TalkAbout Jazz from western Colorado

A practical model for control heating costs

The largest energy expenditure for households in our part of the world is heating, so that is the best place to start. Some of these suggestions are easier to carry out in new construction rather than remodeling.

  1. Over-insulate your house: at least R-60 to R-80 in the ceiling, R-20 in the walls, R-20 on the foundation and stem-wall, movable insulation over windows and skylights, insulated doors and garage doors, ….
  2. Make the house as tight as possible with house-wrap, caulked windows, doors, and wall stud-plates to concrete footers, weather-stripping, tight dampers on all vents (fireplaces, stoves, bathrooms), if you have a fireplace, give it a damper-controlled air inlet from the outside, …
  3. Orient the house for maximum solar gain, with the major axis East-West and most windows on the South. Put garages or other un-heated spaces on the North, and closets along outside walls, ….
  4. Consider a solar-gain stored heating system
    1. - a passive system with a glazed trombe-michael wall on the south and movable insulation (the massive wall stores heat for radiation into the living space during the night);
    2. - an active air-system with blowers taking hot air from the back-side of the south roof and ducting it into storage (rock box, ducts in concrete flooring, …) for radiant or forced air circulation during the night;
    3. - an active hot-water system with collectors and a storage tank of 1.5 to 2.0 gallons per square foot of collector area—the hot water from the storage tank can pre-heat domestic hot water and in-floor radiant heat or baseboard heating systems.
    4. - Since active solar heating systems require electricity to move hot fluids, consider photo-voltaic panels with a battery back-up to operate an active heating system—this ensures you have heat even when your local electrical utility is off-line.
  5. If you are building a new structure, consider an earth-bermed house—the earthen mass helps with both heating and cooling.

If you want to save significant amounts of electricity without remodeling or building anew, replace your refrigerator and freezer with new energy-efficient models, and replace all resistance lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs.