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Building energy efficient home

 
                    
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  We're building our retirement home. Since we live in AK I'm trying to maximize my energy output. I'm following guidelines from the cold weather research center from our university. R-20, 4" of foam below a heated slab. Rigid foam around the the perimeter n horizontal 4' out. Closed cell urethane between 2x6 studs. Insulated house wrap for a thermal break. 3/4" dead air space. Pine board siding with chinking between the boards. Hopefully we will achieve over R-42 in the walls. R-62 in the lid with recycled materials.
  We do not have access to national gas. So fuel oil fired Toyo boiler that will heat the floor and our hot water. And an oil drip stove that resembles a wood stove and requires no power in the living room.
     Any constructive criticism is appreciated
 
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Since we live in AK I'm trying to maximize my energy output.



Since you are building the home have you considered a Rocket Mass Heater?

if you buy the wood, it costs less to operate than natural gas



So the wood might cost less than the fuel oil.

https://richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp

We have a forum where you can learn more about them:

https://permies.com/f/260/rocket-mass-heaters
 
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How much land is around your planned house?

If you're worried about wood for an RMH, try reading up on shrubs/small trees that can be coppiced or pollarded. The nifty thing about an RMH +/- a rocket stove for outside cooking during nice weather, is that they can be run on branches from landscaping if you plant things like Hazelnut.

https://permies.com/t/121391/Pollarding-mulberry-coppicing-hazelnut-effect

https://permies.com/t/178339/deciding-trees-plant-coppiced-firewood

Even our pear and apple trees have a tendency to put up what are called "water spouts" which can be cut off for firewood while they're still small enough to use hand tools on if you're like me and find chain saws too scary. Long lengths can be cut shorter with just a miter saw.
 
                    
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   Yes I am familiar with the rocket stoves. And I've cut n burned wood my entire life. We are on 1 acre lots. And will probably put a woodstove in the garage.
   Our daughter built a portable rocket stove prototype from 4" square steel I want to try out.
    Because we will need to use fuel oil,  I want to limit it. So building as energy wise as I can.
 
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Its practical to use old engine oil in the drip stove, and if you blow air into the unit its betterer again.
 
Anne Miller
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I just cannot understand why you would want to use fuel oil when a RMH is such a better choice.

When we were building our home I wish I had known about them.

Here is a thread you or others might enjoy:

https://permies.com/t/181272/Alaska-RMH
 
                    
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I'm not familiar with RMH.
 Our choice for energy sources are fuel oil, electricity or wood. Electricity not practical tooooo expensive. Retirement home so cutting wood is for the garage or cabin. We burned wood pellets for many years and they worked great. But trying to reduce the manual labor.
     We're spending a considerable amount of money on the insulation. Gets cold in ak.
Also I feel comfortable knowing that our university has spent many years developing plans for the building envelope in arctic climate. And we are using their information as a guideline.
   Always open to learning , that's why I posted this so thanks.  I consider it all constructive
 
John C Daley
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Anne, in my suggestion its not fuel oil being used, but old engine oil.
In many locations its not recycled and often dumped, and used in generally converted units its good.
Koler manufacture domestic sized units as well.
 
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Alak;
I think you  might really enjoy a batchbox RMH with a brick bell.
The beauty of them is once you heat the mass up you let the fire go out.
Your brick mass will radiate heat all night long with no fire.
In a typical environment (not AK) only one or two fires a day are built.
Even in extreme temps you still would let it go out all night.
Think NO CHIMNEY FIRES!!!  
Firewood use is dramatically reduced!

The Bell can be any size or shape needed to fit your space.
From a low couch like bench to an 8' tall skinny box or any shape you need to fit.

As you know, having several sources  of heat is critical in extremally cold environment's.
Having an RMH as well as other heat sources is a darn good idea!
Of course I am predigest about them.

Building your retirement home to  U of AK standards is a smart move and a good investment.
 
Anne Miller
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John C Daley wrote:Anne, in my suggestion its not fuel oil being used, but old engine oil.
In many locations its not recycled and often dumped, and used in generally converted units its good.
Koler manufacture domestic sized units as well.



John, I was not commenting on your post.

I was asking the OP (Original Poster) why not build a RMH?  It is so much more sustainable rather than using oil of any sort.

And I thought that discussion by someone else about building a RMH in Alaska would be helpful.
 
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Alak Cabin wrote:   We're building our retirement home. Since we live in AK I'm trying to maximize my energy output. I'm following guidelines from the cold weather research center from our university. R-20, 4" of foam below a heated slab. Rigid foam around the the perimeter n horizontal 4' out. Closed cell urethane between 2x6 studs. Insulated house wrap for a thermal break. 3/4" dead air space. Pine board siding with chinking between the boards. Hopefully we will achieve over R-42 in the walls. R-62 in the lid with recycled materials.
  We do not have access to national gas. So fuel oil fired Toyo boiler that will heat the floor and our hot water. And an oil drip stove that resembles a wood stove and requires no power in the living room.
     Any constructive criticism is appreciated


Hi Alek,
We just finished building our icf home in central Ontario. Sounds like you are checking all the right boxes. I find too many people get bogged down in how you heat a structure instead of how efficient the structure is. A few things I did not hear from you that as a high efficiency builder I'd want to know.
1)ERV - tight homes need mechanical ventilation
2) windows - spend the money on triple paned windows they will pay for themselves within a few years.
You could look up the "pretty good home" standards which is a good series of recommendations using common materials. https://www.prettygoodhouse.org/
Enjoy your build and don't be afraid to intervene to make your structure better. All too often trades get too comfortable in the status quo and fall back on what they have always done.
Cheers, post details
David Baillie
 
David Baillie
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Also I'd like to see iso on the outside; thermal breaks make wood frame houses much better. Could you post a link to the insulated wrap you are planning on using?
Thanks
 
                    
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    Thanks for any n all feedback.
 Will have humidistats for mechanical moisture management.  Passive fresh air make-up from air tube from outside air to inside. Outside on the bottom. Inside vent at the top. The heat stacking within the pipe mitigates drafts. A mechanical induction system,  fan in the stack, will probably be installed if I want to bring extra air in to exhaust the house.
I believe that the air in a home needs to change so fresh air is added. Creating a passive air exchange will a turbo in it if desired. In AK we are generally more concerned about dry all winter. And put water pots on the woodstove to add moisture into the air.
   Rocket mass stove. Lots of space and would not provide a heat source that would need our demands. I am using 2 separate systems. Both use diesel fuel. Woodstove in the garage. Getting older means getting harder. But will still have a nice orange glow across the floor as a night light And I enjoy watching a fire. The drip stoves of today look like small wood stoves. Don't take up much space.
   We are doing in floor heating so using the slab in the same way as a heat sink. And it transmits conductive energy to all the furniture n such. Making then heat sinks also.
  Triple pane low E argon windows. We will make insulated curtains. And probably put the shrink wrap plastic on the windows.
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David Baillie wrote:We just finished building our icf home in central Ontario. Sounds like you are checking all the right boxes. I find too many people get bogged down in how you heat a structure instead of how efficient the structure is. A few things I did not hear from you that as a high efficiency builder I'd want to know.
1)ERV - tight homes need mechanical ventilation
2) windows - spend the money on triple paned windows they will pay for themselves within a few years.



I agree with both of these points. We bought an ICF home 4 years ago and absolutely love it. No need for AC in summer and we use a wood stove for heat in winter (4-6 hrs/day) and in the morning we are in the high 50s to low 60s with no other source of heat. We are on a concrete slab so there is a lot of thermal mass to help moderate temperature swings. We use the in-floor heating about 1 hour a year to check it's functionality but we don't need it.

The house does have mechanical ventilation and it is very important, especially in the winter. In summer we can open the windows but it's a low energy system so we just leave it on.
 
John C Daley
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OP is that a foundation for your home?
 
                    
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That was the foundation. Well there was some fill on one end. I  mined 200 yards of gravel fron the site. Burying brush n stumps. Had a lot of glacial silt in it. I kept it wet n compacted it with a ten ton roller compactor. It's like cement. Then there is 7-12" of D-1. Compacted. A non wickable soil must be under the slab so no moisture can acure. So no frost possible. The R-20 insulation will allow minimal heat under the slab and allow just enough under the slab to ensure it can't freeze. No frost heaving. The drip line will be 6' out.
   We have the in floor heating tubes done . And ready to pour,  yeah
 
John C Daley
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What is this please?

D-1. Compacted


When is the pour happening?
 
                    
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Well the cement pour went very well. I'm going to be stripping n cleaning the form boards today. Then me and my carpenter friend will fly out to our cabin for 4 days and get some stuff done there.
   The trusses arrived unexpectedly,  great. The framing package will be delivered on 19th.
Shooting for a week to frame n roof the house. Will be soo nice to be dried in
     Pictures of the in floor heating system. I went with putting the tubing in at 8 inches instead of 12" so I would have more heat mass and less fluctuations and cycling with the boiler.
    Took a month to get this done. Whew. Anf feels really good tooooo
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D-1 is 3/4" minus rock fractured on at least 3 sides.   3/4" crushed rock. This is used so we can have an environment where moisture won't hold. And let's us make sure that the ground under the foam insulation is real flat.  And 4" from the top. So slab is even and correct amount of cement ordered.
 
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David, what does this mean please?  ISO
Also I'd like to see iso on the outside
 
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John C Daley wrote:David, what does this mean please?  ISO
Also I'd like to see iso on the outside



ISO = polyisocyanurate. Rigid foam insulation panels.
 
                    
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Thanks folks.  I researched ridgid panel insulation on the out of the plywood. Kinda expensive. With the spray urethane between the studs I get R-7.5 per inch. Near R-40. The reflex insulation has R 2 plywood adds a bit. With the dead air space and the wall finished . My walls will be near R-45. Pretty good. Trying to amoratize more investment in insulation with the price of the other building materials prices going up. I need to make decisions and try staying on budget
 
                    
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Hello all. I've been researching reflex house wrapping insulation. According to the information  I can achieve up to R-21 if I use the white faced 5/16" material. If I have a minimum 3/4" dead air space on each side. With using 3/4"x1-1/2" wood lathe strips on the outside and closed cell urethane on the other I can achieve this.
    This was according to how I understood the manufacturer instructions. Has anyone here used this product  ? Can you all see any risks?  Thanks,  all advice is constructive
 
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Alak Cabin wrote:Hello all. I've been researching reflex house wrapping insulation. According to the information  I can achieve up to R-21 if I use the white faced 5/16" material. If I have a minimum 3/4" dead air space on each side. With using 3/4"x1-1/2" wood lathe strips on the outside and closed cell urethane on the other I can achieve this.
    This was according to how I understood the manufacturer instructions. Has anyone here used this product  ? Can you all see any risks?  Thanks,  all advice is constructive


So Alak,
My understanding of the literature would be a radiant barrier would be most effective in a warm climate where you are trying to reflect out heat. My real world experience in a cold climate tells me that you are better off investing in a better insulated shell with a higher whole wall insulation number. For the money you will be spending on the urethane I would seriously look at a better batt material such as roxul or blown in fiberglass and a thick layer of exterior iso panel insulation.
Either way you will be building an awesome house and I wish you well... As a reference article:
https://www.finehomebuilding.com/project-guides/insulation/closed-cell-foam-studs-waste

Cheers, David Baillie
 
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Heat Pump water heaters are Very efficient and are New in-home construction.
Filename: Heat-Pump-Deep-Dive_Final-Presentation.pdf
File size: 21 megabytes
 
David Baillie
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John C Daley wrote:David, what does this mean please?  ISO
Also I'd like to see iso on the outside

a type of Ridgid closed cell foam board.
Cheers, David
https://www.atlasrwi.com/polyiso-insulation/
 
                    
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  Things have been going fast. The walls are up n today we will roll the trusses. We built the outside walls without the interior walls up. As we have scissors trusses and I left out putting the window n door headers n jams. We're custom building so that leaves us a bit of wiggle room. Pictures of the slab. Nice that the sewer plumbing and heating system are also mostly done.
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