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What is the Ideal storage method in new construction?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Jags, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Grover59

    Grover59 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I agree, insulate the place as much as possible, I have a 1000 sq ft ranch built in the 70's and it has a higher heat load then I would like, I have 750 gals of open storage, and I use dip tubes with flat plate hx, and no in tank hx. Lately I will start a fire in my boiler once a day, the storage will take care of both the house heat and hot water for two people. We both work days so I have a mickey mouse control system that shuts down all heat except for the floor heat that I keep at 70 degrees. I have motion detectors that if they don't see motion in 30 minutes they shut down all thermostats except for the floor.
    Now I know this may sound stupid but the regular kick down thermostats won't work cause we never know when we will be home or not. My wife may have the day off, but not home all day no need to heat the house if no one is there. This system works very well and I just found that there is company called BayWeb that makes a thermostat that uses occupancy sensors to do the same thing, guess what they use the same stuff I do, x10 stuff, very inexpensive and is very reliable.
    I was just pondering at what would be the best next move, and I bet Tom would agree, I should try and tighten up the place. I have a friend that has one of those expensive thermo cameras designed for heat loss in a building and I will tell you it is amazing how much heat is just leaving the place, and with a little time and money and work it could make a huge difference in my heat load if I just tightened it up.

    Steve

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  2. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
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    1,750
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    Southeastern Vt.
    I too have a 1000+ sq ft early 70s ranch. The improvements that contributed to my efficiency were new windows with low E glass. Self install in order to have control of the insulation quality. Cellulose fiber insulation in attic (15 inches with plans for 8 more). Removal of drywall and application of 1.5 inch polyiso sheets screwed to studs then sealed at joints with plastic tape and re-sheetrocked. (20 more feet to be done). Install radiant under floor and super insulate sills with foam.
  3. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    594
    Loc:
    Allenton, Wisconsin
    This stuff is over my head. I can tell you according to my builditsolar.com heat loss calc. my house has a 24400 btu heat loss @ 10 degrees. I have a 2208 sq.ft house. with 9' ceilings. That is 11 btu per sq.ft. What else can I do? Drapes? put more foam against inside basement walls? I don't have a storm on the front door. Honestly to the poster Frozen Canuck, how on earth can a house be built to use half the btu's I use now? I'm in a 1 yr old house. 4 1/2" closed cell in the walls (9' walls) r 60 in ceiling w/ energy heels that were foamed shut. Not many north side windows, Do you have any suggestions? I can't even see where 22,000 btu's would go except 360 sq. ft of windows including doors.
  4. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    Bingo! it's pretty easy to do the heat loss calc manually so you see theoretically where the heat is going, in my case it was something like 70 btu/degree/hour for ceiling, 110 for walls and 200+ for windows, but I'm not giving up the windows and I don't think I'm ever gonna cover them every night either.
  5. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada



    OK I'll give it a shot. Bear with me if I ramble, I will try to get there in a very short form (otherwise this will be a book) as well as address your questions. Sorry I have to give the broad strokes on such a detailed concept.

    First of all the concept of net zero housing is not that the home consumes no energy, it is that the home is supposed to produce as much energy as it consumes. So given that premise a wide variety of well designed homes can indeed be net zero homes, the variety varies with region, climate as well as site specific factors. Virtually all newer ones do produce as much or more energy than they use & sell their surplus to the grid.How do they achieve this?

    Frame: All of them & I do mean each & every single one, are what some members refer to as super insulated (very important whether you are heating or cooling the house). Most of the newer ones are all SIP construction (simply put it is a better system), concrete ribbon footing, then SIP's to the roof line, so you start with an R44 basement (6"PU SIP) & that R value continues in most cases through out the exterior of the home (no weak spots allowed) roof & floor trusses are set back from the edge of the exterior wall to allow for continuous insulation basement floor to roof top. You have a home (when done right) that has next to zero air infiltration, each panel is sealed with adhesive & foam at all contact points, for most of the panels this means 4 of the 6 faces. IMO this as or more important than extreme R values, if cold air cant get in you never have to replace it with warm air (we just lack an accurate test method presently, to prove what alot of us old crows believe). Exterior doors seldom allow air to directly enter the building, there is either a vestibule or porch so the air has a chance to warm (or at least slow down) before entering the home. That in a very small nutshell gives a general summary of the homes structure or at least the intent of it. Wasteful things simply do not exist in these homes. Essentially double minimum code R value (thats R20 walls here) & virtually air tight. Like I said IMO the air tight portion is the one that really makes it work.

    Mechanical Systems: Extremely important, you can lose more here (when it's done wrong) than you can gain with a good frame. Very heavy on the Engineering (usually one at least on site) which for a home is out of the ordinary, very helpful though as they usually begin the discussion on best methods to deal with gains/losses within the home. Always a high eff heating system be it forced air/hydronics, I prefer the hydronics but I am getting older & like warm feet. Usually a wood burner of some sort in the basement with high mass stone or other to soak up the heat, that is also the backup heat source during outages. This mass will always be oriented to soak up solar gain as well, so never on the north or east walls usually central in the home (makes a better radiator centrally located). The mech contractor spends many hours running the numbers to ensure nothing is wasted, as much latent heat as possible is recovered, grey water heat recovery system (in the newer homes), preheated make up air (using latent heat) not grid or fossil, no air enters the living areas until it is warm. HRV (heat recovery ventilation) no air leaves the home until the heat is scrubbed out, can also be used to warm make up air. These guys get serious about all the btu's not just a general overview or broad strokes. That being said they even take into account the effect people will have when they enter the structure, you can design a perfectly sealed structure but if you forget that bags of warm moist water (humans) will live there...well you now have a mold factory. Really fast way to ruin a house so it is accounted for in the building mechanical systems.

    Electrical: Yes important here too. High eff lighting for sure. No pot lights (too much heat lost to the attic) where you dont want it. An absolute minimum of electrical on exterior walls (you dont have to repair what you dont damage) Retain the R value & envelope integrity.

    Windows: These are the weak points, as to the best of my knowledge the best windows are R11 at this time so, 25% of nominal ext wall R value. House is built as much as site allows to gain that free solar as well as take advantage of existing wind breaks including other homes (yes your neighbor is your friend when his home blocks 60% of your wind load). So yes majority of windows are south & west facing. What the windows are not is huge, you will not see a 13'x6.5' picture window in these homes. No cathedral ceilings either so no raker windows to lose heat through. Typical windows are triple pane vinyl frame with either traped air chambers in the frame or foam in the chambers.

    Ext Doors: Typically minimum R20 foam core, yes they are thicker & heavier & cost more than a standard R8 metal door. I prefer them with a fiberglass skin as it won't conduct like metal & can be made to look like real wood without the maintenance issues of wood.

    Roof System is typically aligned (pitch of roof) based on latitude & site conditiions to allow for max solar gain. Up there is where you will find the PV panels as well as summer dhw panels. I prefer the two pronged approach to solar as the owner gets 4 months free dhw in my area as well as sells power to the grid for most of the year, I am in favor of net metering not batteries. Gives the owner a secure reliable supply without the cost, complexity, maintenance of a battery pack as well as giving them another income stream.
  6. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada

    Sorry; had to continue in another post, Admin & Mod's are going to put me on the naughty list for this one. OK where did I leave off?

    Interior surfaces get attention too. Walls need to reflect light so color & sheen matter. Dark tile etc is favored where sunlight can fall on it (free solar again).

    Virtually all homes are open concept. Allows for free flow of air without mechanical aids. No cold spots as air flow happens effortlessly (just add people & have them move around).

    I think I will wrap there & address your questions before I fill another post. As a general note it isnt so much that these homes have cutting edge tech, as it is that there is absolute attention to detail & a high degree of professionalism & pride in the crafting of these homes (as all homes should be). Rather than the cookie cutter mass production housing we have gotten used to seeing. You know the stuff that needs a major reno when it 5 or 10 years old.

    Now your questions; "This stuff is over my head" I dont agree based on your description of your home, 11 btu per sq.ft is in the range of a net zero home as far as usage goes, & I bet you did it without the benefit of an engineering team involved in the design & present during the construction. Am I right?

    "What else can I do?" I dont know that you can without sacrificing some of the things you may really enjoy about your home & with you at 11 btu/sq/ft I really dont think you would recover the investment. The waste water heat recovery, as well HRV are all designed into these homes when they are on paper, as a retrofit I dont think they would pay for themselves as they are extensive whole house systems.

    "Drapes?" Yes that would help with heatloss when you are out of the house & at night. You have to understand that most people who want a net zero home are like some of the boiler tweekers here, they just dont stop looking for those btu's not ever.

    "Put more foam against inside basement walls?" Depends on your basement construction. If you have uninsulated concrete walls that can radiate the cold directly in then yes. If you have ICF's if they are R20 or better then you have most of it covered remember the dirt insulates as well. If you have SIP's then no.

    "I dont have a storm door on the front door" Adding a good quality one in the spring would be helpful you will save energy when the wind blows or rain & snow fall.

    "How on earth can a house be built to use half the btu's I use now?" Honestly if you had asked me 30 years ago I would have looked at you & laughed at the thought of a 5 btu/sq/ft house, heck even 10. I probably would have told you that you were crazy, never happen I would have said. Answer to your question is the march of time & the advancement of technology. Within my lifetime I hope we will all see a home that can be heated by simply adding people to it, so efficient that you will need to exhaust excess heat once the owners move in. If I hear about it say 15-20 years from now I promise not to laugh. When some young engineer figures out the window heatloss issue that will be a huge step down that road.

    "Do you have any suggestions?" "I cant even see where 22000 btu's would go except for 360 sq ft of windows including doors" Honestly I think you did a fantastic job of your home, you got to 11 btu/sq/ft. If you want a clear picture of how you really did. Run all your numbers with the following changes, all ceilings are 8' not 9'. Net zero homes seldom if ever have 9' ceilings (in this cliimate at least). All windows have an R value of R5.8, last set of triple pane I priced came in at that & they are widely available, one has to watch out for factory hype on window performance. Change your doors to an R20 like we install in the net zero homes, yours maybe an R8 maybe less. I think once you make those alterations to your calculations, so you are apples to apples so to speak, you will be even more pleased than you already should be. Seriously I ran those numbers & I wont spoil it for you. I am going to assume that you dont have 30+ years in the trades like an old grunt like me, or a building science engineering degree. So job very well done congrats. Ask the Mrs. to bring you the beverage of your choice you earned it. BTW its hot toddy weather.
  7. Hansson

    Hansson Feeling the Heat

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    Sweden,Leksand
  8. Ldl0431usmc

    Ldl0431usmc Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Messages:
    10
    Loc:
    Eastern Maine
    I'm a big fan of well insulated unpressurized storage. Either a concrete cistern or fabricated tank. There is a lot of flexability with a tank like this; you could drop a heat exchange coil in for your domestic hot water and even add a solar coil for summertime DHW if you're too lazy to make the one or two fires a week it would take to keep the domestic water warm enough to keep the Women off your back.

    If it was my house and money was no object, that's what I would do.
  9. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Colorado
  10. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    594
    Loc:
    Allenton, Wisconsin
    Thanks frozen Canuck, I have 29 years in the trades. You are still ahead of me. I will do a little more to the basement by putting foam against the inside walls. I have 12" block walls with 2" pinks foam on the outside. I also have all brick on the outside. I started putting 1 1/2" foam on the inside. It raised my basement temp 2 degrees but am only half done. Another 300 bucks will finish it off. I don't care if I get my money back, I just want to see a warmer basement. It's a personal experiment of mine but very expensive. A storm door is 225 bucks. I'm also suspicious that my gas fireplace pulls air out on windy days like today. My humidity went from 40% this morning to 35% tonight.??? Kid insisted he shut the door tight this morning. Any air leak lowers my humidity. Thanks for everything Frozen Canuck. If everyone was like you the United States would have Opec by a noose if they even bothered giving them the time of day. I can only wish. I can't even get customers I know to add insulation in a 100 year old attic with 3" of fiberglass that's been there for years. . I quoted 1400 bucks for a 2000 sq. ft. attic to add 16" of cellulose insulation I was told they won't get their money back for 4 years. Come to think of it that is an investment that pays back 25% after 4 years. ( Wish my stocks would do that) House must have lost 40k in heat over the 113 years. Do you like fiberglass or cellulose insul in an attic? Later, ihookem.
  11. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    You are quite welcome. Dont think I am ahead at all, what you have accomplished I am going to guess basically on your own is outstanding. If you dont feel so why not post asking other members for their btu per sq ft. My guess is it will be a very long time before you hear about a close to yours usage #.

    I agree, if we in North America paid attention to heatloss in our buildings, well then bye bye OPEC. We would not be sending our young men & women overseas to fight against what "our own money" has bought others.

    AFA the customer & insulation go, I have been for many years showing people in black & white (chart, graph or spreadsheet) their true break even point on the insulation as well as the amount of money they will save ie. put right in the bank for the rest of the years they have left on this earth. The second figure has far more impact than the first in the majority of cases & usually seals the deal too BTW. If you think it may help I encourage you to give it a shot. Money talks esp. the money one saves as given tax rates it is worth twice as much as the money one earns.
  12. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    865
    Loc:
    North central Alberta, Canada
    Forgot to answer the last question ihookem: First of all I always try to get max airflow in any attic, the more air changes per hour the less humidity issue/rule, makes it an easy choice for me. So you will see my roof systems with full vented soffits, not just partial as well as ridge vent for the full length of the ridges. I always focus on max cold air in at the low points (soffits). Max warm/moist air out at the high points (ridges). Given that I am always shooting for max air flow; in a conventional roof system (non SIP) I always install blown in cellulose. Minimum code here is R40 attic insulation, seldom if ever (esp since the energy price increase) do that little usually between R60 R100. I have not done a fiberglass attic in over 20 years nor would I recommend it in a conventional roof. Dont get me wrong in some cases where choices are limited due to design & other factors, fiberglass may be the only choice that makes $$ sense. However when choices are not limited due to other factors...well fiberglass isnt even on the list as it allows for far to much air infiltration in an attic space where I am trying to achieve max air flow. An insulation with a high infiltration rate in that environment kind of defeats the purpose of insulating in the first place.

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