Reflections on a Deep Energy Retro Fit Part #1
Being a high performance builder, you have to practice what you preach. This summer we completed a deep energy retrofit to our 1976 California Contemporary. A beautiful home with huge vaulted ceilings, little insulation, and massive amounts of south facing glass designed to overheat the home during our hot summers. Since I have been studying / preaching Passive House, I used the following standards in my home:
Thermal Bridge free construction. We used Huber’s Zip R panel to basically wrap the home in an R 6.6 Thermal envelope.
Super Insulation. R 21 Walls & R 45 roof
The use of German tri pane windows. R-9 overall unit value.
Extreme air sealing. Every seam taped, spray foam with a goal to be air tight. Passive House needs to be under .6 ACH at 50 pascals. A small passive house we were involved with in S.C. blew a .47 ACH. The tightest house I have seen blew a .23 ACH. Current GA Code is 7 ACH. How good is your builder?
One of the first reflections my wife and I have had is the silence. It is extremely quiet. I don’t hear any ambient noise. I still hear a few birds chirping in the morning and the neighborhood rooster. There is no HVAC noise. No creaking when the wind blows. No rain noise at 3am when a storm blows in. No thumping of rap music when the NY Times delivery guy drives through the neighborhood at 4am. It has taken a while to get use to this sort of quiet.Next reflection I want to share is the general comfort. It was 9 degrees F the other morning. I was a toasty 71 degrees F . I said to myself, is it really as cold outside as the weatherman predicted last night? Looking at the thermometer, yes indeed it is. Putting my hand on the window, I noticed it was not cold to the touch. There were no drafts to be felt. One of the most common sources of drafts in a home are the convection currents cause by single are double pane windows. I also have no condensation on this window. On a cold day, my old windows would have had some sort of moisture. Maybe my wood sills won’t rot after 10 years or so.
In the next newsletter I’ll talk about IAQ or Indoor Air Quality.