There have been big changes at the little house. The place is abuzz with activity – automatic hammers hitting nails, electric saws buzzing, workman maneuvering windows into place.
The underside of the roof has been sprayed with icynene foam insulation. The product is very environmentally safe and friendly. The product itself is made of castor oil. It is sprayed on with a water born spraying system and then sets as a soft solid. In the interest of super conservative safe working conditions, all openings are covered in plastic, the workers wear coveralls and masks. The job took two days so I had to stay away for that time.
Now that it’s done, it’s expected to save 50% on the a/c bill. Immediately, one can feel that the indoor temperature is moderated from Florida’s summer heat.
The rafters are supporting yards and yards of electrical wiring. Before beginning, the electrician, architect, contractor, and I met for several hours to discuss what kind of lighting to put in and where to locate fixtures. Since we plan on generating our own power, using highly energy efficient fixtures is key.
All lights will be LEDs. Oddly, we found that buying a standard fixture plus a kit to adapt it to LEDs was less expensive than buying a fixture designed for LEDs. Obviously, the market for retrofits gives those manufacturers economies of scale. To gain even greater efficiency, most lights will be on dimmers to lessen the load further. This system, called Verve, also allows the homeowner to control the lights from up to 150 away via remote control providing greater security when approaching the house.
Most water lines are in place. With three and a half baths, two laundries a wet bar and a kitchen there are many lines. Also, a new septic tank and drainfield has been put in. Rainwater to be used for irrigation will go to a buried tank, although the house itself will use city water filtered again by a whole house purification system.
Hurricane rated impact windows are heavy! Impact rated windows are designed to withstand winds of 120mph and are made of tempered glass that will shatter rather than break and fly apart. So if an object, e.g. a coconut, rock, etc. is blown against the window, it will not send shards of glass flying.
In addition, a film between the layers blocks 80+% of the sun’s rays. This low-e film will keep the radiant heat from entering the house and so reduce the energy load on the air conditioning system. I chose aluminum clad wood windows with low-e glass by Kolbe.
Most people in Florida would use either an aluminum or vinyl windows to minimize maintenance. My choice was to go with aluminum-clad wood for aesthetic reasons rather than practical ones. Good idea? We’ll see. One nifty feature of these windows is that they tilt in to make them easier to clean.