Saturday, August 13, 2011

Next step to reducing energy consumption and improving comfort

In my last post I wrote about how I had managed to get $75 from B.C. Hydro's PowerSmart program due to the fact I had reduce my home's energy consumption by more than 10%.  Of course the $75 is peanuts compared to what I am saving in energy costs, but it was nice to get money back for a change.

Last week I made another change to my home, and I'm aiming to get another $75 from Hydro!  Even more importantly I (and my clients) are going to be way more comfortable this winter. How did I do it?

Like so many in North America I failed to understand that most heat does not necessarily go "up."  Most heat movement is through radiant heat (usually 2/3's of the total, or more). Why? Because radiant heat goes in every direction, always seeking to warm up cold surfaces.

Thus when I built this office and failed to insulate the floor from the concrete slab, I invited most of the heat in the room to move downward!  Even after putting super insulating (see-through) blinds over the windows and installed double insulated walls (at least R-20), I was still cold, especially at my feet and legs. All that thermal mass at my feet, quietly losing its heat to mother earth!

Ideally I would have removed all the concrete, laid insulation and then a thin layer of concrete (and preferably hot water lines for radiant heating), and then re-floored. I didn't have the time nor money for that, so I used aluminum (an excellent radiant reflector) and some rigid foam insulation, finishing with a floating floor. I can tell the difference already, and it's still summer-time!

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