1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

SUper insulation is the key to the future of heating

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Seasoned Oak, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,661
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Nice post Randy. Future of construction too BTW. We build some net zero housing here, which shares many of the same goals/const techniques as a super insulated one. We have regularly been able to get in the 10 btu/sqft range for heating requirement in this climate, some as low as 7 btu/sqft, holy grail right now is 5 btu/sqft for this climate. So yep in a more southerly climate a home that requires no permanent heat source is completely doable.

    If in North America we could get these type of houses to 5% of the total market they would take off, what with all our keeping up with the Jones's mentality here. Everyone would be asking for a home that needs no permanent heat source. After all who would say no to a house that saves you that cost up front.

    As an aside I find that industry, be it commercial or industrial is far more willing to spend more on insulation in structures here anyway, your savings add up far quicker when you are talking about a 16,000 sqft shop, garage, warehouse. With rising energy costs most business sees it a no brainer & they take the time to pencil out the savings vs the costs. Guesstimates just don't sell up the food chain, the boss/owner wants actual numbers.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,026
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Hey Canuck - with those very tight houses has indoor air quality been an issue? There have been some reports that state that the indoor air quality can really suffer due to lack of "refreshing" air. I can't speak of any specifics, just wondering.
  4. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,313
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    I think HRVs are code required in tight new construction to address the air quality issue?
  5. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Jags: When any structure gets that tight air quality is a major concern. In these types of structures air exchange is done mechanically. A good quality air exchange unit (there are many types & brands) will use the outgoing warm air to pre heat the incoming cold air saving some money in the process of exchanging air. Something else that is getting pretty common in the quest to get to 5btu/sqft here is the use of a grey water heat extraction system, so that as many btu's as possible are extracted from grey water & used via a heat exchanger to heat house load in heating season & or DHW in warmer months. To be honest I think those are the wasted btu's that will get us to that 5btu/sqft goal.

    When one takes the time to pencil it out a house of say 3000 sq ft (pretty large) 15000 btu/hr at 5 btu/sqft in -40 design temp here, could easily be heated with a very small stove/boiler/dhw tank with secondary coil/solar, as well as just about any tiny option one cares to consider. Your needed heat gets so small in comparison to what we live in now that many possibilities open up, homeowner has many more choices, as well as a tiny fuel bill.

    This type of construction is going to make off grid living just as comfortable as on grid. One or two advances in say solar or wind & this will be a total no brainer. Heck even windows that perform 2X as good as what we have now would do it. I think we have gone about as far as we can with the structure eff. Given current tech & materials.

    Me I am too close to being fertilizer to get a huge benefit from this, thats OK my kids & grandkids can look forward to living & working in structures that sip energy as opposed to guzzling it like the ones I grew up in. They will look back on the old house records & say how did Gramma & Grampa ever survive paying that much for heat & power!
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,026
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Got it - so air quality IS being addressed.
  7. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    jharkin is correct HRV's are a requirement for good reason in structures this tight.

    When properly designed/selected they have the added bonus of saving energy & money in the air exchange process, as opposed to an intake fan & an exhaust fan.

    Just as an aside I will often spend a week in meetings before we break ground on a net zero home, in those meetings everyone is present Architect/Engineer/Builder/HVAC/Plumber/Owners rep-often the Architect. We totally work the structure through from an energy prospective before we begin. Everyone knows their role & how they will have to cooperate with other trades to accomplish the goals. Just something for us to consider in our "I want it now, fast, cheap & easy" mentallity in North America. When we pursue structure building with this thought process we leave a lot on the table & wind up paying for it many times over for the life of the structure, IMO, sorry for the rant.
  8. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,026
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Not taken as a rant. I find this to be good info. I personally would like to start building my retirement home in about 10-15 yrs. It will be in a more moderate clime than you are, or even where I currently am, but energy consumption is going to be a high profile target during the build.

    Actually, in my dream world, I would like to build new - next to where I am now (got an extra 10 acres to the East of me). At retirement, sell the place and move to a more moderate area. Is there a good return on investment for this type of structure or is it like a masonry heater where the next occupant might not even give a squirt?
  9. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,313
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    5-10 BTU/ft2 wow that is impressive.

    I'm trying to figure out what mine is... tell me if this math sounds right.... Last winter I totaled op my entire NG and wood usage and divided by f2t and degree days and got about 12 btu/ft2/HDD. If a design day here is 0F, that's about 65 degree days so (12 * 65) / 24hr = 32.5 BTU/hr/ft2.

    Am I doing that right?

    If yes its probably not bad as a starting point for a partially insulated oooold house to only come in at 3x your passive house (which makes me think i'm doing the math wrong). All the insulation work Ive done this year has cut that down by a third or more already so maybe I'm closing in on 20.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    48,033
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I've been a strong proponent of building better sealed and insulated homes for years. It's the best investment one can make. And it keeps on paying back year after year, for generations if the home is kept up well.
  11. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Jags: These types of structures will be the future AFA ROI is concerned. Think it through from your future buyers prospective. They as the buyer will have several structures to choose from. Given two identical structures one with a $200 monthly heating cost & the other with a $20 monthly heating cost. Makes the choice a no brainer. 180/mo savings x 12 mo/yr = 2160/yr savings x 25 years = $ 54,000 savings over the ownership period. So as we move forward & energy gets more costly these energy eff structures will get top dollar in a resale. If you are not in an area where banks insist on seeing utility bills before they OK the purchase you will be when energy cost rise again so ultimately the banks are going to start to force/encourage buyers to purchase more eff structures. Gives them more income with which, from the banks perspective they can purchase an even larger home for even more money, resulting in a bigger longer term mortgage that the bank can make money on. Sorry another rant but it is how the game will play out.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,026
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    That is not a current common practice in my area. I can see how it could be in the future.
  13. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    jharkin: math looks correct. Want a feel good calc to run?, then total the cost of your insul vs the energy$ saved & see just how rapid an ROI you are getting. Then when one of your neighbors says insulation just doesn't pay you can pull out that sheet of paper & say you know I have to disagree with that & here's why.
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,661
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    I think energy costs will continue to rise even with advances in solar, wind ect simply because of increase in population. More people chasing the same pot of resources. I also look at wood as a resource as well.A well insulated home with a small wood stove and a little solar assist may well get by on a cord of wood or less per winter.
    I recently came by a few truckloads of 4" foam and am planning the best use for them.
  15. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,161
    Loc:
    Schoharie County, N Y
    I heard recently that in upstate New York it is very hard to almost impossible to get a mortgage on a houe that doesn't have central heating. Could this be an issue or would the insulation make up for that?
  16. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Couildn't agree more. If we had gotten on this bandwagon way back in Carter's day like we should have, we would all probably care less about the price of oil, nat gas, propane, electricity as we would need so little of it.
  17. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,661
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    Im assuming those homes in question are NOT super insulated. Possibly if you could show the bank a heating requirement report of 10000 btus and your annual heat bill they might reconsider.
  18. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Most net zero is happening here in large pop centers. Edmonton for example with a pop of about 1 million. So most net zero homes have central heat fossil fuel. In many there will be a small wood stove in the basement for power failures etc. Think in future we can see central heat using wood becoming more popular like in Germany/Austria/Sweden/Norway/Denmark etc. However if folks choose they can stick with fossil as they will need so little of it in a home like this.
  19. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,628
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I wish it would be, but unless its code, most new home buyers will trade a hot tub and cherry floors in place of an efficient heating system or extra insulation in a heartbeat. Just imagine all the extra energy required to heat and cool all the Mc Mansions that got built in the last 10 years.

    Whe you have to cut and split wood or lug pellets around, the whole concept of how muhc heat a house uses becomes personal but most folks just pay the monthly bills to the oil or gas guy.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,313
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    +1

    Not only that but the reduced usage would mean less need to drill in exotic places like ultra deep water. Lower extraction costs... lower fuel costs for what little we did use. Win-Win. Unless you are an oil company :)
  21. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Have to agree, we don't seem to move in the right direction unless we are legislated to do so. Too bad. Then again Germany as an example has accomplished nearly all of their energy saving through legislation that simply made it illegal/against code to be wasteful when designing & building. I for one would not be opposed to the same types of rules on this side of the pond. Seems we will take forever to get there unless we are given an incentive to do so.
  22. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,161
    Loc:
    Schoharie County, N Y
    It seems to me that new commercial buildings are much more lacking in proper insulation/energy conservation.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    48,033
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    That's the spirit. My BIL's home was built without earth berming or solar gain and they've heated with about 2 cords a year in mid-NY since about 1982. About 5 yrs back they finally built a very snug attached greenhouse which heats the place most sunny winter days now.

    How do you cool your home in the summer?
  24. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,404
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Interesting info. Went backed and checked the Nov-Dec data on my shop and came out to 8.1 btuh/sq ft. Heat Loss. Surprisingly good. Highest last year was 11.4 btuh/sq ft during a period when the lows hit -36F.

    Temps were relatively mild during Nov-Dec. Yet, this is a shop, R19 in the walls, R38 ceiling, only 2 - 2' x 4' windows, 1 - 3' door and 1 - 4' door, + a 12x12 overhead door. Slab and perimeter also insulated R10. No doubt that good insulation has big payback in $ and comfort.
  25. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,661
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    The big motivator is cost,unfortunately the cost will only skyrocket when the supply runs out or becomes scarce. By that time its too late to achieve a sustainable supply or reduce consumption significantly.
    Same is true for oil and gasoline. We are way behind the curve getting ready for "peak oil" which just about everyone is saying is already happening.
    When the day comes when price hikes are due to shortages instead of speculators it will be too late to save an economy gasping for oil.

Share This Page