Home energy retrofit

Discussion in 'Environmental' started by hobbit, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    So I haven't read or posted here in quite a while -- over
    summer 2012 I wound up busy with a rather different project:
    what's called a "deep energy retrofit" on the house,
    resulting in a MASSIVE writeup about everything that it
    involved. If you're even the slightest bit into energy
    topics, construction, insulation, HVAC, or home geekery
    of any sort, you'll probably be pretty entertained.
    Go to


    and follow the simple instructions, which also explain
    why this indirection step is taken.

    More recently I've been browsing through some of the
    "commentary driving" videos one can find on youtube, and
    they're pretty awesome illustrations of the attention
    paid by a well-trained driver. Mostly from the UK, where
    they seem to have far more clue about this sort of thing
    than in the US, and the slightly different terminology for
    signs and lane markings and vehicle positioning is rather

    Still got the same Prius, still pulling around 60 mpg on
    yearly average. It blew a wheel bearing over the holidays,
    maybe the first unscheduled maintenance the car's had in
    about 190,000 miles. I'll have a page about that up in
    the usual place soon.

  2. alvaro84

    alvaro84 Homura-chan's selfishness

    We did similar things to our new-to-us house last year (and haven't finished yet), so I find your article rather interesting. Even though I often can't really handle your units :D I'll need to do some research, I got used to mpg so I probably can handle the rest too :D I think I'll have questions and pictures about our construction works too.

    Our home is a small brick house anyway, it had tile stove heating, which proved inadequate last winter, without the insulation we have now. We didn't have the budget to fancy high-tech stuff as ground-to-air heat pumps or heat regenerating vents, but we're planning to equip the latter. Our demolition part was a deeper, more low-level operation, we had to literally destroy and re-build the whole roof in a different shape. It also gave a lot more space up there (and extended the ground floor too, to gain even a bit more space and less outer surface).

    Now we heat the house with basically toys (1.7kW fan heater, 0.6kW oil radiator and a 0.3kW dehumidifier's waste heat), not using their whole capacity, not even when controlled power is on. The two of us radiate waste heat too, and it seems to really count besides this heating. The lower walls ('skirts' under the floor level) are still not insulated, we just glued some EPS on the basement ceiling, but it'll be done next year too.

    Attic insulation is 25cm (9.84") of mineral wool, walls are covered with 16cm (6.3") of graphite-doped EPS, and we plan 10cm (3.94") of XPS on the lower walls. Windows are 3-ply u(glass)=0.6 ones with wooden frames, and there's one roof window of u(glass)=1.1 - the weakest point, but doesn't seem to hurt too much.

    One air tube has been built in the roof works, but nothing else for the vents yet. This tube will draw the air out from the bathroom and the kitchen, intakes are still nowhere at the moment, so we just open the windows, just like before the new windows.
  3. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Good to see you back.
  4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome back. An enjoyable read, as far as I've got.

    Houses are often bigger energy users than cars in colder locations. There's a lot that could be done to our house to improve things. Razing it, for one. It's built for the way life used to be. ;)
  5. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    Phew! Made it all the way through this fascinating retrofit write-up. Started on the 30th or 31st, finished here on the 4th.

    I am frankly shocked that even an uber-informed customer cannot get the trades to respect the underlying fundamental goals of the project. The lack of coordination is less surprising, having done extensive renovations with contractors over the last 15 years.

    There is no doubt your home is now a 1 in a 1,000 or better for efficiency. Yet you documented many instances that only worked out due to your oversight, and others that could be problems down the road for no good reason.

    As a less technical customer in an area less concerned with efficiency, it is disheartening to think of my road to a highly efficient home.

    Thanks for doing more than your fair share of educating the industry and for the great documentation of your project.

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