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Starting from scratch in a Victorian row house: how should I heat/cool my home?

Elizabeth Brown Published: Feb. 26, 2019, 9:09 p.m.Last updated: March 4, 2019, 9:36 a.m.

Background: House attached on both sides, built in 1875, in Montreal. Two stories and a basement. Main and 2nd floor have wood floors that I don't intend to change. Stone foundation. Basement floor is a cement pour in the 70s or 80s? Each floor is about 20'x40'. Total of 2400 sq.ft. Flat roof. Pretty big backyard. Ceiling height on main floor is 10.5' and a little lower on 2nd floor and basement.

Current heating/cooling:  extra-old electric baseboards, and one Samsung mini-split heat pump (sounding sick and old and noisy) at the top of the stairwell, one woodburning fireplace on the main floor. There is no ductwork in the house (and no room for big ducts), but I imagine there are lots of pipes from previous hot water radiator system. Embarking on major renovations.

How would you approach the heating/cooling of this house? I should have two heating sources, I've heard. 

Some options:

-Mr. Slim ductless system with a zone for each floor?

-hydronic underfloor heating for the main floor (seems feasible to install from basement ceiling)

-new electric baseboards

-geothermal system with some kind of hydronic system (underfloor/baseboards/radiators)?

-epa certified wood fireplace insert (or pellet)/or woodstove (I intend to get one of these anyway)

Would it be enough to get a Mr.Slim type system which is good to -25 and supplement with the fireplace if needed? Is it better to keep my one mini-split and have lots of baseboard heaters? Or should I get a bigger multi-zone mini-split system and supplement with a minimal number of baseboard heaters? Is it ever worth it to break up the concrete basement floor to put in underfloor heating and insulate?

Looking for heat efficiency and cost efficiency and eco-friedliness.

What would ecohome do?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responses (3)

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R j March 28, 2019, 8:24 p.m. Reply

The first thing I would do in an older home is to discover where the heat and air is leaking in and out and see what reasonable measures I could take to insulate or prevent air leaks. We paid around $200 for an audit and discovered that a very large percentage of our heat was escaping through old draughty doorlocks! It was a simple cheap fix and made our kitchen and hallway warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

After that, I would look to fit light coloured blinds or curtains if you've any large south facing older windows - and if it's hot upstairs check on loft insulation as this is a relatively affordable upgrade with tangible benefits and ROI - I noticed ecoHOME has lots of info on insulation at https://www.ecohome.net/guides/query/insulation/ 

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