Q&A Spotlight

Best Path to Net-Zero Energy

Posted on December 5, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Joshua Greisen thinks he's found an ideal building lot in Yakima, Washington, a city in the south-central part of the state in Climate Zone 5B. Now, can he find a design for a zero-net-energy house to go with it?

Working with a limited budget, but on a south-facing lot ideal for passive solar gain, Greisen is looking for a cost-effective way of reaching his goal. "I'm by no means a rich man," he writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, "and can only afford to do what has a return on investment that will be realized within a decade or so."

Designing a Combined Hot Water System

Posted on November 21, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Vladimir Polyakov's two-story colonial is undergoing a down-to-the-studs rehab, with insulation upgrades and a new heating system on the way.

An Owner-Builder Weighs His Options

Posted on November 7, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Too big, too complicated, too expensive — all problems in Mike Sterner's current home, and exactly what he'd like to correct in the new house he's planning in northern Wisconsin.

Writing in a Q&A post, Sterner lays out his basic plan for a "pretty good house that finds that happy place between great energy efficiency and economy."

The site is vacant farmland with a south-facing slope. Sterner's woodlot has lots of pine and oak he intends to mill for use in his new house.

Is a Ground-Source Heat Pump the Right Choice?

Posted on October 24, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Ben Rush likes the idea of a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures., despite their reputation for higher cost than other heating and cooling alternatives.

A ground-source heat pump (GSHPs) requires heat-exchange tubing buried in the ground or inserted in a well or pond. The excavation required to bury the lines (or drill an extra well or two) helps to make GSHPs more expensive than air-source units. In addition, the equipment itself tends to be more costly. In all, GSHPs suffer a significant disadvantage when it comes to cost.

Questions About HVAC, Insulation, and Ventilation

Posted on October 10, 2016 by Scott Gibson

C. Clark is preparing to move from a dry region to Lady's Island, South Carolina, an area with a warm, humid climate that is the mirror opposite of the climate in Clark's former home. Clark is highly allergic to mold, and that has him thinking about ventilation, insulation, and his HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system.

Heading Off Ice Dams

Posted on September 26, 2016 by Scott Gibson

With the onset of another winter just a few months away, Jake Rabe is looking for suggestions on how to prevent the recurrence of ice dams on his older Ontario home.

"Each winter I have to deal with ice damming along two sides of the roof — nowhere else," he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. "The areas in question are a low-slope roof (3/12 pitch, east and west side of the ridge) and a cathedral style roof (8/12 pitch)... My goal is to stop the ice damming."

Fixing a Glitch in a Double-Stud Wall

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Adam Peterson is building a house with double-stud exterior walls, and he's run into a problem.

"Blame it on lack of clarity on my part," Peterson writes in a post at GBA's Q&A forum, "but when my framer built my double-stud walls he didn't oversize the window rough openings to account for 1/2-inch plywood sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. connecting the inner to the outer walls. He figured that this gap could be covered solely with drywall."

How to Insulate the Attic in a 1910 Remodel

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Tim Lange is taking on a major renovation of his 1910 home in North Dakota that will include a new roof, exterior spray-foam insulation, and new doors and windows. His quandary is what to do in the attic.

"I think I've got a good handle on the exterior insulation process — using window bucks to create an 'outie' style window is the current plan," Lange writes in a Q&A post at GBA. "The third floor and attic are where I need some help."

Tweaking Plans for a Minisplit System

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader by the name of Green Heron has recommendations in hand from an HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractor for heating and cooling a Climate Zone 2 house currently undergoing renovations. But he's not sure whether the recommendations make sense.

The contractor has proposed a four-zone system using a mix of ductless and ducted minisplits, Green Heron explains in a post in GBA's Q&A Forum. A single 3-ton compressor would run the four indoor heads — two ducted units installed in the attic, and ductless units in both the kitchen and the living room.

How to Vent a Dryer

Posted on August 1, 2016 by Scott Gibson

The exhaust from a conventional clothes dryer is full of moisture and lint, and the best place to vent it is directly outside. Matt Culik knows this, but his particular situation makes him wonder whether there are circumstances when this rule might be broken.

Culik will soon be moving into a new house, and the intended laundry room does not have a vent connection for a clothes dryer. Coincidentally, he is planning to replace an old electric hot water heater with a heat-pump water heaterAn appliance that uses an air-source heat pump to heat domestic hot water. Most heat-pump water heaters include an insulated tank equipped with an electric resistance element to provide backup heat whenever hot water demand exceeds the capacity of the heat pump. Since heat-pump water heaters extract heat from the air, they lower the temperature and humidity of the room in which they are installed. , and this has given him an idea.

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