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Choosing a New Wood Stove

Matching the heat output of the stove with the heat load of the house, and leaving room for the quirks of human operators

Posted on Jan 5 2015 by Scott Gibson

Patricia Appelbaum is in the market for a new wood-burning stove, one without a catalytic element, to provide mostly supplemental heat for her 1,600-square-foot home. There are a lot of models to choose from, and that's part of the problem.


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Image Credits:

  1. Wikimedia Commons

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Upgrading a Shop’s Heating System

The radiant-floor system isn't working well, and the owner wants a new approach

Posted on Sep 23 2013 by Scott Gibson

Matt Cooper's 1,800-square-foot woodworking shop sits on a 6-inch concrete slab heated with a radiant-floor system. Unfortunately, the on-demand water heater that Cooper uses to heats the water for the in-slab tubing isn't performing well.

"I've been using a Takagi Jr. to heat it for the past couple of years but it's been no end of headaches," Cooper writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor.


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Image Credits:

  1. Christopher Clapp/Fine Homebuilding magazine

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How to Choose the Right Mechanical System

There's no one system that works for all projects, so how do you choose?

Posted on Feb 28 2013 by Christopher Briley

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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.


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Image Credits:

  1. Maine Green Building Supply, Portland, ME
  2. Kaplan Thompson Architects

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Can Switching to a Dual-Flush Toilet Save Heat?

The water that sits in your toilet tank robs space heat from your home during the winter — but is it a little bit of heat or a lot of heat?

Posted on Oct 2 2012 by Erik North

First off, my wife just joked that I used a photo of a “male bathroom”: seat up and two rolls of toilet paper.

Regarding the heat savings mentioned in the headline, we'll see... I haven't done the math yet. But it is a minor claim occasionally made alongside the claim that these toilets save water.


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Image Credits:

  1. Erik North

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Heating a Tight, Well-Insulated House

For most superinsulated homes, a furnace is overkill

Posted on Nov 6 2009 by Martin Holladay

If you build a small, tight, well-insulated home — in other words, a green home — it won’t need much heat. Since typical residential furnaces and boilers are rated at 40,000 to 80,000 Btuh, they are seriously oversized for a superinsulated home, which may have a heating design load as low as 10,000 to 15,000 Btuh.

Builders have been struggling for decades with the question, “What’s the best way to heat a superinsulated home?” Your solution will depend in part on your answers to a couple of other questions:


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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