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
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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.

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Checking out passive house (garage) design August 13, 2009

Filed under: Energy Efficiency,Green Rehab — budint @ 2:28 am
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During some R&R in North Dakota a couple weeks ago I read this book by Dan Chiras about passive solar homes. The read really inspired me to makes some changes in my home and REALLY think about a number of design aspects in any future dwelling I build (like the garage maybe).

Much of the guidance you could chaulk up as common sense; insulation, air penetration, internal heat gain, but hearing about it in such detail really hammered home some things.  And it also prompted me to buy an  infrared thermometer so that I could understand where there are weaknesses and opportunities.

The book also made me much more aware of how the house and layout behaved during the cooling season. Ideas such as lighter color paint on the west, or best coverage of western windows constantly pops into mind. I also realized my southern overhang is overhung enough as its not protecting my southern windows during this cooling season.   Also subtly frustrated with some of the non-insulative decisions we made on the original part of the house.

All in all, it’s one of the more thought provoking books I’ve read and has really motivated me to do better next time.  And maybe next time is the garage, which we’re starting to discuss right now.

Since passive house design has that sense of being from the 70’s, I’m also trying to follow the guys at 100khouse.com to see if I can learn anything from them on their current passive house German standards design.