Saturday, July 24, 2010

More finish work and the DWHR unit

Although there have been a lot of delays recently (and I'll have more to say about that in a future post) some of the finishing work has been progressing quite nicely. I mentioned the masonry heater in my last entry, but in addition, tile and vinyl flooring has been installed and wood ceilings and walls have gone up as well.  Although it still looks like a construction zone, there are glimpses of the house coming closer and closer to completion.

Slowly Nearing Completion (Click image for more photos.)

We really like the look and feel of wood in a house and originally we planned to use wood on all the walls and ceiling. Unfortunately, as the reality of the budget set in it became clear that this was not an option. Our compromise was to use wood throughout the main living area as much as we could. Once the wood started going up, it changed the feel of the place quite a bit; it adds a rustic warmth and coziness that we really like.

Wood Finish Work (Click image for more photos.)

A very welcome change from the last post is that the geothermal unit is finally operating. It took a lot of digging and trenching to get the system hooked up but it certainly works the way it's supposed to. With temperatures and humidity levels soaring outside, it's cool and comfortable inside. This is definitely a plus to those working on the interior. Speaking of which, although there have been delays, a lot of interior work is getting done. In addition to the wood finish work, tile and vinyl flooring is complete, more lights have been installed, and interior door staining continues.

Trenching for the Geo System (Click image for more photos.)

In addition to the finish work being done, an interesting and useful item that was put in place is a Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) unit. The DWHR unit is a brilliantly simple device that captures wasted energy that goes down the drain -- literally! Besides heating and cooling, hot water production is the most energy intensive aspect of a home. As such, it's a terrible shame when hot water goes down the drain because it costs good money to heat up the water in the first place. The most obvious example of this waste is when taking a hot shower. Enter the DWHR unit. Basically, this unit captures some of the wasted energy by using the hot drain water to pre-heat the cold water line to the shower. This is done by cycling the cold water line around the shower drain line that carries the wasted hot water. Pre-heating the cold water line reduces the amount of hot water necessary for your shower.

DWHR Unit (Click image for more photos.)

While we're on the subject of hot water, it's worth mentioning that we opted for a hybrid electric heat-pump water heater. These units are relatively new and have a higher upfront cost than conventional water heating units. In fact, they cost more than double what a traditional water heating unit costs and like most people, I was initially put off by the high costs. However, a more careful analysis shows that the total cost over the life of the unit is smaller for an electric heat-pump water heater than for any other type of water heater, including on-demand gas or solar with electric backup (see the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's (ACE3) Water Heating Consumer's Guide). This came as a huge surprise to me. In addition, with tax incentives and energy efficiency rebates, our net upfront cost is about the same as a conventional water heater.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The wood interior is absolutely lovely and fits with your other decor.If I were young I would do the same thing but I am not and you are, so good on you.As you know we have to sell this place and I'm torn betwixt going to Sequim (Port Angeles area)and building there (300 + sunny days annually ) or staying in this part of the world and buying here.

We are enjoying your project more than you as we get to see the finished product while you have to contend with getting the pieces to-gether.

Love Mom & Dad

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