Working towards a future of almost non-existant heating and cooling bills!
Deep Energy Retrofit in Jericho, Vt!
October 15th, 2012
When you move into a 35 year old house you don't expect it to be
energy efficient, unless you bought it from some energy hippy.
That was certainly not the case when I bought this house two years
ago. We bought it to move out of the city and into the mountains.
We certainly achieved that!
After the first winter it was clear that the house needed some help.
I had just moved from the Netherlands, having lived there as an
expat for 10 years it was good to get back to the US, but the house
was using way too much fuel to heat.
The issues were many. The 'two car garage' tucked under the
bedrooms made it impossible to get the bedrooms really warm.
Worse yet this garage was 'heated' which means that the hot water
radiator line ran first from the boiler to my daughter's room, then
into the garage, back up into my son's room, into my bedroom and
then back into the basement only to end in the bathroom.
By the time heat got to my bedroom most of the heat had been
used to heat the garage...in other words to heat the Vermont
I ended up taking this builder's advice and getting Andersen Super Low-E windows, boy was that a mistake. Unfortunately
it was a month before I took the Passive House training in December 2010. Once I had taken the classes I wanted to have
these new 'really good' Andersen windows pulled out. I was really disappointed in the builder, who had touted these
windows as the top of the heap. In the end I couldn't blame the builder. He is just a guy. They did install the bad
windows well. No leaks, nice trim work. Still I was deeply disappointed.
This puts windows out of the running for any future deep energy retrofit.
So in 2010 I finally took the Passive House Consultant's Training and became certified as a Passive House Consultant.
The things I learned I wanted to apply to my house. I had to have patience though. There just wasn't the money and
there were other things going on.
I needed to close those garage doors up.
In December 2011 I finally hired a contractor to do just that. To keep costs at a minimum I did a lot of the prep work
myself, removing the garage doors and exposing the footing for the new cinder block wall. I'll get into that part of the
renovation in my next post.
Adding the windows helped the comfort in the house considerably but they were and remain bad windows.
The house also had all original windows. Original,
that sounds great if you are talking about a painting
or even a nice Victorian chair but with windows
original means single pane, double hung and poor
All of these bad things were true of my windows. I
had just moved from Europe and didn't know the
window market here in the US, never mind
I called a few contractors and found a good local
guy with lots of experience. I asked him to find the
best windows he could for me. I was willing to pay
a premium for great windows knowing what I
already did about building science and windows.
Eco Houses of Vermont, LLC
Copyright 2013 Eco Houses of Vermont, LLC
Chris West is a Certified Passive House Consultant
Affiliated with the PHIUS and PHI 2013