Distribution of heating and cooling is optimized throughout the house by smart ductwork layout and the strategic placement of the furnaces and condenser units.
The basement is the most energy efficient space and is well used in this house. It is well insulated and has few exterior openings.
Walls and roofs are super-insulated.
Durable and long-lasting materials and components.
Compartmentalization of space.
A bank of south-west facing solar panels are installed along the top of the wide rear elevation. The panels also act as sun screen for the second floor.
Supplementary electric radiant floor heating combined with heavy concrete floor slabs that store the heat generated for many hours can heat up a room in short notice. The occupants can set the program of heating depending on daily schedule. Electric heat can be turned on and off instantaneously and automatically.
Counterbalanced lift and slide light-weight thermal panels of R24 insulation value line the inside of the window walls in front and back. The panels can be locked in placed and the edges are fully weatherstripped. The top and bottom of the window walls are vented with conditioned air continually circulating to prevent moisture build up.
The house is equipped with the most up to date HRV (heat recovery ventilation) system that is highly energy efficient.
On-demand hot water heater units are installed in the vicinity of areas that require hot water. There will be no conventional hot water tanks that work non-stop 24-7.
Areas where odor needs to be extracted are separated from the rest of the house. The bathrooms, toilet stalls and kitchen cooking area are glass enclosed and ventilated separately. Make up air is supplied in these sealed compartments as needed. The kitchen exhaust fans are installed on an exterior wall so that the path of exit for cooking exhaust is the shortest.
The only fireplace in the house is a sealed unit. When it is on, the heat is used to supplement the heating in winter. No cold air can leak into the house.
The house is kept at moderate (68oF) but comfortable temperature level in the winter. On-demand instant heat can be turned on by radiant floor heating. The concrete holds the heat in for a long time. In the summer, instead of relying on constant mechanized cooling, outside air is pumped into the house, filtered and distributed throughout. This will stop when air-conditioning kicks in. The insulated window panels are kept closed in areas that get a lot of sun and that are not occupied to cut down on the sun heating up the space in the summer and heat loss to the outside during the cold months. The summer temperature in the house is maintained at 75oF. With the constant air movement, it will feel a lot cooler and fresher in the house. Conventional forced-air furnaces and air-conditioning units are still installed.
The opening and closing of the insulated window panels are not automatic. When on holiday, they are kept closed and the thermostat turned low in the winter. It is a daily routine for the homeowner to slide the panels to let the sun in or keep the cold out.
The back of the house faces south west. The front of the house faces north east. In the morning, the sun shines through the window wall in the front and heat is absorbed by the concrete floors and the massive concrete shapes (curved concrete wall and the inverted concrete cone which houses a music-listening/reading/meditation pod). When the sun is gone, the R24 insulated sliding panels that are weatherstripped are closed to trap the heat in. In the summer they are closed to keep the sun out. These panels can be separately open or closed and the edges are still sealed tight.
In winter afternoons when the sun is the most direct, the south west side (back of house) insulated sliding panels are fully open to let the sun in on both floors. The heat is absorbed and stored in the concrete floors and the heavy stone walls facing the back windows. At the same time the solar panels in the back are generating electricity which is put back into the power grid of the city. These sliding panels can be fully or partially open or closed depending on how much daylight or view is required by the occupants.
In this house the basement is not leftover space. Since it is fully underground and well insulated by earth and added insulation, it is totally energy efficient. The client is an audiophile and half of the basement (3000 sq.ft.) is to become a music listening room with the most advanced audio equipment to simulate the acoustics of a concert hall. The room is a hundred feet long to capture the long frequencies of the ultra low bass sound. The ceiling height is twelve feet. It is in fact a virtual symphony hall that allows relaxation and lounging for the whole music-loving family. Also read our blog page : Mid-Century Modern Hi-Fi