maybe you can find someone that you can trust to take care of all of these little details.


I wish we could get away with not having a GC. Much of the design and pre-build will be happening while we live across the country. I will be staying with a neighbor during the nine-months (I hope) of the build, but even so, I don't think I could juggle subcontractors and such. My hope is to find a responsible and experienced GC. I guess that's everyone's hope!


I would rather live in a remodeled older house than a brand new house because of all the new plywood and chipboard that will off-gas- you don't know where all that stuff came from- could be from China as they had a big scandal with some of that stuff a few years ago.

I completely agree! Unfortunately, the only "modern" house that's been on the property was built in the 1880s and is no longer standing.

Having a gambrel roof with steel roofing would be ideal if you want a second story and some style. Just think about all the different angles- the fewer "faces" you have to do on your roof and the fewer hips and valleys the better off you are in the long run.


I'm not sure what you'd call the roof on this plan, but I know it's all over the place in Tennessee. I'll attach a photo. We'd go for metal if we can. What do you think?
Aug2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Aug2.jpg]
 
J Anders
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in no particular order, here are my replies without quoting. Hope you can follow. :)

that'd be a full gable roof... simple enough to deal with without the attached garage. Google roof styles and you can see what I'm talking about. Every joint makes it more complicated and gives you more potential for leaks. Valleys are the worst IMHO.

I am not against putting in a bathroom in a basement, actually I have one in my basement, just don't have walls around it right now. They were all rotten so I took them out and replaced the toilet.  When I do put walls up I will use cement block and also put in a cement block shower. If I don't do cement block to the ceiling, I will at least do two courses of block and then do the bottom sill with green treated and then normal lumber on up. Anywhere you have wood contacting cement that could get damp it's a good idea to use green treated- as well as putting a shingle under each stud to transfer the load and keep the majority of the green treated off the floor. That way, if my basement gets a foot of water in it, it won't be the end of the world. You'll have to decide for yourself how high you want to go. You can either use plywood with exposed screws which would make it easy to take off the wall if it ever got wet and paint or use greenboard which is bathroom drywall. Shingles under the green treated is a trick I use when remodeling in basements with a history of water issues. Can save the walls in the future as water can flow under the walls to the drains.

You can also consider specifying plywood everywhere in the house rather than chipboard. A smaller house with better quality materials will be better in the long run, however, it's hard to keep on top of people who are doing things for the "lowest bid".

Hardie board and fiber cement are the same thing.

I'm not particularly sure how you'd interview contractors... but I imagine just find someone who you feel comfortable with and is more than happy to answer your questions. I would NOT get someone who does free estimates. I can't stay in business if I provided free estimates for building a house. It takes 2-3 days to properly bid a house, and $200-1000 for a bid is not something I'd balk at. If someone offers a free estimate ask them how they can afford to stay in business offering free estimates!!! If it's a "free" estimate you bet you're paying plenty extra for that "free" estimate in the final bid.

I would definitely ask if they build energy efficient houses. Ask them how do they know their houses are energy efficient? Do they ever mention doing blower door tests? Thermal cameras? If they can give you a fairly technical explanation of how they make their house energy efficient then they're likely to actually pay attention to it. If they just say of course they build energy efficient houses, then they probably don't know shit. Also... a contractor who has the ability to do everything from the foundation to the roof may be more likely to have good quality control as compared to a contractor who subs everything out to other people. How long have they been in business? I've never built a house from sticks myself, but as you can see, I have a good idea of what I'm talking about and would have no problem building a house from the mud plates up for someone if I put together a crew. BUT- you don't want to go with someone who doesn't seem to have a clue either. (I don't groove on doing foundations myself!) Another important detail is to find out how many houses the GC is building at one time and how often he'll be on the job site. If he's building 10 houses at the same time but has 5 crews, that might be alright- just watch out for obvious discrepancies in the crew size and the number of houses. You don't need to hire someone who's building 10 3,000 square foot houses this year with 1 crew of 5 guys. Not real likely that your house is going to get much attention at that rate. As you talk to different GC you'll get a feel of who is busy and who is too busy.



 
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Myself, I would never live in a house without a slab for a foundation. We have one in our current house and love it: cool in the summer, warm in the winter, no drafts, no radon gas , no shifting of the house in winter, no cracks in the sheetrock, and no expensive hole in the earth that absorbs water, floods in the spring and rots and mildews anything put in it. Just add a little space to the building and put in a utility room. Today boilers and water heaters are so small and efficient that they can be put into a single room and no expensive $8000 foundation has to be made.

Another trend I see that is misguided is using passive solar gain. A search on the internet will show that controllers and low consumption motors makes active solar collection a lot more beneficial. Instead of expensive glazing in just the right places of a house that is hard to inactively control. Just put up a solar array out where it is ideal to capture it, and bring that heat into the home mechanically. The systems are efficient because they work well when they are lit up by the sun, and are shut down when its not. In the mean time, insulation keeps the heat gleaned inside the home instead of glazing leaking it back out. It also allows the house to be oriented and laid out room wise in a much more forgiving manner.

Think boring. Almost everyone gets excited about building new systems, but the reality is, conservation is a much better return for the buck. My current house has limited windows and gobs of insulation. The best window made has an R value of about 5: my walls are well over 20...doing the math proves my point. A Green switch is another example, a much better option then spending $27,000 on a windmill to try and make power. That is because it takes money to make money, but when you save money by conservation, it goes 100% right back into your pocket. I have known people who go out and buy expensive heating systems when instead they should have bought better windows and doors, added insulation instead of wasting money on a bigger boiler that a smaller system would have provided. New systems are cool sounding, better windows, doors and insulation is boring though. Picture your house turned upside down, it filled with water and then imagine a way to plug every hole, that is how you make an efficient home.

If you have young kids, put in loft beds. We have 12 x 16 bedrooms, but our kids have loft beds so that we can put desks and toys underneath their beds. It makes a lot more room.
 
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I think the issue of cars catching fire in garages is overblown.
But a separation of the roof line may make you feel more comfortable about it.
I think there is merit in attached garages, particularly in the North American climate.
 
Erica Colmenares
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Travis Johnson wrote:

Think boring. Almost everyone gets excited about building new systems, but the reality is, conservation is a much better return for the buck.


I appreciate that reminder. It's easy to see the shiny thing and get distracted from the real goals - energy and $ conservation!

John C Daley wrote:
I think there is merit in attached garages, particularly in the North American climate.


I think we're sticking with an attached garage, but I do think we'll want to figure out a simpler roof.

Thanks, all, for the additional input!
 
J Anders
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John C Daley wrote:I think the issue of cars catching fire in garages is overblown.
But a separation of the roof line may make you feel more comfortable about it.
I think there is merit in attached garages, particularly in the North American climate.



Cars catching fire in garages is the least of it. It's the day to day crap. Auto exhaust in the garage. Warm up the car? The house gets full of fumes. If your garage is like 99% of garages and you open the garage door and then start the car the fumes rise to the ceiling and right into the house- because the door to the house is higher than the garage door is. If you want someplace to paint something... fumes get right in the house. Like I said in my earlier post... do you want a "room to park a car" or a actual garage that's useful for garage things. A breezeway provides a perfectly valid solution if you must have an attached garage as there are normally 2 doors so a bare minimum of the nasty stuff gets into the house. That's basically what I lived with for 7 years, garage had a storm door onto the front porch and then there was a steel door going into the house plus another door beyond the coatroom- and I said never again. My wife said the same thing.

I've been in many rich people's houses, all of my relatives have attached garages with 1 door to the house. My grandparents even have an attached garage which is in the basement of their home and my grandmother's bedroom is on top of that garage. What happens when grandpa forgets to turn off the car? They'll both be dead. They had a good friend who had an attached garage and forgot to turn off the car and he ended up dead. Problems with attached garages happen far more often than people think.

As a handyman and general contractor I would never recommend that someone build a house with an attached garage even though city codes in many places basically make it a requirement.  What happens when cars are so advanced they have a cell phone connection  (onstar, anyone?) and someone hacks the car and starts it while you're sleeping? You're dead.

Lets just say that I know way too much about this issue.

Now this isn't aimed at the OP at all. Do what you want. This is a FYI for anyone else who might look at this thread at large.
 
J Anders
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Travis Johnson wrote:Myself, I would never live in a house without a slab for a foundation. We have one in our current house and love it: cool in the summer, warm in the winter, no drafts, no radon gas , no shifting of the house in winter, no cracks in the sheetrock, and no expensive hole in the earth that absorbs water, floods in the spring and rots and mildews anything put in it. Just add a little space to the building and put in a utility room. Today boilers and water heaters are so small and efficient that they can be put into a single room and no expensive $8000 foundation has to be made.  



What do you have for plumbing access under the floor? That's the only issue I have with slab foundations otherwise they are wonderful. It's terribly expensive to relocate or redo any kind of plumbing. Do you have a storm cellar as well?

Another trend I see that is misguided is using passive solar gain. A search on the internet will show that controllers and low consumption motors makes active solar collection a lot more beneficial. Instead of expensive glazing in just the right places of a house that is hard to inactively control. Just put up a solar array out where it is ideal to capture it, and bring that heat into the home mechanically. The systems are efficient because they work well when they are lit up by the sun, and are shut down when its not. In the mean time, insulation keeps the heat gleaned inside the home instead of glazing leaking it back out. It also allows the house to be oriented and laid out room wise in a much more forgiving manner.



I would have to respectfully disagree on the expensive glazing in just the right places of a house that is hard to inactively control. Yes, it takes some serious research and design skills to figure out what works, but work it certainly does. If you really want to KISS then build an attached greenhouse and put in a fan with a mechanical thermostat. If you really really want to KISS... then plant some trees that lose their leaves in the winter on the south side of the house.

Think boring. Almost everyone gets excited about building new systems, but the reality is, conservation is a much better return for the buck. My current house has limited windows and gobs of insulation. The best window made has an R value of about 5: my walls are well over 20...doing the math proves my point. A Green switch is another example, a much better option then spending $27,000 on a windmill to try and make power. That is because it takes money to make money, but when you save money by conservation, it goes 100% right back into your pocket. I have known people who go out and buy expensive heating systems when instead they should have bought better windows and doors, added insulation instead of wasting money on a bigger boiler that a smaller system would have provided. New systems are cool sounding, better windows, doors and insulation is boring though. Picture your house turned upside down, it filled with water and then imagine a way to plug every hole, that is how you make an efficient home.  



Good points all. If these people in the 3rd world can be perfectly happy in a mud hut and a masonry stove, why are we making it so complicated?

If you have young kids, put in loft beds. We have 12 x 16 bedrooms, but our kids have loft beds so that we can put desks and toys underneath their beds. It makes a lot more room.



My conditioned space (bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, 576^2) is only 3x that size. I grew up in a 8x10 bedroom... less than 1/2 that size. When I remodel my house into a 2 bedroom I'll end up with the 2nd bedroom smaller than that. You guys must be really high on the hog. (wink) Then again my taxes are only $225/yr. Perspective, perspective. If I ever built a 3 bedroom house it would be less than 1000 square feet.  The book Compact Cabins is full of inspiration.



24x36 house

Here's a sample plan for what I'm talking about. The covered deck of course makes the roof far bigger than it needs to be but this IS 3 bedrooms in 852 square feet.

[rant ! ]

What I will never understand is why people don't grasp the concept that the whole reason why the authorities want you to have an attached garage and a zillion square feet is because the taxing authorities can call it a larger home because you have more square footage under the same roof, thereby converting your 876 square foot house into a 1500 square foot house, which everyone think is a gold mine and value it at least 25% more than a similar house with a detached garage.

Have you ever looked into the tax rate on various properties.... a property with a 2 bedroom house, lets say 750 square feet and a detached garage with an office that's 1250 square feet will be valued/taxed about half the rate as the exact same property as a 2,000^2 house with attached garage, even though they are literally and figuratively the exact same thing to the homeowner. Heck, the detached garage can have a sink and toilet and it still doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. But put that bathtub/shower combination into the garage with a room that has a "closet" and all of a sudden you have another "dwelling unit" on the property and your taxes skyrocket.

People don't put a whole lot of thought into playing the game so they can save money down the road. My step dad has a nice house that's about 1000 square feet altogether- a kitchen the size of a two car garage- three spaces that work just fine for sleeping, has 3 beds in the place... but you know what? He still pays taxes on it as a 1 bedroom and it's only $300 a year. One acre in the country at that. Why? you might ask- the two extra bedrooms are a loft room and another room with a non-conforming closet. So technically it's an office.

But, of course, God forbid you take a 3 bedroom house and turn it into a 1 bedroom house. The powers that be will throw a serious fit and you'll probably spend 3 years fighting them to get your taxes in line with what you remodeled. Of course, if you appeal the assessment when the house looks like crap and you have PROOF that you just paid $10K for the place, they have absolutely no room to wiggle on saying that the place is worth $50K when it's obviously a $10K fixer upper.

If you REALLY want to screw with the powers that be- build a geodesic dome house, underground house, or a straw bale house in a county where they have never had something like that before. You might fight them to get the permits, but they will NOT have any other "comparable" to value the place at and consequently it will end up with a far lower valuation than you will get on a stick built in the same size.

Play the game and play it well- screw the powers that be any way you legally can. It's your money, your life, don't be a slave to the system.
 
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I'm still in favor of the attached garage.  I even weld and do small projects in my garage but I rarely set it on fire.  It all depends on what the OP wants to do with the garage.  For parking cars, storing bikes, keeping fishing gear secure, having it attached is perfect.  If you really want a shop to do heavy work in, then I'd be in favor of detaching it.  

I assume most people use garages to park cars in.  Therefore having it attached to the house is very convenient.  One garage door opener click and you're into the house.  No need to unlock a house door with groceries in hand.  I don't believe most manufacturers recommend "warming up" cars anymore so there isn't much need for exhaust fumes.  Plus the garage should not be connected to the house vapor-wise anyway.  If you leave the door open while doing dangerous fumey things then it's your own fault.

J Anders wrote:What I will never understand is why people don't grasp the concept that the whole reason why the authorities want you to have an attached garage and a zillion square feet is because the taxing authorities can call it a larger home because you have more square footage under the same roof, thereby converting your 876 square foot house into a 1500 square foot house, which everyone think is a gold mine and value it at least 25% more than a similar house with a detached garage.


While that could certainly be true in many areas, in my jurisdiction I believe they only care about habitable space so unfinished basements and garages don't count towards my taxable square footage.
 
J Anders
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While that could certainly be true in many areas, in my jurisdiction I believe they only care about habitable space so unfinished basements and garages don't count towards my taxable square footage.



http://records.co.price.wi.us/Access/master.asp?paprpid=25697
http://records.co.price.wi.us/Access/master.asp?paprpid=25696
http://pricecowi.wgxtreme.com/

Just for kicks, I thought I'd pull up a random county in N Wis and check out their GIS. I ended up in Price County, WI and the city of Phillips. These two houses are next door to each other, at 135 and 145 Fifield St.  Surprisingly, many of the houses I clicked on in town are valued at close to the same values. Whole neighborhoods all have a value between 45-55K. However, I happened to come across these two. This is obviously the exception because one house is worth 50K and the other is worth 100K. Dig a bit deeper and I figured out that the 100K house is a newer home that was recently sold for $125K. I can't even figure out the square footage of either house from any of the records, which is on all of the GIS records here in Iowa. Of course, one has an attached garage and one has a detached garage. In your case, if you were to build a home in that area, I'd go look at recent sales and see what kind of houses have sold for lower prices. Two bedroom houses with detached garages selling cheaper? Then build one and when the county tries to value it 50% higher than all the other two bedroom houses with detached garages that are selling because it's a new house... then you go back and tell them that is bull crap and is NOT fair to you.

Every area has their quirks and you just have to learn how to work within them. My house that I lived in for 6 years- this year the taxes there are $826 on a house valued at $36k (I sold it 4 yrs ago for $19k-at the time it had a assessor value of ~$30k so it shouldn't be that high-assessor won't lower values without a fight)  and the neighbors taxes are $1172 on a house valued at $67k a year all because my house hadn't been remodeled in decades and his house was recently remodeled. The funny part about it? They were literally mirrors when they were built- one house pointed south, the other house pointed north and both had 2 car attached garages and 1 car detached garages on the lot, along with the same size lots.

I remember paying $300 and my neighbor was paying close to $1000 back in 2005-2006. I moved out of there because I was tired of the taxes going up and up every year. For some reason I think I remember seeing that neighbor's house valued at $125k by the assessor at one time- he was not happy that my house was so ugly but I wasn't about to start making it look pretty and start paying more taxes.
 
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I love a lot of the suggestions here. Green switch, wow, why didn't I do that?!

I have lived in passively solar heated houses for about 25 years in a climate much more extreme than yours , and I am really happy with it. I've seen that people often say they are going to build solar but then compromise and end up either cold or overheating.

The rooms that have exactly south facing windows with eaves above them will be warm in winter and cool in summer. About 10 degrees east or west of exact south,  and you start getting uncomfortable overheating in summer and fall. The screened porch should be on the east or west, to prevent overheating the house in summer, but should not be on the south where it will just prevent the sun's warmth in winter. I just built a passive solar heated house based on others I've seen here, and in July there was no sun coming in the south facing windows at all.

That's the magic of South facing windows, but it doesn't work if they are not really South facing. South facing windows with just the right amount of overhang get NO  sun in summer but excellent sun in winter. E and W  facing windows get long hours of morning and evening sun in summer when you don't want it, and they get shorter hours of sun in winter. N facing surfaces actually get a little morning and evening sun in summer but none at all in winter. So minimize windows on e, w and n, and have all the rooms that you want to keep warm on the south.  But true South.  I designed my house to have closets, corridors, stairs, pantry, and composting toilet room on the north as a thermal buffer, and all the rooms I expect to spend much time in on the south: kitchen, sitting room, bedrooms, and bathing bathroom.

Deciduous trees on the south side is not a good idea, as those bare branches really do throw chilly dappled shade in winter. However they are great for the E, W, and N sides of the house to reduce summer overheating, and those sides get little or no solar gain in winter anyway.

Passive solar requires that most of your windows face south, but don't make those windows too big,  or in autumn the room may be a solar oven. In our climate, about 40 to 50 percent of the south facing wall is a good amount of glazing. Passive solar heating and cooling also requires some thermal mass to hold the heat and coolth overnight and longer.

In Tennessee your heat needs aren't extreme,  so passive solar can probably provide it all. I have a much longer heating season but I expect the solar to be good enough most of the time, so I considered installing electric cable radiant heating in the floor as my only backup heat. It's much cheaper to install than hydronic radiant floor (tubes of liquid), but is more expensive to run if electric heat is more expensive than other forms of energy,  as it is in the US. But if the backup heat will only be needed for a cloudy week or two of evenings I thought it would be much simpler to install and maintain. But in the end we couldn't find reliable quality heating cables in India,  so I didn't install any back up heat, and I'll just use portable heaters. I lived without backup heat, only passive solar, for 20+ years so I think it'll be okay.

I did cluster the plumbing. I don't know if that's important but it seems good.

Actually my house is heated by a seasonally attached greenhouse, so I can grow leafy greens and flowers all winter. I love this system and have lived with it at our school all these years, though some of the other buildings at the school have trombe wall or direct gain. They all have pro and cons but I like the winter garden best.

 
J Anders
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Rebecca Norman wrote:



Beautiful post! From someone who lives it! :)
 
Travis Johnson
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J Anders wrote:I remember paying $300 and my neighbor was paying close to $1000 back in 2005-2006. I moved out of there because I was tired of the taxes going up and up every year. For some reason I think I remember seeing that neighbor's house valued at $125k by the assessor at one time- he was not happy that my house was so ugly but I wasn't about to start making it look pretty and start paying more taxes.



I am not exactly sure that is the best bang for a person’s buck. First, I find staying under the radar is a lot better than blatantly looking like I am trying to avoid paying taxes. I say that for a host of reasons.

The first is that by your own admission you only saved yourself $700, but for some of us, such a trivial amount in property taxes would not justify the animosity it would generate by having my wife and kids live in a house they were embarrassed of. It depends upon the spouse of course, and kids need to learn fiscal responsibility at an early age, but even by crunching the numbers, the ideology cited is flawed.

Instead of living in a nice house wrapped up as a tar paper shack, why not invest in siding and then take that investment and deduct it from your income taxes? It would be like me telling you, “hey give me $700 (the difference in the price of property taxes from your home to your neighbors), and I will give you $3,000 in return (the cost of the siding). I will spend $700 to make $2,300 profit any day! And don’t forget, whether it is $300 or $1000, property taxes can be deducted from your income taxes as well!

But it gets better. Because the house looks nice, and a homes value is based upon what another person would pay for it, getting its resale value up means a person’s net worth is a lot higher. Paul Wheaton did an excellent write up regarding Girt that explained how having a low debt-to-net worth ratio paid immense dividends.

But it even gets better than that because under current tax laws a person can sell their primary residence every 5 years tax free.

In recap, it is one sweet deal! A person has a nice home, their spouse and kids are content with their abode, money gets taken off their income taxes every year, they have a higher net worth overall, there is great leverage due to the increased collateral, they can later sell the place tax free, all for paying a measly $700 in increased property taxes.

By the way: If I lived in a town where the millage rate was only 8 I would probably stay there for life.
 
Travis Johnson
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I love a lot of the suggestions here. Green switch, wow, why didn't I do that?!



Ha...I can say the same thing with the utmost humility and grace, why did I not build passive solar?

If you LIVE in a passive solar house and say it is well worth doing, then I must concede the point. I have only been in houses with passive solar heat and they seemed cold when the sun was not shining, and too hot when it was. BUT I am not sure if enough proper research went into it before they were built either.
 
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I wish we had, a barn, a sauna, heated floors, high-quality windows and doors and a better set-up for a wood burning stove.

We like to cook.  I wish our appliances were gas and not electric.
 
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I was one of the ones who wants an attached garage, and it's not for parking a car in. Maybe in colder regions it's more normal to park a car in the garage, but around here almost no one does. Pretty much only, if it's a very expensive car or you are going on a long vacation. Garages are not counted towards living space here. My current attached garage is a one car garage, so not large, but it's where I have the washer/dryer, and start my seeds, and store large kitchen stuff, canning pots, steam juicer, etc. Making room for the kitchen stuff in the kitchen would require a much larger kitchen. I would never want a washer in my house, this is the one appliance I have had leakage/flooding problems with often. And with my current set-up, washer overflow flows out the side door of the garage to the side yard.

 
Mike Jay
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I love the idea of the Green Switch.  The devil's advocate in me wonders how much it would actually save.  I got a Kill-A-Watt meter for Christmas a few years ago.  I went through everything that is plugged in to determine my phantom load with hopes of saving tons of electricity.  The findings were interesting and underwhelming at the same time.  My biggest offenders were the internet router ($4.34), TV antennae ($3.28), the land line phone with answering machine ($3.19) and bedside alarm clock/radio ($1.24).  Those are costs per year at $.10/kwh.  Adding in the smaller items comes up with $18.60 per year in phantom loads.  Interestingly my 55" tv with a powerstrip uses 1 watt when it's turned off ($0.90 per year).  Note, I couldn't test built in appliances but many of them wouldn't be hooked up to a Green Switch.

Now some of these items you wouldn't want on the green switch (answering machine, router which makes the phone work, etc).  Plus the green switch would be "on" more often than it is "off".  So in my case I'm guessing that switch would save me $5.  Maybe $10 if I really try.  

What's the cost in added wiring and a new panel for the green switch?  Unless it can be a combined functionality with a transfer switch for a generator or other nifty use (I doubt) I'm guessing it would cost at least $500.  While electricity waste is not translatable into just dollars, (there's pollution and drilling and other bad side effects), the money for added wiring and a panel also has associated embodied energy costs (mining the metal, building the parts).  

So while I love the idea, you may want to do the math to see how bad your phantom loads really are before you take this path.
 
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I don't have a dog in this fight (i have no garage, I have an outdoor workroom/kitchen/laundry space where I do "garage things" and my cars are out in the wide open), but re the fumes- keyless cars that happen to be very quiet can be problematic and there have been a spate of deaths from people whose cars were so quiet that they didn't know they were still on after they parked them.  I read this
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/13/business/deadly-convenience-keyless-cars-and-their-carbon-monoxide-toll.html
a few months ago and pooh-poohed it as an "old timers vs technology" type problem, until last month I went to help my mother move. I used her keyless-start car and wouldn't you know, I managed to leave it on a few times without even knowing it. As more cars become keyless, unless they put in some kind of better safety system it is very risky. (she and her partner both park their cars outside their house, and I am relieved)
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I would never want a washer in my house, this is the one appliance I have had leakage/flooding problems with often.


Amen. Been there, done that!! I also like being able to direct the graywater to whatever I'm using it for (garden, cleaning, or even reuse of the soapy water for another cycle later).
 
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Rebecca Norman wrote:The screened porch should be on the east or west, to prevent overheating the house in summer, but should not be on the south where it will just prevent the sun's warmth in winter. I just built a passive solar heated house based on others I've seen here, and in July there was no sun coming in the south facing windows at all.


Thanks for the full post, Rebecca, especially this bit -- it makes so much sense!
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:

J Anders wrote:I remember paying $300 and my neighbor was paying close to $1000 back in 2005-2006. I moved out of there because I was tired of the taxes going up and up every year. For some reason I think I remember seeing that neighbor's house valued at $125k by the assessor at one time- he was not happy that my house was so ugly but I wasn't about to start making it look pretty and start paying more taxes.



I am not exactly sure that is the best bang for a person’s buck. First, I find staying under the radar is a lot better than blatantly looking like I am trying to avoid paying taxes. I say that for a host of reasons.

The first is that by your own admission you only saved yourself $700, but for some of us, such a trivial amount in property taxes would not justify the animosity it would generate by having my wife and kids live in a house they were embarrassed of. It depends upon the spouse of course, and kids need to learn fiscal responsibility at an early age, but even by crunching the numbers, the ideology cited is flawed.

Instead of living in a nice house wrapped up as a tar paper shack, why not invest in siding and then take that investment and deduct it from your income taxes? It would be like me telling you, “hey give me $700 (the difference in the price of property taxes from your home to your neighbors), and I will give you $3,000 in return (the cost of the siding). I will spend $700 to make $2,300 profit any day! And don’t forget, whether it is $300 or $1000, property taxes can be deducted from your income taxes as well!

But it gets better. Because the house looks nice, and a homes value is based upon what another person would pay for it, getting its resale value up means a person’s net worth is a lot higher. Paul Wheaton did an excellent write up regarding Girt that explained how having a low debt-to-net worth ratio paid immense dividends.

But it even gets better than that because under current tax laws a person can sell their primary residence every 5 years tax free.

In recap, it is one sweet deal! A person has a nice home, their spouse and kids are content with their abode, money gets taken off their income taxes every year, they have a higher net worth overall, there is great leverage due to the increased collateral, they can later sell the place tax free, all for paying a measly $700 in increased property taxes.

By the way: If I lived in a town where the millage rate was only 8 I would probably stay there for life.



I did change the situation. I moved to the next county over and bought a 1 bedroom house for $12k with 2.5 garages. Annual taxes here are less than $250 annually. The exterior is vinyl siding and the roof is pretty new. I don't have enough income to bother with deducting property taxes. When I first bought the house it had hardboard siding on it that was a good 40-50 years old and completely rotted out. Here's what my house looked like back in 2010. This wasn't much of an improvement over what I got. By the time I'd sold it I'd put fiber cement on the whole place and the new owners put another layer of shingles on the roof.

We are probably on opposite sides of the income spectrum and we both have opposite ways of looking at the world. I would think that being on a permaculture website more of us would not be defending the rat race to the extent that many of us are. What's not clear is that I live in a predominatly rural area that I love, however, income and expenses here are relatively low as well.

It's funny you mention millage rate... I haven't heard that term in years. They do that in Arkansas- down there your property taxes on 8 acres plus a cabin is $100/yr.
Old-house.jpg
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Travis Johnson wrote:

Rebecca Norman wrote:I love a lot of the suggestions here. Green switch, wow, why didn't I do that?!



Ha...I can say the same thing with the utmost humility and grace, why did I not build passive solar?

If you LIVE in a passive solar house and say it is well worth doing, then I must concede the point. I have only been in houses with passive solar heat and they seemed cold when the sun was not shining, and too hot when it was. BUT I am not sure if enough proper research went into it before they were built either.



I've been in the same kind of houses. One passive solar underground house I saw was positioned at a extreme angle EAST of due south here in Iowa- with no eaves whatsoever. I don't think they knew what the heck they were doing. Built back in the 60's and 70's- back then there weren't many resources at all for that stuff.
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I was one of the ones who wants an attached garage, and it's not for parking a car in. Maybe in colder regions it's more normal to park a car in the garage, but around here almost no one does. Pretty much only, if it's a very expensive car or you are going on a long vacation. Garages are not counted towards living space here. My current attached garage is a one car garage, so not large, but it's where I have the washer/dryer, and start my seeds, and store large kitchen stuff, canning pots, steam juicer, etc. Making room for the kitchen stuff in the kitchen would require a much larger kitchen. I would never want a washer in my house, this is the one appliance I have had leakage/flooding problems with often. And with my current set-up, washer overflow flows out the side door of the garage to the side yard.



Good points!!! I'd do the same thing if that's how it is in your area. Figure out the game and play it accordingly.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:I love the idea of the Green Switch.  The devil's advocate in me wonders how much it would actually save.  I got a Kill-A-Watt meter for Christmas a few years ago.  I went through everything that is plugged in to determine my phantom load with hopes of saving tons of electricity.  The findings were interesting and underwhelming at the same time.  My biggest offenders were the internet router ($4.34), TV antennae ($3.28), the land line phone with answering machine ($3.19) and bedside alarm clock/radio ($1.24).  Those are costs per year at $.10/kwh.  Adding in the smaller items comes up with $18.60 per year in phantom loads.  Interestingly my 55" tv with a powerstrip uses 1 watt when it's turned off ($0.90 per year).  Note, I couldn't test built in appliances but many of them wouldn't be hooked up to a Green Switch.

Now some of these items you wouldn't want on the green switch (answering machine, router which makes the phone work, etc).  Plus the green switch would be "on" more often than it is "off".  So in my case I'm guessing that switch would save me $5.  Maybe $10 if I really try.  

What's the cost in added wiring and a new panel for the green switch?  Unless it can be a combined functionality with a transfer switch for a generator or other nifty use (I doubt) I'm guessing it would cost at least $500.  While electricity waste is not translatable into just dollars, (there's pollution and drilling and other bad side effects), the money for added wiring and a panel also has associated embodied energy costs (mining the metal, building the parts).  

So while I love the idea, you may want to do the math to see how bad your phantom loads really are before you take this path.



Thank you for your input, it's good to see someone else that's done all this and did the math.

Another good (and simple) option is to wire your house with 12-3 wiring, and on every outlet, make the top outlet switched and make the bottom outlet unswitched, with a switch on the wall by the door in every room for the switched half of the circuit. I grew up in a trailer that had this setup around the living room, and while it was real confusing until I figured out what did what, it was real handy too.

I must also add- that if you are someone who is worried about EMF fields- 12-3 TWISTED wiring cancels out the EMF while 12-2 parallel wiring creates a EMF field. This will come to the forefront of awareness over the next several years as more people are sickened by EMF fields.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:I don't have a dog in this fight (i have no garage, I have an outdoor workroom/kitchen/laundry space where I do "garage things" and my cars are out in the wide open), but re the fumes- keyless cars that happen to be very quiet can be problematic and there have been a spate of deaths from people whose cars were so quiet that they didn't know they were still on after they parked them.  I read this
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/13/business/deadly-convenience-keyless-cars-and-their-carbon-monoxide-toll.html
a few months ago and pooh-poohed it as an "old timers vs technology" type problem, until last month I went to help my mother move. I used her keyless-start car and wouldn't you know, I managed to leave it on a few times without even knowing it. As more cars become keyless, unless they put in some kind of better safety system it is very risky. (she and her partner both park their cars outside their house, and I am relieved)



This is exactly what I am talking about. We drive a Prius and it's super easy to leave it on if you're not watching. And no, it has nothing to do with old timers vs technology. Easy for anyone to get out of the car in full sunlight and not notice that the speedo light is still on. I often hit the power button to park AND shut off the car- there have been times when I didn't pay close enough attention to make sure it was actually off and I opened the driver's door and the car started rolling.
 
Travis Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:I love the idea of the Green Switch.  The devil's advocate in me wonders how much it would actually save...



I am not sure how much electricity a Green Switch will save either, but it would be inherently higher than what a Kill-A-Watt would show because a Green Switch shuts down all power from the panel. That is because there would be no losses from wire resistance, big units, etc. How much that would be…I am not sure, I cannot see a reason it would NOT help. Any savings as I said, is money directly in your pocket.

But a person would definitely want to hook up the big stuff because that is what would give them peace of mind while away. The water pump CANNNOT come on. The water heater CANNOT short circuit. The oven CANNOT accidentally be left on. Outlets CANNOT malfunction and catch on fire. A rat CANNOT chew a wire and start a fire in the attic…Etc, Etc, Etc. Once the habit of flipping that switch every time the last person leaves the house takes root, there would peace of mind. Sip those drinks on the beach while on vacation without worry, only the essential items in your house have power to them.

But I wholeheartedly, but respectfully disagree with your assessment that the cost would be $500. NO WAY! You are WAY overthinking it.

All a Green Switch is, is a subpanel. That is it!

There would be more cost the farther the front door is away from the main breaker panel because a heavy cable would have to be run, but that is only $2.50 a linear foot or so. Then there is the additional breaker box, but even that is minimal. That is because the always-on-panel can be pretty small since so few circuits will be run from it. (furnace, outside lights, garage door openers, refrigerator, freezer), a 5 or 10 circuit panel would be enough.

The Green Switch itself is, as I said, is just a subpanel. Since a home would have to have a circuit breaker panel anyway, that is not an extra cost. The house has the same number and sizes of circuits, with a Green Switch incorporated they are just divided between a main panel that is always on, and the one controlled by the green switch. No one would want a big, unsightly transfer switch by their most often used door, so the main breaker for the panel would do the same job. Just flip that every time the last person leaves. If the constant on/off wears the breaker out, just replace it with a new one every few years. $10…no big deal.

In the house I am currently wiring (I am putting in the Green Switch today), the cost would be $40, but I already have a spare subpanel, and the heavy wire to run between the two panels (4 feet). By swapping out circuit breakers as needed, I do not even need to buy one of them. The cost of putting in a Green Switch for me is $0, but if a person did have to buy the parts, it really is cheap.

$20: Small always-on main panel
$10: 100 amp breaker in the always-on-subpanel to power the Green Switch subpanel
$20: Wire (varies on distance from main panel area to most often used door

Of course I am assuming everyone is doing their own work and not hiring a master electrician.
 
Travis Johnson
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J Anders wrote:Another good (and simple) option is to wire your house with 12-3 wiring, and on every outlet, make the top outlet switched and make the bottom outlet unswitched, with a switch on the wall by the door in every room for the switched half of the circuit. I grew up in a trailer that had this setup around the living room, and while it was real confusing until I figured out what did what, it was real handy too.

I must also add- that if you are someone who is worried about EMF fields- 12-3 TWISTED wiring cancels out the EMF while 12-2 parallel wiring creates a EMF field. This will come to the forefront of awareness over the next several years as more people are sickened by EMF fields.



This is VERY sound advice. My houses are always wired with 12 AWG because if a circuit constantly trips, or things get swapped around in a house, it is just a matter of swapping out the outlet with a 20 amp one, and then changing out the circuit breaker. A great example of this is moving the microwave for instance. If it gets moved and shares say the same circuit as the coffee maker, it might trip. A lot of frustration is eliminated by making the outlet and circuit breaker upgrade which can be done because the higher sized wire is already run.

Because the cost of a 20 amp outlet versus a 15 amp outlet is so much higher, I use 15 amp outlets as much as I can in bedrooms where the loads are light, but will often put a 20 amp outlet in by a window because window air conditioners are power hogs and max out 15 amp outlets.

...

Another thing I do is run subpanels from the main panel. Years ago the practice was to run wires from anywhere to one big main panel. But it is actually cheaper to run a higher sized wire to a subpanel and reduce the amount of linear footage of wires. For instance, in the house I am doing now, I will run a bigger wire to a subpanel in the second floor that way I can run my bedroom wiring back to that subpanel instead of coming all the way back to my Green Switch subpanel by the front door on the bottom floor of the house. That extra footage really adds up.

Warning: ALWAYS be aware of what the amperage loads are no matter what you are doing. If say 3 bedrooms have window AC units, it can be quite easy to exceed the subpanel amperage load if they are not calculated in from the onset.
 
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Another house building suggestion...is to put plywood up under the drywall inside any bathroom. It does not have to be super thick; 3/8 or 1/2 inch is fine, but this allows the homeowner to put in screws anywhere they want! This is great for hanging mirrors, towel holders, toilet paper roll holders, etc. But it also helps as people age...or since ALL of us could be just one car accident away from a disability...allow the homeowner to put up grab bars anywhere they are needed. I always do this in my bathrooms in construction/renovation and it is a minimal cost with tangible benefits since I do not have to try to find a stud to screw into.

Along those same lines, building a house that is a ranch and all on one floor means it can be handicapped accessible very easily. Again, we are all just one car accident away from that if we are honest with ourselves. This has proven a huge point as well because we want to convert one of our houses into a day care center since the pay from that would be much higher then renting out the house as a residence. By law it has to be handicap accessible and yet because it is a ranch with a concrete slab foundation on grade, it meets those requirements without renovation. A little pre-palanning can really help a homeowner make money down the road.
 
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J Anders wrote:I did change the situation. I moved to the next county over and bought a 1 bedroom house for $12k with 2.5 garages. Annual taxes here are less than $250 annually.


That is pretty good. Granted I have a few acres, but that is exactly what I pay in property taxes PER WEEK! ($10,200 annually)

J Anders wrote:We are probably on opposite sides of the income spectrum and we both have opposite ways of looking at the world. I would think that being on a permaculture website more of us would not be defending the rat race to the extent that many of us are.


Be careful at jumping to conclusions. I am retired so my cash flow is not what it once was. Like Paul Wheaton talks about in his story regarding Girt, staying under the radar and letting permaculture do the work, is working smart and not hard.
 
Mike Jay
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Travis Johnson wrote:All a Green Switch is, is a subpanel. That is it!
....
There would be more cost the farther the front door is away from the main breaker panel because a heavy cable would have to be run, but that is only $2.50 a linear foot or so.
....
Of course I am assuming everyone is doing their own work and not hiring a master electrician.


Ok, I was imagining having the Green subpanel next to the main in the basement and running heavy wire to a small switch by the front door (if they even make such a thing).  Or maybe a relay of some sort.  In my house the main panel is on the opposite end from the door so I'd be needing 80' of heavy wire (to and from the switch).  My price was also based on not hiring an electrician but maybe it was high.  Maybe

I agree the peace of mind would be nice.  Of course when you take a trip you can just flip off the breakers for those worrisome appliances.  But you wouldn't do that every time you leave the house.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:All a Green Switch is, is a subpanel. That is it!
....
There would be more cost the farther the front door is away from the main breaker panel because a heavy cable would have to be run, but that is only $2.50 a linear foot or so.
....
Of course I am assuming everyone is doing their own work and not hiring a master electrician.


Ok, I was imagining having the Green subpanel next to the main in the basement and running heavy wire to a small switch by the front door (if they even make such a thing).  Or maybe a relay of some sort.  In my house the main panel is on the opposite end from the door so I'd be needing 80' of heavy wire (to and from the switch).  My price was also based on not hiring an electrician but maybe it was high.  Maybe

I agree the peace of mind would be nice.  Of course when you take a trip you can just flip off the breakers for those worrisome appliances.  But you wouldn't do that every time you leave the house.



All you need is a DPDT relay. Then you can run doorbell wire for a mile to activate it. Here's a link to something that might work, research your application.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-YC-GP-DPDT-3-30A-DPDT-GENERAL-P-POWER-RELAY-220-240V-AC-COIL-RU-CERTIFIED-/400801990167
And for when this ebay link goes bad- search for this: 30A DPDT GENERAL P. POWER RELAY 220/240V AC COIL

Double Pole Double Throw Relay

I know about these because at one time I was exploring the feasibility of connecting electric baseboard heaters to a normal home thermostat.
It cost more than I wanted to spend so I ended up with a hard wired 220V thermostat.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:

J Anders wrote:I did change the situation. I moved to the next county over and bought a 1 bedroom house for $12k with 2.5 garages. Annual taxes here are less than $250 annually.


That is pretty good. Granted I have a few acres, but that is exactly what I pay in property taxes PER WEEK! ($10,200 annually)

J Anders wrote:We are probably on opposite sides of the income spectrum and we both have opposite ways of looking at the world. I would think that being on a permaculture website more of us would not be defending the rat race to the extent that many of us are.


Be careful at jumping to conclusions. I am retired so my cash flow is not what it once was. Like Paul Wheaton talks about in his story regarding Girt, staying under the radar and letting permaculture do the work, is working smart and not hard.



10,200 annual property taxes on 1000 acres of land that has an income of 250 an acre or some such combination isn't that bad of a situation. I wish people weren't so secretive about their income but they'll gladly hang their expenses out to dry. It just makes it hard for younger people to understand what's possible out there.

But then again people don't want competition and their income dropping.

But then again America was founded because people wanted allodial title to their land and NO taxes....
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:This is VERY sound advice. My houses are always wired with 12 AWG because if a circuit constantly trips, or things get swapped around in a house, it is just a matter of swapping out the outlet with a 20 amp one, and then changing out the circuit breaker. A great example of this is moving the microwave for instance. If it gets moved and shares say the same circuit as the coffee maker, it might trip. A lot of frustration is eliminated by making the outlet and circuit breaker upgrade which can be done because the higher sized wire is already run.

Because the cost of a 20 amp outlet versus a 15 amp outlet is so much higher, I use 15 amp outlets as much as I can in bedrooms where the loads are light, but will often put a 20 amp outlet in by a window because window air conditioners are power hogs and max out 15 amp outlets.

...

Another thing I do is run subpanels from the main panel. Years ago the practice was to run wires from anywhere to one big main panel. But it is actually cheaper to run a higher sized wire to a subpanel and reduce the amount of linear footage of wires. For instance, in the house I am doing now, I will run a bigger wire to a subpanel in the second floor that way I can run my bedroom wiring back to that subpanel instead of coming all the way back to my Green Switch subpanel by the front door on the bottom floor of the house. That extra footage really adds up.

Warning: ALWAYS be aware of what the amperage loads are no matter what you are doing. If say 3 bedrooms have window AC units, it can be quite easy to exceed the subpanel amperage load if they are not calculated in from the onset.



The bad thing is that I've been running 15A outlets on 20A circuits in several installations. I actually started typing this reply before I realized that you were correct in that the price difference between 15-20A outlets is so drastic. 20A outlets have the T insert on the hot side on them and cost $3-4 each while 15A costs less than $1. I had an issue in one of my homes where I had to replace a 15A outlet several years after it was installed.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:All a Green Switch is, is a subpanel. That is it!
....
There would be more cost the farther the front door is away from the main breaker panel because a heavy cable would have to be run, but that is only $2.50 a linear foot or so.
....
Of course I am assuming everyone is doing their own work and not hiring a master electrician.


Ok, I was imagining having the Green subpanel next to the main in the basement and running heavy wire to a small switch by the front door (if they even make such a thing).  Or maybe a relay of some sort.  In my house the main panel is on the opposite end from the door so I'd be needing 80' of heavy wire (to and from the switch).  My price was also based on not hiring an electrician but maybe it was high.  Maybe

I agree the peace of mind would be nice.  Of course when you take a trip you can just flip off the breakers for those worrisome appliances.  But you wouldn't do that every time you leave the house.



I got mine in today so I will let you know how it seems to be doing on saving money on power. At first it is going to be needed, until I can get the electrical appliances swapped out for propane, it is going to be a high consumer of those expensive electrons. (Maine hassome of the countries highest electric rates thanks to deregulated power that was supposed to save us all serious money.)
 
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J Anders wrote:The bad thing is that I've been running 15A outlets on 20A circuits in several installations. I actually started typing this reply before I realized that you were correct in that the price difference between 15-20A outlets is so drastic. 20A outlets have the T insert on the hot side on them and cost $3-4 each while 15A costs less than $1. I had an issue in one of my homes where I had to replace a 15A outlet several years after it was installed.




But it is no big deal.  The permanant part of the installation is in the wall, and 12 AWG is not that much more expensive then 14 AWG, so if a person building their house puts in the wire in the walls, swapping out 15 amp outlets later (years down the road) for 20 amp outlets is not that bad. It is a 5 minute job...literally. Swapping out the breaker from 15 amp to 20 amp is a 3 minute job, so you are absolutely correct, 12 AWS is always better.

In my house, I run 20 amp breakers, wire (12 AWS) and outlets in heavy use areas like the kitchen and garage, never putting more than 4 outlets on a circuit. Bedrooms, livingrooms, and other areas that do not get heavy loads can get 15 amp outlets and breakers.

I have often wondered, but have no evidence to back this up, is how much power is saved from conduction with higher guage wire. I always assumed some money was saved just in having 12 AWS instead of 14 AWS, but how much is saved over the lifetime of the house, I have no idea.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I have often wondered, but have no evidence to back this up, is how much power is saved from conduction with higher guage wire. I always assumed some money was saved just in having 12 AWS instead of 14 AWS, but how much is saved over the lifetime of the house, I have no idea.



Quite a bit actually. Looks like payback in a average house would be within a year at the most.

https://www.copper.org/environment/sustainable-energy/energy-efficiency/education/archive/onesizeup.html
power-savings.PNG
[Thumbnail for power-savings.PNG]
 
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J Anders wrote:I wish people weren't so secretive about their income but they'll gladly hang their expenses out to dry. It just makes it hard for younger people to understand what's possible out there.



There is some truth to this for sure, but equally I wish people would understand that having large acreage does not automatically equate to large amounts of income. It take money to convert crops to cash. Just because someone might have 400 acres of hay, and hay is worth $40 a bale, UNTIL that hay ground is mown, teddied, raked and baled with fuel, time and equipment, that conversion from grass to valued product does not happen. And getting that grass to be of such quality that it has value at $40 a bale takes expense too. Buying manure or even moving my own sheep manure costs money, not to mention adding lime to get the PH right. A few acres? That is not so bad...now scale it up to a few hundred acres and its almost impossible to stay on top of.

For me, 3/4 of my land base is tied up in forestry, but yet that forest land only nets me $70 per acre per year sustainably. (Growth of 1 cord, per acre, per year). Property taxes chew into that profit per acre per year pretty deeply! That is just its value, actually harvesting the wood costs money that eats into the profit even more. Sure I can log off 70 acres and cash my check for $150,000, but a person must realize it took 35 years for those trees to grow. 35 years of taxes. 35 years of careful forest management. And it costs money to buy farm in the first place.

I can get more than $250 an acre of course raising sheep on the farmland, but to convert forest into farmland is a very laborious and costly endeavor. It can be done, and I do my share of it, but it is not easy to do. Equally, raising sheep takes work every day, barns, and end investment in livestock. Trees just grow, but the pay per acre is so much less. That is the trade off.

Why do farmers talk a lot about expenses? Because production costs, property taxes, paying the farm mortgage, and raising a family exceeds what the farm makes for income. That is why on average, new farms last three years.
 
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