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Green Construction Tips

APEX Thermal Services provides consultation to assist home and business owners in reducing and eliminating their utility costs.  Alan J. Paul, Founder of APEX Thermal Services, is a Certified Energy Manager and a NABCEP Certified Solar Heating Installer.  Allow us to design and install your Radiant Heating and Solar Thermal (Hot Water) Heating System for your home or business.

Hire a qualified design professional, many engineers can design a home with Solar Thermal collectors on it, and a solar storage tank in the basement, but they often times do not have the experience to make solar heating system design decisions or to select system components of the proper size and capacity.  We have seen and addressed serious solar water heating design issues in these situations! Almost every time we are handed a set of prints including a Solar Thermal System design from an architect or engineer, we have identified serious design flaws.  It is simply not their expertise!

Some Green Construction Tips:

Strive to have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment.

Orient the home to take advantage of southerly exposure, using abundant windows for solar collectors on the South side.

Design South side of home so that a dark colored stone/tile floor over concrete (thermal mass) can absorb and store heat from winter sun.  Installing such a floor with integrated radiant tubing will also allow for transferring a portion of collected energy (with a circulator) to the cooler north side of your home.

Design and utilize overhangs/awnings that will block the hottest summer sun from windows, to prevent overheating the space.

Integrate roofing designs that aim toward the South, lending themselves to solar panel installations (steeper pitches are better for collecting heat in the winter).  You might consider some roofing products which also serve as solar collectors, though they are not as efficient as collectors themselves.

Minimize windows on the cold North side of the home.

Integrate day-lighting to take advantage of free sunlight during daylight hours.

Install Pex tubing in all concrete slabs you pour, including garages and basements.

Insulate slabs and foundations from the earth for use as thermal storage banks  (this should be done whether Pex tubing is installed or not).

Increase thickness of concrete slabs and/or use additional masonry inside building envelope to increase thermal mass and thermal storage capacity.

Install a well insulated thermal vault under or near your home, to save excess solar-thermal summer heat, for heating your home in cooler months.

Use and purchase highly efficient appliances and fixtures.

Install radiant heat throughout the house.  Radiant floors (especially radiant slabs) require water temperatures in the exact range that solar thermal systems provide).

If you don't have radiant slabs, under certain conditions, solar can likely still assist your radiant heating system and water heating system in heating your home.

Install highly efficient windows and doors.

Address air leaks and infiltration to reduce energy losses

Install extra insulation to keep future energy costs down.  

Consider spray-foam insulation, which can cut your heating equipment size and annual heating fuel requirements by 50% (you will need a ventilation system if you go airtight)

Consider a greenhouse for generating heat for space heating and for thermal storage purposes.

Purchase and use earth-friendly materials whenever possible.

Start your relationships for consultation early in your planning process.  Some systems may overlap or be able to assist other systems.  A thorough plan of system integration and proper control can get you oh-so-much-closer to off the grid! 

Contact Alan J. Paul, CEM, Founder of APEX Thermal Services to assist you with your Solar Water Heating, Boiler installation, or Radiant Heating System projects, at 845 430 5825.