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Old 01-05-2022, 07:35 PM   #81
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Thanks John!
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Old 01-05-2022, 08:51 PM   #82
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I built a new 'seasonal camp" on the western edge of the Adirondacks in 2019 (https://ncsbarns.com/homes-garages/custom-homes/). When I changed the design from a simple two story design camp to a different style with a vaulted kitchen/great room ceiling and a second story bedroom/loft, the price jumped by 10s of thousands, because of the NY insulation requirement for that style, I was told. it has 6" studs spaced at 24" with spray foam insulation on ceiling and walls, plus fiberglass insulation in addition over the foam. the interior is all pine wood board walls. The outside is half cedar log-look siding over Tyvek and real plywood sheathing. The basement is bare concrete floor and walls with spray foam on walls from the ceiling down to just below the ground level. I debated a long time over what kind of heat to install, propane (like most others in the area) or wood pellet, or wood with electric backup when I am not there. I decided on the latter, since I have heated my home with wood very successfully and economically ever since I lived at home as a kid with wood, and then for the past 40 years in my own central NY homes with wood (plus oil heat backup at home). I am surrounded by tall trees, although the front porch faces south and could support a number of solar panels.

The new high efficiency wood stove I researched and bought for the camp does a good job when I am there to stoke the fire. it takes a couple of hours to raise the cold soaked interior from 40 to a stable comfortable mid-60s where like to easily keep it. Camp is only 30 minutes from my home so I go there whenever the temperature is due to go to near zero or below several times during the average winter because I would rather cut wood in the summer than to pay NG in the winter for heat, even when set to 40 degrees. That works fine for now, but I know that philosophy will not last forever as I get older, so I know I will have to consider some kind of alternative heating method in the future. Maybe ground water or propane like the neighbors, if it is still still available by then.
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Old 01-05-2022, 09:16 PM   #83
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I think our state is going to make a big push toward geothermal heat pumps on new homes. I wouldn't be surprised if there's major subsidies into the future.

The solar ones are pretty damn good for this state. I calculated, best case scenario, I'd pay mine off in around 12 years. Worst case maybe like 15. Warranty on pvs I saw was 15 manufacturer and 25 year voltage output (for Panasonic). So I'd expect real life expectancy to be somewhere in the middle.

But this is all with current subsidies, which are making it economical ATM.

It's tough to say, I don't spend all that much on utilities currently, but less would always be better. I have a feeling if this catches and demand follows the sun, it'll be worth less if you're producing surplus, but I think it'll be a long, long while before we even saturate summer demand. Especially with moving to EVs - that's a huge electric load to add.
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Old 01-05-2022, 09:41 PM   #84
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For me wood seems like the obvious choice for a few reasons. It's plentiful and local and cleanish, and especially cleanish with a new stove which meets EPA 2020 regulations. I've been burning wood since I was large enough to put it in the stove as a kid, whenever that was, and for the last 20 years with a gasification boiler, so I'm used to it. When I move I don't intend to go away overnight during the heating season, so I'll be there enough to keep the fire going. I plan to save my camping and any traveling for the warmer months when it's more comfortable, and to stay at home and work in the workshop during the colder half of the year.
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Old 01-05-2022, 10:56 PM   #85
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I'm kinda with mooregm on this - I think wood is great, for a secondary source. Or if it's just a seasonal, weekend kind of thing.

I'd burn a good deal in the summer just for "entertainment". Although I do enjoy cooking on wood when I feel like dedicating the time to it.

I'd also like to sugar, if I had enough land with some decent maples. Hard to imagine a place that doesn't have that in ADKs, but I suppose it's possible. Not for money - just for something to do in the spring. So I'd definitely use wood for that.

Other than for enjoyment factor, I have no real interest in the never-ending work of using wood as a primary heat source, especially in an older home. I grew up that way, and I don't miss it.
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Old 01-06-2022, 11:30 AM   #86
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Great informative dialog!

Hi, this is a great informative dialog! The collective technical know-how is way above my pay-grade. Regardless, for what it may be worth, below is some info and a few comments/questions about our ongoing climate change/energy upgrade project to a year-round, grid-connected ADK residence. We are firmly in mooregm's "good enough" over "pure net zero" camp. Goals: switch from fossil fuel use to efficient all-electric living, minimizing current use of grid power w/rooftop solar, followed by further greening over time as the overall grid greens.

Bought circa 1990 waterfront camp in the general Tupper Lake area, so we are at ~ 1,750 ft. elevation. A-frame vaulted main room w/south facing windows to lake and bulky fireplace w/chimney filling middle of room (1/2 story loft behind), wing w/small BRs and BAs to the west, fortuitously giving adequate south and sw facing roofs for solar, trees far enough from house to not be an issue, nearing end-of-life asphalt shingles. 1,500 or so sf living space on 1 floor, unfinished basement (concrete slab) and attached 2-car garage (ditto). Existing utils: 750 gal. UST feeding old oil burner, baseboard water heat in 1st floor living areas; unfinished basement and attached garage each have 1 old ceiling-mounted blower (over water pipes) for heat. No AC. Ancient (2!) connected domestic H2O heaters supplied from open-hole well of unknown depth. NatGrid electric. Septic w/separate grey H2O system discharging to a drywell. 1st fl. wall insulation is standard fiberglass covered by Celotex panels, A-frame ceiling is fiberglass; in wing, fiberglass sits on top of plywood ceilings in attic space. Camp empty for several years+ before purchase, so no relevant historical NatGrid usage info. Big ugly issue with "pet" smells, plus borderline hoarder situation. Inspection report identified ~25 fully "defective" conditions (and pretty much everything else "marginal" at best). Hoping for at least a little inspiration, my wife asked the inspector to tell us the "good news" about the house. "Well," he said, "the view is really nice." Funny guy. Yes, we like taking on projects.

1. Earlier this fall gutted down to studs plus some areas of pet-smell plywood flooring yanked/replaced, lots of work by us, contractor took over for hard stuff. Thank goodness the smell is finally gone.

2. Spray foam by subcontractor on A-frame and attic roofs. Used SES Nexseal closed cell spray foam to about 4-5". Should yield R factor to around 35-40, at ~97% effectiveness on curve. Local code enforcement will approve. Agreed w/contractor that spraying to 6-8" would only provide "marginal" additional benefit for much too high additional cost. I understand concern voiced above in thread re: overall foam life-cycle & recycling issues. Figure 30+ structure (and with luck, human?) life years after renovation, meanwhile immediate positive climate change/energy impact; new tech in 30 years will be different in ways none of us can accurately predict. Foam also adds structural strength for rooftop solar installation (see below). W/research, not concerned about off-gassing, just stayed out for 48-72 hours after application. Not formaldehyde like FEMA trailer issues. Be interested if others (after research) disagree. Regardless, too late now for us ...

3. Replaced the two old H2O water heaters with high COP Rheem hybrid unit. So far, only concern is hum/noise from heat pump (only when heating, otherwise silent), something we were aware of pre-purchase. Ultimately plan acoustic/insulated utility room in basement to hopefully mitigate. Meanwhile, before bed we just turn down H2O temp and turn off integrated heat pump, start up again in am.

4. Currently planning interior renovation (1st floor, plus much of unfinished basement and attached 2-car garage into living space), hopefully work done in upcoming spring/summer, presumably spilling a bit into the fall. Will include:

A. More, new, bigger windows! Especially on south and west, but even some on north and, even more insane, likely some through otherwise concrete block basement walls (south and sw sides only; north side basement is fully underground). On trade-off between light/solar gain and glass heat loss, for us there is clear winner. Newer windows are thermally much better, light/views are glorious, and that's why we chose to live here.

B. After new windows installed, will have walls including basement concrete block covered with the same spray foam insulation, thickness to be determined. Opinions welcome.

C. Empty and abandon in place 750 gal UST and replace with electric heat pump serving air ducts. Contractor pushed/pushing for radiant heat system below basement ceiling, but for us the added plus of AC tips the scales to air (ADK warming is happening with alacrity; already several stretches in high summer where having AC is really nice; who amongst you think that trend is NOT going to continue?!). Ducts to 1st fl. will be through floor. Still studying air-source vs. water-source heat pump, and getting quotes, but current thinking is go geothermal (would have to be closed loop vertical in new borehole; existing well is not adequate for both geo and domestic supply, and pond-source is off-the-table for many reasons). All contractors hereabouts have strongly pushed for propane (non-starter for us b/c fossil fuel), or cold climate air-source units as second choice. But, taking geo operating efficiencies plus various federal/state tax and credit programs into account, and everything else, the geothermal route is looking best for us.

D. Rooftop solar on south and sw sloping roofs will be added in 2022. Size not decided; have quotes between low of about 5 kw/15 panels to 15 kw/45 panels (would be a very tight fit). Installation in 2022 is important to meet current NYS 12/31/22 deadline for locking in net metering before VDER tariff hits. Leaning strongly toward largerish installation, especially because we plan to switch to EVs later this year or in 2023 at latest, and will provide local support/source for greater electric need for vehicle charging.

E. Speaking of EVs, we likely will not purchase/install battery backup for the planned rooftop solar system at this time. With NatGrid connection and net metering, we effectively will use the grid as the mother of all back-up batteries. The alternative would be an expensive battery that rarely gets used, given no time-of-use tariff/arbitrage availability (at least that's my understanding; someone in thread above described different night and day elec. rates; I'd be very interested to learn if that currently (ha!) is available here, didn't think so). Hopefully bi-directional use of EV car batteries will be implemented before too long, rendering many home back-up batteries obsolete). Meanwhile, we have a portable generator to run H2O well, heater, minimal essential circuits during very infrequent blackouts).

F. Yanked the old great room fireplace during demo. However, we will be installing a new, smaller, EPA qualifying wood-burning stove, primarily for enjoyment. We know/accept that it is a guilty pleasure, a terrible trespass of the fundamentally wise "don't burn anything" ethos. Downed/dead wood from the property will supply effectively 100% of our needed fuel.

Comments, questions, constructive criticisms, advice welcome!
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Old 01-06-2022, 11:50 AM   #87
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As an aside regarding roof insulation...

My 30 year old home has a very thick layer of original blown in insulation above the second floor ceiling and good soffit ventilation above. I live in very heavy lake effect snow country. I have a noticeable difference in my heating needs, be it woodstove (as primary) or oil furnace (as backup and as adjunct when extremely cold) when the roof has a thick layer of fluffy lake effect snow compared to a bare roof in November-December before heavy snow comes. i do not have any melt or icing issues on the roof whatsoever. In some past winters I have gone on the garage and porch roofs with a shovel as a preventative measure to reduce the load weight of more than 4 feet of accumulated snow on those roofs.
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Old 01-06-2022, 01:01 PM   #88
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[QUOTE=fosterap;288421]

3. ... So far, only concern is hum/noise from heat pump (only when heating, otherwise silent).../QUOTE]

This was my #1 issue when we bought this house in 2017. So much so that I'm now crazy about motor hum/noise. I've worked from home for years, and it's beyond annoying to hear the hum of the geothermal heat pump + water heater heat pump + heat ventilation recovery system + fridge all day in an otherwise perfectly quiet house.

Our HVR was ~40 years old and the geothermal heat pump was ~20 years old. Fortunately and unfortunately the heat pump died in September and the new one is in-audible outside the utility room (and has an actually measured COP of 5! vs 3 from the old one). The HRV was so bad I stopped running it except on a 30-minute timer per day. Tore the old one out and bought a new one last month but have yet to install it. In 2017 I installed an air-sourced heat pump water heater similar to yours, and it was very loud too. I eventually had it run only at night and then this past summer I was not at all disappointed when it died. The new goethermal unit preheats our water in a 30gallon tank to about 95*-105* and then it's brought up to ~115* in the final 85 gallon tank, so I just use resistance element for that.

If noise is an issue, one massive change we made solved this unintentionally for us. We moved to time of use EV charing rates when we installed solar -- basically ~4c/kwh at night, but slightly higher than normal ~14c/kwh during day. We moved all loads -- heat/AC (thermostat setbacks/forwards), domestic hot water (timer), dishwasher (manual delay button), laundry (manual delay button), etc so they run between 11pm and 7am to take advantage of the cheap night rates. The unintended side effect of this was all the noise is while we sleep upstairs. You may be able to do something similar, but set it to be say from 5am > 9pm -- missing the critical first half of your night when you are trying to fall asleep or back a sleep.


Regarding geo vs air vs others. Geo is definitely better and Tupper regularly sees nights below zero. If easily installed, geo is always a great idea, but if you have to do vertical and such it may not be worth the hassle/cost. One thing to keep in mind is for close loop systems, the water in the loop come February is no longer around 50* -- it can be around 25-35* (glycol). That's why you will see two number in the stats -- one for open loop (our is always 53* year-round) and closed loop. Open loop have a the higher COP. To offset this and allow for one loop to fail, I would install extra tubing to offset this if doing closed loop, but with vertical that gets expensive fast. Personally it sounds like you may be a candidate for air source + propane backup (my choice b/c of grid failures -- parents have this) or air source + electric resistance (your choice) backup for when the temps plummet. With the air source water heaters remember you have to provide enough BTUs to heat the space and water. I think the key thing for you will be insulation. If possible think about insulating INWARD of the studs. Our vaulted ceilings all have foam board insulation between the drywall and studs. That makes a huge difference in providing a thermal break and given where you are at, should be trivial to install. Just offset the outlet boxes or add outlet extensions. As the snow melts, you can see exactly where there is not foam board -- namely a support post and interior wall -- otherwise we have no noticeable snow melting from interior loss.

Something you may want to watch below from John Siegenthaler. He is a local engineer, nationally a leader, who specializes in HVAC, specifically hydronics/radiant. He designed a ground-up system for his Daughter's house and goes through it here. It's technical, but really gets your mind turning on how to design an efficient system from end-to-end and why contractors are pushing for radiant heat. Given you have things down to studs, you certainly are in your now or never position.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVXGMuB8wlU&t=4552s
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Old 01-06-2022, 02:04 PM   #89
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D. Rooftop solar on south and sw sloping roofs will be added in 2022. Size not decided; have quotes between low of about 5 kw/15 panels to 15 kw/45 panels (would be a very tight fit). Installation in 2022 is important to meet current NYS 12/31/22 deadline for locking in net metering before VDER tariff hits. Leaning strongly toward largerish installation, especially because we plan to switch to EVs later this year or in 2023 at latest, and will provide local support/source for greater electric need for vehicle charging.
Here is what I did, and I think you have similar thoughts.

1.) Use the grid as a battery as you suggest -- I have a small battery/inverter so I can run the well pump without a generator -- but it is not economically rational to do large-scale batteries yet on-grid here. Changing the net metering laws is necessary to stop the free-loading, but when in Rome...

2.) National Grid has two components -- delivery and supply. I expect supply to be stable for the next decade as solar and wind grow creating continued downward pressure, but delivery rates keep climbing with no end in site and is the majority of the bill. EVs with both help and hurt this, so I'm expecting a wash. The more you can self-generate, the better as it's untaxed locked in rates.

3.) If going EV and heat pump, definitely get on the EV rate. One thing not well published is that net metering works within each block -- so with three zones -- off-peak (night), peak (day) & super peak (summer weekdays 2-6pm). For example, any solar credits created during say super peak can only be used in future super peak periods. This creates weird things -- such as we run A/C heavily during this time period while still back feeding excess to the grid. We get paid a few cents per kWh in the spring for the overage sent back (~$20 per year). Fair tradeoff for using the grid as a battery. We are nearly even with day-time peak annually. We generated with 27 325w panels/enphase 250w inverters 6,400 kwh and used a bit over that during the day time last year. This is with most of our loads shifted to night and excluding EV. NatGrid has two time of use rates available -- only the EV one makes sense.

4.) 75-100 solar panels would probably be what is needed for a single 12k miles per year car to net zero. We were quoted 54 panels to net zero without a car based on actual usage. A car@12k miles / year will add about 4000 kwh load or about 20 panels. Perhaps a bit more driving in the mountains and cold. So 54 + 20 gets to 75. We are 2600sq ft and not light on electrical use. The 54 turned out to be an undercount -- in reality it's probably closer to 65+25 due to inefficiencies.

5.) If you have any shading, particularly in low angle months, take any numbers provided with a grain of salt. Make sure any production quotes are based on actual location including shading. We are hitting around 80% of proposed output. We have shading and an 18-degree roof (4-12 pitch). Both were taken into account during quotes, but perhaps national calculators do not include that regular lake effect snow does not slide off. Similarly shading cuts in more than expected. You will have your own challenges I'm sure.

6.) Incentives -- NYS 25% caps at $5,000. So anything more than $20,000 does not provide any additional rebates. But that's your cost, so with NYSERDA rebates that go directly to the installer (if they still exist) allow you build a ~$22k system, which drops to ~$20k with rebate, and then 25% (state) and 26% (federal) for a system in the $9,500 range. That's where we ended up and if I were to do it again, I'd do the same.

7.) Run wiring now. No need to have ugly external conduit wiring. If going with Enphase -- it's just a few runs of normal 10/2 is needed. If going with DC systems, you need to run *metal* conduit. Install any DC inverters/boxes/etc inside the utility room. Outdoor temperature fluxuations is one reason these things die.

8.) Size -- this one is hard. But I'd suggest either "fill the roof" or hit the NY $20k limit. You will not be disappointed with either.

9.) Not sure locally there as schools/municipalities can opt in/out, but your taxes may go up. Our assessor adds 1/3 of total install cost. Fortunately taxes are generally cheaper per $100k in the ADKs, so this should not matter much.

Hope that helps. I'd just suggest that you do it right once, with a quality local installer where you can call the owner directly. Do not create a phase I / II approach with the roof -- that will cost far more in the long run.

Aside on Windows: "windows are thermally much better" >> This is actually not true unless you go with 3-pane windows or are comparing to windows prior to say 1980. My 1982 windows have the same ratings and my new 2020 windows. Frankly, they are all are equally terrible. 3-pane windows are great, but be prepared to pay 5x for them. I quoted both and I could not justify as there is a highly negative ROI. Also, to allow solar gain, you have to omit some of the UV films they put between the panes. We ended up with 27' x 5' of southern glass over 3 windows and one patio door, double pane, with a mid-range UV film. We were concerned about UV rays damaging internal couches/etc like we had happen in a boat a few years back -- no UV protection with presumably non-UV-rated pillows. Normal is I think 90% blocking locally, I think ours are 65% UV blocking. The best thing you can do for cost and efficiency is have fixed windows -- no opening at all. You have to ask for these specifically as they are far cheaper and most people do not want them. Can not be used in a bedroom as you need at least 1 window escape. They prevents air leakage, is very cost effective, and allows for significantly more glass and unobstructed views. We have normal sized east and west windows that open for the 10 days a year we do a cross-breeze.
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Old 01-06-2022, 02:12 PM   #90
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As an aside regarding roof insulation...

My 30 year old home has a very thick layer of original blown in insulation above the second floor ceiling and good soffit ventilation above. I live in very heavy lake effect snow country. I have a noticeable difference in my heating needs, be it woodstove (as primary) or oil furnace (as backup and as adjunct when extremely cold) when the roof has a thick layer of fluffy lake effect snow compared to a bare roof in November-December before heavy snow comes. i do not have any melt or icing issues on the roof whatsoever. In some past winters I have gone on the garage and porch roofs with a shovel as a preventative measure to reduce the load weight of more than 4 feet of accumulated snow on those roofs.
That's interesting. I mean I kind of would have thought that would be the case, but thinking critically about this, if the soffit is well vented, then technically there's very little heat exchange between the void and the outside via the snow. Any heat loss should escape via the fresh air exchanged in the vents and be consistent based on outside air temp.

My personal situation, at my current home, is we have a partial vaulted ceiling upstairs. There's probably a technical name for it, but as I see it, just a way to save money on building materials and still get a full ceiling height. Anyway, our vaulted section (about 2.5' in from the outside walls) was not insulated well, or ventilated well to the soffit. I had air channels installed, a new soffit vent and foam insulation installed in this area and it improved it, and probably noticeably improved the heating efficiency of the house. I also have a few more inches of blown insulation.

I can still watch the snow melt, but it's much, much slower (as one would expect, adding insulation to vaults doesn't stop the melting, it just slows it). There's still not enough air flow in the vents under the vault to keep an ice dam from forming, but as I said, significantly reduced.

Long story short, I would not recommend this design. Maybe if the rafters were taller. Whatever they are (2x6's?) are not enough space for adequate insulation and ventilation over a vault.

High, open ceilings to me see to be a trouble areas. If you can pack enough insulation and have a nice, cold air channel over that, then if could probably perform the same as well insulated, well ventilated attic space, but to me, that seems a bit of a challenge. Admittedly I have no looked to see what the current building specs are for something like this. Many of us are dealing with 60's technology (or worse) today.

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Old 01-06-2022, 02:36 PM   #91
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fosterap,

Congrats on your new house - sounds great. And sounds like you've figured most everything out.

I generally agree with what mooregm, says - particularly the solar. Do it now, the incentives are there.

At this point, there's nothing wrong with using the grid as a battery, in my view. You will still be selling any surplus to your neighbors for a long while, maybe indefinitely. Not all sites are good for solar and solar isn't going to meet all our demands in the NE, but if it can offset 50-70% by using wasted roof space, then I say it's a win-win.

Also check on incentives of ground-sourced vs air-sourced heat pump. I briefly looked at the NYS incentives last night and saw that it is regional.
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Old 01-06-2022, 06:29 PM   #92
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I know John S. urged me earlier to start a design, but I'm glad I didn't, and I really don't want to get into that mode yet. I really want to try to understand as much as I can about the physics, and largely that related to this climate, so first hand data is crucial to understand what works, and what doesn't, and what the "real world" expectations are of any systems. And then really to understand from a technological point of view, what systems are available and how do they compete with other technologies in terms of cost and performance.

This always the typical engineering approach I took when starting new projects. And this being something I haven't looked at, or really thought about since college. I'm an engineer, but I largely spent most of my career doing, well, nothing, as it would seem some jobs are, and the rest in R&D but focused on machine design, not so much heat transfer or even thermodynamics.

Anyway, I know we used to get in a mode of "analysis paralysis" when we'd be getting ready to build a prototype. And like building a house, our investment was always high. Building parts that cost pennies on standard commodities like cars in small, high precisions test batches is extremely costly. So we always had to weigh risk vs. reward. But in terms of analysis, sometimes we'd be stuck with the blinders on trying to improve something a marginal % when actually building it would tell us that didn't matter because there were 10 other issues that we didn't even expect.

It's one reason I'm never too eager to jump into new tech (not that any of this is really new), but I've never been interested in being a company's beta tester... but of course if there is no risk, then there is no real development. You get stuck in commoditization and price wars. This is where the government comes in more than you might think. So many research projects are funded by the DOE, and so many still on fossil fuel tech, which is a damn waste.

Anyway, some see incentives like this as bad things, but they've become a necessary evil in our market to try to shift technologies that can't always compete monetarily i.e. energy costs are not reflective of the actual price we are paying for that resource. Right now, they are high - and that's to try to shift the market. As the market shifts, they will go away, but at that point those techs will be more widespread, and probably much less expensive. It's impossible to predict how that will change and who will end up on top, but if the finances work in your favor currently, and you can pay it back within the service lifetime, it's a much better investment than something like a car, which is something we all inevitably invest in, and probably at least as much or more monetarily.
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Old 01-08-2022, 04:31 PM   #93
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A. More, new, bigger windows! Especially on south and west, but even some on north and, even more insane, likely some through otherwise concrete block basement walls (south and sw sides only; north side basement is fully underground). On trade-off between light/solar gain and glass heat loss, for us there is clear winner. Newer windows are thermally much better, light/views are glorious, and that's why we chose to live here.

B. After new windows installed, will have walls including basement concrete block covered with the same spray foam insulation, thickness to be determined. Opinions welcome.

Comments, questions, constructive criticisms, advice welcome!
A. Adding windows adds to solar heating especially with south facing glass. If there is not much thermal mass to balance (read: absorb) the gain coming through the windows then your living space may overheat and may even be uncomfortably warm in winter. You may find yourself ACing much more. Overhanging eave design may help mitigate summer gain if the windows are not too tall (read 3-4 ft high window not glass doors). I have a great chart I made that shows it but haven't the means to post it.

B: When you add insulation then the outside wall surface in winter will be colder than the freezing temperature. So the zero point will be inside the wall. This has two potential issues. Moisture traveling from the living space condenses inside the wall/insulation much like a sleeping bag in winter. Think mold. Second, for the basement. Any ground moisture that soaks into the fouyndation will freeze/thaw. Yup the damage can be like the roads in winter. This is why, I have heard it is best to insulate a basement on the outside. Then the zero point in inside the insulation. And your foundation stays above freezing. The issue is one of aesthetics but I have seen some foundation insulation made to address above grade aesthetics. Care should be given to prevent termites but that is bropably not an issue in adirondack climate.
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Old 01-08-2022, 07:49 PM   #94
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If doing block, I think insulation belongs on outside and thermal mass on inside. But ICFs but foam on both sides and perform well, and perhaps best is Superior Walls, which puts insulation in the wall, with concrete both sides.

Mortared joints or drylay and surface bond?
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Old 01-08-2022, 08:06 PM   #95
montcalm
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All those are interesting strategies.

I hadn't thought of it until now, but insulating on the outside gives you an unregulated thermal mass.

Would be easy to model the differences though, in 1D you'd have 3 different series circuits:

-RC
-RCR
-CRC, which perhaps is equivalent to RC as the outside thermal mass is in contact with the earth so it could be lumped together and treated as "ground".

The insulation on the inside would be CR, but because the block is contact with the earth, should remain pretty well regulated by the earth. But the frost line gradient will move up and with air temp changes. This seems equivalent to me as an uninsulated basement, which largely follows the earth gradient, and will have a vertical break between frost and none. I'm not sure it's a huge issue as the major delta T will be across the insulation and it seems perhaps a better idea to insulate on the inside if you want to keep an unregulated thermal mass out of the system.


Here's some info on it from Oak Ridge National Lab:

https://foundationhandbook.ornl.gov/...sulation.shtml


The issue is trapping moisture because the insulation on the inside can prevent evaporation and drying into the basement. I'd kind of assume a sealed aka "dry locked" basement has similar issues - as mine is, but they seem to do fine if you drill holes in the blocks for them to drain to the sump.

Last edited by montcalm; 01-08-2022 at 08:39 PM..
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Old 01-08-2022, 09:39 PM   #96
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They all can work. Check out Building Sciences Corp - good stuff.

And I skipped the wood foundation (PWF). I've read there is renewed interest. Least weight if you have to carry it far, and a simpler skill set.

The one thing I'd never do is uninsulated basement or crawl space. I would do a slab on on ground, and probably with a shallow frost protected foundation, if getting ready mix to site was possible.
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Old 01-08-2022, 09:46 PM   #97
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They all can work. Check out Building Sciences Corp - good stuff.

And I skipped the wood foundation.
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Old 01-08-2022, 09:55 PM   #98
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Originally Posted by billconner View Post
They all can work. Check out Building Sciences Corp - good stuff.

And I skipped the wood foundation (PWF). I've read there is renewed interest. Least weight if you have to carry it far, and a simpler skill set.

The one thing I'd never do is uninsulated basement or crawl space. I would do a slab on on ground, and probably with a shallow frost protected foundation, if getting ready mix to site was possible.
I was just looking at that site.

Seems interior insulation would work best if you have a waterproof layer on the outside, and of course use a mold resistant insulation like spray foam or rigid.


I have an uninsulated basement, and I wouldn't do it on a new build. The basement itself is not an issue, but I do have a crawl space from an addition that is terrible. I would 100% never do that. I insulated the crawl space and it's still terribly cold in winter. My washer and dryer are above, and the pipes don't freeze, so that's my main concern, but it terms of comfort, it sucks. The only real fix I can see is to pump heat out there. I'm not 100% sure why it gets so cold, it could be thermal bridging elsewhere (I haven't torn down the walls yet), but the entire floor, and even the insulated crawl space tends to stay colder than the rest of the basement (which is uninsulated). I'd always assumed there wasn't enough convection between the crawl space and the rest of the basement, but it's probably some thermal bridging between the outside frozen earth and the earth inside the crawl space - even though it's all insulated from the inside, the delta T is still much greater than the basement and slab below the frost line in the rest of the basement.
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Old 01-09-2022, 12:50 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
....I have an uninsulated basement, and I wouldn't do it on a new build. The basement itself is not an issue, but I do have a crawl space from an addition that is terrible. I would 100% never do that. I insulated the crawl space and it's still terribly cold in winter......and even the insulated crawl space tends to stay colder than the rest of the basement.
I have a nephew that asked why his closet on an outside wall was so cold.. I told him that any heat in there was going outside through the outer wall. I asked him "Are you adding heat to the closet?" He said "no." "So how do you expect it to be warm." It's the same for all parts of the house. In a basement the furnace, water heater and/or other intrinsic sources such as incandescent lighting, motors from a frig or freezer, and human activity all provides heat. And yes natural convection would tend to keep a basement at the same temperature.

You should consider the function and the design temperature of the basement (or crawlspace) and then plan (design) the insulation appropriately.

This brings up one point I've had on the back thought burner for sometime. Let say your okay with a cold closet, or cold books on a shelf...then if you make an outer wall with built in storage you gain extra "insulation." While its not enormous it is dead airspace and has a benefit.
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Old 01-10-2022, 04:28 AM   #100
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I was thinking about this a little....so I pulled out my old class notes and the AHRAE handbook and started calculating some heat losses to give it some perspective.

I started with a double 2x4 wall framed on 16" centers with fiberglass insulation. The outside dimension of the framing was assumed 12". So a total wall thickness would be 1/2" gypson+12" wall+1/2 sheathing +1" outside rigid insulation + siding. As a post calculation thought, I might make the framing an inch or two thinner.

I calculated the heat loss, U value = btu/hr ft2 degreeF. This is the unit used below. Total loss through the wall with the framing factor was 0.01882. This assumed a winter outside wind of 15 mph which is standard. There are factors to adjust it for more or less wind as well as a variety of outdoor siding.

Windows: A "standard" double glazed glass window will loose 0.6 and a really good window can be 0.25. So the heat loss from the windows will be 13 to 30 times greater than this wall per unit area. I think if someone is going through the effort to build a double wall house they are probably going to spend some money on good windows. So lets say a U value of 0.3.

I wanted to get an idea of the impact of windows on heat loss. So I said lets look at one wall of a small house. You can scale it up. If the wall is 8' x 20'.
Compare two sitations: 2 windows vs 4 windows. Each window 5' x 2.5

In one case the wall area is 135 sqft and the window area is 25 sqft
In the other case the wall area is 110 sqft and the window area is 50 sqft.

The heat loss in btus per hour per degree, for the two walls will be
2 window wall: Wall heat loss 2.54 + window heat loss 7.5 = otal heat loss 10.04
So the 2 windows are loosing 3 times as much heat as the rest of the wall.
4 window wall: Wall heat loss 2.07 + window heat loss 15 = total heat loss 17.07

And that is 70% more heat loss for 4 windows vs. 2 windows.

Heat loss is delta T related. I assume inside temperature of 65F and outside winter temperature of 25F. So the delta T I used is 40. Sometimes its warmer and sometimes colder and that effects things but proportionately.

Heat lost per hypothetical day with constant delta T of 40F would be.
2 window wall: 9638 btu
4 window wall 16,387 btu

A few points:
  • I did not include any shades or shutters in the assumption. It makes much sense to cover your windows when your not using them or when its bitter cold.
  • This is shell loss and does not include infiltration (air leakage)
  • Yes windows add pleasure, but there is a big energy cost. I noticed that the shades in my current home cover part of the window all the time. If you size a window smaller and dont cover part of it you get the same visual benefit.
  • In this design we spent a lot of money making a really heat flow resistant wall. And this pointed the finger at the windows as the weak link.
  • When you consider the low cost of fossil fuels or wood, its tough to justify this wall construction. It does not payback. You have to want it.

This is not the method that is commonly used to determine heat loss for sizing a heating system or calculating cost of heating a house for a season.

There is a counter arguement regarding heat gain from having extra windows. I can do that calculation but more assumptions are needed....I have the solar gain data in front of me but it's for 41 degrees north latatiude but this application is further north and I would make an excel spreadsheet to allow flexibility before going down that rabbit hole. I will say that it's standard to apply a cloud cover factor. ASHRA publishes a table called "Mean percentage of possible sun for selected locations." In my old version of that table they show the average cloudiness for each month for 6 cities in NY. Closest being Syracuse, Canton, Albany. One data point is Canton for December which is 31%. Of those cities the highest percentange for the winter months is 53%. Lots of clouds.

Last edited by John H Swanson; 01-10-2022 at 04:47 AM.. Reason: more content
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