matthew grocoff, greenovation.tv
In designing the PV system, Mechanical Energy Systems consulted with the
roofer to ensure the integrity of the hot roof and asphalt shingles. To avoid
roof leaks, the crew used Quick Mount PV’s fully flashed racking.
insulating and sealing the envelope
Restoring the Windows. Drafty old windows, perhaps our home’s greatest challenge, were also our biggest success. Not only did we believe we
should restore our windows, but historic-preservation standards prohibit
the replacement of original windows when they are reparable. Our windows
are wood, double-hung with single-pane wavy glass panes and pulley and
sash weights. None of the windows was operable.
Preservationists Lorri Sipes and Maggie Hostetler from the Wood Window Repair Co. ( woodwindowrepair.biz) convinced me that they could
make our 110-year-old windows virtually as airtight as new. The results have
made me a window-restoration evangelist.
Last June, on the morning before we began restoring our old windows,
the nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition ( cec-mi.org) performed a blower-door test to establish a baseline airflow rate for our house. At 50 pascals,
we had an exchange rate of 4,400 cubic feet per minute (CFM50), typical
for an old Victorian.
Over several weeks, my wife, her father, a group of workshop participants
and I worked with Lorri and Maggie to restore the windows. We added silicone bulb weather-stripping to the top, bottom and meeting rails, bronze
weather-stripping to the jambs and restored or replaced the hardware.
Now all windows can be opened and closed with a single finger. The
follow-up blower-door tests measured only 1,500 CFM50, an astonishing
66 percent air-leakage reduction just from sealing the windows.
By adding storms, we achieved a total house air-leakage reduction of 70
percent. We used Snowbird storm windows with low-e glass from Trapp
Co. ( trappdoors.com/storm_windows.htm). The secondary pane created
a bit tighter air seal, 1,300 CFM50, while preserving the original windows.
Insulating with Low Impact. For more than a century our home had
zero insulation. The attic had a single layer of newspaper dated 1902.
The walls were hollow balloon framing. The basement had mousetraps
and plenty of daylight coming through the sill plate on top of the original
matthew grocoff, greenovation.tv
Limited to the same footprint, floor plan,
materials and design of the original home,
we’re able to show how to improve the homes
where ordinary americans live.
walls, we hired Farmers Insulation ( farmersinsulationinc.com) to blow
dense pack cellulose into the wall cavities to achieve an R-value between
11 and 13. We insisted that the installer remove two rows of the original
clapboard siding, then cut holes in the lathe sheathing to get the hose into
each cavity. Once the installation was complete, the installer was able to put
the original clapboard back in place without damaging the exterior.
Cellulose had the added benefits of reducing the fire risk in the balloon
framing and acting as a pest repellent (pests are the No. 1 cause of damage to historic homes). We avoided spray foam in the walls because of the
potential for damage to the interior plaster and because it would become a
permanent part of the historic structure.
Meadowlark Energy ( meadowlarkenergy.com), a whole-house performance company, sprayed 5 inches ( 13 cm) of open-cell foam on the basement sill plate. For the attic, we originally blew in R- 60 of cellulose. But we
knew from the start it was not an ideal solution. First, the only place to install ➢