In my local paper the other day there was a story about a guy that burns coal for heating his home in NH. It was an interesting story for two reasons: 1) because not many people burn coal in New England and 2) because he was told (or was under the impression) that he was burning “clean coal”.
The implication was that his coal stove was not as polluting as the next guy’s. More importantly, the price of coal today is low enough that he was saving money by burning coal over his oil backup furnace.
Green Living Journal published the story I wrote entitled “One Woman’s Journey to a Zero Energy Building”. I like how they advertised it on the cover (My Zero Net Energy Home) and put it out in Left Field
Click here if you would like to read it. I added some pictures in the blog post version. They didn’t have room for many pictures in the journal.
Houses that are taking advantage of good insulation and that are effectively sealing out air leaks need to be ventilated to ensure good air quality for the occupants. These ventilators come in two basic types today: HRV (heat recovery ventilator) and ERV (energy recovery ventilators).
An HRV will preheat the incoming air with the out-going air, which can make the ventilator very efficiency and minimizes the extra heating required when the outside air is very cold. An ERV preheats the incoming air just like the HRV, but can also maintain the humidity levels. ERVs are generally used when the house or business uses air conditioning in the summer as well as heat in the winter. If you plan to open your windows for the summer (no air conditioning), then the added humidity control won’t be helping your home.
Lots of Snow
It was a really nice snowstorm that we had last week — lots of snow and most of it fell in the daytime when we could look out the window or take a little stroll in it. Schools were closed ahead of time so no one worried about school bus accidents or getting up particularly early. Here in NH anyone who has a job that requires them to get out on the roads every day no matter the weather has 4 wheel drive. And the plows were out early and often keeping the major roads passable.
Two days later I was walking around the village of Enfield, NH and couldn’t help but notice some amazing icicles… and some houses with none. As you probably know, icicles represent melting snow off the roof… as it drips down over the edge of the warm roof it hits the freezing cold air and refreezes. They are really quite pretty.
Back of 78 Main St, Aug 2010
78 Main St
Back of 78 Main St, Dec 2010
, the house and new store we have been renovating over the last year, has been unoccupied for over 10 years. It was gutted quite a few years ago with just holes for the windows on the back and one side of the house. The windows were completed in the late spring and the siding was finished this fall (to be painted in the spring).
Now, in the last week of 2010, the house insulation is finally finished – and it is ready for winter (better late than never!). It is very exciting to walk in now and “feel” the warmth after years of feeling the outside air rush in. I bought the house almost 2 years ago and after the economic realities of 2009-2010 caused banks to run away from construction loans on multi-use properties … we were finally able to secure financing and began making serious progress on the house starting last September.
Our house renovation at 78 Main St
is finally moving along. It is now cold outside (as demonstrated by ice melting off the solar collector), so it’s time to insulate and button up this house!
When we bought this 1858 house it was gutted on the inside which meant we have a great opportunity to super-insulate it and “seal the envelope” to keep out air infiltration.
Mt Garfield, Oct
It is time to work on your weatherization projects and finding all sorts of ways to keep the heat inside your house this winter.
Here in New Hampshire and Vermont there are a number of resources to help us save money and keep the heat indoors. Here is a new website called UV Heat (Upper Valley Home Energy Action Team) that was started by 3 local non-profit organizations: SERG (Sustainable Energy Resource Group), COVER home repair, and the Upper Valley Housing Coalition.
It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the 78 Main St Renovation, and a lot has changed. Don Robert’s crew (Wayne, Aaron, and Bruce) have almost completed the framing of the new roof and walls within the old structure. David Dow (Double D Electric) has a permanent electrical connection to the house and some temporary outlets for us to use. We’ve also made some really good progress on the Solar Collector heating system (look for solar collector pictures and details in the next blog).
I knew very little about historic preservation when we bought this house. My least favorite subject in school was history. I always thought of myself as high-tech and modern. The first two houses that my husband and I bought (and where we raised our kids) were both new construction. I’ve never been nostalgic for “the good old days” or cared much to browse through antique shops.
A friend and colleague of mine, Brad Vietje, is building a straw bale house and will be working with the same solar heated storage tank as I am using for 78 Main St. He, too, has a goal for net zero energy, with solar PV for electricity and using local and sustainable materials everywhere.
I didn’t know anything about using straw bale for insulation — so I was happy to find that Brad is blogging about his house construction and has described it in some detail at his website: Vermont Straw Bale Adventures.
Straw is a local, sustainable material with good insulation characteristics. Here is the specific link where Brad outlines the benefits of straw bales: So Why Bales?.
Best of luck, Brad! And keep blogging.
Solar Thermal Storage
It took a while to get this going but we finally have a time-lapsed video of the building of the solar storage tank. This tank was designed by TSS (Thermal Storage Solutions) with installation help from Murphy Cell-Tech and Greenworks Solar.
I set up a webcam to get the time-lapsed photography of this tank being built. Unfortunately I had a problem on the second day of the build and missed some important parts. Fortunately, Paolo from Murphy Cell-Tech also set up a time-lapsed camera and his movie came out really well. Here is the link:
Youtube video: Building the Solar Thermal Storage Tank
For more information on the building of the tank, click here: Thermal Storage Tank, part 1 and here: Thermal Storage Tank, part 2. For more information on the entire renovation, click here: 78 Main – Renovation