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Old 01-17-2022, 04:08 PM   #161
montcalm
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This whole discussion has prompted me to actually look into some real plans for my own home. Unfortunately, in NY, due to our taxes and the way our neighborhoods tend to develop wealth, I'm not in a position where I can expect any kind of ROI on major investments in my home. What I do is fix what's broken, or add efficiency. Beautification and luxury do not compute for my neighborhood and price point.

WTBS, Solar does seem like a great investment for me. I have a prime lot, minimal shading and great summer potential. Winter here by the numbers are worse than other areas I've looked at in terms of sun exposure. I don't know my roof pitch as I've never measured it, but I'd guess it's between 15-18 deg. I won't be able to brush it, it's 20' up. Usually our snow is light and when we have big dumps it thaws relatively quickly. Rare we get years it stays cold and snowy. I know this for certain because I pay close attention because of my skiing hobby. I need to look and see what these new 22% panels are going to run because I only have a small area. For 13 panels I want as much horsepower as I can generate.

No way I can net zero, but I will certainly pay them back in half their expected life and be in the black from there.

I want to evaluate air-sourced heat pump water heaters. I looked at some quick data and I believe they would be more efficient, and cheaper to operate than NG. I just replaced mine and never thought of anything else because the gas line is there, but that may be a worthwhile upgrade when that needs to go.

For AC, I'm using window units, and over 24,000 Btu/h for 1300 sq. ft. And it's still not completely effective at distributing the temp. I did a calculation of the COP and energy usage for all of them, and surely even a modestly efficient 2-ton AC would be much better. They are hugely expensive though. But I must say, it's a different game here than in the mountains. We get about a month of temps where you can open the windows but you might be running the heat at night, then it's hot and humid. And it doesn't let up until the end of September. I'm using about 2400 kWh a year on electric for AC. I think I could reduce that a lot.

I'm not sure about the future for heat here. It's going to be hard to give up that NG binky. I could add an air-sourced heat pump, but that's not going to work all the time - maybe 90% of heating needs could be met, and I'd still need a backup. Keep my NG online as the backup? Seems like a lot of expense for a backup and boost source. Maybe I'll get good mileage out of my furnace if I switch sooner. I feel the state and/or power companies are going to have to make this an easier decision...
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Old 01-17-2022, 11:05 PM   #162
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So per moorgm's comments, I went back and looked at off-grid with a few concessions:

- Wood primary heat + propane backup
- propane hot water
- propane stove

I adjusted my monthly electric to 325kW hours removing 90kWh for the electric stove (3kWh/day X 30days ave).

November is the worst month per average data with heat out of the equation but 11kW (33 panels ~$8k) gives you a 2X factor (650kWh). This works out to around 11kWh per day, so (2) 24kWh batteries ($20k) will give you 4 days of storage. Beyond that, it's candles. You could probably survive this.

I'm almost sure a generator would be cheaper, but... and you'd probably want at least a small one as a backup.

Might just be cheaper to do a system half as big with one battery and go to Florida for the winter...
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Old Yesterday, 08:04 AM   #163
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I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.
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Old Yesterday, 08:36 AM   #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billconner View Post
Random responses:
I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.
As I understand it, the foam is only required when it's a "+X". They have a footnote in the code that says it must be continuous. There is no such note for the floor so I assume that means you can meet the R30 requirement by any combination of batts and/or continuous.


Yeah, I asked where in the code it was the specifics of posts and piers. I don't think there is any. As I see it's only soil pressures required to support the load. I'd assume, like you said earlier, you'd probably have to have an engineer submit the design for approval by the local jurisdiction.
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Old Yesterday, 09:29 AM   #165
John H Swanson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billconner View Post
Random responses:
I assume R30 floors are 2x10 or include foam. I'd certainly try to include a couple inches of foam.

The "cabin exception" - don't think that is in NYS code - may be local jurisdiction.

I also don't think you'll find any code provision that allows any plumbing DWV without a full septic system. I'm sure it's done. I think not allowing and codifying gray water systems is a mistake.

I'll reread but think I was asked for a where in code for something. Travel day.
I did look at the code and it said R30, however it said less is okay as long as you fill the joist cavity with a minimum of R19. So, iif you have a 2x8 floor with filled cavity thats R22? and meets code if I read it correctly. That said, I support having more.

Last edited by John H Swanson; Yesterday at 09:50 AM.. Reason: edit R value
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Old Yesterday, 10:13 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by John H Swanson View Post
I did look at the code and it said R30, however it said less is okay as long as you fill the joist cavity with a minimum of R19. So, iif you have a 2x8 floor with filled cavity thats R22? and meets code if I read it correctly. That said, I support having more.
Guess it depends on what you use. Wool and fiberglass are a little different as I'm reading.

What prompted me to this is the code for a 2x6 wall with wool meets the R23 cavity, I believe. With fiberglass they call it R20.

Effectively we know this will be lower. I think any stick wall exposed to outside air should have continuous to prevent thermal bridging across the structure members.
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Old Yesterday, 10:20 AM   #167
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So I know this whole pier thing is a diversion, but I'm interested because I was thinking (for a camp) of doing a combination foundation, that is using piers for my living and bunk space, and then just putting a small section of either crawl space or full basement under my sink, toilet and shower. The idea there would be to run a small, propane (probably) space heater to keep the pipes from freezing during the winter, but primarily use the wood stove to heat the place for overnight winter use. It also gives a space for utility appliances to live.

The motivation here is cost. Excavation and basements are expensive. For a home, yeah I want it. For a camp, completely unnecessary IMO.

I'm also looking at moving total sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft. with dual loft.


I think the notion of "green" is quite drifted here, but due to these code requirements, the building has to be pretty darn efficient just to be legal.

Last edited by montcalm; Yesterday at 12:06 PM..
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Old Yesterday, 11:10 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
So I know this whole pier thing is a diversion, but I'm interested because I was thinking (for a camp) of doing a combination foundation, that is using piers for my living and bunk space, and then just putting a small section of either crawl space or full basement under my sink, toilet and shower. The idea there would be to run a small, propane (probably) space heater to keep the pipes from freezing during the winter, but primarily use the wood stove to heat the place for overnight winter use. It also gives a space for utility appliances to live.

The motivation here is cost. Excavation and basements are expensive. For a home, yeah I want it. For a camp, completely unnecessary IMO.

I'm also looking at moving total sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft. with dual loft.


I think the notion of "green" is quite drifted here, but due to these code requirements, the building has to pretty darn efficient just to be legal.
For a seasonal camp I would think about designing the plumbing so that you could drain it by opening a few valves. We have 2 camps and both are winterized by opening a few valves and pouring a small amount of "Pink Stuff" into each sink trap and toilet bowl. The feed pipes are all installed so gravity drains them...no need for heat..We never have a problem with pipes freezing if the pipes are kept inside the envelope .
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Old Yesterday, 11:30 AM   #169
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For a seasonal camp I would think about designing the plumbing so that you could drain it by opening a few valves. We have 2 camps and both are winterized by opening a few valves and pouring a small amount of "Pink Stuff" into each sink trap and toilet bowl. The feed pipes are all installed so gravity drains them...no need for heat..We never have a problem with pipes freezing if the pipes are kept inside the envelope .
Gotcha - yeah, we used to do our 3 season camp like this.

I have to be able to use it in the winter for it to be feasible for me. I can tolerate winter overnights without running water, but it does get old, and my wife will likely tire of it.


When I initially thought I wanted a place in the hills of my own after my family sold theirs I had really wanted to do something like the "hunting and fishing cabin" per the APA requirements. No septic, just an outhouse or compost toilet. Freeze-proof, hand-pump well. Propane and wood with some solar for lights and pumps, maybe fridge. That was my "off-grid" dream then - I looked at all sorts of modular and manufactured log cabins, etc... I finally decided it was cheaper to stay at hotels in the winter and do backpack and canoe trips with a week or two at campgrounds throughout the rest of the year. The only issue with this is there is no equity. If I had done a "cabin" 15 years ago, I'd still have it likely and could be using it with my kids right now.

I feel like I go down this dark road every few years and try to come up with some kind of "5 year plan". Bottom line is I really just want to be closer to the mountains. How that actually happens is somewhat irrelevant.

Last edited by montcalm; Yesterday at 11:59 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 12:01 PM   #170
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WTBS though, I think if you want to build a home you should read through this thread and build a beautiful, efficient, net-zero house, if you can afford it.
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Old Today, 07:30 AM   #171
John H Swanson
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I've been building this spreadsheet model to evaluate heat loss of a house design and use it as a tool to evaluate the differences in construction options we've been discussing. This post is to share what I learned. I welcome input and corrections.

I started with this construction:
  • 20x60 house footprint with a full basement
  • Walls: 2x6 frame single wall on 24" centers with 2" outer polyisocyanurate insulation (R19+14)
  • Ceiling: 2x8 joist flat ceiling with 16" insulation
  • Windows: Qty 128 sq ft; Double pain with a U value of 0.3
  • Doors: Qty 2; U value of 0.2
  • Floor: 2x8 joist with R19 insulation
  • Basement: 2 feet exposed; 12" concrete block with 4" of strofoam insulation on the outside (R20)
  • Infiltration assumed to be 0.5 air changes per hour.

I then placed the house in either Rochester or in the Adirondacks. Climate data was known for Rochester (99% design conditions 1F; heating degree days 6738) and estimated for the the Adirondacks (99% design conditions -20F, and heating degree days 8300) using data from Burlington, VT and Glasglow, MT. I should note this is 1981 data, but its and input parameter.

The inside conditions were assumed to be 67F in the house and 50F in the heated basement.

Here's what the model showed:
Heat Loss btu per hour at design conditions
Walls:3336, 14.4%
Ceiling:2224, 9.6%
Windows:3336, 14.4% (yes the same as walls)
Doors: 731, 3.2%
Floor 970, 4.3%
Basement 4445, 19.6%
Infiltration (Sensible): 7517, 32.6%
Infitration (Latent):530, 2.3%
Total: 23197
Base design annual heat loss:
Rochester: 43.2 MM btus
Adirondacks: 53.1 MM btus
This is not the heating bill as it does not account for heating system efficiency.

I then changed specific parameters to see the related change in heating requirement:

Changing to a double wall 2x4 on 16" centers with 5.5" between the walls and +R7 outside:
  • reduced wall heat loss from 3336 btu/hr to 2273 btu/hr.
  • annual heating was Rochester: 41.2MM btu and Adirondacks: 50.7MM btu
  • 4.6% savings
Changed to same double wall above but with +R14 outside:
  • reduced wall heat loss was 1983 btu/hr
  • annual heating was Rochester: 40.7MM and Adirondacks: 50.0MM btu
  • 5.8% savings compared to base design
Revert to 2x6 walls and change windows to all windows 50% shaded with R7:
  • reduced window heat loss from 3336btu/hr to 1668 btu/hr.
  • Annual heat loss was Rochester: 40.1MM btu and Adirondacks: 49.3MM btu
  • 7.2% savings
Again with 2x6 walls, Change infitration from 0.5 air changes per hour to 0.3 air changes per hour.
  • Sensible heat loss went from 7615 to 6013 btu/hr and
  • Latent went from 530 to 424 btu/hr.
  • Annual heat loss Rochester: 40.2MM and Adirondacks 49.4MM
  • 6.9% savings
I did not look at the basement but would as there is nearly 20% of the heat loss from the basement. Also note that I know there is a double counting of loss since the model counts the loss from the building floor which goes into the basement. I could take this out of the equation, but it causes issues when you put in a lower basement temperature (say 30F) as the basement losses go very low but the heat is "pouring" thru the building floor to the basement. It is easy to resolve for a house on posts.

Next step would be to convert energy savings to $ and compare to cost of implementing the construction changes. Then one can pick and choose the designed changes and put them all together into the model to see the overall impact. I probably wont do that.

I can evaluate other changes to the construction if requested.
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