Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

Assessing cold/hot spots in your house December 23, 2009

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Green Rehab — budint @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , ,

Last winter I was frustrated by what felt like pockets of cold air in various parts of my house.  Sometimes it was easy to confirm (like if there was a breeze), other times it might have been my mind going crazy.   This year I ordered the kintrex infrared thermometer instead of going to the psychologist and boy has it made a difference.

Use Case #1:  Take the closet in an older part of our house where the exterior wall is brick. The closet is always cold, some of which i attributed to being cut-off from heat vents.  After shooting the wall and seeing that its temperature was 15 degrees colder than an insulated wall in a different closet I immediately picked up some rigid insulation.  With the rigid installed over the brick closet wall the temp was 10 degrees warmer.

Use Case #2: a long, long duct run in my basement supplies heat to our great room.  Shooting the duct near the furnace showed the metal was around 90 degrees,  however 35 feet down the run toward the great room the duct metal was only 72 degrees.   So clearly i’m able to quantify the heat loss from the long run in the colder basement and thus this is motivating me to insulate the duct.   I’ll post the update after i do the project, but the point is that i would never have known the heat loss was so great without this device.  (see pic below)

kintrex If you’re paranoid about energy efficiency in your house and need to validate your paranoia for yourself or a loved one this is the tool. Runs about $50.


4 Responses to “Assessing cold/hot spots in your house”

  1. We are HammerHand Imports and will be in Tower Grove on Morgan Ford in October. Please check out our website for our “upcycled” furniture imported from India! We love your home and hope that you will blog more. I found you on a Tower Grove site and imediately was drawn to the word “sustaintable”…for obvious reasons. We are committed to using sustainable and re-purposed materials. Each piece is hand-made and one-of-a-kind. We use only sustainable woods such as teak, sheesham wood, camphor, cypress and pine and upcycled materials such as wagon wheels, fence posts, old signs, railroad ties, old doors and windows and discarded tin and iron. It is history “upcycled”! We hope you will visit us in October. We will be near A&M cyclery.

  2. You’re right about insulating those old city brick walls! We opted to fur in our walls with 2″x4″ studs in order to run new electric, plumbing, and insulate with fiberglass bats. We knew that the best way to minimize heat loss/gain through the duct was to put all the duct in the conditioned space. We accomplished that by supplying both 1st and 2nd floor through the ceiling of the first floor. We used exposed spiral duct across the front windows to supply the front of the upstairs, and hid the main trunks and other supplies/returns in the decorative curved soffits we built and the return air chase that now doubles as a giant whiteboard in our St. Louis Coworking space, Pink Asterisk.

    A nice side effect of the exposed duct over the windows is that during the summer the duct itself cools air that falls with convection down to the tables below further helping to make sitting in the sunlight more comfortable!

    We coupled that with a vertically drilled geothermal system for maximum efficiency. And all the limestone chat that was created after drilling the 150′ vertical geo wells we upcycled into a nice chat patio with a firepit and garden!

    Please check us out and give us a visit if you want to learn more about our green rehab project.

    Here are pictures of our Geotherman System’s Ductwork

  3. This is a very common problem in older homes, and often causes people to reach for the heating dial. Which is not what you want at all. The key to designing a home without cold spots is to eliminate “thermal bridging” and draft (increase air tightness). Both of these things are considered in the “Passive House” standards, and may be included in new building regs in the UK. Passive House have some retro fit projects which might be good to look at.

  4. Just stumbled across your blog and I’m loving your posts! Will definitely be investing in one of those before next winter, my house is draft central lol! Thanks, keep up the great posts!

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