Monday, March 30, 2015

Come see the Yukon's Second LEED Registered Home

Come see our little SuperGreen laneway home - it's nearly finished!  This is arguably* the most energy efficent home in the Yukon, scoring an EnerGuide rating of 89!  The home is registred as a LEED Canada for Homes project and really is a model of sustainable housing in Whitehorse.

So come for a visit and tour - Friday April 3rd - drop by between noon and 7pm.  Note that this is a laneway house, so access it from the alley between Wood and Jarvis Street, between 7th and 8th.  

* Why do I say "arguably", well so there is one other home in Whitehorse recently rated at 89, but it is a big home and they used a big heat pump to score so well--the current EnerGuide rating system is not kind to small homes.  ALSO, Habitat for Humanity's triplex built out at Champagne & Aishikik First Nation's Takhini River subdivision scored a 90, but again they cheated by putting whopping 14kW photovoltaic array on the building.  It's building envelope isn't as energy efficient as ours, but the big renewable energy generation raises their overall EnerGuide rating.  Either way, these are all great, high performance homes and the debated about who's most efficient really is becoming a fun academic game. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Heating people, not air

One of my favorite online publications is called "Low-Tech Magazine".  I few weeks ago I thought they'd written an article just for me--it was called: Restoring the Old Way of Warming:  Heating People, not Places

This article, along with the follow-up called How to Keep Warm in a Cool House, cause us to re-think how we currently heat houses.  The focus of these articles is challenging the current practice of heating air to keep people warm.  The authors look at alteratives in "spot heating" or heating the occupants directly. Any wood-burner knows the best place to be is sit around the wood stove in the living room.  More old-tech in action!

It was a particularly timely article because we just installed radiant electric heaters in the garage we are building.  The idea being to heat the occupants and objects instead of the air because when you open the garage door, out goes all the warm air.  They seem to work just fine, but will it translate into any significant energy savings? Tough to tell. 

Wall mounted electric radiant heaters in the garage.
The other interesting application the authors point out is that radiant heating (where you heat objects, not the air) is a good in existing, lower performance leaky houses.  By using radiant or conductive you can keep the house's air temperature lower, but the occupants can stay comfortable.  This will reduce energy losses through leakage of hot air from the house. There are some interesting ways of doing this both old-tech and new ideas (heated office chairs!)

Anyway, a good read if you interested in re-thinking how we stay warm and comfortable in your houses in a time of rising energy costs, especially existing older housing:

Part 1: Restoring the Old Way of Warming:  Heating People, not Places
Part 2: Radiant & Conductive Heating Systems
Part 3: How to Keep Warm in a Cool House