Design Features of Our Homes
At Denim Homes we build all of our homes with a unique wall design that creates a thermal break between the interior and exterior of the home. The wall structure is built with 2x8” lumber or 2X10” lumber, top and bottom plated and staggered 2X4” vertical studs on the inside and outside edges of the wall. As a result, the walls are thicker than those used in conventionally-built houses. By staggering the studs there is no place for the heat to be conducted to the outside of the home and likewise the cold to the inside of the home, thus creating an envelope that completely protects the inside of the home from the elements. The additional area inside the wall cavity created more room for thermal insulation as well.
We use blown-in spray foam as our main insulating material for our walls. Spray foam is composed of a polyurethane base, and can come in two different varieties - 1/2 lb, which is an open-cell foam, and 2 lb, which is a closed cell foam. Open-cell 1/2 lb foam is low density, spongy material that can be compressed under pressure. The material is air-tight and behaves as both the insulating material and the air barrier for the building envelope. It is still vapour permeable however, so it is still necessary to install a vapour barrier. The R-value for open-cell spray foam is between 3.6-3.8/inch. We use open-cell foam in all of our wall cavities above grade. Closed-cell 2 lb foam is a medium density foam that is quite hard to the touch. It behaves as an air barrier due to its low air permeability and also behaves as a vapour barrier. The R-value for closed-cell spray foam is 6.5/inch. We use closed cell foam in basements, as its high R-value and air/vapour seal allow the basement to stay warm and dry. We use rigid foam sheets under the concrete slab and under the perimeter, for an R value of 20. We use dry-blown cellulose in our ceiling cavities at a value of R60.
This versatile and energy efficient system will heat your home during the winter months and cool it in the summer. It is a closed system; meaning that fresh air is only circulated through the homes via the heat recovery ventilator, that continuously re-circulates air. It is comprised of a heat exchanger, refrigeration compressor, and a ventilation system. The system utilizes a refrigeration compressor to heat and cool the heat exchanger because it has the ability to heat in subzero temperatures. The heat exchanger sustains the optimum operating temperature by an outdoor unit that passes fresh air over the heating coil. In the winter, the warm air is dispersed throughout the house to the desired temperature of the occupant. In the summer, the system runs in reverse and the outside air is cooled by the heat exchanger. Once the air is adjusted to the desired temperature, it is carried throughout the home using a high-efficiency ventilation fan and a series of ventilation pipes. A digital programmable thermostat controls the temperature.
Our standard windows are double-paned, low-e Argon, vinyl insulated windows. If you are looking for super efficiency, windows installed on the north side of the house should be low-E Argon, triple glazed windows. The north side of the house receives the least exposure to the sun and therefore the triple glazed windows retain the heat generated from the home’s internal heating system within the home. Double glazed, low-E Argon windows should be installed on the south, east, and west sides of the home to maintain the airtight envelope while taking advantage of solar heat entering the home through these windows. The south side of the home receives the most exposure to the sun throughout the day, therefore its always collecting and retaining heat from the sun. The outer edges of the windows should always be sealed with an aerosol spray foam that expands inside the crevices to ensure the home maintains and air-tight envelope.
DWHR is a system in which the thermal energy that is lost down the drain is recovered to heat cold water entering the water heater. By raising the temperature of the cold water before it is to be heated in the hot water tank, the amount of energy needed to heat the water fully is greatly reduced. This requires less electricity and therefore is not only a very energy efficient way to heat water, but cost effective as well. This simple system routes the drain water from the showers, washer, sinks, and dishwasher through a 60” copper pipe that is wrapped by the domestic water supply line. The heat from the drain water is conducted through the exterior of the supply line to heat the domestic water supply. Typically: water enters home between 5-12ºC, is heated to 50ºC, loses kinetic energy throughout the plumbing system and enters the showerhead at 41ºC, while draining away at 37ºC. A DWHR system will use already produced energy to warm your water by 12ºC. That’s a minimum of a 35% and maximum 48% increase in efficiency.
Photovoltaic panels are an excellent way to mitigate the high cost of electricity. PV panels can be the primary renewable energy system and help reduce your energy costs. Panels are installed on the roof as close to true south as possible to optimize your solar gain. This collected solar energy is converted to electricity and then sent back to the residential electrical grid. The electricity that is drawn from the residential power grid to operate these homes is subsidized by the energy collected by the PV panels. If you are planning on having solar installed in the future but do not want to invest in it now, always let the plan designer know. The roof trusses must be specially engineered to support the added weight of the panels.
As more homeowners from the baby boomer era are retiring and choose to stay in the homes well into their golden years, many are opting to purchase or build retirement homes instead of occupying assisted living facilities. While this trend continues to grow amongst our aging population, another trend is taking place in the residential construction industry to help accommodate this shift in needs. Presently there is a rise in the number of homes that are designed to grant all of the owner’s needs for the future. Many designs are following open concept models with a large open space and wider hallways. Some homes are built to accommodate the homeowner’s needs on a single level, others have space for elevators and stair-lift systems, while some have more subtle features such as lever handles on doors and push button switches. While many of these homes are designed to facilitate the needs of ageing Nova Scotian’s, some support systems can be quite costly if included after the constructions phase. One of the most effective ways to make the best use of pension dollars in to invest in energy efficient home construction.