Heating Mode

architects, cleveland, washington, sustainability, residential designThe most significant energy components of any home lie with the conditioning of its space and water. With that in mind, the primary objective of this homes design was to reduce the consumption of nonrenewable resources through the use of renewable resources. You may already understand the Sun may help with this endeavor, but let us explore how by using the Sun to heat its space and water, this home will leave our planet a better place.

Two concepts are important in accomplishing this goal. First, if exposed to the Sun, a large and dense mass will heat up and store heat over a long period of time. The term for that is “thermal mass”. In this instance, it is nothing more than a very thick concrete slab, exposed to the winter Sun, which runs the length of the home’s south facing wall providing radiant heat to warm the space adjacent to the windows when the Sun is not shinning.

Furthermore, with this thermal mass in place a few additional conservation techniques are now possible. Imbedded within the thermal mass are the furnace’s primary cold air return and the cold water supply for the hot water “tank”. By doing this, both the return air supply and entering water supply are heated to above average ranges before being delivered to their respective equipment. Higher return air and hot water supply temperature translates into less consumption of nonrenewable energy sources. This is particularly important in Cleveland where the water source is Lake Erie. The lake water’s winter temperature is usually much lower than that of ground water, thus requiring more energy to heat.

Second, hot air rises. Instead of wasting previously heated air, why not recirculate it throughout the house? “Heat recapture” is nothing more than a process to do just that, recirculate previously heated air. In this instance, it becomes nothing more than an extension the furnace’s cold air return, only from the peak of the vaulted ceiling. Before entering the furnace, the recaptured hot air from the apex of the vaulted ceiling is drawn off and combined with the preheated air of the systems primary cold air return located in the thermal mass. Again, the result is higher return air temperatures and less energy consumption.

These methods for preheating air and water conserve nonrenewable energy resources. They incorporate natural phenomenon by passive means and are implemented by design, not technology. Both solutions are relatively inexpensive and create a living environment that elevates ones quality of life.