Project updates


Painting with the Windows Closed

posted Nov 22, 2010, 1:39 PM by Andrew Koh

Winter painting has historically been an interesting exercise.  Respirator or not, breathing in potential carcinogens in the form of VOCs in an enclosed space, in a super insulated house that is virtually air-tight... well that's just asking for trouble.  I might as well sniff glue.  Enter Benjamin Moore who is a gracious sponsor with their Natura line of ZERO VOC paint.  Here's the skinny on this product which is pretty comparable to their Aura line which is just about the best paint I've ever used:

-Virtually odorless
-Zero VOC's
-Preserves my brain cells
-Won't off-gas (good for my kids)
-High quality product

I'm not sure if I'll do it but I could paint with the windows closed which is a good thing in freezing weather.  The only thing better would be if I could do it with my eyes closed and with a simple click of the mouse...

5,362 lbs

posted Nov 1, 2010, 8:18 PM by Andrew Koh

Watching someone trying to deliver 5,362 lbs of flooring to a house situated on a hill is interesting.  Having to move that same 5,362 lbs into your house is not.  Cali Bamboo Fossilized Strand flooring is a really beautiful product.  I'm anxiously looking forward to seeing it installed.

Nonsense and drivel...

posted Nov 1, 2010, 8:30 AM by Andrew Koh

People, including myself, seemingly want to call my street Gun Hill Road rather than Gun Hill Street.  No matter what I tell them, some will just write down "Street" rather than "Road".  Thank God for the internet.  So here's the difference between a street and a road:
"A road usually runs between two more distant points, such as between two towns. A street is described as being a paved road or highway - in a city, town, or village, especially one lined with houses, shops, or other buildings. The implication is that if a street does not have these things, it will probably be called a road." (Dictionary)

Roads can be turned into streets when a town expands, but because road is the more general term it can be applied to a street. Thus street is a narrower term under the road category, and is urban in principle or application. "The word "street" is sometimes used colloquially as a synonym for "road," but city residents and urban planners draw a crucial distinction: a road's main function is transportation, while streets facilitate public interaction. Examples of streets include pedestrian streets, alleys, and center-city streets too crowded for road vehicles to pass. Conversely, highways and motorways are types of roads, but few would refer to them as streets." (Wikipedia)

Who knew?  Next up... the difference between a pond and lake.

And then there was more light!

posted Oct 27, 2010, 2:33 PM by Andrew Koh

Philips Lighting is committed to supporting our LED lighting needs.  What's the significance of this? 

Standard R20 bulb: 40 watts
Equivalent R20 CFL bulb: 14 watts
Equivalent R20 LED bulb: 7 watts

Just in case you don't have your calculator handy, that's 50% of the energy use of a CFL bulb and 17.5% energy use of a standard incandescent bulb.  In other words, nearly 6 times more efficient.  Considering 15.4% of the total electrical consumption in the average US home in 2008 was for lighting, this is absolutely critical in our ability to meet the Thousand Homes Challenge goals.  Sell your Yankee Candle Company stock, we've got a better lighting option...

And then there was light...

posted Oct 26, 2010, 12:05 PM by Andrew Koh

Philips Lighting is committing to supporting our project.  While it's not 100% clear what the extent of the support will be, they will be helping dramatically with a lot of our LED bulb needs.  Thank you Philips!

Fired up!

posted Oct 23, 2010, 7:10 PM by Andrew Koh

Our solar panel installation was wrapped up on Thursday and pending the inspector's approval, will be live for good.  During a less than optimally sunny moment, the panel was putting out 2200 kW!  Watching the system go live was like watching a 3rd child be born.  It felt like an early Christmas.  The team at Broadway Renewable services was fantastic!

Solar Lesson of the Day

posted Oct 18, 2010, 8:02 PM by Andrew Koh

I ask questions.  A lot of questions.  Some which probably seem pretty stupid at times.  My question of the day was we have a 2.8 kW solar array but the inverter (which for those of you as solar challenged as I was converts the DC power from the panels to AC current) is marked as a 2.5 kW inverter.  Why I asked.  Bill Wolfarth at Broadway Renewable Services was kind enough to be my science teacher for the day.  "...inverters and panels are matched to inverter manufacturer’s data using “string charts” - this inverter manufacture has recommended a 2500w inverter for the 14 – 200w modules. It is quite common for manufactures to allow a 10 to 20% push because the maximum module output is only achieved for a short time during maximum sun during the day – the curve is a narrow bell curve with maximum power being achieved mid-day, assuming clear conditions. Sort of like sprinting versus a long run pace – inverters are sized for the sprint".  Got it?!?

HRV in the House

posted Oct 16, 2010, 8:35 PM by Andrew Koh

Most houses leak enough air that maintaining fresh air in your home isn't a real issue.  One of the downsides of sealing your home is that you need to mechanically introduce fresh air into your home.  Enter the Venmar EKO 1.5 HRV.  This Heat Recovery Ventilator is not only the most energy efficient system available on the market but also comes with a pretty nifty "Set it and forget it" control system that automatically controls the system to prevent frosting and other control issues. An HRV is designed in the winter to prewarm incoming cold fresh air from the outside with exiting warm stale air, thereby saving heating energy while introducing fresh air that not only lets you actually breath but also addresses mold and other air quality issues.  Thank you Venmar for helping support our project.

Open House- Oct. 10th

posted Oct 11, 2010, 7:58 AM by Andrew Koh   [ updated Oct 12, 2010, 11:38 AM ]

Yesterday's open house was a great success with about 60 people (National Grid tells me it was more like 100) from near and quite far coming through to see the progress on the home.  There were lots of very detailed questions and people genuinely interesting in learning more about pragmatic approaches for their own home.  The Globe, Patriot Ledger and Local paper had writers floating around.  We're happy to see that there's genuine interest in energy efficient design!

No one promised it would be easy

posted Oct 1, 2010, 6:55 PM by Andrew Koh

The weight of the solar panels are going to require that the existing roof rafters will have be be reinforced.  After consulting with (in other words paying) a structural engineer, we will be doubling up the rafters in the attic.  Home Depot, here I come.

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