How Would You Insulate My New House?

Posted on April 25,2015 by ScottG in ground-source heat pump

Nik Fiorito is grappling with the same issues every owner/builder eventually confronts: What's the best way of insulating a new house? Only in Fiorito's case, it gets a little more complicated. First, he's building in Climate Zone 7, forty minutes north of the U.S.-Canadian border, on a hilltop where the temperature averaged 3 below zero F (-19.6 degrees C.) this past February. He's also considering a fully off-grid photovoltaic (PV) system plus a ground-source heat pump for both heat and domestic hot water.

Residential Commissioning

Posted on April 25,2015 by user-756436 in commissioning

Building a new home usually requires work by several subcontractors, including electricians, plumbers, and HVAC installers. At the end of the job, someone — usually the general contractor — has to verify that all of the specified work has been completed. Has the water heater been installed? Check. Air conditioner? Check. Ducts? Check. Ventilation system? Check.

Are Affordable Ground-Source Heat Pumps On the Horizon?

Posted on April 25,2015 by user-756436 in geothermal

My grandfather, William L. Holladay, was a refrigeration and cooling engineer. Decades ago, he wrote a pioneering, speculative article on ground-source heat pumps, “The Heat Pump: What it does, and what it may do someday.” The article appeared in the October 1948 issue of Engineering and Science Monthly. (For a basic explanation of how a heat pump works, and the difference between an air-source heat pump and a ground-source heat pump, see Heat Pumps.)

How to Choose the Right Mechanical System

Posted on April 25,2015 by ChrisBriley in boiler

With any house, there are so many variables that influence the decision to choose one particular mechanical system over another: climate, house size, cost, local availability and cost of fuels and materials, and the lifestyle and preferences of the occupants. There is no “one-size-fits-all” system that we can reliably prescribe for all projects. Phil and I sat down over a good winter cocktail to share our views, anecdotes, battle scars, and wisdom on this important subject.

Living Without Electricity Bills

Posted on April 25,2015 by user-756436 in ground-source heat pump

Chuck Reiss, a builder in northwest Vermont, had a bold plan in 2007: he wanted to build a cluster of six superinsulated homes on a 24-arce site in Hinesburg. Reiss planned to install a roof-mounted PV array on each house, with the goal of making the homes net-zero energy, or close to it.

Air-Source or Ground-Source Heat Pump?

Posted on April 25,2015 by ScottG in air-source heat pump

Dana is building a tight, well-insulated house in climate zone 6 and now faces a choice between a ground-source heat pump and an air-source heat pump for heating and cooling. “After the 30% tax incentive, there is not much increase in cost for the geo system,” Dana writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor. “I am being told different stories in regard to system performance and longevity of equipment (depending on what side of the fence you’re on).”

Getting Off Fossil Fuels

Posted on April 25,2015 by AlexWilson in air-source heat pump

There are a lot of things not to like about fossil fuels. Most obviously, the burning of oil, natural gas, propane, and coal releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat through the greenhouse effect.

Diabetes and Green Building

Posted on April 25,2015 by CarlSeville in diabetes

I barely know who Paula Deen is, although from what I can tell, she seems to be quite the marketer of traditional southern cooking as well as herself. (I may be a little jealous of her self-promotion skills). Her latest big news is that after years of eating and promoting heavy, butter-laden food, she has gone public with her Type-2 diabetes, a condition she has had for three years.

Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge Announces Winners

Posted on April 25,2015 by Fretboard in Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge

Four of the 11 entries in the 2010-2011 Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge found their way to the winners’ circle, each taking a different path to exemplary energy efficiency performance.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 2: Rules of Thumb

Posted on April 25,2015 by ChrisBriley in Chris Briley

In Part One of this episode from the Green Architects' Lounge, we only scratched the surface. Now it's time to really dig in and decide if a ground-source heat pump system is right for you, and if so, to start planning for it.

In Part Two of the podcast, we discuss:

  • A tale of two houses: Chris shares a story of two houses—one a success, and one that had to abandon using a ground-source heat pump
  • Rule of thumb for flow: 3 gal. per minute per ton of heating/cooling
  • Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 1: The Basics

    Posted on April 25,2015 by ChrisBriley in geothermal

    If you've done any amount of research on ground source heat pumps, chances are that you've heard from people who say that you'd be insane to consider them as a viable system for your house—AND you've heard from others who say you'd be insane NOT to use them. Where insanity and green architecture meet, you shall find Phil and me mixing a Dark and Stormy and turning on the mike to act as your good-natured guides. For this episode, we will attempt to demystify this polarizing heating and cooling system.

    In Part One of the podcast, we cover the basics and discuss:

    Ground-Source Heat Pumps (2010)

    Posted on April 25,2015 by AlexWilson in geothermal

    For the past month, I’ve examined various home energy improvements for which one can earn a 30% federal tax credit. The last of these opportunities I’ll cover is ground-source heat pumps. A ground-source heat pump (GSHP) is also referred to as a “geothermal” heat pump, though I prefer the former terminology, to avoid confusion with true geothermal energy systems that rely on elevated temperatures deep underground from the Earth’s mantle.

    Deciphering the Tax Credits

    Posted on April 25,2015 by user-756436 in energy efficiency

    The energy-efficiency tax credits and renewable-energy tax credits are better than tax deductions. The allowable credits aren’t just deductible expenses; they represent dollars subtracted directly from your tax bill. While the tax credit program includes illogical rules, the available tax credits can be significant. If you want to claim a tax credit on your 2009 income tax return for energy-efficiency improvements to your home, you should get the improvements installed before the end of the year. There’s really no need to rush, however, since the tax credits will remain available until the end of 2010 — or, in some cases, 2016.

    Ground-Source Heat Pumps (2009)

    Posted on April 25,2015 by AlexWilson in geothermal

    Last week I introduced heat pumps and described how they can deliver more heat than is contained in the electricity they consume—while being able to provide cooling as well as heating. I mentioned two different types of heat pumps: air-source and ground-source. This week I’ll cover ground-source (also known as “geothermal” and “geo-exchange”) heat pumps.

    Ground-Source Heat Pumps Don’t Save Energy

    Posted on April 25,2015 by in geothermal

    To understand how a heat pump works, imagine using your refrigerator to keep your kitchen warm all winter. Let’s say you haul a bucket of 55° water from a backyard well and put it in your refrigerator to cool it down to 50°. Because the heat removed from the water escapes from the coils at the back of the refrigerator, you have just delivered heat to your kitchen. If you get tired of replacing the bucket of 50° water with new 55° water, you could just install a pump to circulate water to and from the pond.

    Ground-Source Heat Pumps Have Low Operating Costs

    Posted on April 25,2015 by in geothermal

    Ground source heat pump (GSHP) systems collect ambient heat from the soil within 400 feet of the ground surface. This heat is concentrated by vapor-compression refrigeration units and delivered to conditioned spaces by conventional forced-air or hydronic mechanical systems. They reverse this process when in cooling mode. The technology has been used since the 1950s, so there are few unknowns. It works in nearly any climate or soil condition, and no longer needs to be proven. GSHP efficiencies are multiples of conventional HVAC equipment conversion.

    Green Basics Heat Pumps: The Basics
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