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Inexpensive Retrofitting.... - Page 4

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Posted by nicksanspam on September 29, 2003, 11:44 am

This would be more like siding, with warm air circulating between the
siding air gap and the living space through a couple of vent holes or
windows during the day.

Sure. A low-thermal-mass room with an insulated wall between the room
and the living space can be a very efficient solar collector...

I'm having trouble interpreting this. Which wall is closest to south?

The real windows might have insulating panels that close at night.


Excerpts from an 8/27/03 memo from Sunoptics pres Jerry Blomberg to Brian
Alcorn on the subject of 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards Revisions:

  The recent collapse of the power grid in the Northeast has caused me to
  make one last effort to present to you and through you to the Commissioners,
  the need to reduce the building area requiring skylights from 25,000 sq. ft.
  to 10,000 sq. ft. I would also recommend that the required ceiling height
  be reduced from 15 ft. to 12. ft.

  The argument for these changes is, they are both cost-effective and they
  would save substantial amounts of electricity during peak demand hours...
  The reduction in ceiling height to 12 ft. is based on the appropriate use
  of 4 ft by 4 ft. skylights. Each skylight will light an area of 300 to
  350 sq. ft. with excellent light distribution...

  I know that it is not the Energy Commission's job to improve the working
  conditions of the people of California, but if you required an effective
  skylight to floor area ratio of 2% in all new buildings, it would make
  every building in California a delight to work in. There would be fewer
  divorces, less child abuse, fewer dogs or cats kicked when they are in
  the way. The fact is, daylighted space with an ESFR of 2% reduces stress,
  and stress of any kind weakens our immune systems and increases societies'
  medical costs. California could become known for having wonderful work
  environments in all new buildings...

  To demonstrate the cost effectiveness of daylighting space with skylights,
  I would like to compare the State's photovoltaic subsidy to skylights.
  The State would get six to ten times more energy savings if that same
  subsidy was used to subsidize 100% of the cost of daylighting installations
  instead of subsidizing photovoltaic installations at $.00 per watt. The
  user then has to invest another $.00 to $.00 a watt to complete the
  system. One 4 ft. by 8 ft. or 5 ft. by 6 ft. skylight will deliver more
  light than 1 kW of electric lighting during peak demand hours... Over the
  life of a skylight, it replaces electric lighting energy for less than
  $.015 per kW[h]... we are talking big money here, and by example suggesting
  to society that this is where we should be heading. Truth is, if we were
  to rely solely on PV-generated electricity, we would cut our standard of
  living by 50% or more.
  There is no energy shortage on the planet, nor will there ever be
  a shortage. We may run out of some types of energy sources over time,
  but there will be energy available. The problem is to get those energy
  sources into a useful form... The real shortage in the world is money, and
  that must be honored. An adequate supply of least-cost, least-polluting
  energy should be the Commission's primary goal. Daylighting with skylights
  is one example of how this goal can be achieved.

  From the start of our business here at Sunoptics, we set a fantasy goal
  of dalyighting enought space to offset the electricity produced by
  a 1,000 megawatt generating plant. Over the last 25 years the acceptance
  of daylighting as a cost-effective energy conservation measure has grown
  to the point where we now ship enough skylights to offset 150 to 200 kW of
  electricity per day, nearly a megawatt a week... The skylights we have
  shipped to date replace electric lighting electricity of 350 to 400
  megawatts during peak demand hours. With the accelerated acceptance of
  daylighting, I believe that our goal can be reached in as little as
  8 more years.

  It should be embarrassing to the California Energy Commisssion,
  the Commissioners and their Staff for not recognizing sooner
  the great opportunity daylighting offers to save energy in such
  a cost-effective manner.

  The state of California, the United States of America, and the Whole World
  are in such a financial mess that everyone needs to deal with truth, when
  it can be found. My truth is, you need to reduce the required area to
  10,000 sq. ft., lower the ceiling height requirement to 12 ft. and eliminate
  the connected lighting load requirement. _This is no time to be timid_...

  At 77 1/2 years, this may be the last time I will be able to speak publicly
  for daylighting buildings with skylights as an important strategy for
  an energy-independent America and a sustainable energy future.


                Jerry Blomberg

Posted by JNJ on September 29, 2003, 2:52 pm

How do you keep moisture out?  What about mold/mildew issues?

The front of the house (which is of course totally covered with trees)
although it actually faces southwest almost exactly.

We're working on blinds and heavy curtains.  The windows are fairly new
(only a few years old) and they're decent vinyl replacement windows (low-e,
argon filled, double paned, double hung, etc.).


Posted by Nick Pine on September 29, 2003, 2:57 pm

Not an issue, during the day. One-way passive plastic film dampers over
the holes can prevent warm moist house air from circulating through the
air gap at night.


Posted by DJ on September 27, 2003, 5:27 pm

 It's easier, as they say, to conserve heat energy than to make it.

 So, you've put that plastic film over the windows, to seal them? I
didn't use to think it did much until I tried it! Amazing difference.
 You've used caulking/spray foam to seal the cracks around the windows
and doors?
 You've checked/replaced all the weatherstripping around windows and
 You've installed heavy drapes over windows to keep the heat in during
those cold winter nights?
 What kind of heating do you have in the house? Forced air? Steam/Hot
Water Radiators? Electric baseboards?
 Have you checked the filters on the furnace? Clogged filters reduce
airflow. Have you adjusted your dampeners, to make sure you aren't
wasting warm air in places you don't need it?
 Have your radiators been cleaned, steam traps been checked?
 Have you installed programmable thermostats on your electric

 Have you installed ceiling fans, to send that warm air that's always
at the ceiling back down where you want it?
 Have you installed ceiling fans to recirculate the air in a large
room, so that your baseboard or radiator heaters are more efficient?

 If you use hot water in your heating, have you installed any
pre-heaters, loops through a wood stove or furnace, or passive flat
plate collector, that sort of thing?

 Just a few ideas, anyway!


Posted by JNJ on September 28, 2003, 12:59 am
We used to do that -- we had new windows installed and caulk around them

Yup -- gotta do it again this year.

Haven't done the yearly check on these yet, but we will be doing so -- all
are relatively new (windows AND doors believe it or not) so we've been in
pretty good shape there).

Nope, but we've been debating it.  With new windows and well caulked seems,
do these really make THAT big of a difference?

Forced air, NG powered.

I replace the filter every 30-60 days, depending on need, and inspect it
regularly.  At the moment, the furnace is really only supplying heat to two
rooms, both in the downstairs -- we disconnected the third downstairs room
when we tore it out, and there's only one vent upstairs but nothing comes
out of it so we tend to keep that one shut as well.

N/A, although we do have a programmable thermostat for the house.

Yup, with the exception of the upstairs bedroom that's about to be remodeled
(it will get a ceiling fan then) and the living room (no power in the
ceiling and it's way too much of a hassle to run any up there).

I appreciate the suggestions (and it's all good) but it's not quite where
I'm needing the information right now.  We're all over conservation
projects -- insulation, remodeling, new high-efficiency appliances, the
works.  Unfortunately, this house is REALLY old so there's a great deal to
get done.  :)  As we work on various projects we need to live in the spaces
and at the moment we're going to be moving into the upstairs for sleeping
quarters and I need to add some heat sources for the winter.  I can go with
space heaters but was hoping to keep the costs down a bit by finding some
solar equivalents.  We're also planning additional projects for next year,
such as adding some windows in the upstairs when we tear off the roof.


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