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Old 01-02-09, 10:05 PM   #1
GenKreton
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Default Shelter/ Passive Houses

Quote:
A technique known in the US and Canada as superinsulation and called "passive housing" in Europe is really getting notice and being adopted by more architects. The concept is simple, you use a *lot* more insulation and things like triple pane gas filled windows and tighten up the house to keep the warm or cool air in, reducing energy costs dramatically.

To avoid stuffiness and molds, etc, an air heat exchanger is installed, along with good air filters. You have planned air in and out, and it scavenges the heat and returns it to the home. The result is a home that uses perhaps only 1/20th of the energy a "normal" home of similar size might use, even so called "good cents" home design pushed by the utility companies. Those designs are simply not adequate, they are the equivalent of going out with just a T shirt in the winter compared to a superinsulated home which would be a full snowmobile suit complete with helmet. Here's an article about the new (old) industry.

Passive houses and superinsulation

Another advantage of such systems is, once the major energy costs of maintaining a home month to month are conquered, making up the difference in energy needs for lighting, etc, is *much* cheaper then if you want to go solar PV for example. Heating and cooling are the big energy costs for most homes, after that, the electric or natural gas bill falls off rapidly for other uses. Spend more upfront in better design, where it rapidly pays itself off in cheaper monthly "bills", or keep writing that big check to the energy cartels forever.... seems like getting independent and keeping your cash is a better idea,

More linkage:

Superinsulation

Passive House
A post by a friend made here Survival Resources News Daily
Interesting stuff.

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Old 01-03-09, 02:59 PM   #2
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Nice post and good info. It sounds like this should have been common sense a long time ago. I guess low fuel prices really had people satisfied though. I know I look forward to blowing the insulation into my attic and having a much more comfortable house and lower heating bill soon!
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Old 01-03-09, 11:12 PM   #3
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That is awesome. I wish my house was made that way. I don't know about the US, but why is it here in Canada, whenever they make newer homes that are suppose to be "better" they are still cutting corners and doing the minimum they need to do instead of building really well made homes like in the article. It's like if you want anything good, you have to learn about it and do it yourself.
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Old 06-22-09, 11:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
That is awesome. I wish my house was made that way. I don't know about the US, but why is it here in Canada, whenever they make newer homes that are suppose to be "better" they are still cutting corners and doing the minimum they need to do instead of building really well made homes like in the article.
Nobody is gonna ooh and ahh over a super high efficiency ERV or notice ultra efficient fenestration that might cost 5x as much as normal windows... well except us.
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Old 01-04-09, 06:33 AM   #5
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Have seen such a house once on TV. Their only heating system is human heat
The problem is when it is too cold outside, they have to invite people to heat the house.

This reminds me a French commercial (for natural gas company) :
Code:
Never did something better since human heat.
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Old 01-04-09, 12:31 PM   #6
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I'm having a hard time finding out what "stuffiness" really is in qualitative and preferably quantified terms. What exactly leads to that feeling and how much of whatever can the air have before we notice?
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Old 01-09-09, 08:13 AM   #7
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Looks like the US is getting on board with this as well. I just got this link from larryrose. Thanks Larry.

Super-efficient. Cost effective. Carbon-neutrality within reach. Today.
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Old 01-09-09, 04:26 PM   #8
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So, are there things we can do to our homes to make them more like this? Or does the house have to be built from the ground up to use all the techniques?
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Old 01-09-09, 06:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Higgy View Post
So, are there things we can do to our homes to make them more like this? Or does the house have to be built from the ground up to use all the techniques?
My understanding is you have to plan and build a "Passive House" from the ground up. A Passive House is super-insulated on all sides and air-tight with air-exchangers which could be difficult to retro-fit into an existing structure. From conversations with an architect friend and an insulation contractor the "traditional" approach to construction in the U.S. treats insulation as an afterthought.

I'm still working on improving my own home, but I doubt I can make it as efficient as a "Passive House".

Here is the website of a German architect located in New Mexico who is designing Passive Houses Zero Energy, Carbon Neutral: The Passive House Standard

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Old 01-11-09, 08:55 AM   #10
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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. Say an average 2x4 wall is filled with fiberglass. That is R-11 per ColoradoENERGY.org - R-Value Table. Not even remotely close to what it should be with a passive house (R40+). Even with 2x6 construction it doesn't get that much better as it would only be about R16.5. You'd literally need to thicken your walls, or use a better R-value insulating material. Fiberglass is about R3.5 per inch. Polyurethane which is what I believe is the blown in foam is R6.5 per inch (and seals the house air tight). Even using that good stuff, you'd need 2x6 construction and fill it completely full to get close to R40.

What they did on my house which is old real 2x4 construction is add a layer of polystyrene to the outside of the wall between it and the house wrap and siding. I'm not sure how thick it is unfortunately, but thats another R2 to R5. If I ripped out the lathe and plaster and redid the walls ever, I'd think about throwing up 1 to 2 inches of polyiso insulation on the outside wall before putting up drywall. This would add another R7.2 to R14.5 to the wall and cover up some of the woods thermal bridging, but it would also make the room a bit smaller. In my case, I'd be willing to do that. If I did all that, my walls would still fall quite short of R40 unfortunately. It would probably put me somewhere around R26-33, but a heck of a lot better than my current ~R16.
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