101 ideas to improve your new home
Home Design, Energy Efficiency and Green Construction
Avoid Costly Pitfalls, Save Thousands of Dollars
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101 Ideas to Improve your New Home is packed with information and ideas about how to build a very comfortable, healthy and durable home. If you are planning to build a new home, read this book carefully.
You may have talented architects and builders working on your behalf, but the knowledge that 101 Ideas to Improve your New Home can give you will be invaluable when dealing with them.
You should not forget that your interests and those of contractors, builders or even architects are not aligned.
On the other hand, you should not forget the fact that a lot of architects and contractors are ill-informed on green building and energy efficiency construction.
Obviously, such knowledge will not enable you do discuss technical issues. You will always be dependent on their professional know-how.
But it’s important that you know the Do’s and Don’ts, to avoid the costly mistakes and pitfalls of home construction. It can make all the difference. It can save you many thousands of dollars and help you build a better home, while offsetting dozens of tons of CO2 emissions over its lifespan.
And that’s the main goal of 101 Ideas to Improve your New Home.
Home construction is dominated by a high number of wrong ideas, ignorance and fantasies – which is rather paradoxical: people should be logical about it. After all, building a new home is the biggest investment most people make in their lifetime. And there are very few things as important for their comfort and their budgets – or for the future of our planet and our children.
This last statement, about our future and how it depends on construction choices, may look excessive: How can home construction mistakes be so harmful to our planet and our own future?
Unfortunately, that’s not a metaphor or an exaggeration. The energy consumption of our buildings amounts to about 70% of the world’s electricity, and since electricity is mostly generated by fossil-fuel based plants, buildings are ultimately the biggest cause of global emissions and climate change.
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101 Ideas Table of Contents
I - ENERGY EFFICIENT AND GREEN HOMES
1- The problem with standard homes
2 - Energy efficient vs. Green homes
3 - Should you go green?
4 - Types of energy efficient homes
5 - Building a comfortable home
6 - Reduce energy consumption as much as possible
7 - Moisture control
8 - Indoor air quality
9 - Look and aesthetics vs. functionality and efficiency
10 - Affordable energy-efficient green buildings
II - SITING, SIZING, SHAPE, ORIENTATION, LANDSCAPING, LAYOUT
1 - Choosing your home’s site
2 – The ideal shape for your house
3 – Orientation
4 – Layout
5 – Size
6 – Ceiling Height
7 – Open and closed floor plans
8 – Noise control
9 – Two-story vs. single-story homes
III - AIR SEALING
1 - Air leakage and moisture
2 - Air leakage and energy waste
3 - Typical air leakage areas
4 - Air barriers
5 - Door blower test
IV - INSULATION
1 - Super-insulation approach
2 - Insulation materials
3 - Choosing the best insulation material
4 - Choosing the amount of insulation
5 - Factors that can degrade the performance of the insulation
V - MECHANICAL VENTILATION SYSTEMS
1 - Do you need a mechanical ventilation system?
2 - Integrated supply ventilation systems
3 - Dedicated ventilation systems for fresh air: HRV and ERV
4 - Non-ducted mechanical ventilation
5 - Passive inlet ventilation
VI - ROOFS, ROOFING, ATTICS, OVERHANGS, CEILINGS
1 - Prefer simple gable or hipped roofs
2 - Roof overhangs
3 - Thick attic insulation: R-60 (U-value: 0.094)
4 - Roof insulation vs. Attic floor insulation
5 - Detailed attic air sealing
6 - Attic hatches
7 - Reflective roofing, light colors and radiant barriers
8 - PV roofing
9 - Metal roofing and other roofing products
10 - Flat Roofs and Terraces
11 - Complicated rooflines
12 - Dormers and skylights
13 - Chimneys
14- Cathedral ceilings
15 - Attic ventilation
VII - EXTERIOR WALLS
1 - Details
2 - Super-insulation approach
3 - Wood vs. masonry walls
4 - Low vs. High thermal mass walls and floors
5 - First lines of defense
6 - How does moisture get into the walls?
7 - Moisture resistant and moisture sensitive products
8 - Capillary breaks
9 - Flashing
10 - Water barriers
11 - Do your walls need a water resistive barrier?
12 - Do you need a vapor barrier?
13 - Do you need a drainage/drying cavity (rain-screen)?
Wood and steel frame walls
14 - Moisture protection
15 - Wall siding
16 - Wall coverings
17 - Wall sheathing
18 - How much insulation do the exterior walls need exactly?
19 - 2x4 and 2x6 walls; 2x4 double walls
20 - Wall insulation materials
21 - Masonry materials
22 - Single wythe masonry
23 - Cavity drainage
24 - Solid cavity walls
25 - Air tightness
26 - Workmanship and details
27 - Insulation for masonry walls
28 - Insulation levels
29 - The placement of the insulation
VIII - FLOORS AND FOUNDATIONS
1 - Floor coverings
2 - Slab and Pier Foundations
3 - Basement and crawlspaces
4 - Slab foundation construction, insulation and sealing
5 - Basements
6 - Crawl spaces
IX - WINDOWS
1 - Type of windows
2 - Double or triple glazing?
3 - Frames
4 - Selecting the U-value of the windows
5 - Solar factor (SHGC and G-value)
6 - Visual transmittance
7 - Shading the windows
8 - Sizing the windows
9 - Flashing & Protection of the windows
X - EXTERIOR DOORS
1 - Number, size and types of exterior doors
2 - Wood, vinyl, fiberglass, steel entry doors
XI - HOT WATER SYSTEMS
1 - Design & Water and Energy Consumption
2 - Gas or electricity?
3 - Solar thermal water heaters
4 - Solar electric water heating (Photovoltaic systems)
5 - Gas Water Heaters & Boilers
6 - Tank-type vs. tankless (on-demand) water heaters
7 - Air and ground heat pumps
8 - Electric-resistance water heaters
9 - Point-of-use electric water heaters
XII - LIGHTING
1 - Natural lighting
2 - Skylights
3 - Clerestories and light shelves
4 - Task lighting and ambient lighting
5 - Avoid recessed can lights
6 - Efficiency and number of fixtures
7 - The type of lamps
8 - Minimize decorative and accent lighting
9 - Light colors
10 - Dimmers, sensors, timers and switches
11 – Outdoor Lighting Basics
XIII - HEATING
1 - Mini-split heat pumps (air conditioners)
2 - Direct vent gas space heating
3 - Electric resistance baseboards
4 - Furnaces
5 - Fireplaces
6 - Other space heating options
XIV - COOLING
1 - House cooling design
2 - Ductless minisplit heat pumps (air conditioners)
3 - Central and ductless AC
4 - Shading strategies
5 - Ceiling fans
6 - Natural ventilation
7 - Whole-house fans
8 - Evaporative (swamp) coolers
Stack ventilation for hot climates
9 - Turbine vents
10 - Solar Chimneys
XV - RESIDENTIAL SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV)
1 - Should you install a PV system?
2 - Costs of residential PV systems
3 - Solar leasing
4 - Sizing your PV system
5 - Crystalline and thin-film PV arrays
6 - Installation details
7 - Grid connected or off-grid PV systems
8 - Selling power to the grid?
XVI - ELECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES
1 - How to reduce the energy consumption of home appliances
2 - Reducing electronics energy waste
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HOUSE ENERGY BOOK, available on Amazon:
101 Ideas To Improve Your New Home: Home design, energy efficiency and green construction.