Help me design a small building heating/cooling solution

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Help me design a small building heating/cooling solution

Hi Folks,
My wife and I have just bought piece of property outside of the Boston, MA area (Zone 5a), and we will be building a home there next year (hopefully...just going through the close process). Currently on the property is an existing structure that I am planning on rehabbing, to use as a detached home office and workshop.

The current building is approximately a 250 Sq ft stick framed building (which I will be completely gutting and reinsulating, siding, roofing etc needs a LOT of work). The structure includes a little sink currently...a capability I will retain. It also has an additional roughly 18' x 30' foundation (attached to the framed structure/foundation) atop which sits a greenhouse currently. I will be removing this greenhouse and using the existing poured foundation to build a little workshop.

I'm working on all the framing plans etc, but I also need to start thinking about the heating system for this little structure. We expect to have natural gas for the new/main house, and this existing structure will be about 30-40ft from the main house. From a use perspective, I work from home, so I expect to be in the home office a good 8 hours a day throughout the year. The workshop will be a weekend only type of thing (not an industrial workshop), and I plan on insulting that as well. There will be a door that goes directly from the office, into the workshop. So, my thinking is to install something that can keep the office warm in the winter efficiently (probably 68-70 degrees), as if it were any indoor space. When i want to heat the workshop, I'm hoping to just open the door to the office and let the air in there circulate and heat the insulated garage. Since it's a workshop, if I can get that area up to the 60's, that should be quite comfortable. As I said, I plan on insulating the garage area, but it won't be a space we will be using for 'living', so I just need to keep the chill out of the air.

My main concerns are probably the standard you hear...Upfront costs (we are building a house, so there is already lots of money flying out of the bank), usage costs (don't want this little building to put me in the poor house every month during the winter), and environmental friendliness.

So, Green Builders, what do you think?

1) Is it worth piping gas out to this structure? As I said, it's probably 30-40ft away from future main structure. Or is it more economical to go with an electric solution?
2) What would be some good options here? Maybe a mini split system for heating and cooling, and a little point of use water heater for the sink? I'd be interested in solar, but it is a snowy area and I have to think about upfront costs also.

Right now I'm very much in the planning stage, so just about every option is on the table...what would you do?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Asked by Jonathan Petersen
Posted Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:42
Edited Mon, 12/03/2012 - 15:20