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Old 01-28-09, 01:07 PM   #11
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If I had the cash I'd sell my house and build one of these. That would rule. It would be awesome to build my house from scratch the way I want it built instead of some half baked cookie cutter house that they build now.

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Old 01-28-09, 01:13 PM   #12
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I think it would be better to find good ways to retrofit a house. Obviously new construction will be most efficient and easiest, but there is already a house there, why not just make it efficient?
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Old 01-29-09, 07:25 AM   #13
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I'm sure you could convert a conventional house to a passive house, but it would include basically tearing off every outer wall in the place to add more insulation.
Not necessarily - you just add another layer of wall to the outside (or inside - but that's probaby harder, and reduces your liveable area).

The Wikipedia page on superinsulation has a section on retrofitting:

Superinsulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
It is possible to retrofit superinsulation to an existing older house. The easiest way is to build new exterior walls that allow more space for insulation. A vapor barrier can be installed on the outside of the original framing.

The cost of a superinsulation retrofit may need to be balanced against the future cost of heating fuel (which can be expected to fluctuate from year to year due to supply problems, natural disasters or geopolitical events).
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Old 01-29-09, 07:27 AM   #14
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I just can't get over the fact that that Illinois demo home has a 1000 watt heater for 1400+ square feet! And they don't even need it most of the time.
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Old 01-29-09, 09:17 AM   #15
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While that's all good, and I'd love to do that, adding inches to the outside of my house isn't really possible since I only have so much room on either side of my house before it becomes my neighbors yard...and I need to be able to walk around my house. I think there also may be some building restrictions needing a certain amoung of space. Plus, the front of the house would look really weird if I added size to it.

And if I added it inside, I'd lose a lot of living space. My kids rooms are already kind of small...this would make them really small. Not to mention my garage would shrink too since it's attached.

I'm not saying it's not completely possible, but this would cost a lot more money to do then I'd really want. I'd have to do some kind of combination of inside and outside expanding.
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Old 03-07-09, 10:43 AM   #16
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Default Passivehouse and retrofits

First, I came across this site where the architects are taking a holistic, systen engineering approach and are selling contemporary LEEDS certified houses with NO Premium cost over the other houses in the neighborhood:
100K House - building an affordable modern & green (LEED) home

Further, they are applying the same methodology to tackle the PassiveHouse standard:
The Philadelphia Passive Project - 100k and the Passive House Standard | 100K House Blog

As TimJFowler said, insulation, indoor air quality and the like are afterthoughts in traditional home building, so retrofits run into the cost of polishing a turd. If you goal is to have a shiny ball, you should start with a billiard ball, not a turd. Ex: by incorporating SIP's to make the new home shell, you get both lower cost because they cut down on labor cost and eliminate framing. The result is High R value, no thermal bridging, and a tight envelope.

As a person who has done extensive thermal work to their house, see my posts here (larryrose11)
Attic insulation - Fuel Economy, Hypermiling, EcoModding News and Forum - EcoModder.com
I have sealed my attic (attic penetrations, all wall headers), added seals to the attic hatch, added loads of cellulose, (But not enough!!), and pollyiso insulation blocks at the eaves, polyurethane foam in the wall stud cavity with 1 inch pollyiso board over that, and basement joist pockets (cavity's made by floor joists and cement basement walls) and new windows (U=0.28) throughout. the list goes on. It is a pain to polish a turd. It is not realistic to achieve passiveness as a retrofit. you could not really address the problem of foundation insulation. That being said, the work I have done here have made HUGE differences in the utility bills, Indoor air quality and home comfort. Since the exterior remodel where all the polyurethane foam went in, there has been a dramatic decrease in sickness in the family, and a 17% decrease in heating energy use (when normalizes by heating degree days) despite adding 2 additional windows and a new door wall. A big increase in gas costs here means my bills weren't a low as I calculated in my post on ecomodder.

Bang for the buck. The attic is where you get the most cost effective place for your money. Seal theattic and and go for R50-60. 60/3.5=17.14 inches of ceulose. It may sound li9ke overkill, but it is not. Beyond that, If you are going to remodel the outside of your house, I would recommended the full tear off and at least some polyurethane form in the wall cavity's eaves, and basement. Big difference in home tightness there. Adding cellulose over that would probably be fine, but put foam decking, 1+ inch of R6.5 board, over the studs before the new cladding. Last but not least are windows. I'm not sure energystar standards are enough for cold climates.
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Old 03-08-09, 10:34 AM   #17
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Larry, how come it decreased sickness in the house? Just curious.

And do you happen to have pictures of what you did? I'd love to see them. I'm not quiet understanding everything you're saying because I don't always know all the home reno lingo. What would you recommend sealing things with in the attic? I have blown insulation in there now, but I'm going to go up there in spring and make sure nothing is leaking. So I'm going to seal up all the lights and stuff. Would you use the spray foam or caulking for that?

Where is the wall's cavity eaves? Is that gotten to from the attic or is that only accessible if you tear off the outside walls of your house like you did? Anyway, any info, pics, etc... would be helpful as I'd like to do something similar to what you're doing.

Also I was wondering, if you were to seal the light fixtures in your attic, what do you do if you ever want to change those fixtures? I want to put in ceiling fans and replace the lights in a couple of parts of my house. Thanks.
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Old 03-08-09, 09:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
Larry, how come it decreased sickness in the house? Just curious.
We had mildew problems from condensation, around cold air leaks. This resulted in a low levil sickness and frequent colds for most of the winter. The foam in the walls sealed everything up and insulated it all. The air now comes in 1 spot in the utility room, a 6 inch tube with a passive barometric operated mark up vent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
do you happen to have pictures of what you did? I'd love to see them. I'm not quiet understanding everything you're saying because I don't always know all the home renew lingo.
see attached pics. The last you can see the new windows, and the 1 inch foasm decking I had put over the frame to eliminate thermal bridging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
What would you recommend sealing things with in the attic? I have blown insulation in there now, but I'm going to go up there in spring and make sure nothing is leaking. So I'm going to seal up all the lights and stuff. Would you use the spray foam or caulking for that?
Remember, the goal is to make an air tight seal between the living space and the non-living space. Seal up all the wall headers in the attic: The tops of all the walls. seal it with spray foam, or GreatStuff foam. As for the recessed lights, make boxes out of foam board sealed up with foam. make sure that the boxes have about 2-3cm of clearance on each side of the fixture. Push the foam box over the recessed fixture, and attache it to the attic floor, sealing it in place with spray foam. ALSO, make sure that the attic hatch door is also sealed. Reienforce the attic dooe with wood (2*4's?) and use EPDM stick on window seal strips to make the seal, similar to a front door.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
Where is the wall's cavity eaves?
In the pic - baffels_installed.JPG, the area labeled "Cavity to be filled with spray foam." you cabn see the foam baffels I installed awaiting thew foam contractor. The old tar board decking anf old roof flashing is still in place. I replaced the flashing with a ventilated drip edge:
Roof Ventilation and Drip Edge System
When I was in the attic last, I installed 5 inch thick foam plugs in the eves, where the cellulose insulation is insufficient. See attached diagram, I could see daylight in the air passages.
Attached Thumbnails
baffels_installed-jpg   foam_exterior-jpg   foam_decking-jpg   eve_inslulation-jpg  
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Old 03-09-09, 10:01 AM   #19
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Wow, thanks for this Larry. I see I've got quite a bit to do when I go up in my attic this spring. Take me a shovel up there and move some cellulose around so I can get to everything.

I get mildew and possibly mold around the windowsill in my house. I'm going to have to take off all the frame and spray foam the window too. Not to mention caulk it from the outside. I better start making a list of what i want to do and in what order. Once I change the lights to ceiling fans I'll go up there and start working on the cieling. I may have more questions for you as time goes on. Thanks again.
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Old 03-09-09, 11:44 AM   #20
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Higgy,
do you have a basement? Sealing up where the house sits on the foundation makes a big difference. It made a 7 deg (F) difference alone in my basement.

Dont forget to seal up your ducts, or at least the ones you can get to.
Read here:
Air Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR : ENERGY STAR

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