new forum member looking for guidance on where to start

guskody Posted By guskody, Apr 7, 2013 at 7:28 AM

  1. guskody

    New Member 2.

    Apr 7, 2013
    Hello All,

    New member to this site, who doesn't know even where to begin researching. Looking for tips on how and where to focus research time as we begin this project:

    Want to build a new home 1000-1500 sq ft (plus comparable basement size that could eventually be finished as well) this Summer-Fall in the Midwest.

    Rural location. Electricity available. Will need a well-for sure, and probably septic too (probably go that route?).

    Would like to minimize dependency on propane for heating and hot water, maybe as a back up only, and would like to keep electricity requirements for cooling reasonably low and take advantage of design for natural airflow as much as possible. Might find ourselves sleeping on a screened in porch as much as possible :)

    Plenty of wood available on property.

    Can orient and design home to maximize solar for electricity, hot water, passive temperature control, etc. and design can take advantage of natural air flow and ventilation.

    Can design for wood storage to accommodate quantity and easy access for refueling.

    Am thinking there will be an unheated greenhouse, earth or brick or stone floor, attached to home to extend gardening season so only out of growing at least some crops for 2-4 months. Flexible as to size but probably at least 1000 square feet. If this greenhouse can be part of the home heating or water heating plan, all the better.

    Can you provide any general tips or to do's or not to do's if this was your project, and where on this site or other sites I should direct my research?

    thanks in advance!
  2. pen

    There are some who call me...mod. 2.
    Staff Member

    Aug 2, 2007
    N.E. Penna
    Pretty tough to answer a question like this. Not sure if you are interested in a wood stove, a wood furnace, an outside wood boiler, etc. If you have interest for these, this place can give you a lot of help in the right room.

    Are you also looking for design suggestions for the house and greenhouse?

    Are you trying to build a "green" home?

    I moved your thread to the DIY forum room since I wasn't really sure where to put it being quite general in the advice you are looking for.

    Welcome to the site, spend some time reading through the information on here as you start to consider each type of solid fuel heating system and it's advantages / disadvantages.
    Pallet Pete likes this.
  3. arngnick

    Member 2.

    Feb 15, 2013
    Mansfield, PA
    One word...Insulation! The best way to heat and cool is to seal the house and take advantage of the good insulation products on the market. If I were to be building a new home I would have a wood boiler paired with storage. I would design the system with hot water solar collectors so you can take advantage of that when available. One you decide on the type of heating and get a good idea of the direction you want to go I suggest asking specific questions within the specific forums.

    Good to have you here.
  4. SmokeyTheBear

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 10, 2008
    Standish, ME
    Two words to go with the word insulation, air sealing. Insulation while great can be almost useless if there is a lot of air flow through and out of your building envelope, in a well insulated house this is likely to be your biggest heat loss (and cool sucker) in the house. The next item that wreaks havoc on your heating and cooling is large expanses of glass.
    woodgeek and arngnick like this.
  5. Tom Cat

    Tom Cat
    Member 2.

    Feb 27, 2013
    If you're digging for a basement you might want to look into a geothermal heat pump. Harman has a wood furnace that you can add an oil burner to. looked like a nicer setup.

  6. Pallet Pete

    Pallet Pete
    Guest 2.

    Welcome to the forums pull up a chair and get addicted like the rest of us ;).

    My thought exactly !

  7. midwestcoast

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 9, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Check out Gary's site:

    With a smaller well sealed & insulated passive solar home you could incorporate a Small cat wood stove or something, but the heating options are myriad. I say design the house for efficiency and to your needs/wants then think about how to heat/cool it.
  8. rideau

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 12, 2012
    southern ontario
    Off grid I'm sure you are looking into solar, electricity and water heating. . Have you considered wind as well? Does it make sense where you are?

    Know there are people in zone 4 heating their homes entirely with geothermal.

    Part of the issue is how much money you can dedicate to alternative enery sources.

    An inexpensive way to get a lot of heat: My sister renovated a home in Ottawa, Canada, zone 4, in the 1970s. Put Pella windows, installed at the optimum angle to get solar gain during the winter, in one room on the south side of the home. Installed closable blinds inside the windows between the two panes of glass. The National Research was so impressed with her results that they wrote it up. I've often wondered since why people don't incorporate such a design in their homes. She got so much heat through those windows on sunny days even in dead winter that she heated the entire house during the day from that one window install, As soon as the sun started to set, she shut the blinds.

    Have seen some people install small wood stoves in their greenhouses, and been able to grow vegetables throughout the winter. You might be able to design a greenhouse for this, and also with some solar mass for heat storage? Or water tanks to absorb heat from the sun and (if there) stove during the day and radiate heat at night? Also, possible shading that could be closed at night to retain heat? .
  9. xman23

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 7, 2008
    Lackawaxen PA
    #3 insulation, it's cheep. Thick wall studs real thick ceiling rafters make insulation easy. There are high teck insulated wall panels. Watch out for builders that tell you you don't need that, there just cheating, trying to save them selfs a few bucks. South east facing good windows for that early morning thermal winter warming. Leave many trees to keep the summer sun off the house. You sound like you have a good idea what you need to do, you just need to do your homework. Today it's easy to build a green. Solar, other here can comment.

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