thz.cathz.ca, Costs, Electrical, Geothermal, Water Heat, Insulation, Landscaping, Roof, Windows, Deck
2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
This web site chronicles the renovation of our house and our efforts at energy conservation. Each year we have done a bit more work. The main construction happened in 2005 when we installed a geothermal ground source heat pump. After that we have continued to work on things and have updates for each of the following year's activities. The other really big activity was adding grid-tied solar panels in 2010.
The purpose of our renovation was to "recycle" an old house. Our house was built in 1949 and had many problems. Most of the mechanical equipment (furnace, water heater, etc.) was worn out, and we had found a number of faults in the building. The roof didn't have any ventillation and had ice dams in the winter, the windows were drafty, and there was no insulation on the main floor.
Although many people think that the way to build green is to start with a new house, my opinion is that we have to figure out what to do with old houses as well. It would have been easier to bulldoze the house and start new with all energy efficient construction, but then you waste the resources that went into building the house in the first place. There was nothing wrong with the structure. The inside also has many beautiful features. Our goal was to substantially improve the building envelope and upgrade the mechanical systems to the best of our ability.
This is the story then of our recycling of an old house. I'm often asked if the geothermal heat pump will pay for itself. It's more complicated than that. Our house needed the insulation, new roof, electrical upgrade, windows and doors, and water heater anyway. How much should we include in the calculation of paybacks? A better answer is to look at what was spent. We upgraded our house for about $65,500. This meant we avoided tearing down this house and building a new one. That kind of activity would have cost us $200,000+ and would have sent the tons of materials in the old house to the landfill. We wouldn't have been able to afford that type of rebuild anyway.
So how did we do on the recycling? The best way to answer that is to quote our Energuide scores. When we started our house rennovation our house received an Energuide score of 39. This is a very low score typical of a drafty old house with an inefficient furnace, no insulation, and air leaks all over. When we were done we had an Energuide score of 79 which is the equivalent to a new house. Most Energuide scores increase by 15 to 20, we increased by 40 points - the engineer that calculated our heat loss had never seen such a large improvement. So over all we were successful in recycling our old house. We spend less than half the amount on heating than before the rennovation. We may not see a specific payback anytime soon but it was sure cheaper than moving to the suburbs or rebuilding this house from the ground up.
This web site tells the story of our house recycling project. You'll see links at the bottom of each page that will take you to the main sections. Each of the topic pages are subdivided into sections according to years. The most recent year is at the top of the page with the previous years stetching out below. I also have summaries of the years posted on separate pages where I outline what we did in a year. Here are the yearly summaries:
If you are wondering where to start looking on this web site I suggest you start with the geothermal page. That got everything started back in 2005. It also drove a lot of the other renovations. This site is mostly pictures and commentary organized by subject. Pick a subject that interests you and start from there.
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