HVAC for a single level "Pretty Good House"
First discourse on the forum--I've been reading it incessantly and now it's time to get involved. Over the next few months, I'll be soliciting advice and opinions on various aspects of a new house we are building for retirement located in Hood River, Oregon. I thank you all in advance.
Some basics to start: we are building a single level, 1500 SF home based on PGH principles. The foundation will be slab on grade, we're planning a double wall construction with 12" of cellulose, and a shed-style roof with a ceiling filled with blown in cellulose. We're shooting for R-values of 10-20-40-60 and an ACH50 of around 2. We have good southern exposure and are taking advantage of that using some passive solar principles (e.g., adequate glazing, appropriate eaves, thermal mass via concrete flooring). My questions today focus on heating (and perhaps cooling) what I hope will be a relatively tight, well insulated single level home. The single level aspect is important--the house, though smallish--is a bit spread out. I have read a lot about heating a tight, well insulated home, but I wanted to solicit advice specifically for single level homes that may have more spread than a multi-story home. Specifically:
1. Knowing that I have access to natural gas, and our electric rates here in the PNW are relatively cheap, how would you propose this house be heated? Basically, the house has a great room (ca. 700 sf) with kitchen, dining, living; master on one side; and two smallish bedrooms on the opposite side. It's not just a simple rectangle, but more like two rectangles joined about 1/3 of the way along their long axes. I'll post a pic here later on.
2. Based on what I've read, I've decided that in-floor radiant heat isn't the way to go--although we have decided to have it in the bathrooms only. I'd be curious to hear your opinions on this decision.
3. The current idea is a single minisplit combined with a gas fireplace insert heater in the great room. I'm not sure where the minisplit will be located, but I assume somewhere central in the house--probably near the entry and hallway as you walk in. Our contractor has an idea to put a return air duct high on the wall near the fireplace, connect that to an air handler, and then duct the warm air to the bedrooms, mostly. What do you think of this idea? Moving warm air from a wood or other heating device is a topic that has received a fair bit of attention, but it seems vague to me and I don't know how efficient it will be. We wanted a fireplace for ambiance anyway, thus we thought why not use it for heating also? Perhaps the air handler and duct work will be superfluous in this PGH?
4. Cooling, we don't think, will be important for us. We're not big AC users and really there would be only a rare need for it. We plan on having a nice (Big Ass brand) ceiling fan in the great room and the minisplit--if we install it--will provide cooling if we ever need it.
I guess that's it for now. I'm looking forward to hearing your expert opinions on this and other things over the ensuing months and hope I'm not taking too much advantage of the resources here. I too will try to contribute when I can!
Posted Fri, 02/21/2014 - 15:52
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