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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Do NOT sign contract until you locate a person with knowledge of building the "house as a system". Check your local utility, do a web search for energy raters in your area. Have this person make changes that will build your house to lower utility bills, increase comfort, and improve IAQ. Do NOT depend on the builder or HVAC contractor to do this. The vast majority do not have the knowedge or the desire to change. If the builder won't do the changes that an independant consultant recommends, fire him and replace him with someone that will. This is YOUR house--YOU have to live in it--and it's YOUR money.

  2. #15
    robertusa is correct with his statement about humidification in this area...this is a problem sometimes..
    but running hot water pipes to an attic airhandler isn't... so i would still recommmend the above mentioned in an earlier post

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    I'd put mod 90's in. Its as close to wet heat as you're gonna get in forced air.

    I agree on 2 systems, a house that big should have multiple systems.

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Northeastern Illinois
    The "tubing" I am talking about is for in floor heat later on. If you put the tubing in now you can add a heat source {boiler or water heater} down the road. You can also use a boiler to heat your DHW and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
    If it ain't broke don't fix it!!

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Originally posted by jim99000
    Thanks for all the replies so far - please keep them coming.

    Any suggestions on insulation methods and ensuring the right "tightness"?
    How about one of those ERVs - do we need one if the system is forced air to begin with?
    Is the basement considered within the thermal envelope? I think that's where the main equipment and ducting will be.

    And yes, New Jersey summers are very hot and humid (though sadly not very long).
    Keep you space conditioning systems in the insulated building envolpe- too much sweating, condensing, air leakage, and poor efficiency. If you suceed at air tightening, you will not need a winter humidifier. Avoid ERV/HRV because of poor payback. Suggest 50-75 cfm of fresh make-up air ventilation, I prefer a ventilating whole house dehumidifier for fresh make-air ventilation, air filtering, and summer dehumidification instead of over-cooling the home during the wet cool weather which causes a damp basement. This must be confusing!

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    I would negotiate the contract that the Contractor guarantees the home will qualify as an energy star home but it sounds like yours won't if he was shying from radiant and/or geothermal.

    In NJ there are various rebates offerred for new and existing homes:

    that may offset some costs.

    If you want a pre-build assessment of energy saving measures,cost analysis, etc. try

    They are in Nj and were an energy star partner of the year in 2004. As Uktra mentioned you should get someone who knows a house as a system before you sign any contracts and they are probably the best in NJ as home performance contractors and raters.

  7. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    The above advice given you by the professionals to focus on the entire structure as a system and to focus on this concept prior to signing a contract is priceless. I just went through the same process but wasn't smart enough to focus on the entire building structure before signing a contract with one of the highest rated builders in my area. While I do not doubt that we will have a high quality build, I could not pursue some of the recommended concepts, mostly because we were already too close to beginning the construction. A website from which you can gain a tremendous degree of head-spinning knowledge is There are many documents available on that site for you to read. I also purchased the EEBA Builder's Guide for my climate which contains much of the same info as the Building Science website. Of course, there is a wealth of incredible information in this forum.

    For what it is worth, my construction, when completed, will consist of damp sprayed cellulose insulation (insulation sub doesn't do foam) with the best sealing package (joint caulking and spray foam around exterior penetrations) the insulation sub-contractor could provide. I could not convince the builder to do the upper hvac unit in conditioned space. However, I went outside the contract for hvac and think my sub did as good a job as possible sealing the ducts in the attic. As part of my mid-contract-negotiations research, one of the most valuable things I did was sit down and speek with teddy bear who is very knowledgeable and has been involved with these building envelope issues for quite some time. Following teddy bear's theory of controlling humidity and ventilation, my hvac sub just finished installing a Thermastor ventilating dehumidifier. I am anxious to see how it performs when the house is finished in August. Good luck.

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