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Energy Use

You will notice in the Development: Build Planning section, I'm planning on using some of the most energy efficient building techniques available. That includes the use of SIP's for the roof and gables as well as ICF's for not only the foundation, but the exterior walls as well.

Example of ICF construction

Energy Ideas [TOP]
I am interested in exploring some ideas that save energy and create a comfortable environment.

Some ideas off the top of my head:

  1. Energy Efficient Structure
  2. Radiant Foil
  3. Efficient Radiant Floor Heat
  4. Wind Break
  5. Solar Power to Augment/Replace Grid
  6. Wood Stove & Air Circulation

More extreme and a bit of a curiosity:

  1. Refrigerator/Freezer Utilizing Winter Temperatures
  2. Clothes Dryer Heat Exchanger
  3. Passive Thermal Solar for Hot Water
  4. Gray Water Heat Exchanger

1) The energy efficient structure is documented in the Development: Build Planning section. The ideas are extensive and will make good use of as little energy as possible.


2) I was looking at Log Cabin Design Magazine and saw an article on an energy efficient structure designed by a former Salt Lake City resident who also built his home in Idaho. He has done some great work promoting the use of metallic foil to reduce energy use. I contacted him and had some excellent email conversations. He thinks from thermal engineering standpoint and gave me some excellent food for thought. You can check out his web site at:
The Super R Plus™ Foil is very cost effective as well.


3) Research brought me to understand that radiant floor heat is one of the most efficient and comfortable ways to heat a structure.
The guys at Warmzone have already been great. I installed some radiant floor heat in a basement bathroom floor as well as in my office. That process will be documented in another web site.
But I digress. My research told me that the ultimate in radiant floor energy efficiency is a hydronic heating system. That sounds good, except that my good friend Matt at Warmzone told me that going from a hibernating 55 degrees cabin in the winter, to the expected 72 degrees needed for a weekend, might take days.
The problem example: when coming up on a Friday night for a weekend of snowmobiling, the space would be up to heat right about the time you leave.

The only solution would be a remote thermostat so that you could call the house a few days ahead of time, and start warming the house.

The other solution that Matt at Warmzone told me about was that electric in-floor heat will get a space up to temperature in a count of hours, VS the days required for hydronic. Sure, electricity is going to be a little more expensive than propane, but I would imagine that having to make the gas-fired boiler run so hard for 3 days would negate much of the efficiency savings it might offer. Matt has also assured me that this type of cable is also a relatively efficient use of electricity.

I've has some additional thoughts as well, bordering on the survival-ist mentality. If energy becomes difficult to secure for an extended duration, will it be easier to find/make your own propane, or electricity?

To answer that rhetorical question, I do have plans for some type of solar collectors and/or wind power.

Of course, many have questioned the durability of electric radiant heat. I know that I did when I was first learning about it. Again, Matt at Warmzone helped to dispel that concern as well. There are several installations of electric radiant floor heat in Europe which are still going strong after 40+ years. That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider that technology has increased dramatically, and the cables now are even more high-tech and should have an even longer potential life.


4) The wind-break idea came from the University of Idaho Seedling Program catalog. It was pretty impressive to see how much energy could be saved by creating a wind-break in order reduce the amount of cold air stripping the warm air from the house. In the tree planting section you can see the wind-break in the tree layout.