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Building With Tomorrows Technology Today...

Living in HarmonyWith Nature

Beyond just lower utility bills,

Most of the population live in or new towns.

This does mean we can't incorporate some rules of maintaining our planets biodiversity. For more then 30 years our planets smartest scientist have know the burning of all fossil fuel dramatically increase carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon acts like a blanket on natural heating and cooling environment

There are other financial incentives

to buy or build green homes. Like any other industry, many banks and credit unions recognize the green market trend, and the necessity to offer at least something 'eco' in their product line. So speak to your institution and ask what programs are available.

Some banks offer incentives for energy efficient upgrades, particularly when certifications are involved - like LEED, or Energy Star windows, doors and appliances. Along with those initial incentives, adding efficient components usually save money over their lifetimes, so it’s a win-win situation.

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Is to use all the laws of thermodynamics to our best advantage

We incorporate as much insulation as possible to reduce the conduction of heat to the environment; reduce drafts by sealing the house well, and incorporate ventilation where and when we want it by directing and controlling convection; and we can take advantage of radiate energy from the sun in the winter through the use of passive solar design.

 

 

 

 

Heat Movement in Your House Uses the Law the of Thermodynamics

The first law of thermodynamics:

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only change from one form to another like heat to cold or cold to heat

Mechanical energy: is the energy of anything in motion. The chemical energy in petroleum is burned and released to create mechanical energy. An example is a car going from place to place.
Potential energy: distorted differences in altitude. Hydropower like electric dams is stored potential energy in the form of water. Water moving from a higher altitude to a lower altitude while spinning a turbine generator to create electricity.

The second law of thermodynamics

The second law of thermodynamics says that energy can be changed from one form to another, but something is always lost in the process. In other words there is no such thing as a free lunch when we convert energy.
Example: When you burn petroleum, you lose some of the chemical potential energy in the form of heat.

Heat is the final or lower form of energy. At the end of the day, all the energy we use turns into heat that is radiated from the Earth to the universe, an infinite heat sink. The more times energy is converted from one form to another, the more heat is lost in the process.

There are three types of heat transfer in your house.

Conduction: is the process whereby heat flows through a material.
Thermal conduction is analogous to electrical currents; if it conducts electricity it will conduct heat. Insulation in your wall slows the rate of conduction and is a better insulator than wood and wood is a better insulator than metal. Would you rather pick up a hot frying pan with a cast-iron handle or a wooden handle?
Convection: is heat transferred in a gas or liquid by the circulation of currents.
Convection is based on the fact that warm air (or water) rises and cold air falls. A chimney works because of convection. Drafts form at single glazed windows because the window cools the air, which gets heavier and moves down the window and then across your floor.
Radiation: is energy radiated or transmitted as rays or waves.
Radiation is how the sun works to heat the earth. On a warm day it is hotter in the direct sun than in the shade, even though the temperature is the same. Warm surfaces radiate toward cold objects.

A few final thoughts

Does your contractor understand these basic forms of heat and how they relate to your home? Does the addition of more insulation help your structure or is it just a waste of your money? What type of windows should you buy today to replace your old ones? Hint: more is better. Does your contractor understand how a four-foot soffit is a design that saves on energy bills? If not, find someone else.

Insulation

Next to orientating the house on the site, choosing the quantity and type of insulation are the two most important decisions that affect the comfort and energy efficiency of a house. It is the most important phase of implementing the principles of building science. Like the foundation and framing, insulation is a fundamental concept, incorporated into the shell of the building during construction. With the possible exception of attic insulation, it’s tough and expensive to alter the installation package once the house is built. The place to make the right choice is at the start of the project.

Insulation defines thermal barrier of the house: this is the pathway for heat loss (or, we hope, for heat containment). We typically focus on the R-value of insulation: that is, its inherent resistance to the flow of heat through the building envelope. These numbers can be somewhat deceptive, and although R-value is a key consideration, it’s not the only one. How effective insulation blocks the flow of air, and moisture, through wall and ceiling cavities is another. In this regard some types of insulation perform better than others.

Types of Insulation

In the end, no single type of insulation does everything perfectly. There are trade-offs with all of them, either in terms of their thermal performance, cost, availability, how many chemical additives they  contain, and whether they can be recycled at the end of their useful life. In general however, what’s most important is performance—creating effective thermal barriers that save money and resources over the life of the building.

Fiberglass batts

For a variety of reasons, fiberglass batts get used more often than any other type of insulation in the US homes. They are available at virtually any building supplier in a variety of thicknesses and densities both faced and un-faced, and sizes available in 16-inch and 24-inch on center framing. The devil’s in the details batts have to fit the cavity perfectly if they’re going to be effective, and a must be cut and fitted carefully around pipes, ducts, wires, and electrical boxes.

Non-fiberglass batts

Batt insulation is also made from mineral wool produced from certain types of rock or blast furnace slag, as well as natural fibers such as cotton and wool. Rock and Slate wool, especially outside the US, are said to be comparable in cost to fiberglass, but there may be substantially more in some markets. With a higher density than fiberglass, it has a higher R-value (up to 4.2 per inch, according to one manufacture), and it’s better at deadening sound. It’s also highly resistant to fire and it doesn’t lose its insulating value when it gets wet.

Wool and cotton batts

Cotton batts are niche products, available from select manufactures and at a higher cost than other options. But they are attractive on other levels. Bonded Logic Incorporated says its UltraTouch cotton batt insulation is made from 85% postindustrial denim waste, the batts are reassuringly soft and can be handled without itching. They are made without chemical irritants, have minimal embodied energy, and are 100% recyclable. Like mineral wool, however, cotton bats come in more limited thicknesses than fiberglass and they are not produced in a face version. They are made for a friction fit in 2x4 and 2x6 walls with R-values ranging from R-13 to R-21.

A Few Kind Words
  • Treat insulation recommendations from the Department of Energy as minimums. Aim for insulation levels that are 50% better.
  • Use insulation that completely fills the wall and ceiling cavities, and reduces or eliminates air leaks from structural insulation panels, spray-in foam, or spray-in cellulose or fiberglass are the best products to use for this.
  • Avoid fiberglass batts insulation,  it contains  ammonium sulfate.
  • Avoid fiberglass batts if possible; if they must  be used make sure the installer knows what he’s doing. Supplement bats with a layer of rigid foam insulation on the exterior of the building.
  • Do not use light gauge steel framing on exterior walls without a layer of exterior insulation to counteract the thermal bridging.
  • When calculating the desired thermal performance of wall or ceiling don’t forget to include the effects of doors, windows, and other materials that penetrate the building envelope. In general, real performance will be lower than normal R-value is of the installation you are using. Plan accordingly
  • Don’t confuse a thermal barrier with an air barrier. One retards the flow of heat, the other prevents air infiltration and the migration of water vapor into the wall and ceiling cavities. Both are important.

Water Heaters

Tank-type water heaters are commodity appliances; most run on either electricity or gas. Within both categories, the length of the warranty is a good benchmark for overall quality. Water heaters can last longer than the warranty period, but once you hit that mark it’s time to start watching for leaks. In this context, it’s better to buy the heater with the longer warranty. Although this doesn’t make much apparent sense to someone who plans to be in a house for a short period of time, there is a lot of embodied energy in producing a water heater. It’s wasteful to buy appliances that wear out prematurely.

From an energy standpoint, tank water heaters are rated based on their energy factors. This is a measure of the units overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced over a typical day. The energy efficiency takes into account the following:

  • How efficiently the source of energy is converted  into hot water
  • How much energy is lost from the tank
  • How much water is lost as it circulates through the water tank and inlet/outlet pipes

The higher the EF, the more efficient the heater. Look for a model with an EF of at least 0.60, electric water heaters generally have higher efficiency ratings than gas-fired water heaters, but it still costs more to heat the water with electricity than it does with gas.

The energy factor is only one consideration in purchasing a water heater—sizing the heater to the load is also important. Not only do water heaters work better when they are sized properly, but the more they are used the longer they last. When water tends to sit in the tank without being circulated, standby losses are higher and the tank is more likely to corrode.

No matter what kind of water heater you end up installing, lower the set temperature 120°F to save energy. A gas-fired water heater will cost thousands of dollars less to operate over its lifetime than electric water heater, but the level of insulation around the tank is also key. A little-known option is to buy a California builder model water heater; these water heaters are all made by large manufacturers and available in both gas and electric models. Because California’s energy code is among the most stringent in the country, major manufacturers make water heaters with R15 insulation rather than the typical R6 insulation just for that market. It may take an additional week or two for your installer to get one, but it will be only slightly more expensive and it will have a higher efficiency rating.

On-demand heaters

On-demand or tankless water heaters run only when someone turns on a hot water tap. 1 Water starts flowing through the heater, warmed by the electric or gas-fired of the device. When the tap is shut off so is the heater. One obvious advantage is that there are no standby losses, which in a tank-type here can account for as much as 15% of the total water-heating bill. Assuming the heater is sized correctly, you won’t run out of hot water, and a tankless heater can be placed on the wall or ceiling to free up more floor space.
On-demand heaters run on gas or electricity. Of the two, gas is more economical. Electric tankless heaters draw a lot of current and may require an expensive upgrade to the main electrical panel.

One disadvantage of tankless heaters in general is that they can be three or four times as expensive as a tank heater. If you install the California version of a tank heater, standby losses are sharply reduced, making the benefits of a tankless heater that much less dramatic. Moreover, there’s an argument to be made that having unlimited hot water encourages people to take longer showers, thereby reducing energy savings they might have gained.

One way to take advantage of tankless heaters is to use them for both domestic hot water and space heating. This can be particularly effective if you are building an addition that requires additional heat, like a new master bedroom suite. Because of its compact size a tankless heater can be placed near the bathroom, reducing the length a plumbing runs, and used to heat the space as well as provide hot water.

Indirect heaters

Indirect heaters, sometimes called sidecar heaters, look like conventional tank heaters but the water is heated by a loop from a gas- or oil-fired burner. One advantage is obvious—you don’t have to separate heating equipment just for the water. Instead, the device uses hot water the boiler is already producing for the hydronic heating system, at least during the winter. Indirect heaters also have the lowest lifecycle costs of any type here because they last longer (30 years compared to an average of 13 for some types of tank heaters). They have an annual energy cost that rivals those for high-efficiency, on-demand gas heaters, but they cost much less. The downside is that the boiler runs all summer.

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