Vermont Custom Builders of Barns & Homes

ENERGY EFFICIENT CONSTRUCTION

Energy Efficient Construction
In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the state of Vermont has implemented a new energy code for all new residential construction. Having attended seminars, consulted industry experts, and enrolled in Vermont's ENERGY STAR Homes program, we were committed to building and making our new home as energy efficient as possible. We succeeded! Our house exceeded the standard energy code efficiency by a whopping 30 percent?and thus received a Five-Star Home Energy Rating.

A well-planned, quality-built home will not only help achieve significant savings on your heat and electric bills, it will also provide greater building durability, lower maintenance, better indoor air quality while creating a more valuable investment for the homeowner.

Scroll down to view photos and descriptions of energy-wise construction practices.
Click on any photo to enlarge.


HOW WE BUILT AN ENERGY STAR® LABELED HOME

    Energy Star Logo
  1. Planning & Research
  2. Quality Windows & Doors
  3. Insulation
  4. Sealing the Shell
  5. ENERGY STAR® Labeled Appliances & Ventilation Systems
  6. Radiant Heat and Efficient Heat System
  7. Use of High-Performance Fluorescent Lighting in High Use Areas

SEE THE FINISHED PRODUCT

1. Planning and Research
Evaluating R-values of insulation, heat and ventilation systems, appliances, chimneys, and lighting?in addition to quantity and insulating values of door and windows are necessary considerations in advance of construction. To obtain maximum benefit from the winter sun, locating the house properly on the site is critical. Using a compass, we were able to predict the best angle for the banks of windows at the rear, and determined that the attached car barn would block the cold North wind.
Planning & Research

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Energy Efficient Construction 2. Quality Windows and Doors
There are many manufacturers and many types of windows so you need to study the U-values (the lower the number the better) and determine if the window has an ENERGY STAR® logo. Each window must be properly installed and insulated around the perimeter. For many of our doors, we choose insulated 6-panel fiberglass doors. These could be painted while offering a higher insulating value and lower maintenance than wood doors.

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3. Insulation
Shown here are the hi-R urethane foam laminate panels which cover the timber rafters in the cathedral kitchen. Once secured to the frame, the joints are sealed with expanding foam resulting in a very tight and highly insulated roof system. Making sure the highest R-values were used and properly installed in every area was imperative. Extra measures were taken in the basement as well. We insulated under the concrete floor and on the walls with rigid foam. We also framed up the basement with studs and placed additional kraft-faced insulation before installing the sheetrock. See basement
Energy Efficient Construction

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Energy Efficient Construction
4. Sealing the Shell
A wind barrier paper is stapled to the plywood sheathing and taped at every joint. A vapor barrier is usually created by using polyethylene over un-faced insulation, but we researched and found a better way: we glued each stud and plate to the sheetrock and then coated it with priming and painting. The disadvantage of the poly is the likelihood that small tears or holes will allow moisture to escape and become trapped between the plywood and siding. This photo shows expanding foam between rigid insulation in advance of standard insulation. Caulking all sills and plates is critical. The few electrical outlet boxes that were placed on outside walls were well caulked. The storage cubbies under the eaves were sheathed and sealed. Small air leaks are not incidental. See test for air flow

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5. ENERGY STAR® Labeled Appliances & Ventilation Systems
Front-loading washers with high-speed spin cycles can reduce the amount of water in the clothes, thus less energy is used for drying. Well-insulated refrigerators and other ENERGY STAR® Labeled Appliances will reduce your energy bills. Rebates are offered for appliances, lighting, and heating systems to help defray any additional costs incurred. Once you have a very tightly-built house, you need to let it breathe not with air drafts leaking in here and there, but by bringing in and exchanging the air using timed fans or whole house HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) systems, which is what we used. The tile floor shown in this open room conducts heat from the radiant heat pipes that are just below the cement board.
Energy Efficient Construction

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6. Radiant Heat and Efficient Heat System
Energy Efficient Construction
A highly-computerized heat system reduces fuel consumption by monitoring the outdoor climate, anticipating the hours when occupants are likely to utilize heat and hot water most while reducing boiler temperature. Shown here are the radiant heat pipes that were installed over rigid foam in the basement before the concrete was poured. Upstairs the pipe is installed in specially grooved plywood. When needed, the pipes warm the floor which in turn warms the furnishings and the occupants, creating a most comfortable living space without drafts or inconsistencies.

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7. Use of High-Performance Fluorescent Lighting in High Use Areas
Updated fluorescent lighting is installed under and over the cabinets as well as in this fan/light combination. A number of recessed light fixtures, bathroom and basement ceiling fixtures, and some of the outside lanterns along with floodlight motion sensors combine to reduce energy costs without sacrificing aesthetics. The range of light color has expanded, making fluorescent bulbs more appealing than earlier versions. Additional savings are gained by using fluorescent lighting with considerably longer bulb life than incandescent bulbs.
Energy Efficient Construction

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quality@vermontcountrybuilders.com  •  PO Box 354  •  Londonderry VT 05148  •  802-824-0045     Follow us on Facebook

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