Which is "greener"?

Page 1 of 2  

Building a new home with state of the art energy-efficient technology or "greenifying" an existing home?
It seems to me that you're never going to get as much efficiency out of a renovation, since you can only do so much, and you can't tear down the walls, but then efficiency becomes less of a concern if you're getting most or all of your energy from renewable sources (assume a 4KW PV system on a 1400 sq ft house, for argument's sake).
Thoughts?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You'd have to take into account the 'life' of the house compared to the set-up 'costs' environmentally.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It clearly depends on your financial budget. If the house you want to make changes in is brand new, this is a good thing to make it there. Request a quote. :)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

For argument's sake, let's say the new, energy efficient home costs 350K and the existing 50-year old house costs 250K, leaving you 100K in renovation money. From an environmental friendliness perspective, is that 100K better spent on the renovation or the new home?
As I mentioned previously, the renovated house will never be as efficient as the new home, but you could install a PV system that supplies all of your energy needs (even though you may be using more of it, but at that point, who cares, you're still net zero).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

If you wish to live in an economical home in an area of high energy dependence, then abandon the new home and build a new one of just the right size. I cannot speak of the USA in general, but here most homes are way oversized. Our population has not changed in 100 years, but the size of homes have grown to silly proportions.
Build a right-sized home.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I assume you mean locally. But you are quite correct---family size hasn't increased, and has probably decreased, so McMansions are an insane exercise. Of course they are useful if you are running some kind of human trafficking operation......
-tg

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, that's a given. This is not a mcmansion we're talking about here.
p.s. this goes a bit overboard imo: http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com / I'm not going to live in a shed. ;-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

In that case it would seem the older house renovation would be 'greener'. Especially if were not going to knock it down but sell it, as the new ownwers might not be a s green as you.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Is the environmental point of view the only subject you study for your house? If it the case, I would suggest you to invest fully in the new house. You will never reach the same characteristics as the new house (with the old house). If environment is not the only thing you care about, you might think `Do I really want to leave this house?' or ask yourself other questions, as leaving a house might also mean leaving memories, or events.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Good question, but you have to be more specific. Are you talking about cost cost or 'net energy consumption plus environmental impact over time'?
If you do at least some degree of recycling of the materials, tearing down an old house and using the foundation/improvements should be the most efficient in terms of environmental impact.
-tg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm talking about net environmental impact over time (say 20 years). A newer home is going to consume less energy, no doubt, but a renovated home with a PV system could theoretically compensate for the lack of efficiency and still result in net zero consumption . . . I think.

I would think tearing down the house and rebuilding would be cost prohibitive . . . and you'd still have to consider the impact of consuming additional resources to build the new one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

I live in Minnesota, USA. My house is over 100 years-old. It was far more cost-effective to have this house made energy efficient than to build a new one in this location. Keep in mind that is is damned cold here most of the year.
I've no worries whatsoever of my energy bills. They are hardly a blip on the financial chart.
Water, on the other hand, is a resource that I cannot build against. The cost of water is escalating. We have huge lakes around my place, and the Mississippi River running right past us, so we will probably be fine, but you all who depend upon an aquifer or source upstream have far more to worry about. Water is the most critical resource. People who draw from critical sources are in deep doo-doo. Water sources are the least discussed liabilities.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Of course, but again you have to distinguish between how much it costs you and how much energy you use and the environmental impact. From my experience, you have to do either a minimal amount or go all the way--- in between gives less value on investment. So if you buy a poorly insulated house, you could re-side and add insulation on the outside for 10K, and get some nice new windows for another 6K, and improve the heating system for 4K. But that's the max I would do on an old clunker.
The real problem, ta, is that being energy in-efficient is not going to lower the price of the house you are buying that much, so your price comparison doesn't work very well. Sad, but that's the way it still is.
-tg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Throw in another 15-20K for a PV system and doesn't the inefficiency become somewhat moot? As long as the energy you're using is clean, the efficiency becomes somewhat secondary, doesn't it? I would think you could heat and cool a small house in a temperate climate with 100% solar, but admittedly haven't run the numbers.
And what if the hvac system was a brand new 15 SEER electric heat pump?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In article

Radiant heat is very effective. If you live in a cold climate, consider a concrete floor with in-floor heating.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've now had some experience with a slab foundation with perimeter insulation only. On balance, I would suggest that rather than in-floor radiant. Since he is getting a wood stove, I would also just get wall- mounted electric radiant.
The slab works really well in the summer---cool with no energy expended, since it is at the thermal equivalent of 4' deep.
In the winter, at ta's latitude, it will serve as a nice thermal source on the occasional actually cold day.
-tg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I was actually looking at a basement foundation:
http://www.superiorwalls.com /
Radiant floor heating didn't seem worthwhile to me in such a small house.
Trying to get a HERS score in the 45 range. Geothermal heat pump will go a long way toward achieving that I think.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This is not really a deep philosophical issue.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 25 Mar 2010 12:37:54 -0700, ta wrote:

Depends on dollars at hand.
I'd start off setting up a power system in the older home. From there then a lot will naturally follow if you have a hands on capacity. I am guessing you will not be less concerned about efficiency but only concerned about efficacy after this. It is hard to be really 'green' minded without getting dirty handed.
In West Virginia back during the day it was common for people (of a certain type) to buy old abandoned one room churches in the middle of the woods. Some were able to heat these with one small wood burning stove after insulating the walls, installing new windows and much caulking.
At this point I think 'state of the art technology' is near meaningless. What you may want is to stay artfully stateless to more easily adapt technologies as they change state.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
To me, "Greener" means a home that will last for many generations, and will not need serious maintenance issues as the years go by. It also means one that uses significantly less energy to heat or cool, to light, to obtain standard services like water and sewer, with minimal effect on the land. (grey water, or sewer aquifier solutions-water catchment, etc.)It also means one that is easily accessible for the owner to go to town, or have visitors come to visit..... Ease of transportation to and from. Fire protect should be naturally landscaped. flood and or storm constructed. Area for recreation nearby...... Schools nearby Library nearby Shopping close.....
The list grows, and I guess if I or we could meet anyone of these above issues, we would be greener.... john

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.