Four Products worth considering for the future of new homes and remodels

Shingle PV Panels
A relatively new product to the marketplace by Dowsolar is the Dow shingle PV panel. These panels show much promise as they can be installed by roofing contractors trained to install common asphalt roof shingles. When several shingle panels are attached with nail fasteners and simple connectors into an array, these arrays can be placed on most any sloped roof surface facing south on other east and west facing roofs. Roof penetrations are minimal with connections back to the inverter. These simple shingle panels are new technology that will help move the US toward less dependence on fossil fuels for electricity.

Water-Based Elastomeric Sealant

Ecoseal, by Knauf, is similar to other products that have recently premiered on the market, such as EnergyComplete by Owens Corning. These products are principally part of the Airbarrier system, as outlined in the 2009 IECC Table 402.4.2. One of the major sources of heat loss for any structure is air infiltration. The average air infiltration can be up to 20% or greater of the total heat loss of a home. While many of the closed and open cell foam insulation products that have emerged do help to solve the infiltration problem, their cost many times is prohibitive. Ecoseal, EnergyComplete and others are affordable and easily applied at penetrations in wall assemblies and the intersection of walls and ceilings. They stop cold air from outside that can penetrate rooms and other spaces defined as “conditioned” areas of a home. What makes Ecoseal unique is that its higher perm rate can allow some drying to occur and not trap moisture that can linger and cause mold problems.

Modulating Boilers
The most efficient way to heat a home is through hot water radiant heating systems. They are also one of the most comfortable heating systems for occupants, especially when installed as a floor application. In homes constructed with higher performance wall and roof assemblies and efficient windows, the heat loss is minimal in comparison to average construction. With lower demand for heat and mechanical systems that have been oversized by 20 to 30%, a modulation boiler system with temperature sensors both inside and out can control temperatures to a more consistent level throughout the home while delivering as high as 98% efficiency. Radiant sub-floors such as WarmBoard allow a rapid rise in temperature and help make hot water systems incredibly effective.

Energy-saving Apps
The format of the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch from Apple has allowed numerous developers to create “applications” or apps for these phones and computers that can be used for energy-related fine tuning and cost saving. Savant and Crestron both have created apps that help to control lighting, window shades and mechanical systems. Lighting systems apps can be programmed to turn off light groupings or single room controls. With the advent of Lutron’s systems, even retrofit switching and power-strips can now be controlled by Savant and Crestron’s apps. Lutron has also created a wireless sensor to read the temperature in a room and then send signals back to the program to adjust the mechanical. AprilAir provides several sensors that are placed in various locations within an enclosure that allow mechanical systems to knowledgably distribute the proper airflow to a conditioned space, equalizing the thermal comfort for its occupants.