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Community and Q&A

Best heating/cooling method for a new 5,000-square-foot home?

steveointo | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

We are building a very different home in Prince Edward Island (Northeastern Canada). It’s a Deltec home ( from North Carolina & very energy efficient from a design aspect (i.e. less drafting due to its round nature, etc.). We are doing a 2 level, with each level being 2,500 sq. ft. The basement is about 3,000 sq. ft., is perfectly round, & made using ICFs.

The 1st level will be divided into 4 x 625 sq. ft. rental units and the upper level (2,500 sq. ft.) will be where we live.

We will be adding solar panels to the roof at a later date.

The interesting thing about the house (& not to say that this would have any impact on the heating/cooling method we use) is the fact that the house rotates 360 degrees via a steel platform that is sunk into the basement and extends out past the top of the basement walls.

I was considering minisplits for the units downstairs, but was unsure what we should use for the upstairs, which has 4 bedrooms on one side of the house and one big room containing the kitchen, living room, etc. on the other side of the circle.

Because Prince Edward Island can get -30°C weather (-22°F), however, I’m not sure whether the minisplits can adequately handle heating the house, but I do understand that they are improving all the time.

If we didn’t have to have AC for a few days during the summer every year, I would go solely with radiant heat as I’m told it provides very comfortable heat at low operating temperatures.

I’m trying to avoid having 2 completely separate heating systems, but I’m not sure if it can be avoided as I’m worried that the splitters won’t cut it in the extreme cold. My builder has told me that the house is so well insulated & built (6″ walls, insulated headers, BIBs, etc.) that the splitters should do the trick for the entire house, but that we could wire it for electric heat just in case & simply put baseboard, dimplex, or convection heaters to supplement if necessary.

Can anybody give me some suggestions on what might be the best solution? If we do go with radiant floor heating, are the electric “mats” better/worse than the hot water pipes?

I was reading on this forum that there is a heat pump that can tie into an in-floor radiant heating system – maybe this is the route to go?

Any thoughts or help would be appreciated.


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    First of all, radiant floor heating is a type of heat distribution system. It is not a heating system.

    If you want a heated floor, you can achieve that with hydronic tubing embedded in the floor (or installed under the subfloor), or you can achieve that with electric resistance wires embedded in the floor. If you use hydronic tubing -- the more common method -- you still don't have a heating system. You need to choose how to heat the fluid that flows through the tubing. That can be done with a boiler, a water heater, a ground-source heat pump, an air-source heat pump, or a solar thermal system. If you choose a boiler or a water heater, you have to choose your fuel: oil, natural gas, propane, electricity, firewood, or coal.

    If you want to install ductless minisplits, you can. However, in your climate, it would probably a good idea to install a few lengths of electric-resistance baseboard heat to supplement the minisplits in cold weather.

    For more information on heating systems, you can check out the GBA Encyclopedia.

  2. user-659915 | | #2

    Steve, I'd like to warn you that Deltec homes are not particularly energy-efficient. The standard configurations are way over-glazed while the circular form factor with the conical roof is not conducive to good solar orientation nor in the least PV-friendly. The rotational mechanism you mention is likely to make it impossible to install a proper AWB at least for the basement part. Last but not least the pie-shaped rooms that result from carving up the space become exceedingly tiresome in the long term. A number of these homes were built in our area back in the seventies when a 2 x 6 wall frame was considered cutting edge (many of these walls actually perform at R10 or below due to slapdash construction) and there's a litter of them along the NC shore as summer vacation homes. I'd be very wary of them in PEI unless it comes with an actual energy spec (as opposed to a stud thickness description and a vague claim about 'drafting') better suited to your far more severe climate. How about R30 walls, R60 roof, high-performance triple-glaze fenestration and a blower-door performance warranty.

  3. steveointo | | #3

    Thanks, Martin & James.

    i guess I should have emphasized that the house is roof-tight now, so I can't look back at this stage. James - when you say that our pie-shaped rental units "become tiresome", do you mean that as a B&B owner, I will tire of having people stay in them? We are doing this for 2 purposes: 1) to have rental income from people who might wish to stay at our establishment and 2) so that people wishing to build a rotating home can live in one to help them get a feel for it. But you may be right, I might not like having to entertain guests after a few years. We have to have the house help pay for itself, however, so I've got to lay in the bed I've made at least for now.

    We have used Canexel Smartside on the outside of the house, double patio doors (2+2 system) and top of the line tilt & turn windows. Of the 44 sides of the house, 16 are patio doors & 12 are windows. The roof is aluminum. You can take a look at it here:

    The basement does not move of course & is heated with 4 large dimplex heaters. This is actually usable space (if you don't mind your ceiling moving slowly above your head) but we are keeping it open to do tours for people with the proceeds going to a local charity. Guests will get a free tour. :)

    I guess what I'm asking is, given the above (& not being able to turn back the clock) what heating SYSTEM and DISTRIBUTION would you guys use personally?

    P.S. - James, it's my understanding that the solar panels can be angled slightly to whatever the optimal position may be. The real benefit is that we can follow the sun with the house to get every last drop of sun.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    What fuels are available locally? Do you have access to natural gas?

    How much do you pay for electricity?

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    I just looked at the video. Does your house have a rotating deck right outside the house? And is that deck built on cantilevered floor joists?

    If so, that looks like a moisture-management nightmare, and a recipe for joist rot.

  6. steveointo | | #6

    Hi Martin,

    There is no natural gas available in PEI. Electricity is at a pretty good rate, so we will likely go with electric.

    Yes, both decks rotate with the house. The upper level deck is on cantilevered floor joists and the lower deck is actually the exterior of the steel spiderweb rotating platform itself. They are covered with Dec Tec PVC, so they are 100% water proof.

  7. steveointo | | #7

    I suppose mini-splits and dimplex baseboard heaters for the really cold nights may be the way to go. I wanted to entertain the idea of radient in-floor heat for the really cold days, but I think it may be too expensive. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  8. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #8

    If you want to heat with electricity, then ductless minisplits (supplemented by electric resistance baseboard) make sense.

    I'm glad that your decks are waterproof. I hope that the decks are sloped away from the house.

    I think you may still have water intrusion issues, though. If your deck joists are cantilevered floor joists, that means that your deck surface is on the same level as your interior flooring. When you open your exterior doors in winter, the snow will be above the level of your flooring. That's why it's always a good idea for a deck to be 8 inches lower than the door threshold.

  9. steveointo | | #9

    Hi Martin - thanks for the input. Yes, the decks are sloped away from the house and the PVC decking comes up about 1 ft onto the sides of the house, but you are right that snow drifts could pile up to the glass windows & patio doors. I doubt that we will be using the deck much in snowstorms, however. :) Also, with the house rotating, these drifts should be minimal as they will blow away most of the time rather than collect & sit as per a stationary home.

  10. steveointo | | #10

    There are a couple of professional installers in the region, so I will ask them to do a proper analysis & suggest what format to use, but I'm guessing one ductless mini-split per unit downstairs in the livingroom/kitchen area and then one electric baseboard/dimplex in each of the 2 bedrooms? Are there pros/cons of having the ceiling trays v.s. wall units? Any suggestions?

    For the upstairs I'm guessing that we would need 2 "vents" in the big room & then 4 more for each of the back 4 bedroomsf?

    Not sure if you are an expert in this area at all...

    BTW - thanks again for your comments & help. I've been learning a lot on this site just from reading the posts.

  11. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    The first step in designing your heating system is to perform a heat loss calculation. More information here:

    How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation — Part 1

    How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation — Part 2

    Saving Energy With Manual J and Manual D

    You may also want to read these articles about ductless minisplits:

    Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole House

    Will Minisplits Replace Forced-Air Heating and Cooling Systems?

  12. steveointo | | #12


  13. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #13

    While the absolute record lows in PEI are in the -30C range, the 99% outside design temps are warmer than -20C (-4F):

    The hourly binned mean temperatures in January for PEI locations are in the -8C to -10C range:!dashboard;a=Canada/PE_C1N/Summerside

    That is a temperature at which mini-splits have an average coefficient of performance (COP) of 2.2-2.7, which is a significant improvement over resistance electricity (COP=1.0). Your seasonal average COP (including the spring/fall) will probably be about 2.5-2.7, despite only achieving ~1.5 @ -20C

    Most highest-efficiency minisplits have guaranteed output ratings at -20C, so it's possible to size them reasonably for your climate. The Mitsubishi H2i "Hyper-Heating" mini-splits have a rated output even at -25C, but the better Fujitsu & Daikin units will still be putting out something (just not a specified number) at that temp.

    Mini-splits have a real standby loss at cooler temps that tracks with the number of compressors. It may be better to use multi-splits (where a single outdoor unit serves multiple interior heads) than multiple mini-splits.

  14. steveointo | | #14

    Hi Dana,

    Thank you so much for your input. Yes, I went to the PEI web site today & realized that the temperatures they used to get many years ago are now much warmer in the winter time as per your stats.

    I like your idea of multiple splits with a single outdoor unit. I will have our local provider, Tradewinds, design a suitable system. Given what we have to heat, what would you estimate the total cost to be to buy & install? Any idea?

  15. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #15

    Steve, this isn't meant to cast any aspersions on your character but this house has been featured on many Green building wed sites and is promoted as being energy efficient but unfortunately none of the claims being made hold up to much scrutiny. That poses a bit of a problem as it is being presented as a model project for the technologies and theories involved in its design and may mislead people.
    Deltech has never provided any statistics to back up their claim that the shape of their buildings provides a more efficient envelope than a conventionally shaped one would. The steel structure is inherently inefficient and will never perform as well as conventional alternatives no matter now well insulated. The multi-faceted roof means that no matter which direction the building is rotated only a fraction of the surface will be ideally angled for solar collection. And the benefits of rotating the building to follow the sun are negated by a floor plan and window placement which doesn't have an obvious sun-facing vs north facing difference.
    It's a fun idea and best luck to you attracting guests, but I don't think it's fair to champion its green credentials.

  16. steveointo | | #16

    Hi Malcolm,

    No offense taken as I've never posted, advertised, or otherwise made any claims regarding this. I think you may have the wrong house?! We just wanted to build a cool house on our beach front property and I met a guy in Australia who has a rotating house. It was my idea to put a Deltec home on his rotating platform because I liked the look of the Deltecs and didn't care for his steel & glass framed house in Australia.

    Of course I want the house to be as "green" as possible, but I don't really care about it one way or another & certainly wouldn't advertise it as the be all/end all of all things green. Can you tell me what web sites you are referring to? If there are things written about our house regarding this, it wasn't by me.

  17. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #17

    Steve, here is one such site and the comments on energy efficiency seem to be by you:

  18. steveointo | | #18

    Hi Malcolm,

    So when you wrote above that "...this house has been featured on MANY Green building wed (I think you meant "web") sites and is promoted as being energy efficient..." you are referring to ONE web site that I didn't have anything to do with? This is not my site & I didn't write it. It was brought to my attention & yes I did comment by saying firstly:

    "Yes, we are not sure what the true energy efficiency of the building will be until we put it through its paces next winter, when we're living in the house & heating it."

    I think that sums up my earlier statement that we are simply trying to do what we can to make things as energy efficient as we can. I am not a builder or an expert in this area and am simply writing about what we are told by the companies/products we are using.

    Question for you - why would you take the opportunity to make a statement (an unfounded statement at that) about something completely irrelevant to what I was talking to other people on this forum about? What would my very general comments as a layperson on ONE green tree blogger's web site which I have nothing to do with cast "asperations" (I think you meant aspirations) on my character or be "championing its green credentials"?

    The very fact that you felt it opportune to write such things completely out of context to the heating/cooling discussion I was having with others is a bit weird.

  19. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #19

    Steve, How did we get from "I've never written about it" to "one link isn't enough"? This project has widely featured including including stories in the national media. Your promotion of the rotating structure is inextricably connected to your comments about the house's and the structures energy efficiency. You say you are not a builder or expert but you are quoted as being the representative of the Australian manufacturer of the rotating structure.
    It was as a layman that I took issue with you passing on other's claims of energy efficiency. There is enough mis-information surrounding green building as it is. You were the one who publicized your project. Do you also get to dictate the context in which it is discussed?

  20. steveointo | | #20

    Malcolm - why are you getting so burned up about something that has no business being discussed? Did a rotating platform hit you in the head & you feel you now have a personal vendetta against it & me?

    I'll address your comments in a minute, but you haven't answered my question - why did you chime in on a home heating discussion with a personal attack on me regarding something completely irrelevant to the discussion?

    Yes, I'm marketing rotating platforms in North America - so what? I made it very clear that we were told about certain green features that we would be testing out in our house. How can I mention this without mentioning it? I'm supposed to not mention anything until afterwards? I thought people would be interested in hearing about the journey.

    Yes, I market the rotating platforms, but I don't build them. I'm pretty sure Donald Trump markets real estate without building it too - does that mean he is an expert builder?

    Forget all about anything green - I market rotating platforms for houses cuz they're neat, okay? Just because this aspect MAY offer some advantages by turning it into or out of the sun and I mention this does not mean that I am providing any "misinformation".

    You are the only one here "championing green building". I don't care enough to even bother getting into a discussion about it & you either have too much time on your hands or just enjoy being a nusiance by butting into a conversation with stuff that has nothing to do with what we're talking about here.

    I didn't "publicize" my project - I mentioned the fact that the house rotated in case that would impact any of the heating/cooling decisions I had to make. That didn't invite you to come & attack me by lying & saying that I'm an expert green builder and that people should listen to what I say. Why would you be worried about what influence I may have on people's thoughts anyway - you're the expert, right?

    Let me guess - you probably go onto McDonald's marketing forums too:

    Person #1 - "McDonalds plans to open 5 new stores in Montana next month"

    Person #2 - "Interesting - Subway has actually closed 3 of their stores in the same area"

    Malcolm - "McDonald's sucks. They promote this stupid healthy food guide when none of their claims have been proven"

    Person #1 - "Excuse me, but we are discussing the opening of stores here & not the McDonald's menu."

    Malcolm - "Well you mentioned McDonalds. So you get to promote the fact that McDonalds is opening stores with their stupid menu & I'm not allowed to comment on it? Since when do you get to dictate the context in which this is discussed"

    Malcolm, thank you very much for your all your wonderful comments. I will take all of them into extreme consideration if/when I ever decide to get into being an expert green marketer. I'm sure that your comments with me on this forum have been very valuable to everybody reading and we all wish you the best in your endeavours.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I would like to get back to discussing heat pumps, etc. If you wish to discuss anything with me regarding my (lack of) knowledge about green building, which I don't have an interest in marketing, then please feel free to e-mail me at: [email protected]

    Conversely, you can just go away.

  21. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #21

    Steve, let me explain what prompted my comments then you can get beck to your discussion unimpeded.
    I learned about your project this fall when a prospective client in Calgary sent me links to it. They were particularly excited about it's improved performance citing the efficient shape, passive solar potential - all the merits that accompanied it's appearance in the press. I spent some time refuting them and could tell my comments were met with some scepticism. Who are you going to believe: me, or what appears in every story?
    That's my point. These discussions around new housing types have meaning and influence people. You don't want a dialogue, you just want people to accept your word and get irritated when others don't agree.
    I'm done. Enjoy your house.

  22. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #22

    The cost of ductless heating systems depends on the sizing, necessary, and the number of interior heads. In my area 2-3 ton multi splits run compressors run something on the order of $3000-4000 per ton (of rated cooling ), plus $1500 per head, installed. Single head mini-splits run about $3000-4500/ton, installed. So if you went hog-wild with a head in every room it could add up to quite a bit- as much as a ducted ground-source heat pump solution if the load is 4-5 tons with 6 heads. The sweet-spot in the market where they sell the most units tends to be 1-3tons, with 1-3 heads, which would require a VERY efficient 5000' house to meet the load at an outside design temp of -20C. Above 3 tons it may be more cost effective to go with ground source heat pumps.

    At -20C you can't expect more than ~14,000BTU/hr per cooling-ton out of them, so ideally you'd need to get the heat load at -20C to be at least under 40,000BTU hour for this technology to make much sense. But under 30,000BTU/hour with an open floor plan (for fewer heads) it's usually pretty compelling compared to ground source heat pumps.

    But without the room-by-room heat load calculation and floor plane we're just shooting in the dark on ANY heating system. Terms like "very energy efficient" are relative, and pretty meaningless without the numbers. If Deltec can provide the approximate heat load numbers on the house as-planned at some nominal inside & outside design temps it's possible to extrapolate to determine the heat load at YOUR outside design temp. Otherwise you'll have to do your own heat load calc. (See Martin's links in response #11 outlining I=B=R heat load calculation methods.)

  23. steveointo | | #23


    Unbelievable. You state that your reason for attacking me on this forum is because some friends of yours were excited about my house & that you "refuted" all the things they/the press were saying. This is interesting, because I do not recall you coming to visit and learn about any of the details of the house. Why would you take an immediate (baseless) contrary position without learning about any of the facts that they may have been talking about? Although I don't know much about this kind of stuff, I do know that a round house does not have as much drafting as a square house and I do know that if a house can rotate to follow the sun that it can achieve better passive &/or active solar all things held equal. But the main reason I built a rotating house (& probably the main reason your friends were excited about the house) was so that we could allow all of our rental guests downstairs to enjoy the ocean view which is only on one side of the house. What is there to refute regarding this? Why does this mean that I "want people to take my word"? What are you even talking about? Why would you be so mean to them and try to crush whatever dreams they may have as a means of self-serving satisfaction so that you can simply hear yourself talk about stuff you think you know about in order to sound important to somebody?

    Thank you for wishing me well in my house (it sounded very sulky to me when you said that) but as I've stated before, I didn't come on this forum to discuss the enjoyment factor of my house - I came here to discuss heating methods. You've got some nerve to bring up a bunch of stuff that has no bearing on anything we're discussing, try to turn it around to make me look like some kind of bad guy, & then try to make me feel guilty for something I never did.

    After I finish discussing things with the decent people I've been communicating with here on this forum who give it a GOOD name, I'm outta here and will never come back. I will not refer this forum to others, unless I have confirmation that you are banned. You give green a black eye and should be ashamed of yourself as you are only bringing every good person here down. I'm not a bad person & I have done nothing wrong & you chose to attack me for no reason. Shame on you.

  24. steveointo | | #24


    Thank you again for your help. Yes, I went to Martin's links and followed about 20% of it before I found myself scratching my head in frustration. :) I think I will ask Deltec for some assistance as well as get help from our local heat pump installer so we can see exactly what we're dealing with.

  25. user-659915 | | #25

    Steve, your outburst against Malcom is entirely inappropriate. This is a serious forum where folks take 'green' claims very seriously. You uncritically repeat Deltec's self-promotional nonsense about drafting and so on and it needs to be challenged. And by the way a blurb in Treehugger is no recommendation. Lloyd Alter is a nice enough guy but his editorial focus on novelty at the expense of any semblance of building science or even common practicality seriously damages any credibility that forum may have in the world of green construction.

  26. homedesign | | #26

    I agree with James Morgan and Malcolm Taylor
    the Link that Malcolm provided certainly appears to show Steve posting/promoting some "fantastic" claims.

  27. steveointo | | #27

    James, I don't give a damn about Loyd's site! I never brought that site up, nor does it have anything to do with me. Complain to this guy Lloyd if you want, but not to me. I was casually discussing home heating methods with you & Martin. I don't know or care if Lloyd is a nice guy or whether he has any building science practicality (why are we even discussing this?!). For arguments sake - let's say that I agree with you about everything you say about this guy Lloyd. I don't know him, do not promote him, nor do I endorse anything he says. HE IS A NON ISSUE IN MY LIFE.

    I'm supposed to let a complete stranger come in from out of nowhere & talk about "aspirations on my character" about a bloody site that I have nothing to do with? He deserved my outburst & you know it. What he did was completely wrong and out of place AND has nothing to do with me. You're damn right I'm gonna put him in his place as well as anybody who supports him in attacking me on something that I don't deserve, have NOTHING to do with, and am not a part of.

    GET OFF OF THIS STUPID TREEHUGGER SITE - PLEASE! What the hell does it have to do with anything we were discussing?! I am not here to defend it, agree with it, support it, or otherwise. And the fact that you & Malcolm keep bringing it up means that you have some serious issues that need to be dealt with - WITH LLOYD! Like you, I hate the guy as well - okay? Happy now? Let's lynch him. In fact, let's all go out of our way to burn his house down (it's probably not green anyway, right?). Now you've got me all up in arms & wasting my time about some stupid green web site. Let's all wake up every morning looking for things we hate and bring them into discussions with complete strangers who don't even know them. Excellent. Right on.


    In that blog, somebody stated that the house wasn't green and all that stuff & I posted something saying that WE WILL NOT KNOW WHAT THE TRUE ENERGY PROPERTIES OF THE HOUSE ARE UNTIL WE FINISH IT. Was that not prudent of me? Did I cross some kind of "inner circle green line" that I didn't know about by saying this? What more do you want from me. I am now here defending a stupid site that has nothing to do with me on a forum I simply stumbled on to ask about heating because 2 people who have some "beef" with Deltec want my blood! Holy crap has this world gone to complete hell?!

    That sums up my view on the green stuff with the house & I did not build it because it is green. I built it to rotate. I've said this, now let's leave it alone. I don't care about green stuff. I hate green stuff. Forget about green stuff. I don't use that Treehugger site as recommending anything green about the house because its not my site & I don't know anything about it.

    In my discussion with you, I mentioned that the house was a Deltec house and that it had some advantages regarding energy efficiency due to its round shape & because I'm putting in some good insulation, which may have some bearing on the heating methods that might be recommended. I didn't say that Deltec was the best or that they kick ass or that there is no other house like it. In fact, I market rotating platforms that can go under ANY style of house. I don't care what house somebody puts on a rotating platform. I know that it WORKS with a Deltec home & with the original rotating house style in Australia - that's it.

    You didn't feel the need to jump in & and attack my credibility THROUGH the Treehugger site state that Deltec sucks & that their claims are not supported or that they are a bunch of jerks or that they ruined somebody's life, etc. Why? Because you and any other normal person would know that there is no reason to, that it's not the place for it, & that it is completely irrelevant in this discussion and that it has nothing to do with me because it was Lloyd who is saying that stuff & not me!

    Now if all of this is simply about a simple drafting comment I made here (that appears to be what you are boiling it down to) and you & Malcolm feel that it is appropriate to take all of your frustrations on my because I restated this information from Deltec, then I think you are going a bit overboard, don't you think? Apparently you and Malcolm have some personal vendetta against Deltec, but please leave me out of it. Although I'm not an green guy, I do believe in physics and I do believe that a round structure has less drafting than a square structure.


    Dana & Martin - thank you for your help in the things I wished to discuss here, but there are some people here with serious issues that have nothing to do with me.

  28. steveointo | | #28

    Holy cow. Who the hell is John? John - please read from the beginning. We are not discussing the Tree Hugger site here. I was talking about heating methods!

    Please read the above comments.

  29. stuccofirst | | #29

    I would vote for a geo-thermal in-floor radiant system. Radiant slab is oh so cozy.

  30. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #30

    You wrote, "Who the h**l is John?"

    John Brooks is a longtime GBA member and a valued member of this community. If you continue to use that kind of language on this site to slander our members, your posts will be edited or deleted.

    You wrote, "LLOYD!... Let's lynch him."

    Your threats of violence are a violation of GBA policy. Knock it off. You have been warned.

  31. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #31

    I would like to apologize to the rest of the forum members for this. Whatever the right and wrongs of the situation, I had a part in it and should not have allowed things to escalate the way they did. Sorry.

  32. stevearnold1 | | #32

    Well, I swore that I would never come back to this forum after the way I was treated by a few people, but I just had to share our exciting news with all of you who were trying to help me with my heating/cooling question.

    Despite the claims about my "claims" in the above thread, I can confirm that my "claims" are no longer claims - they are fact. After 1.5 yrs of living at the house, I am happy to say that it is performing better than we anticipated. Even though we never promoted it as being the most energy efficient structure in the world (despite what some on this forum would have you believe) some of Canada's TOP engineers were very impressed with the 83 EnerGuide score we received despite the fact that the house has more glass than solid walls (18 patio doors & 16 windows, or about 75% of the exterior walls) and that the house is not permanently affixed to the basement wall. This score, although very good, will not break any records when compared to a normal "green" home, but given the fact that this house does a lot of funky stuff and has so much glass, we have been told by several engineers that they are astounded by this figure. The most energy efficient home in NB & PEI done by members of the CHBA scored an 86, if I remember correctly, so we are not too far off.

    We ended up going with air source Daiken heat pumps (mini splits) and are very happy with them. Despite the fact that we had colder than minus 30 days several times last winter and a TON of snow, the heat pumps never failed. Of course, we had the benefit of rotating into the sun which eliminated the need to turn on the heat at all on a cold sunny day, but it also meant that the pumps could be kept out of strong north winds if necessary. I would definitely recommend these heat pumps.

    We used blown in bibs for the walls and used cellulose for the roof with foam around the pot lights to give it a good seal. We also insulated the steel platform and covered it with PVC decking material to keep it water-proof. We had the house recently scanned with an IR gun to show the heat leakage, etc. and the results were "much better than average" according to the inspector. He noted that around every window sill there would always be some heat loss, but he was surprised that the basement showed only a 2 degree difference in heat at the wall seal where the platform rotates above the basement wall. In the winter, we do not need to turn the heat on at all as it maintains a 13 degree above zero temperature despite the fact that the house is not permanently affixed to the basement wall.

    We sometimes have up to 25 people staying at the house in the various condo suites with my family upstairs all using air conditioning, heating, showers, etc. and our electric bill (we only have one energy bill) has averaged $500/mo for the 8000 sq ft structure. Rotating the house one complete turn only costs 15 cents of electricity due to the tiny 1 HP motors.

    Because of our accomplishments, we received the 2013 Annual Presidents award from Island Technology professionals and the Canadian Home Builders Association Innovative Construction Award.

    I am happy to share our building experience and results with you all and can confidently say that our rotating Deltec Home is an energy efficient home which has accomplished a few milestones which now cannot be denied.

  33. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #33

    I'm glad to hear that you took the advice from GBA and used ductless minisplits. And I'm glad that you are satisfied with the performance of the ductless minisplits in your climate.

  34. wjrobinson | | #34

    Steve, calm down my man... you both have good points but are on different topics.

    As to Dana talking ground source heat pump forget it. passing up the rotational axis is a nightmare of challenges and to add the heat system into the rotation.. I'm out.

    Steve, your home is neat. The thing is it is not anywhere near being economical and energy efficient for a multitude of reasons, number one being complexity and cost.

    The market for your home is for the novelty of turning and having a view. For me not that you asked I have had dinner in a restaurant the spun and... hated it. I had the same reaction years ago in a round bar that spun. Get up and where the h*ll is the bathroom? LOL...

    I am not a fan of being spun.

    I am a fan of mini splits. Your home is too big for mini splits. If it did not spin and since it is an expensive home, it should have a ground source heat pump since there is no NG.

    Good luck... don't get lost leaving the home when it's turned on you.... not for me.

    Didn't look at the dates... holy cow... anyway.. missed the last few posts... need to read them and repost...

    Steve... now that I see your latest post glad you are happy with your home. The home as a home is far too expensive for what I call green. But for a business I think the idea is great. So for what you built it for bravo. Glad the minis splits work.

    But don't ever think a rotating house is a way to be more green. To me that is nonsense. The cost is just too high and too complex. I prefer what some call the ugly shoe box style green.

    Good luck with your business. You should do well. The home is unique for sure.

  35. stevearnold1 | | #35

    Martin - thanks very much for your assistance throughout this forum.

    AJ Builder - yes, you really need to read from the beginning to see the context of my original post, however you definitely got the point immediately after reading everything for the first time, where others failed. :)

    As you can see, I never advocated that building a rotating home would make it more energy efficient - the cost/benefit ratio is WAY too high. I simply came onto the forum to ask about what heating method people would recommend and some people chose to use this forum to tell me how the house would be LESS energy efficient because of the fact that it rotates.

    I started off calm, but got upset when people chose to discuss the energy efficiency of the house when I never came onto this forum to discuss this aspect of the house - I was trying to get answers to my questions.

    I am calm now again, 2 years later :) after documenting the proof that the house IS indeed energy efficient - not because it rotates, but DESPITE the fact that it rotates.

    You are correct that we did not build the rotating house in an effort to make it green, however it has not sacrificed any energy efficiency because it rotates - in fact, it is much better than average. There are also some small additional energy benefits that rotating creates - not enough by themselves to warrant the cost, but a nice added bonus for something which was created for another purpose.

    It is the energy efficiency provided by our basement, insulation, choice of windows/doors, mini-splits, and the tight build & shape of a Deltec Home which create the energy efficiency. We did consider ground source heating, but like you said - it would have been more difficult with our house and the estimated cost was over $60k.

    As a side note - the spinning itself is not the benefit of the house (I agree that it is no fun to be spun). We rotate the house intermittently from time-to-time and then let it sit for a few hours or a few days so that all of our condos get to share the ocean views. Our technology is not like the rotating restaurants where you can lose your seat (or your beer) due to the rotating donut between a non-rotating central hub and non rotating outer wall. Our whole house - walls & center rotate when we wish it to. The rotating is simply a means to an ends - capturing different views while stationary.

    I just had to let John, James, & Malcolm know that the "fantastic claims" are now no longer claims - they have been backed up by fact and figures, which proves their kind advice inaccurate. I know they will want to take correct information to help them assist others who may seek more accurate advice on this forum.

    Now if you will excuse me, I now have to find my "front" door... :)

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