Every now and again I hear a homeowner utter the phrase “A man’s home is his castle.” In some ways it’s a comforting thought. Coming home after a long hard day at work is a cathartic experience. Closing the door is like raising a proverbial drawbridge; all the world's problems are locked outside. I suspect, though, that many homeowners wish their windows and walls didn’t also draw comparisons to the drafty stone castles of yore. Especially in older buildings of all kinds, energy and heat can leak like a sieve. It’s something that should worry anyone concerned with their home energy bills or greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, what if it was possible to get ten times the insulation that most old buildings have, without even changing the building facade?
Meet vacuum sealed insulation. Per square inch, it provides just that: ten times the insulation of conventional products. It was one of the ideas on display at the "Das Haus" Pavilion, which was open to the public last week in Cambridge. Sponsored by the German American Midwest Chamber of Commerce, the travelling pavilion shows off innovations based on the German "Passivhaus" model for building construction that are just entering the United States. Started by two professors in Darmstadt, Germany back in the ‘80’s, the movement has had a lot of time to incubate, and the results were on display in a pavilion tucked away in an MIT parking lot in Cambridge last month.
In addition to the vacuum packaging, other features like triple paned windows, LED lighting, energy smart appliances, and solar electric (photovoltaic or “PV”) cells were all on display in and on the structure, which also boasts an excellent ventilation system to keep rooms from feeling too stuffy. While any one upgrade would probably stand out as a good investment, put together the technologies help create a building that consumes 90 percent less energy. With buildings consuming 54 percent of energy in Massachusetts, that could create huge energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.
Amidst a crowd of Massachusetts businesspeople, curious legislators, and the occasional homeowner, "Das Haus" showed off the potential value of these new technologies to U.S. markets. For anyone keen on new construction or a retrofit of existing properties, don't hesitate to check out the “Das Haus” website.
Bust that Myth Video: Windows as Energy Investment? posted on Jan 15
While new windows can make your home look great and increase your comfort, DOER first “But that Myth” video debunks the common misperception that investing in windows is a smart energy efficiency action.
Easy to Use Web Tool Shows How Massachusetts Uses Energy, Makes Progress on Clean Energy Goals posted on Jan 5
Do you like data? Are you interested in finding out whether Massachusetts homes use more energy than Massachusetts businesses or how our energy prices compare to other states’? You don’t have to be a data nerd or a policy wonk to answer “yes.” The Department of Energy Resources has just launched an online dashboard to answer these and other questions about how Massachusetts uses energy.
Power Down and Save Up posted on Dec 23
Between Thanksgiving and the cusp of a new year, many of us feel the festive energy. Burning lots of energy seems to go along with celebrating – think of all those holiday lights and cookies we bake. But that extra energy use also gives everyone …Continue Reading Power Down and Save Up