Energy-frugal owner-built house on a budget?
I’d like to start a free-for-all discussion about building an owner built energy-efficient home on a budget. I’ve turned over the options to the point of feeling dizzy (more than usual). I used to build homes (some double walled super-insulated, some architect designed and specified, beautiful, but far from energy-efficient) for other people. Now, I design and build furniture for other people and build structures for us. I will build carefully in a way a builders on a budget may not for reasons of profitability.
We live in the woods of Wisconsin near Mpls/St.Paul, in a small 650 sq. ft. passive solar house (dbl glazed low E, argon gas filled), with hydronic heat in a acid-etched slab (off-peak electric micro boiler). I’ll be adding 600 sq. ft. in 2 stories, with a wood stove.
So, where should I put our $? Weighted towards North American made Passiv certified windows? (Being in the woods, we like windows for the view, solar gain and natural light.) Spray Foam? Solar panels?
I’m leaning towards a carefully sealed 2×6 mineral wool wall with sealed 2″ foil-faced foam on the warm side — approx. R34. I am wary of the durability of windows getting U value with suspended heat reflective film between panes, and of the “bugs” that may yet to be found in the products of the new Passiv window players; I’ve seen some of the German made windows and they are EXTREMELY impressive, but we can’t afford them. Of the more affordable Canadian (or American?) made windows, which seem to have the best track record for performance and durability? Any other thoughts given our parameters?
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