The Old is New Again! 1830s Farm House Gets Energy Efficient Upgrades

A couple of weeks ago, Newport’s David Brignati and Matt Evans accompanied other members of the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association’s, Green Building Science Committee on a site visit to a completely restored farm house.  Built back in the 1830’s this was certainly not your typical restoration.  One of the requirements of the project was to keep the home looking much as it did nearly 200 years ago, anfarm housed from the outside the house looks no different.  However, hidden within those historic walls (as well as the basement, backyard, and attic) are innovative technologies, systems, and building practices that make this old home new again.

Located in the town of Clifton Park, NY the farm house was purchased by the current owners in 2010.  The energy retrofit would occur in various stages over the next couple years, ultimately resulting in the home achieving LEED Platinum and NGBS Emerald certifications, and a final HERS rating of 7 (41 without PV).  Through the combination of improved insulation, high efficacy lighting, solar panels, and heating and cooling systems, this home’s energy bill is only $17 a month!  Even more, at the end of the year the home’s solar panels create a surplus of electricity that the homeowners sell back to the utilities, thus zeroing out the homes energy consumption.

Some of the features of this home include:

 solar panels.png The backyard has five pole mounted solar arrays producing 8.4 KW. Additional solar panels were added to the garage roof to off-set the charging of two electric vehicles. The homes lighting consumption is reduced by the use of 100% CFL or LED’s.
 heat pumps.png In the basement a 3-ton water-to-air geothermal heat pump is installed that relies on only one 450 foot closed vertical ground loop. Two thermal solar flat panels in the backyard are used to produce domestic hot water with the access feeding the geothermal heat pump during the heating season.
 hrv.png The home uses a 200 CFM heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for fresh air exchange. This same system ties into the homes bathrooms thus eliminating the need for spot exhaust only ventilation. The homes the shell tightness level achieved a 2.5 air changes per hour. So ventilation and fresh air is highly recommended.
 insulation The walls of the home are double studded and were sprayed with a soy based closed cell foam to achieve an R-52 rating. The attic was spray foamed as well achieving an R-86.  The walls of the home are covered with clay allowing them to hold/release excess moisture.
 carport.png The solar charging station installed in the garage charges the Nissan Leaf. The other car is charged by using your typical wall outlet.  Both of the cars are charged by electricity that comes in from the solar panels mounted on the roof of the garage.
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