May 11, 2016
The past year saw us realizing dramatically improved methods for increasing energy efficiency for our homes. As the timberframe is the structure, the walls and roof can be used as “curtains”, creating a continuous blanket around the frame. We have created a double wall system where the outer weather proof layer protects against moisture, and wind and contains the bulk of the insulation. On the inner layer we insulate again, after the wiring and plumbing is in place. With this system there are no thermal bridges . Increased attention to air barriers greatly reduce the exchange of air in the home, thus reducing heating and cooling requirements.
One of the homes built met the standards of “Passive House”, which means that the home can be comfortable throughout the winter without the addition of a a heat source! The sun, the people within the home, and their electronics provide enough to heat the home, and the super insulation of 2-foot walls and roof keeps it all inside.
The foundation is another place where insulation can be improved in many homes. We start with rigid foam under the foundation slab. If it is a full basement, the concrete is insulated from the outside, to keep the thermal mass inside the home.
Even in more conventional, heated homes, reductions in heating costs can be achieved by these improved insulating techniques. In a recent study comparing the “payback” of various energy-efficient factors in a house build, one of the best returns was found to be in the quality of the windows installed. Installing triple pane windows returns your investment in energy savings within 3 1/2 years (see the spring 2016 issue of La Maison du 21e Siècle).
Depending on budget and personal preferences, the design of your particular home can be customized to optimize the energy you and your family will consume.