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Swall Institute -> Design Solution

Energy Efficiency
A Tight Envelope:
A ‘tight’ envelope is critical for maximizing the thermal performance of a passive solar design. As much as 80% of the energy loss and inefficiencies of a house can come from small leaks and drafts. Even well built homes can leak as much as 1.5 x the house volume per hour! With the help of Peter Millar of Building Energy Solutions, we did a blower test on the house to identify and seal leaks. The results of this test suggest that our house exchanges 0.23 x the house volume per hour. This is tight, but not 'super tight'. The biggest contributors to air leaks we discovered were a) electrical outlets and light switches, and b) the joint between the roof and the walls. Both of these are easily reduced with caulk or foam.

Heat Exchange Ventilator:
A ‘tight’ envelope is critical for mowever, a completely sealed house would be like living in a plastic bag. To improve indoor air quality and shed moisture through an efficient path that minimizes mold and condensation in the walls, the most cost effective approach is a Heat Exchange Ventilator (also called an Energy Recovery Ventilator). These whole-house ventilation systems preserve the temperature difference between inside and out, while exchanging stale air with fresh air. We used the Recoupaerator™ from UltimateAir

Drain Heat Recovery:
To make the most of our domestic hot water, we installed a drain heat recovery system (also known as the ‘endless shower’ that recaptures the energy from warm waste water to pre-heat the incoming cold water on it’s way to the water heater. This simple, low-tech system is easy to install and was designed by GFX technologies.

Electricity:
* All appliances are Energy Star rated
* Day lighting is maximized by window placement, an open floor plan and a high row of windows that allow abundant sunlight deep into the house
* All light fixtures are either warm, dimmable LED or compact fluorescent.