energy study

We designed a little 75 square feet house. We put it in the best energy efficiency programs and we made a few versions of it. The first was made out of brick and it was covered with polystyrene.

 

The second version was the “typical” lightweight wooden home. In this program we changed the walls and windows, the U,R values and the infiltration levels so we can estimate our houses efficiency compared to the classical ones. Then we played around with the data. The pictures you see are an excel table/chart, the result being generated from millions of calculations.

Typical house 1
Typical house 2
Test house 1
Test house 2
Test house 3
Test house 4
Test house 5
Test house 6
Test house 7
Test house 8

from the study.

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zero-energy-house-75-03
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zero-energy-house-75-05

The insulation does not helps much if the infiltration and airflow is not under control. The infiltration has to be in control. Until the infiltration and air exchange is not under control do not do anything.

 

Conclusion. The doors and windows are too thin. Irrelevant of the U or R values (insulation values) in time they will : bend, crack, deform. They will let air in. (30 30 30 rule) Make windows unmovable and put an insulated shutter on them. Build the external doors this way. Simplify things. We need most of our glazing to face South (in the northern hemisphere). Read about the greenhouse effect. We need “batteries”  inside to store free heat for the evenings. Read about the chimney effect.

 

Every project that will leave my hands has to be built with millimetric precision, which means durability. Huh, that was tough. Problem solved. However we’ll not discuss the structure itself, instead have a look at these examples (doors & windows). I realized that one thing is what we see on a sheet and another is time.

 

There are no shortcuts. The architecture, structure and engineering that we had before. We throw it out on the window. Let’s start from scratch. Not needed perhaps? The structure itself should be easy to build with mm precision. It should hold its position for many years to come. Slightly above average skilled builders should be able to build it with average equipment.The technology should be so “simple” that it has to be perfect right from the start. And we solved it. It’s quite simple. Read the article about the doors, windows | chimney effect  they are great examples.

 

Contact with the earth. Have a look out the 30/30/30 rule, we can’t let the earth cool down the house in the winter. We will use concrete, granite, and large amounts of water within the house. These materials will be used as a battery storing the extra energy in them. We still have to insulate them from the foundations, which can take form of a layer of 30-60cm wood or wooden pylons.In this way we insulate it from the cold foundations. (in hot climate we’ll dig the house in the ground)

 

Conclusions. Insulation thickness on the hole does not mean much. In early stages of designing we will use the best programs to help us decide about the materials we will use, their thickness and quantity. It will make perfect sense to put 10 more centimeters of insulation on the inner walls (chimney effect) or not. It will help decide about the frames needed.

 

We’ll be able to appreciate the building cost, materials and workmanship needed. For example: you can see it crystal clear on the charts. After a given thickness the results are extremely small. However, putting the same house on the top of a hill, in the mountains or in the protection of high vegetation, will change everything.

 

Exact place. Because everything depends on the exact place where the house is positioned. We have to know the exact location to form an opinion. That’s the first step. Weather, averages and extremes, landscape, wind, sun, trees, lawn, microclimate, every single big or small detail can change the outcome of a project. What works for one house and one design it’s absolutely worthless in another place.

 

Most people want to convince me to make standard zero energy houses. (houses that you can just ship and build everywhere). It is not possible and not realistic. It’s about the pros and cons of a terrain and its surroundings and about harvesting its full potential. It’s about harnessing the pros to the fullest and wasting as little as possible on the weaknesses It’s not about the house. It’s about the surroundings. Read about how to benefit the most picking a good terrain.

Some would try to convince you not to build there. It’s just crazy: no water, no water pipes, sewage etc. They would probably try to convince you to insulate it very well as well and use little windows.

 

Slightly exaggerate here to make my point. Pour concrete for the walls and for the foundations to …as much as possible (30/30/30 rule). We wouldn’t even put windows or acrylic sheets. Insulation …don’t even think about it. No need for complications. Just leave concrete as it is. We would put just a thin layer of nylon instead of windows.

 

Guess why? Because you have strong constant winds. With cheap turbines and two tesla accumulators you could power up the whole valley with the excess energy left. That’s why if you have any questions regarded to anything related to building a house my answer is: show me the terrain first. Google earth, the exact location, pictures, videos and the neighborhood.

 

Now what? Read the whole website and you to can live in a home that doesn’t use up your money, health and energy. Stand against paying monthly bills and maintenance giving your children the healthiest food.