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Building a house, want a gasser, advice needed

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by WoodWacker, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    No doubt about it. 2x6's, 16" o.c. with R21 fibercrap batts and a 20% framing factor is going to come in somewhere less than R15 for the whole wall r value. Regardless of code, this wood be woefully inadequate even in my 5300 heating degree day climate. In central ME, I wouldn't settle for anything less than an R40 whole wall performance-period.

    Woody, IMO you need to get an energy consultant involved with your planning.

    I highly recommend this site http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/ . Virtually all aspects of high performance building are covered in the blogs, Q&A, etc.

    Whether your building the house yourself or hiring it out, there are a lot of things you need to know so you can execute them correctly or so you can make sure your GC executes them correctly. Don't assume he or she will understand these things even if they are an experienced builder.
    You will have way too much money in this to not do it right.

    Happy research,

    Noah

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  2. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    711mhw likes this.
  3. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    the inherent problem is that the foam would not allow the sheathing to do it's job... i.e. act as a shear panel. The use of Low-E (to those unfamiliar, it is two layers of reflective AL foil laminated onto 1/4" closed cell foam) does give you the desired thermal break.

    Low-E does make hanging 1/2" rock a PITA however...
  4. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    Noah, I don't know where you grew up... but I feel a bit of perspective is needed... yes R40 in a wall is great and wonderful. I live in maine..... in an old farm house built in 1865.... the only insulation in the structure is what I have installed... and it is far from complete... and I have a smoke dragon for heat. That being said... I am burning less than 3/4 of a cord per month... and I walk around the house barefoot and in shorts.... and that's with a sub-500 stack temp and burning an ash/maple/birch mix....

    as it is right now.... all I have left that is ready is locust..... and I struggle to keep the stack "in the green" without simply blasting myself out of the house....
  5. 711mhw

    711mhw Feeling the Heat

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    Good stuff! I came across this http://www.buildingscience.com/docu...6-complex-three-dimensional-air-flow-networks the other day, I really think that alot of well intentioned folks are screwing up not fully understand these things once they move away from "traditional" methods. I know I would have on my place if not for dumb luck & I've been "in the trades" for 35 yrs.
  6. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Probably the best book I have read on the subject of construction for a cold climate area. Maybe one of the best ever in terms of being easily understood. It'll be the best $40-50 you'll spend if you are building a house.

    Pay attention to what he says about forced air ducted heating systems if you get a copy. Furnace/duct systems as commonly installed by "tradesmen" in the industry are designed with one thing in mind. Low cost.

    http://www.amazon.com/Builders-Guide-Cold-Climates-Construction/dp/156158374X#reader_156158374X
  7. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hey Bret,

    Here is where I coming from- Currently I am building a new house for my folks. 2200 sq ft, R15 below grade, R30+ above grade, R60 attic, R5 triple pane windows(high SHGC on south facing glass),
    aiming for around 1 ACH/50pa, 5300 HDD climate. Annual calculated heat load of <20 million btus or about the same amount of locust you're burning a month. Or less than $300/yr with mini splits.
    Not bad from my perspective;)

    Noah
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    That of course assumes the cost of fuel is constant in today's dollars which is highly unlikely if you look at the past 15-20.
  9. pwschiller

    pwschiller Member

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    Absolutely. The 1998-1999 New Hampshire Forest Products Market Report shows split cordwood, delivered going for $80-120, so the price has roughly doubled since then. Many of us, including the OP, have wood lots and we cut and split our own firewood. The amount of labor involved to process the wood won't change (unless you get new equipment), although how we value our time probably will.

    I'm not opposed to insulation; my house is probably better insulated than the houses of 95% of the people on this forum. But, what makes sense for one person isn't necessarily the most cost effective solution for another person. The house that Noah is building for his parents is probably perfect for them. For someone like me, who is fairly young (47), owns a woodlot, has a house, a heated workshop and plans on adding a good sized heated greenhouse in a few years, installing a wood boiler may make perfect sense. I estimate that if I had built my workshop to the same insulation and window specs as Noah's parents' house, it would have cost me at least $15K more, and would save me about 1-1/4 cords of wood annually.
  10. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    I just got done building my own place. the first and second floor are all done in 6" foam. (sips first floor and room-in attic trusses second floor with sheet and spray foam.) super tight, super easy to heat. Hearthstone on the first floor heats the main and second floor just fine on 2-3 loads a day.

    my gap was in not insulating the basement enough. especially considering the in-floor heat in the basement.

    the numbers I've heard around here (after it was too late) is 30-40-50. R-30 below grade, R-40 walls, and R-50 ceiling assembly.
    I have lots of hardwoods and enjoy cutting wood, am relatively young and in good shape as well. there are times when those don't matter though, as there aren't enough hours in the day. esp when wives and kids and animals come along.
    INSULATE And AIR SEAL the snot out of it. you will never regret it. EVER. then go ahead and get whatever fancy wood boiler setup you would like. but you won't need to, but then you have the choice, not because you have to because you can't afford to heat the place otherwise.

    Eventually, you're going to realize that you can have a nice little airtight stove in the living space, and a pellet burner or whatever downstairs to take care of the overnights or lazy times, and you're done. you can spend more time doing other crap besides dealing with wood. that $10-15,000 you would have spent on the wood boiler will be more fun to do other things with.

    Second on the Builder's guide to cold climates.

    karl
  11. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    Boy I guess we know were you're from. :)

    Not that this helps since my house is very old construction (1800s) but what I did was put batts in the walls then covered them with 1" of ISO board to get me R-19.5. Spray foam would have been ideal but it was simply out of my budget at the time. I'm not sure how ideal this is, the joints were taped on the ISO board to try and keep things tight. It's worked for me so far and it's what the insulation outfit suggested so I'm guessing they had done it before. I continuing this method in the rooms I'm working on now.

    Regardless, going from no insulation to some was a HUGE upgrade!

    K
  12. Adjusted for inflation $120 of 1998 money is about $170 today.

    Interestingly a barrel of oil in 1978 was $30 which equals about $110 today. Which is about todays market price. So if history is a guide, over the long term (30-45 years) we'd probably all be better off putting are cash into bonds and paying the oil man. (if you are buying firewood)
  13. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    My House costs me about $60 a YEAR to heat...
  14. Rory

    Rory Member

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    So it's essentially Thermax in 1/4" thickness, then? Makes sense. I had only seen the term "Low-E" in reference to windows before.
  15. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    http://www.low-e.com/

    I have installed it measured in acres.....
  16. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    And how many hours cutting splitting and stacking and burning wood? I'm going to assume that $60 per year is not LP, is that $60 worth of gas for the chainsaw, splitter, and tractor?

    a BTU not needed is the first step, then you have the luxury of how you want to acquire those BTUs. I read a recent article in Fine Homebuilding about a Passivhaus in Maine, that they eliminated the whole central heating system because it wasn't needed. they used, as I recall, 3 baseboard electric heaters. Now, they didn't list the energy consumption, but the point is, they eliminated a $10,000-15,000 heating system for that 1200SF house. I think that'd more than pay for any additional insulation and air sealing.
    karl
  17. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    If you think the next 30 years will look like the last 30, you might be dissapointed. I don't know about you, but I expect to be around for another 50, and don't expect anything (especially commodities) to be predictable and stable.
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  18. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    A recurring theme I hear from people who have taken the less insulation/more wood approach is that they failed to consider the amount of time involved. Many of them, after spending a decade or so with an inefficient wood burner and a house with marginal to normal levels of insulation, have discovered that they would much rather have the 200-300 manhours they spend every year doing the cut/haul/split/stack/haul/load routine and wish they had taken a different approach toward their heating bills/
    Taylor Sutherland and 711mhw like this.
  19. pwschiller

    pwschiller Member

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    This whole thread started out with someone who is planning on building a new 2200 sf house and heating it with a gasification boiler. Many figures have been thrown around regarding insulation and energy savings, but you have taken exaggeration to a whole new level. 200-300 manhours? That's 5 to 7-1/2 40 hour work weeks doing nothing but cutting/splitting/stacking/loading wood. Maybe that applies to some enormous farm you've seen, but it doesn't apply to Woody (the OP), me, or probably anyone else who has replied to this thread.

    If someone wants to loan me the $15000 it would take to to insulate my new workshop to the specs that Noah was describing for his parents house, I'll send you (and your heirs) a check every year for what it would cost me locally to purchase the extra 1-1/4 cords of wood I would burn in lieu of those upgrades.
    Bret Chase likes this.
  20. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    I can process a year's worth of wood in less than 30 hours..... depending on how much beer is involved during the spitting/stacking process....
    pwschiller likes this.
  21. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I'm talking about the total hours per year a person invests in the entire heating with wood process. What you do every day during the winter. Ash disposal etc etc. Add them up. 200-300 is a lot more accurate than 30.

    The older i get the more I realize that time is the most valuable commodity each of us have. I wish I had all the hours back i spent cutting/burning firewood instead of being able to spend that time with my wife and kids. The $$ value pales by comparison.

    All I am saying in terms of advice not only to this guy but everyone here is to honestly consider ALL the factors and angles of wood burning before you take the plunge. Bear in mind that this advice comes from a guy who makes most of his income installing these things.
  22. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    dumping ash takes me 5 minutes every 2 weeks...

    Wood processing in my house is done as a family, just as was done when I was a kid with my parents and siblings...

    In my situation, there is NO comparison between heating with wood and paying the oilman... heating with wood.... my woods get properly managed... my kids learn a work ethic.... and the biggest one... My kids are running around in shorts in a WARM house! AND... I have enough money to actually buy food.

    When I was beholden to the oilman.... we froze and pretty much starved.

    Long story short.... I don't give half a flying **** about R40 minimums in the walls.... *I* am warm... with minimal effort on my part.
  23. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Hey Bret, I'm on your side here buddy. The oilman does not belong in the equation. The choice for the OP is spend $$ for good insulation or spend extra time for burning more wood. Either way the object is to give the oil or LP man a happy wave as he drives past your house.
  24. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    In my case... my nearly 150 year old house is getting Greenguard and Leeds certified insulation.... as I gut each room and start over. I also get this insulation for free was it is waste from work... and they don't need to pay to dispose of it.... win-win for both of us.

    My issue with a lot of this "green" stuff... it just doesn't work from a cost/benefit perspective... spend $15k to save $300/yr..... that's a 50 year payback... if you're talking foam in place.... it quickly becomes a 100-150 year payback...

    In my professional life... I have been bludgeoned to death with LEEDS... and watching costs to the owner increasing at the square of the return...
  25. Rory

    Rory Member

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    Interesting to hear from the folks who feel they're aging out of the wood equation. My father's 84 and cutting and splitting is his favorite pastime. Different strokes...
    flyingcow likes this.

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