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Top 10 Remodeling Technologies

DIY Updates, HVAC April 2, 2008 Matt Weber



The EHT staff stays immersed in home-improvement news every day, and still, there are so many new products and materials hitting the market each year that it’s tough to keep track of all the innovations. It’s nice to have an organization like PATH to do the legwork for us. PATH stands for the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, a program supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Recently, PATH scanned the industry for the technologies with the most promise for making our existing homes more durable, stronger and more resource efficient. These top technologies have notable strengths in one or more of the following areas: quality and durability; energy efficiency; environmental performance; safety and disaster mitigation; and affordability. So the next time you’re chatting up your neighbors during a backyard barbecue, you can impress them with your solid grasp of current events and cutting-edge building technologies. Here are the Top 3 winners of the PATH prize:

Air Sealing— PATH touts the benefits of insulation alternatives to conventional fiberglass batts or rolls. One method: insulation that is blown or foamed through a membrane. To add insulation to existing homes, it is common to blow insulation material into enclosed wall, floor and roof cavities. The same technique can also be used in new construction by covering an open wall cavity tightly with a membrane (nylon netting or polyethylene) fastened to the framing. Fiberglass, cellulose or mineral blowing wool can be used as the insulation material.

Ventilation Control System— Whether crawlspace ventilation is necessary (or even detrimental) is a hotly debated topic among building experts. Especially in humid climates, ventilating the crawlspace can add undesirable moisture to the area. A new mechanical ventilator called Smartvent provides an excellent compromise: It measures the moisture content of outdoor and crawlspace air and only provides ventilation when the outdoor air is drier than crawlspace air. The system prevents moisture from being added to the crawlspace due to ventilation.

HVAC Sizing— The Air Conditioning Contractors of America offers guidelines for sizing HVAC equipment that your contractor should use. The specific guidelines explain how to calculate heat loss from the building through walls and ceilings, leaky ductwork, infiltration through windows, doors and other penetrations, as well as heat gain into the building from sunlight, people, lights, appliances, doors, etc. By properly sizing HVAC equipment using the guidelines rather than rules of thumb, smaller systems can often be specified and, hence, the cost is reduced.

These sound like good ideas, right? I think so, and these are just three of PATH’s Top 10 technologies. To see the rest, click the links below:

1. Air Sealing

2. Smartvent Ventilation/ Ventilation Control System

3. HVAC Sizing – Right-sized HVAC

4. High Efficiency Toilets

5. Compact Fluorescent Lighting

6. High Performance Windows/Storm Windows

7. Wireless Lighting, Thermostats, and Other Controls

8. Solar Hot Water

9. Recycled/ Renewable Flooring

10. Tubular Skylights


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