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Project Profile: Tiffany Residence

Thursday, 02 October 2014 09:53
Published in Projects

Tiffany house photoThe Tiffany Residence

Home Retrofit Work Minimizes Drafts, Moisture Issues and Gives Heat Pump a Rest

the problems

Built in 1950, this 3400 square foot brick-veneer home presented several heating challenges during winter months. The family room was cold, the front entryway was drafty and the heat pump ran constantly. A geothermal system was installed by a previous owner which worked well in the spring, summer and fall seasons, but expensive electric backup heat was over used during the winter.

The home had several areas where conditioned air was leaking. Most of the floor cavities between the living space were open to side attics, causing large energy losses. The top-side of the can lights were exposed allowing conditioned air to escape, similar to a chimney. A half-inch gap adjacent to the outer top plate (top horizontal timber connecting to the rafters) allowed higher air pressure to escape into the attic.

The owner had small access doors built so that workers could reach knee walls and the lower attic space. That was a good idea since the knee wall attic area over the entryway was completely uninsulated. To compound the draft issue, the crawlspace under the entryway was allowing cold, moist air into the conditioned floor cavity.

the solutions

Our field crew sealed crawlspace cavities with insulation board and foam, and the space was completed with a sealed vapor barrier and floor insulation. The larger crawlspace under the living room received the same energy-efficient and health/safety upgrades.

Exposed can lights were covered with mineral wool caps retaining most heat loss while allowing enough heat and moisture to escape to avoid overheating. After air sealing, cellulose insulation was blown into the attics.

the results

The retrofit work produced a tighter, quieter home and the geothermal system was no longer acting like an electric furnace. Sealing the home reduced the load on the system so it could function more properly. Work was completed according to Energy Performance Score Guidelines using a DOE approved energy model yielding noticeable improvements after retrofit work.

the projection of returns

Anne Tiffany can anticipate savings of more than $650 annually with energy efficiency improvements over 25% during the warmer months and closer to 50% during cold snaps. Now the geothermal system will perform as intended and the use of the electric backup should be minimal. The value of the home increased due to the retrofit work and Anne will enjoy a quieter, more comfortable living space for years to come.

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