Around the Bend Strawbale House, Pond and Gardens

April 3, 2007

Other energy efficiency choices

Filed under: Strawbale/Energy efficiency — aroundthebend @ 8:30 am

It has become clear over the last number of months that being energy-efficient (and building a house in general) is all about choices.   Trying to achieve perfection in energy-efficiency and environmental responsibility will either involve enormous amounts of capital costs or enormous amounts of daily time.  You need to pay attention to construction details and choices for efficiency; you need to think about your heating sources and the fuels used and their impact on the environment; you have to think about your use of (maybe production of) electricity and thus the appliances you choose; you need to think about your location and transportation costs to daily activities.


Rather than perfection, however, trying to be as environmentally responsible as possible, and stretching ones imagination as to what is possible, is more likely for most people.  That is what we tried to do in making the choices we did. We wanted to build as energy-efficiently as possible, within reasonable cost parameters.  We also didn’t want to have to work too hard at “making the house work” once it was built, i.e. too much fussing with fuel, cutting wood, adjusting systems, etc.


So beyond the strawbale choice, these have been some of our choices:

  •  South orientation: the house will be T- shaped with a long rectangle shape facing true south or slightly south east.   The garage is the leg of the T to the north, protecting the house.  Passive solar design with thermal mass incorporated into floors and some walls. 

  • High-quality fibreglass framed windows, with low-e argon, and distributed as per Daniel Chiras’ The Solar House —   south facing:10-12% of total floor space; north and east: 4%; west: 2%

  •  Exposed stamped and coloured floor, with radiant heating, frost-protected foundation

  • Hip style truss roof with steel roofing (long-lasting and recyclable). We have included a 36” overhang for the south wall especially for summer solar protection, but also rain protection for the plaster walls.  Matching overhang for the rest of the structure.

  • Air-lock style entries

  • Insulated doors all around

  • A porch on the south side, integrated into the roof structure of the house.  It will have removable windows (used in cool weather as a sun room and airlock), leaving a screened porch for warmer (and buggy) weather.

  • We have opted for now to go with electrically heated hot water for our radiant floors.  We’ll sign on to a small environmentally friendly electicity producer.  With our strawbale house, we hope our heating needs are quite low.  (See the “insulation alert” post at this blog).

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