Turning up the heat

There’s always a trade-off to doing drywall during the wintertime. I want to be able to finish off the taping process quickly, but it needs to be warm enough inside my house for the installation to go smoothly.

As part of my commitment to keeping this project eco-friendly, I’m trying not to use kerosene or fossil-fuel powered heaters inside while we tape. While my multi-zone primary heating system is under construction, I’ve devised a stop-gap solution to keep the temperatures inside my new home reasonable.

Behind my garage, I’ve installed a SANDEN CO2 heat pump water heater. I’m a big fan of these units because instead of using regular hydrocarbons or refrigerants, it uses CO2 as a refrigerant, which is much better for the environment. The unit is highly efficient, with a COP of 4.5 - phenomenal for an air to water heat pump device. This unit will silently purr away and keep us from freezing as we cement the drywall into place. I plan to keep the SANDEN unit as a backup for my domestic hot water, just in case.

My primary heating system is about 50 percent complete, but once it’s done it’s going to be fantastic. For the primary system, I’’m incorporating Taco’s VR1816 00e® Series for air handler and underfloor heating functions. The 00e® is the right choice for this project, since I want to be able to dial in the exact flow that I need.

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Catching up with Harris-Dudley at AHR

What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been. For us, preparing for the AHR show is a lot of hard work for everyone involved. The weeks leading up to the show always go by so fast, then before you know it you're there on the show floor, trading stories with other folks from all around the world. If you work in the HVAC-R industry, then you know that AHR is a great place to catch up with old friends and business associates. That's how you know our industry is doing well - this year's AHR in Chicago was packed full of exhibits and people eager to see the very latest and learn from each other about industry developments.

That's the other thing I like the most about AHR, is that it provides a snapshot in time of what HVAC-R companies, big and small, are working on and what technologies are coming to the forefront. At the Taco booth this year, connectivity was the dominant theme for this year's show. Most of us are constantly connected to the internet through our mobile devices, and more people want to cash in on the benefits that their device has to offer. So, Taco has developed new products that make life easier and interact more seamlessly with smartphones, tablets and computers.

While I was on the show floor, I ran into my old friends from Harris-Dudley Co. and got to walk the show floor with them for a bit. They're a fourth-generation, family owned HVAC outfit based out of Salt Lake City - they specialize in everything from radiant floor heating to snow melt systems, plumbing, furnace repair, and HVAC heating and air. One of the things I like the most Harris-Dudley is that they genuinely love what they do and have a keen interest in providing their customers with top-shelf solutions.

I got to sit down with them and catch up about the show - I hope you enjoy our conversation! if you attended the show, feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you enjoyed the most.

In the weeks to come, we'll be posting some other new content from the show including an important interview with Mark Chaffee about the regulatory and DOE side of things. Overall, it was a great show. The Windy City lived up to its name, and everybody walked away from the show with some new information and a better understanding of the HVAC picture. Stay tuned!

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Linking up with AHR 2018

I can't believe it's that time of year again. In just a couple of days, I'll be flying out to Chicago for the HVACR industry's biggest show of the year, the AHR Expo. This three-day event enables industry professionals to view more than 2,000 exhibitors and link up with tens of thousands of professionals, and it's one of my favorite places to visit during the course of a busy year.

I won't just be visiting for kicks though - I'll be on booth duty for Taco Comfort Solutions, helping folks get connected with the right solutions for their applications. Connectivity is the theme at our booth this year, and Taco is leading the way in pioneering new ways to make our signature products even easier to use and create new ones that enhance indoor comfort and bring peace of mind to building occupants.

If you're at the show, make sure to stop by and say hi! If you won't be at AHR, we will have some new interviews for you in the weeks to come, along with a Taco booth walkthrough so you can see the latest and greatest. Stay tuned!

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A brand new look for a brand new year

There's no better way for me to kick off this new year than with a home that's getting to be almost ready to move into. We've finished installing the interior insulation, and now we've moved into installing the drywall system. It's a lot of trowel swinging, but it's a step towards making the interior as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

One cool thing about this episode is that you have a chance to see what different drywall configurations can end up looking like - for example, it might be hard to imagine what the drywall for a cathedral ceiling might look like. I've incorporated several features like that into my new home, so I hope that you take a look and that the new views are of some benefit to you.

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Happy Holidays from the Green Comfort Blog

As we wind down the calendar year, I just wanted to thank you all for following me through this project so far. Over the course of my home building project, I've met a lot of quality people who helped the project along. I am especially thankful to our subscribers - your contributions are part of what make this blog a unique, fun place to visit and learn from. I enjoy reading and replying to your comments and learn something new each time.

We have some quality material coming up over the next few months. Our next episode is a departure from the previous episodes in the sense that my new home is going to look a bit different than you remember it. Over these upcoming episodes, you'll really get to see the whole project take shape.

One thing to look forward to for January is that we'll be attending AHR 2017 in Chicago, where we'll meet with cutting-edge professionals and industry vanguards to have some lively conversation about what's new in the HVAC industry.

I think it's a fitting way to start off the new year - I can't wait to show you where the project takes us and what the finished product looks like. If you haven't already, sign up for the biweekly eBlast by registering on the page.

I wish you all a happy holiday. We will see you in January!

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A race against the cold

As far as winters go, we’ve been pretty lucky over these past several years with fewer snowstorms and milder temperatures overall. But it looks like this winter could be a colder one, and I need to get the insulation on my new home buttoned up before the snow arrives.

Luckily I’m working on the last piece of my insulation system, which would be the interior insulation. As you know, I’ve been using advanced wall construction techniques in the design of my new home. When the system is complete, I’ll have an envelope that allows for near-complete control of the indoor temperature, which means my wife and I will have a better seat at the table when it comes to facilitating indoor comfort.

For the interior insulation, I’m using a product called Roxul ComfortBatt. It’s a mineral wool product - that is, an inert material made from ground up stone. Roxul is a great product - it doesn’t absorb moisture or support combustion, and mold and mildew don’t grow on it. In addition, it’s also great for colder climates. I want moisture to be able to work its way out of my home, and Roxul will facilitate that. It’s also not itchy like fiberglass insulation.

Once the interior insulation is complete, all of the space inside of my new home, from the basement to the roof rafters, will be conditioned space. My mechanical systems and ductwork will be in conditioned space too, which will put less of a strain on the systems and allow me to optimize my indoor comfort.

I think we’ll definitely manage to beat the cold. What do you think about my insulation system? Join the conversation and let us know!

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Beachstone at BuildingEnergy Boston 2017

Trade shows and conventions are a great place to meet people and network with folks who appreciate the same things that I do. As an eco-friendly homeowner/builder, anyone who builds a product that reduces carbon footprint and improve people's lives is someone I'm interested in striking up a conversation with.

I went to the BuildingEnergy Boston 2017 show for two main reasons. The first reason is because I like to learn from as many people as I can at the show and bring new knowledge back to my job site. The second reason is because I'm always on the hunt for products that intrigue me. While I don't sell products, I specialize in the design of electronic control systems. So, I know a thing or two about the general design process. That means that I have a deeper appreciation for when I meet someone selling a truly interesting product.

One company that I came across that fascinated me is called Beachstone Sustainable Products. This company manages to combine resourcefulness, available materials, and proprietary knowledge to create a product that looks nice and benefits the environment by removing glass from the waste stream. Beachstone takes seashells and post-consumer glass containers and combines them to create an eco-friendly countertop surface. I got to check out a few samples, and I'm definitely thinking about using Beachstone for my project.

The man behind Beachstone, Aron Buterbaugh, started the company because he wanted to make a difference for the environment and saw a market for these types of counter tops. It's rare to find a company that covers so many angles, but the surfaces that Beachstone makes are beautiful. I highly recommend visiting their website and taking a look through their pictures!

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The holiday season begins

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and got a chance to relax and spend time with your families. We stayed local - mainly because I didn't want to stray too far from the job site. Right now, we have a lot of materials in the yard and I've got guys coming in and out to work on the siding and interior, so I wanted to be available and keep an eye on things.

We're working our way into the wintertime, and also into the later stages of this project. So far, you've had the chance to follow me through the planning and primary construction stages of my project. Over the next several months, the focus of this blog will shift to interior details and finally to the finishing touches. We'll be covering some good topics in the episodes to come, including smart thermostats, interior insulation, connectivity, and more on the heating system that I am installing. There will be others, too - stay tuned and see how it all comes together!

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The Proof is in the Siding

Winter’s around the corner, and we’re on a race against the clock to get most or all of my siding system installed around the outside of the house. Even though homewrap offers a degree of protection against the elements, I want to get the siding done before the cold sets in. Winter is never a fun time to be working outdoors for an extended period of time.

The system I’ve chosen is called Ecoshel. This smart shingle system is a pre-painted cedar shake material. It comes in real wood sheet panels that are interconnected to speed up the installation process and ensure consistent spacing.



The main reason I ordered this system is actually on the back of the shingle - the shingles have grooves in them so that the system can “breathe” - there’s nothing worse than shingles that trap water behind them. What appeals to me the most about the system is the way that all of the design elements work together - the more beneficial features that a system has to offer, the further up my list it goes.

In the past, I’ve used the ledger board method to install siding systems. The system I’m installing saves time and labor by incorporating a nailing surface onto the top of the sheet panels. This way, I don’t have to worry about filling in nail holes and marring the finish.

These time and labor saving features mean that my siding is going up faster than it would if I were installing a conventional system. Compared to other parts of my project, this part is fairly straightforward. After going through all the effort to use vapor permeable materials in my exterior wall construction, this siding system really is the icing on the cake.

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Special feature - BuildingEnergy Boston



There’s nothing quite like a sustainability conference - as someone who’s interested in all facets of green building, I’ve found myself walking the show floor of various conferences more than a few times. One conference I really like is BuildingEnergy Boston - at this year’s show, I got to meet some other high performance builders and folks from the industry to trade stories with and learn the latest from.

One particular company that interested me at this year’s show is SANDEN. They manufacture scroll compressors and high-performance heat pump water heaters - I actually have one of their heat pump water heaters installed at my new home, so I’m pretty excited that I got to meet some folks from the company that built one of my home’s key components. I got to speak with John Miles of SANDEN International, who shared with me some good information about the systems they’re making.

These small units are becoming more common in different construction applications. If you like the idea of of an energy efficient alternative to an electric or gas water heater, these systems have a lot of potential to save money and they eliminate the production of carbon monoxide. Check out our conversation and tell us what you think!

 

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