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We Believe in Saving Energy Ourselves
That is why, when we remodeled our own home, we took an "integrated systems approach" to saving energy and resources; that is, we considered how we could make each system, (doors, windows, walls, roofs, heating & hot water systems, and many others), all work optimally in context with all the others. The results were better than we had anticipated. Before we started, our home was probably using energy much like an average home. It was insulated, but not very well. We insulated and tightened up the house a great deal, installed a different type of heating system, and incorporated many other energy refinements.
Here are the results of our efforts:
If you would like to see some of the specific measures we took, the details follow the results.



(At Today's prices)







Heating Oil

$4675 $800$3875








Would you say the home energy savings were worth the investment? We save, at present prices, $4415 per year on home energy prices alone, and those savings are climbing every year.  The savings continue to increase, along with every increase in energy prices. Put another way,we cut our home energy costs to about 22%, or less than 1/4of what they would have been if we had not remodeled. (And you can do the same with your home!)


In addition to that, we have a home that is no longer cold and drafty and hard to heat. The warm, radiant floors are wonderful, especially in the bathrooms! Our home is much more comfortable with no drafts. In fact, in the winter, in order to know what the weather is like outside, we either have to look at the outside thermometers, or actually step outside to see. Our home is much quieter than before. The house does not dry out in winter, furniture does not crack and come apart, as the radiant heat coupled with the HRV, keep the humidity at about 45 - 50%; vitually ideal. We have tempered fresh air delivered into the home year around. Instead of being dark and depressing, our home is now open, light, and airy, and takes advantage of natural lighting, fresh air, and a connection to the outdoors.


Original conditions
Originally, our 2600 square foot ranch home, including the full basement, was heated with an oil fired hot air furnace. The basement itself, was not heated, except for a small amount of residual heat. Our hot water source was an 80 gallon electric water heater. For insulation, we had fiberglass; R11 foil faced in the attic and the walls. There was no insulation in the full basement. The house had 11 single pane double hung windows with storm windows. There were 2 pine, 6 panel exterior doors with storm doors, and 1 aluminum framed, 6'-0" sliding glass door. There was a masonry fireplace on an outside wall on the end of the house. There was an attached, 2 car garage on the north end.
Previous Home Energy Costs
The home energy costs by today's figures, came to approximately $4675 per year just for heating. In addition to that, hot water & electricity added approximately another $900 per year to the home's energy costs. Besides that, the house felt very drafty, as there was a tremendous amount of air leakage in the house. It was not comfortable; cold in winter, and hot in summer, and it was hard to heat.
Remodeling The Shell
When we remodeled, we gutted the home one room at a time, down to the framing and sheathing. On the outside, we replaced the existing windows with new Andersen LowE casement windows with storm panels. We added 5 windows on the south side. We reconfigured the door placement as well, installing 2 new insulated doors with full view double pane storm doors. We also added insulated full view doors with full view double pane storm doors off each bedroom, and 1 out of the walkout basement. We added another insulated door from the basement up into the garage. We also installed a new set of full view french doors off the rear dining area. We have not used storm doors over these as we might have, as we plan to bump out this area in the future to gain some added space. We installed trim and new cedar shingles over a carefully detailed home wrap with ice and water shield around all openings.
The Inside
Inside, we used an added 2 feet of blown in cellulose insulation in the attic space. Between the first floor joists to the basement, we installed R25 fiberglass insulation. We insulated between the original 2x4 wall studs with R13 fiberglass. Inside that, on walls and ceilings, as well as basement walls, we installed 1" of foil faced polyisocyanurate rigid insulation, carefully sealed with foam and tape at all joints. Inside that, on all the above surfaces, we furred out another 2 3/4". In this space, we installed all the utilities, electric, structured wiring for internet, cable, and speakers. We also installed another layer of R13 fiberglass insulation, after which we installed the finishes.
For heating we used a cold start, oil fired boiler, with 2 highly insulated indirect 40 gallon tanks, 1 for domestic hot water, and 1 for heating. In addition, we installed an above floor radiant heating system with 4 zones, 1 for the main living area, and 1 for each bedroom, each with it's own 7 day programmable thermostat. All interior walls are also insulated for sound as well as heat. All pipes are insulated and taped with closed cell foam. We also have an outdoor temperature reset for the indirect heating tank, and a chip in the controls that dumps any leftover heat in the boiler into the domestic hot water tank. To keep the water in the radiant tubes from stagnating during warm weather, we have another chip that "exercises" the water in the heating system during the warm season when there is no call for heat. We have a Heat Recovery Ventilator, (HRV), that runs 24/7 on low speed, and kicks up to a higher speed as needed, to ventilate the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry closet. We only use the fireplace on relatively warmer evenings, as we need to leave the damper open overnight, so the house won't get smoked up.

Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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