Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So much progress has been made on our plans, although some key pieces still need to get figured out, particularly regarding the deep energy reduction/super insulation portion of our work. Our hope is that all this work will truly lead to a healthy home that has caused as little damage to the environmental as possible and that uses minimal energy.

Following a initial summit that included our architect (Olaf Vollertsen-www.vollertsenarchitecture.com), general contractor (Scott Sorensen-www.sesorensen.com) and energy consultant (Marc Rosenbaum-www.energysmiths.com) to detail a number of specific items, we have tentatively agreed that our super insulation project will include several key components:
1. Insulating the basement walls with closed cell spray foam insulation and sealing all the air leaks
2. Insulating the basement floor with one layer of rigid insulation
3. Insulating and sealing the attic with spray foam and blowing cellulose throughout for an approximate R60 roof
4. Adding 4 inches (2 - 2 inch layers) to the outside of the house on tip of which will be placed our new siding, which we had to replace anyway.
5. Installing new windows throughout.

Our big dilemma at the moment is what type of window to use. We started with Pella designer series which is a triple pane wood window because we wanted to keep the architectural integrity of our house which has beautiful wood trim around all our windows. The Pella's have a U value of around .30 give or take. But we've recently seen some fiberglass windows that are also triple pane, have the option of an oak interior and have a U value around .21 for double hung and even lower for casements (.18).

However, we need to feel certain that these windows perform well and are trying to find example of projects. The one company we're looking at is Fibertec (http://www.fibertec.com/) a Canadian company that does not have a lot of projects in the area. We hope to meet with them at Build Boston/Green Build next week but time is running out and we need to make a decision. We're also looking at Accurate Dorwin and Thermotec, although we don't think the latter makes a double hung window, which is something that we want to keep for the look of the house.

Once the envelope is secure, our hope is to heat the entire house without any ducts or piping, using a single point heater such as a Rinnai gas heater placed strategically on the first floor.

This all seems a bit mysterious for non engineers like us so we hope our energy experts know what they're talking about.


ConstructionDeal.com said...

It seems mysterious, but it makes sense.

Insulation is next on my list in our home, too. But... I'm curious as to why you're insulating the basement. I haven't had a chance to read more of the blog, so I'm not aware of the condition down there. The temps usually remain constant down there.

Anyway, good luck with your windows. That's also next on my list but I'll be doing it myself so it'll be one window at a time.

(Oh... I just noticed you can't allow everyone to post comments. So, I'm posting this under my work ID thru Blogger. Just a tip, go to your settings section, click on Comments, and click off 'Who can comment' and check Anyone. This allows people without an blog account to comment. My personal green renovation blog is - EcoRemodelers.com)

khs said...

Nice project, and I commend you for documenting your approach and progress (and results, too, eventually).

I haven't heard about the single-point heating approach, and I'm not too sure about it. Even if we assume perfect insulation of the walls and ceilings (i.e. zero heat loss), you'll lose a lot of heat through the windows, and any second-floor room with a window is going to get cold. Even a high-end efficient window is only equivalent to R3 (U.33) to R5 (U.20) insulation.

Our new house doesn't have the insulation levels you're planning, but still loses the majority of heat through the windows:

An aesthetic question: how will the window trim accomodate the extra 4" depth of the walls? Your concern about preserving the original wood-window look&feel is laudable but perhaps unrealistic.

loo said...

From a readers perspective it would be a lot more useful if you did one fix at a time and tried to describe the changes, money saved, and get feedback on that.

I can tell you the one thing I learned about sealing up your house. You must make accommodations for new air. I sealed up my windows in an 1860 cape and green mold started growing in one of our closets.

Eric said...

So when I say single point heat source, it's actually more than one. We think they'll be at least one on the first floor and ducts to each of the brs on the 2nd floor.

As for new air, yes we plan to have a Energy Recovery Ventilation system that will bring fresh air into the house on a regular basis. That, by the way, also helps to distribute the warm air throughout the house.

Insulating the basement is pretty much always recommended, although some just insulate the basement ceiling. We chose to insulate the walls because we want to partially finish the basement as a playroom, so this will reduce the dampness and make it more comfortable, not to mention have a big impact on cold air infiltration.