Consumers’ Guide to Solar Home Building and Remodeling by visionaries

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									Office of Policy and Management State of Connecticut

Photos: Courtesy of Joel N. Gordes, Northeast Utilities, People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), SunSearch (Everett M. Barber, Jr.) and Donald Watson. First edition, 1989. This publication was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) under Grant DE-FG41-83R130111 and by the State of Connecticut. Second edition, 1992. This edition was done under the State Energy Conservation Plan (SECP) with Petroleum Violation Escrow (PVE) oil settlement funds. Third edition, 1996. This edition is being done under the 1995-’96 State Energy Conservation Plan. Any opinions, findings or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author or subsequent editors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or of the State of Connecticut. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This booklet was written by Donald Watson, Architect, of Trumbull, CT under contract with the Office of Policy and Management’s Energy Division, State of Connecticut. The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Virginia Judson, Nancy Pitblado, Judi Friedman, Everett M. Barber, Jr. and Joel N.Gordes, all of whom reviewed the manuscript and made invaluable suggestions throughout. The author alone is responsible for remaining errors. Comments are welcome and may be addressed to the Under Secretary, OPM, Policy Development and Planning Division, Hartford, CT 06134-1441.

Connecticut Consumers’ Guide to Solar Home Building and Remodeling

TABLE OF CONTENTS page 1- SOLAR HEATING WORKS IN CONNECTICUT 1.1 Introduction .............................................................................................................. 1 1.2 Choices for Connecticut .......................................................................................... 2 A - Solar Windows and South-facing Skylights ................................................... 3 B - Insulation 4 C - Indoor Air Quality 5 D - Sunspaces and Greenhouses ............................................................................ 5 E - Home Cooling Strategies ................................................................................... 7 F - Solar Collectors ................................................................................................... 7 G - Back-Up Heat ........................................................................................................ 8 H - Photovoltaics/Wind 9 22.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 11 2.5 2.6 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 MAKING SOLAR PLANS Site Plan Choices .................................................................................................... 10 Improving Existing Plans ...................................................................................... 10 Finding Stock Plans ................................................................................................. 11 Factory-Built Housing ........................................................................................... 12 Developing New Plans .......................................................................................... 12 Subdivision Design and Multifamily Housing .................................................. 12 MAKING CHOICES: AFFORDABILITY & QUALITY Selecting an Architect ............................................................................................ 14 Selecting a Builder .................................................................................................. 16 Recommendations for Owner-Builders .............................................................. 17

4 CONSUMERS WORKSHOP 4.1 Problems and Solutions ......................................................................................... 19 4.2 Why Solar Heating is Worth the Effort ............................................................... 23 REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDED PUBLICATIONS .............................. 24 A A.1 A.2 A.3 A.4 A.5 30 A.6 A.7 A.8 A.9 APPENDIX: CONSUMER RESOURCES Sources of Additional Information and Assistance ........................................... Periodicals and Newsletters ................................................................................. Stock Plan Sources ................................................................................................. Modular Homes, Panelized Homes and Kits ..................................................... Owner-Builder Schools.......................................................................................... Solar Design and Engineering Consultants ........................................................ Solar Energy Equipment Suppliers and Systems .............................................. Blower Door Testing .............................................................................................. Representative Solar Projects in Connecticut .....................................................

28 30 30 31 32 32 32 32 33

1.1 - Introduction
Solar heating works in Connecticut...if done correctly. Houses with solar heating are warm in winter, cool in the summer and they are bright and comfortable year-round. Solar heating is not “far-fetched,” “way-out” or impractical. Done right, energy-efficient design incorporating solar heating is simple and affordable. If winter sunshine falls upon the house’s windows, walls or roof surfaces, then some form of solar heating can be applied, whether the house is already built or new, a detached single-family house or a multifamily dwelling. While this may appear to be a very broad generalization, all that is needed is the “know how” in selecting the right solar heating features and in building them properly. This booklet presents an overview of these solar features and gives sources of further information. The important message of this booklet is that solar heating works well in Connecticut, based upon the results of over twenty years of experience of solar designers, builders and home owners. Many different types of solar designs have been built in Connecticut: south-facing windows, glass-covered masonry walls, sunrooms, and roofmounted solar collectors which supply domestic water heating and space heating. It is now possible to say which work best under given conditions, which are most economical, and which should be considered, depending upon specific circumstances, whether for an existing structure or a new home. What consumers hear too often is the uninformed opinion that solar is unaffordable, doesn’t work in Connecticut’s climate, and “makes no sense.” But it’s the other way around: Solar principles can be incorporated so easily into conventional home design that it is those who ignore the benefits of solar heating who are being impractical. This booklet is illustrated with examples of solar homes that are attractive, that are built economically and that perform superbly in terms of energy savings and comfort. Home owners who have used solar heating are its best and most enthusiastic advocates. Results of their experience are featured in Chapter 4. There are concerns and problems, but each of these can be anticipated and solved. Home owners like solar heating because it saves money as it conserves energy. But first and foremost, home owners talk about their delight and comfort in living in a solar house, as well as their satisfaction in learning about solar energy and applying it to their own lives. This booklet is intended to let more people know about these successes. To be sure the public is well informed, it also provides straight answers about what not to do. Most consumers are confused by the many choices that are presented in solar publications which describe solar heating ideas from different parts of the United States. Not all “solar ideas” work well in Connecticut. This booklet restricts its recommendations to solar design concepts that can be applied confidently and economically in Connecticut. In applying solar and

Facing page: Solar house in southeastern Connecticut


energy saving design, there is no one answer that applies to every case. This is fortunate because it offers choices, any one of which may be equally satisfactory. Just as each house and site is different, the solar design that is selected can and should be suited to each specific case. This booklet points the way for interested readers to learn about solar heating and to apply these lessons to their own home. References and listings in the Appendix suggest additional sources of information through which to become informed of the solar heating and energy savings options available. With a modest investment of time and effort, the reader can learn a great deal about solar heating, including the pitfalls that might await anyone undertaking a solar home remodeling or construction project. Even if you are not able to apply solar heating to your house, to learn about solar heating is important and valuable. Those who are most informed about solar heating are its most effective proponents.

1.2 - Choices for Connecticut
Since colonial times, houses were often oriented to take advantage of the sun, for both heat and light in winter. Houses that were designed to be heated by solar collectors were first built on an experimental basis in the late 1930s. One of the first solar houses in Connecticut is in Westbrook [13],* built in the early 1970s during the “energy crisis” years following the OPEC oil embargo. Since that time, hundreds of solar homes have been built in Connecticut, demonstrating solar ideas of all kinds. Some are just right for Connecticut and others less so, either because they proved too costly for most pocketbooks or they did not perform well in Connecticut’s climate. In the early 1970s, there were many unanswered questions that needed to be researched and validated by actual experience. Now, performance results are available and there is sufficient experience for consumers to be confident about solar heating, how it works and how to avoid mistakes.
Solar House: Westbrook, CT 1973

The first lesson is to learn “where the sun is” and to take advantage of that knowledge of the sun’s position for heating throughout the winter, for yearround hot water heating, for daylighting, and for sun-shading in summer. To increase your own awareness of the sun’s position, try to determine whether or not the winter sun reaches into the room where you are now reading this booklet or into your favorite room in your house or apartment. The easiest time to answer this question of course is about noontime during a winter month, since it will be self-evident: The sun’s rays reach far into an interior in winter because it is “low in the sky” and at mid-day shines in from the south. Observe where your cat or dog likes to lie down in winter...they’ll tell you where the warm and sunny spots are! The Winter Sun Viewer on page 34 is useful for preliminary study. Solar angles for each hour and month are listed in Reference 18 and also in Architectural Graphic Standards. Magnetic north varies 13 degrees from true north, therefore, in Connecticut true south reads at 193 degrees on a compass.

Pets know where the sun is

* References, indicated in the text in boldface type, are listed on pages 26 - 28.


Solar design uses an understanding of solar position for one straightforward idea: to face major windows, sunrooms, or solar collectors towards true south (ideally within 30 degrees) so that these can be heated by the sun’s rays in winter. From this simple idea, dozens of solar design options can be proposed. For introductory purposes, simply consider the three basic ways to capture the sun’s heat: (A) windows and skylights, (B) sunspaces and greenhouses, and (C) solar collectors.

A - Solar Windows and South-facing Skylights
Windows or skylights facing south allow the winter sun to heat the interior spaces directly. This direct gain is the most obvious of the solar options and also one of the most cost-effective. Houses have windows and skylights for light and view anyway. For them to also provide solar heating simply requires that they face the south. To perform optimally, they should be shaded in summer to prevent overheating (easily accomplished with a short overhang) and have some way to reduce heat loss at night, either by using “high-performance” glass or insulating shades or draperies. If conventional double-pane glass is used, there is a limit to how much glass area there should be in a house from the point of view of net energy efficiency, since the same windows lose the heat during cloudy periods and at night. The “optimal” amount of glass used for solar windows depends upon several variables, including the amount of insulation and thermal storage capacity of the interior. Methods of “sizing” passive solar systems are discussed in References 17, 18 and 24. In solar design, a majority of the total window area should face to the south. Obviously, some windows will have to face other directions, but design lessons can be learned from solar houses that use windows very efficiently, by minimizing glass areas on all sides but the south. High performance glass has added greatly to the effectiveness of solar windows (e.g., low emissivity, argon-filled double glass has an insulating value double that of conventional insulating glass). If insulating draperies are used or high performance glass is specified, then the south-facing glass area can be increased in size so that more solar heat is efficiently and effectively obtained. One additional note is that for the passive solar home to work properly window screens on south-facing windows must be removed during the heating months or much of the value will be lost. Recommendation 1, then, for Connecticut solar design is: In designing any house or apartment, face windows and skylights to the south for costeffective direct solar heating. For optimal performance, use high performance glass or insulating draperies. There is much discussion about storing solar heat. In solar designs which have more than 7% of their floor area in south-facing glass (that would be 140 square feet of glass for a 2000 square foot home), “heat storage” is useful. It is needed on bright sunny days to add comfort by preventing overheating. Masonry materials, especially those such as flooring tiles and brick walls directly hit by the sun, absorb solar heat and release it gradually, resulting in more even temperatures throughout the day and evening. One benefit of heat storage materials such as masonry, therefore, is temperature comfort. However, in New England winter climates, where bright sunny days are outnumbered by those that
South-facing windows and skylights allow direct solar gain

Window quilts can reduce heat loss at night (photo on previous page shows quilts open to allow heat gain during daylight hours)


are only partly sunny or cloudy, heat storage does not reduce heating energy costs dramatically. When judged on the basis of energy savings, to increase construction cost by adding masonry to interior walls does not necessarily “pay back” that added cost. The best approach is to look for chances to create doublevalue, by placing the masonry normally included in a house — such as decorative brick — on floors and walls hit by the sun to function as solar heat storage. Recommendation 2 for Connecticut solar design is therefore: To achieve maximum comfort in a solar house, use masonry elements such as tile or brick in floors and walls to the extent that is possible within conventional construction and budgeting. An example of applying this recommendation is to place a brick chimney in an interior location where it is reached by the sun’s rays. This will be far more comfortable and effective than the typical location on the outside of the house, where the brick remains cold and is a source of undesirable heat loss. Another simple means for adding thermal storage to a house or an existing greenhouse is a “heat storage bench,” using water-filled containers which hold heat even more efficiently than masonry.

B - Insulation
Fireplace masonry placed to absorb direct solar gain (interior of Hoffmann/Loeffler home shown on p. 21)

When these solar concepts are combined with good insulation and weatherized construction, the heat gained during the day will remain within the house for many hours after sunset. The length of time that it takes a house to cool depends upon the rate of heat loss of the building’s combined outside surfaces (windows, walls, roof, and basement construction). The more insulation, the longer the interior temperature will remain comfortable and “stable” during both winter and summer. What is the upper limit of the amount of insulation? In terms of energy efficiency alone, the answer is “as much as possible.” In terms of cost-effectiveness, the answer most often reported in published insulation guidelines is determined by the cost of installing insulation and the cost that is assumed for energy, both of which vary. One cost-effective means of improving insulation in typical home construction is to add insulation to the attic floor or ceiling, if possible in the range of R-38+ (achieved by twelve inches of fiberglass batt insulation or other combinations of insulating materials). The reason that attic insulation is considered cost effective is that insulation thickness can be increased without adding to other construction costs, the labor of installation being the same as for lesser amounts. For energy-efficiency, insulation has to be installed carefully to minimize heat loss. Quality workmanship in construction can thus greatly improve energy-efficiency. Adding insulation to walls does add to construction costs, with one possible exception: 2"x6" studs used in new construction can be placed 24" apart — so-called “Mod-Construction”— thereby reducing the amount of framing. Builders have to make their own judgment as to whether this saves money. To increase the insulation value of a wall beyond 6" of thickness requires additional layers of rigid board insulation on either the outside or inside of the wood frame. The references listed in Section A above suggest recommended levels of insulation, to balance with the solar system sizing. References 16, 21a and 22 provide technical details for insulating energy-efficient homes.


An added benefit of high insulation levels in floors and ceilings is that, when coupled with proper ventilation, it will virtually eliminate problems caused by ice dams. The harsh winters experienced in Connecticut in recent years ice dams have led to water damage to roofs and walls resulting in costly insurance claims and even one death. Recommendation 3 for Connecticut is therefore: To achieve high insulation values, use a minimum of R-38 in the ceiling, R-26 in the walls, and R-19 in the floor or basement wall construction. These values are higher than normally used in conventional construction. The result is significant. Energy savings of 35% to 60% or more have been achieved when compared to houses without the features recommended above. A survey of 120 houses which met the requirements of Connecticut’s Solar Mortgage Subsidy Program indicated an average savings of 37% (with a range from 8% to 66%) over identical houses built to meet the building code at that time.

Box 1, Comparison of Solar and Energy Features for a Typical Connecticut House, describes calculations of recommendations made up to this point. It also describes the Connecticut performance of other solar design options. One such option is a “Trombe wall” — named after the French engineer who developed the concept for the French Pyrenees climate — a glass-covered masonry wall in which the glass traps the sun’s heat, the wall is heated and then radiates that heat to the interior. This is an ideal solar heating option for bright, sunny climates, such as the American southwest, where the sun is so hot that it would overheat a room with solar windows. Because of Connecticut’s overcast winter skies, especially along the coastal regions subject to maritime fog [5], Trombe walls are not as cost-effective as the other solar options that are recommended in this booklet.

C - Indoor Air Quality
If a house is very well insulated and weatherized, with good windows and doors, it becomes relatively “air-tight,” resulting in concerns about indoor air-pollutants. In a well-built energy-efficient house, the air-exchange rate can be in the 0.35 air-changes per hour (ACH) range. This can be measured using a blower door test (see listings under A.8) in which a large fan is temporarily installed in an exterior doorway to depressurize the home. Pressure differences between the outdoors and indoors are then measured to determine the air exchange rate. Blower door tests are performed after the insulation is installed and can be used to identify unintended leaks in the building. In a conventional house with standard windows and unsealed air leaks, the air-change rate is typically two to four times more than 0.35 ACH, resulting in significant heat loss and cold-air drafts. In well-sealed houses, such as a solar home, there may not be sufficient fresh air, depending upon the number of occupants and the extent of indoor pollution, such as smoking or gas kitchen appliances. In cases where the ACH is 0.35 or less, or where indoor pollution is present, an air-to-air heat exchanger

Trombe wall, Avon Free Public Library (cited on p. 33)


and exhaust fan(s) are highly recommended to ventilate the house properly. An air-to-air heat exchanger does what its name suggests: It transfers heat from the stale air being removed from the house to the incoming fresh air stream, typically recovering 50% to 70% of the heat. An air-to-air heat exchanger can be installed like a through-the-wall air conditioner, appropriate for existing residences or new residences that are relatively small. A heat exchanger can also be made part of a “whole-house” central air distribution system, most easily installed in a house with air conditioning or a warm-air distribution system. Also, what is termed a “sealed combustion” boiler or furnace should be used for a back-up heat source since they take combustion air directly from the outside and are not prone to backdrafting dangerous carbon monoxide. Likewise, combustion air for a fireplace or woodstove should be drawn directly from the outside through a duct to prevent backdraft and enhance normal combustion. In cases where radon is a concern, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health has a radon detection program for residents and provides a number of booklets on this subject [7]. Radon mitigation is also addressed in the publication Affordable Housing through Energy Conservation [8], and may be necessary depending upon the results of the radon detection test. Recommendation 4: To insure air quality in a well-insulated energyefficient house with a measured air-change rate of .35 ACH or less (or wherever indoor air-pollution or radon is a concern), consider installing an air-to-air heat exchanger and exhaust fan.

D - Sunspaces and Greenhouses
Sunspaces are rooms added to the south side of a house and connected to it by operable doors and windows. They are very popular because they are filled with sunlight and can be used for plants. If properly designed they can provide an additional source of heat. (References 20 and 30b). Without careful attention to construction detail, however, sunspaces do not add to the energy efficiency of the house. Such spaces bring with them other concerns: e.g., discomfort from too much sun, or fabric fading and furniture drying. These concerns can usually be handled by sun-control shades or draperies and the selection of fabrics and furniture that are fade resistant. For a sunspace or greenhouse to succeed in lowering heating costs of the house, the heat needs to reach the house. The simple way to do so is obvious: Keep doors and windows open between the house and sunspace when it is sunny so that the solar heated air can flow to the house. A sunroom without thermal mass will heat up quickly on sunny days and can reach temperatures of 90° F or more on a bright winter day. However it loses this heat just as quickly when the sun sets. If the connecting doors are left open when it is cold and cloudy, heat will be lost from the house as well as the sunroom. If the sunspace is used at night, the energy required to heat this glass room may exceed the amount gained during sunny hours. The most practical and care-free solution would be to keep connecting doors closed and use a thermostatically controlled fan and duct to circulate the solar heat to other parts of the house whether the owner is at home or away.

A sunroom and skylights let the daylight in, even on a cloudy day (interior of McCormick home shown on p. 21)


When a sunspace’s purpose is to supply solar heating for the house, locating heat storage in the sunspace itself, such as masonry floors and walls, doesn’t necessarily improve the heating efficiency; the heat storage keeps the heat within the sunroom construction materials when the goal is to achieve high air temperatures so that warm air can then be directed to the house interior. If, on the other hand, the purpose of the sunspace is that it be comfortable for use during the day and after sunset, heat absorbing surfaces are very desirable. A common variation for heat storage is to install a heat storage “rock bin” or concrete block “plenum” under the sunspace floor through which the heat from the top of the sunspace is ducted. This will in effect help balance the temperature in the sunspace, keeping its temperature below 85° F, and help retain the extra heat in the floor construction which then radiates back to the space many hours later. On sunny days, this will keep the sunspace at very even temperatures. On hazy or only partly sunny days, a sunspace will not experience that many hours in which the temperature reaches above 85° F and therefore there will be no extra solar heat for storage. Nevertheless, where the intent is to keep relatively stable heating conditions throughout the 24-hour period for purposes of maintaining plants or for frequent evening use by the family, heat storage is recommended for the comfort it helps to achieve. An approach to sunspace design that obtains the best of all options is to use maximum south-facing glass for solar heating efficiency and place small widely spaced skylights in a well-insulated roof. Properly spaced skylights provide bright overhead light, even on hazy days. This can be achieved without making the entire roof of glass which often results in greater winter heat loss and overheating in the summer. Ideally, skylighting is required directly over areas used for plants. Small skylights are easily shaded during the summer, although nearby deciduous trees may also provide effective seasonal shading. Small skylights can also be insulated during winter nights, options which would not be so easily provided if the roof were entirely of glass. In this way, a sunspace is an efficient solar collector and serves double duty as a useful room To create a multi-purpose sunspace which combines solar heating with frequent family use and gardening, Recommendation 5 is: Achieve good thermal performance and lighting conditions in a sunspace by use of maximum south glass wall and partial skylighting in an otherwise well-insulated roof.

E - Home Cooling Strategies
While most of this booklet centers about satisfying our energy needs for space heating or hot water, substantial savings and increased comfort can be obtained by incorporating cooling strategies into the home and landscape design. While we may only need to cool for three months of the year, most cooling systems use electricity which, per uniform unit of energy, can cost three to four times as much as gas or oil so that cooling cost could exceed heating cost in some solar homes. Design of cooling options begins when you prepare your building lot. Rather than clear-cutting the area surrounding your home site, judicious thinning should be considered. Trees which allow the sun to enter south-facing glass


during the winter or present no safety or other problems should be left in place since trees offer natural cooling through shading the north, east, and west walls and the roof as well as through evapotranspiration which can cool the air immediately around the house. Trees to the north and west, particularly evergeens, have also been found to further reduce wintertime energy use by acting as a wind screen. If you have a great deal of west-facing glass, some form of shading, such as trees, is necessary unless you wish to pay for air conditioning to alleviate uncomfortably high temperatures. Regardless of which naturally occurring attributes your home site may or may not have, a simple cooling strategy which can be used in any wellinsulated home is: 1) Open screened windows at night when temperatures are below seventy and humidity is within comfort limits. While natural cross ventilation may suffice, you may want to use electric fans or a whole-house fan to aid in moving more air. 2) At daybreak, turn off fans and close all windows to keep cool night air in and prevent warmer outside air from entering during the day. 3) Close draperies or shades of windows exposed to the sunlight during the day to prevent solar heat gains. Many other strategies have been tried such as “solar chimneys” and “earth tubes” but there are many questions on how effective they actually are in Connecticut’s climate, particularly when cost is considered. If you are interested in such concepts, be sure to thoroughly research all sides of the issue surrounding these applications.

Trees offer natural cooling through both shading and evapotranspiration

F - Solar Collectors
So far, two types of solar heating have been described — solar windows and sunspaces. Both are referred to as “passive solar heating” because there are no moving parts in the building: The sun’s heat is collected, stored and distributed within the house without pumps or fans. (The exception to this would be the sunspace that uses a fan to distribute heat to other parts of the house or to an underfloor heat storage construction.) “Active solar heating” uses solar collectors, typically mounted on the roof of a house, to collect solar heat which is then transferred to storage or directly to the home’s heat distribution system. In response to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, when the principal concern was that foreign oil supply was unreliable, houses that could be fully heated by the sun were designed and built in Connecticut using active solar systems. These larger active systems are expensive compared to other energy-efficient options and the added investment is not justified, given the present costs of fuel. Such designs, however, demonstrate that residences can be fully heated by the sun, thus promising a significant reduction in the use of non-renewable energy for both space heating and domestic water heating — concerns which should become important once again when the public becomes fully aware of the costs of pollution, acid-rain and global warming attributable to our over-reliance upon fossil fuels. While active solar systems are not recommended for space heating in Connecticut, two other applications are competitive with other heating system options and well worth considering both for existing and new houses. The most common is the use of two or three solar collectors to heat water — domestic hot water (DHW) systems. Examples can be seen throughout Connecticut, where

Eames 100% solar house: Groton: CT 1974 (owner-built home with greenhouse, solar hot water system and “active” space heating)

3-panel “active” solar domestic hot water system


there are an estimated 20,000 solar hot water systems. A properly sized system can supply all domestic hot water in summertime and from 50% to 80% of the annual hot water required for a family of four, depending upon how much water is used in the household. In wintertime, their heat has to be supplemented by conventional water heaters. Solar heating is also highly recommended for swimming pools, since solar collectors are very efficient in supplying pool heating at temperatures in the range of 85° F-90° F. The most frequently expressed consumer concern with active solar systems has been installation and maintenance. By now, however, maintenance and servicing of solar systems is well understood [29]. Information on locating a licensed solar contractor is given in the Appendix at A.7. Since consumer concerns can be handled by service and maintenance that is now available, Recommendation 6 is: Consider installing solar water heating for domestic hot water and swimming pool uses, to take advantage of its long-term economic and environmental benefits. There are several different types of domestic hot water systems. The least expensive — often called a “batch heater” or “bread box” water heater because it looks like a breadbox — is a glass-covered black-painted hot water tank that is directly heated by the sun [25]. This is an excellent do-it-yourself experimental or educational option. There are concerns about freezing in such systems so that only April to October operation is advised. The second and more versatile type is the flat-plate collector system with a separate storage tank, priced in the range of $4,500 to $6,500 (1995 price quotations). A variation of solar hot water heating is to use the same solar collectors and water storage tank for a combination of domestic hot water and supplemental space heating. An additional heat exchanger is added to take heat from the hot water tank into the air-or water-distribution system of the space heating. This option, sometimes referred to as an “auxiliary system,” makes most sense when the house design itself is not able to take advantage of “passive solar heating,” e.g., an existing house with small windows but a sunlit roof surface.
Active solar hot water system on home overlooking Farmington River

G - Back-Up Heat
When a designer, builder or home owner reviews all of the recommendations and implements those that make the most sense for a particular house, the question remains of what fuel to use for supplementary heating. Each of the choices — electric heating, gas or oil, or wood — presents economic and environmental trade-offs, leaving no one easy choice. Emerging concerns about environmental degradation from acid rain and the greenhouse effect argue for less use of all fossil fuels, while electric resistance heating for home heating is more costly than coal, gas or oil per unit of heat delivered. The solar and energy conservation recommendations set forth above, however, make sense in any case because they reduce the amount of non-renewable energy required for space heating and domestic water heating, making it possible to heat a house with a “micro-load” heating system; that is, a small back-up heating system that is sized to the reduced heating needs of an energy-conserving house. The publication listed in Reference 1 gives updated information of appliance efficiency, which is an equally important part of cost-effective home energy management. The
Solar-heated swimming pool: Colchester, CT


investment in solar and energy conservation thus has triple value: It reduces the cost of the back-up heating system, it saves on heating bills year after year, and it minimizes the negative environmental impact of conventional non-renewable energy sources.

H - Photovoltaics/Wind
Photovoltaic cells permit sunlight to be converted into electricity. While this option is presently not cost-effective in most situations, it may be worth considering if a home is some distance from the utility service. Houses on islands or in remote locations are often good candidates for PV installations. Even in such instances, costs generally mandate that the use of electrical appliances be kept to a minimum and that all appliances and lightbulbs be extremely efficient. PV systems may be connected to the utility grid, allowing electricity to flow from the grid when the load exceeds the capacity of the PV system but into the grid whenever the system generates more electricity than the home requires. In the latter case, the meter in effect runs backward reducing your electric bill. Systems which are connected to the grid avoid the extra cost of storage batteries, but if an outage occurs, it will take out the PV system as well. Independent systems require the use, and extra cost, of storage batteries but function, as the name suggests, independently of the utility grid. Anyone contemplating a PVpowered home will find it worthwhile to consult one the books on this subject (References 9, 12 and 28). Wind energy systems, like photovoltaic arrays, may be a cost-effective option for you if your specific location experiences sustained winds of perhaps 14 mph during much of the year and if you are located a considerable distance from the grid. A third consideration, of course, will be the cost your would pay for electricity if you were connected to the grid. For assistance in this area see reference 14.

Twenty photovoltaic modules provide all of the electricity and two active solar panels provide much of the hot water for Ed Witkin and Ellen Schrader’s home: Bridgewater, CT


This chapter reviews the choices that a home owner has in applying the solar design recommendations to different circumstances of home remodeling or building, including adding solar to existing houses, using “stock” solar plans or factory-built homes, custom designing a solar house with an architect and builder, or designing and building your own solar house.

2.1 - Site Plan Choices
The first question that home owners and builders have in considering solar design is to determine what the solar potential is of their building site. Attention should be given to the effect of shading from nearby trees, buildings or mountains. The Winter Sun Viewer on page 34 is a very simple tool for evaluating the shading effect of trees, mountains and adjacent building structures. It can be used to determine if the winter sun will reach the potential building site. For accurate analysis, instruments for determining shading factors very precisely are available from solar consultants who can be contacted for site evaluations. (See A.6.) An important caution in siting a solar house is to be aware of the negative effects of tree shading. Even if nearby trees are deciduous and completely lose their leaves in winter, heavy limb and trunk shading can result [30a]. The future growth of trees should also be anticipated. The existence of nearby trees should not discourage solar design, but instead help determine the best location for the house itself, and the best placement of windows, skylights, or collectors to capture the most winter sun. One useful tip is to place your septic system to the south of the house. As you won’t want trees growing in your leaching field, it will automatically provide good solar access.

Placing septic system to the south can insure good solar access as you probably won’t plant trees here.

2.2 - Improving Existing Plans
Many of the recommendations described in Chapter 1 can be applied to existing houses and to conventional house plans without major changes in appearance or budget. The first recommendation — to use south-facing windows and skylights — is the easiest for existing plans, to increase the direct solar gain. In becoming aware of where the sun is, ideas will come to mind of how to increase the amount of winter sunlight entering a house. In existing houses, the south side should be evaluated for any potential to increase its sun-gathering potential through the use of larger windows or the addition of a sunspace. This may suggest a remodeling arrangement to feature the entry of the house as a garden room and a south garden-patio. Sunspaces may be an option for homes that need an extra family room. Such spaces can be attractive selling features for speculative homes but, as mentioned in Chapter 1, require careful design and construction to be energy efficient as well. These solar ideas are very simple. Regrettably, the solar potential of houses is not usually considered or explored. Every house that is built should be surveyed for simple ways to increase its solar potential and energy efficiency.

A sunroom can be added to an existing home if the south side has sun-gathering potential.


2.3 - Finding Stock Plans
Many home builders and home owners contemplating building a new home will prefer to use “stock plans” of houses that are available for a low fee, rather than develop a custom-designed house. Sources of stock solar plans are listed in the Appendix at A.3. Advantages of using such plans are that they are available immediately and thus save time and expense. In some cases, built examples of the plans can be visited, so that cost and performance can be verified ahead of time. A caution is that plans described as “solar designs” may not necessarily be suited for Connecticut conditions, in which case adaptations should be made with the assistance of a solar design consultant.

Stock plan, Northeast Utilities’ Solar Home Planbook

2.4 - Factory-Built Housing
A further option some home builders may wish to consider is the factory-built house. These are available in various degrees of completeness. A few manufacturers offer solar designs, and some will work with a builder to develop a solar design. In contrast to a site-built home, the factory-built home can often be quickly assembled and may provide quality construction at a relatively modest cost as less on-site supervision is required. Though definitions may vary, the modular home is the most complete of these options. Some are 85% complete when the arrive and may include kitchen cabinets. Panelized or “pre-fab” houses are somewhat less complete on arrival and typically include wall and roof panels only. Kit homes are even less complete and may include only lumber and parts. All of these options offer possible savings for do-it-yourselfers and builders who have the necessary experience. Sources of factory-built housing are indicated in the Appendix at A.4.

Gordes home: Colebrook, CT (panelized/ factory-built house)

2.5 - Developing New Plans
Many home owners who have the privilege of building a new house want a custom design to suit a specific site or other unique requirements. Others choose custom design in order to become very involved in its design and in some cases in its construction as well. References 10 and 32 describe the step-by-step process of designing and building a solar house and reference 31 also provides excellent information. Solar design benefits are achieved most easily and affordably if considered at the beginning of the site planning and design process. The best way to think about a house in terms of the sun is to think of the winter sun as a “spotlight” and to plan the house accordingly, to be lighted by that spotlight throughout the day: bedroom windows and breakfast rooms to receive early morning light from the south-east, with the central activity and living areas of the house open to the south so that the sun moves across the house throughout the day, and with the dining or sundeck areas on the west to enjoy the evening sun. To provide a wind buffer, evergreen planting, garage and other storage areas should be located on the north — prevailing winter winds in Connecticut are from the northeast and northwest [5] -- with attention to door openings so that these are not blasted by cold winter air. The south side is best for outdoor

Rep. Robert A. Maddox’s energy efficient home: Bethlehem, CT. Solar panels were added in the spring of 1996 to heat water.


gardens and patios for outside activities in spring and fall, whereas the deck that is to obtain full summer use should be in shade. Such “solar orientation” thoughts should be considered in planning any home. The following design tips should be considered for maximum economy and energy efficiency: (1) To finalize room sizes, lay out the desired furniture arrangement. Living rooms are often sized without any consideration of furniture size, circulation or use. Bedrooms can be small, but should allow for a variety of bed and related furniture locations. (2) Rooms exclusively devoted to formal dining are used relatively little. Consider multi-purpose use of the eating area, such as a country kitchen arrangement or informal family room. Combining living-dining and open kitchen areas creates greater openness within less total area. (3) “Wasted space” of hallways can be minimized by combining circulation areas and landings with room uses. Stairs can be opened to the house. A stairway can serve as a vertical air path, reducing mechanical duct lengths and allowing natural air distribution of passive heat gain to other parts of the house. An air return placed at the top of the stair can be used to collect heat for reuse in the heating system. (4) The more compact the plan, the less costly. To the extent possible, make the overall dimensions of the house in increments of 4' because building materials come in standard widths of 4'. The smaller the foundation “footprint,” the lower the overall cost. A two-story house is therefore less costly per square foot than a single-story house. A two-story home will also have less area exposed to the outside as heat loss surfaces.

Earth-Lodge House, 1979 State of Connecticut award-winning design

(5) The standard basement foundation of a house can become economical living space, particularly comfortable if it has generous south-facing windows. The concrete mass of the foundation, if well-insulated on the outside, can serve as a “heat sink” to store solar heat in winter and to maintain comfortably cool temperatures in summer. Detailed design of a solar house depends upon the specific approach that is selected. As a general rule, the total energy efficiency of a house is a result of the way that three construction elements are designed and specified: southfacing glass, insulation and thermal storage. Whether the design uses windows, a sunspace, or active solar collectors, guidelines and calculations determining the best size and type of glass, the means for storing solar heat, and for providing proper insulation and construction detailing are available in the references mentioned on page 3 and in the Appendix. Chapter 4 of this booklet, based upon the experience of solar home owners, presents an additional checklist of items to be considered. Experience has shown that a “solar house” need not look different from any other house and can incorporate solar concepts without appearing awkward. A solar house can and should be even better than a conventional house, provide quality and comfort and be perfectly matched to its climate and its site [33].

Earth-bermed house: Durham, CT


2.6 - Subdivision Design and Multifamily Housing
Higher density housing can be far more energy efficient than singlefamily units because of the efficiency of walls and floors shared with adjacent units. Connecticut Public Act 88-263 requires Municipal Planning Commissions to adopt subdivision regulations that encourage energy-efficient construction and land use, and Commissions may allow a density bonus to builders who build solar subdivisions. Public Act 91-395 requires Zoning Commissions in certain municipalities to consider the use of cluster development. References 23 and 27 detail special design considerations for applying solar concepts to subdivision and multifamily housing. All of the recommendations described in Chapter 1 should be considered, with most attention given to opportunities for solar orientation and to the potential problem of shading from adjacent buildings. An important point to remember about applying solar concepts to houses — especially those located close to one another such as in subdivision design or in multifamily housing — is that solar houses do not have to look alike. The range of recommendations presented in this booklet indicates that different solar concepts perform equally well and offer a choice of design approaches.

Passive solar subdivision: Canton, CT


Chapter 1 reviewed key solar system concepts. Chapter 2 showed how these design concepts can be applied to different housing types. In this chapter, guidelines to the steps of designing and building are reviewed, to help the prospective solar home owner in planning the key decisions. The cost of building a home has three major components: land purchase, financing method and construction. Opportunities to reduce costs in land and financing are dictated by “market-place” conditions that determine land values and mortgage rates. However, Connecticut residents may find programs through banks or other lenders that help make solar and energy-efficient homes more affordable. Some will also qualify for the Department of Economic Development’s Energy Conservation Loan program (address listed in Appendix at A.1). To cut construction costs is not a sufficient goal in and of itself, if lowering costs means substituting components that are less energy-efficient or will need to be replaced. Instead, the goal should be to reduce the total cost of home ownership, including the energy cost of owning and operating the house over the “life-cycle” of the house, or at least the duration of the mortgage period. Every builder or homeowner should consider upgrading the construction specifications to achieve a fuel cost savings so that the increased investment will lower the total “life-cycle” cost of ownership, which includes both the mortgage and the projected fuel costs (the exact calculation depends upon the mortgage rate and the cost of fuel projected over the mortgage period). From a life-cycle costing point of view, solar and energy conserving design are among the home owner’s most cost-effective investments.

3.1 - Selecting an Architect
While it is not required to have an architect design a house, this booklet is intended to be useful to architects as well as to home owners. To apply solar principles responsibly and professionally requires a willingness to learn about solar design and to obtain expert solar design and engineering consultation as needed. In considering whether or not to use an architect, home owners and builders should consider architects for their overall qualifications to help with the specific site and project. In helping to make the selection and assuring that the architect is sensitive to the solar design requirements, home owners should then make a point of determining how expert solar consultation will be used early on in the site evaluation, as well as at subsequent review points in design and construction. In selecting an architect, home owners might follow these general guidelines: (1) Gather data about your project. It should include a site map. Check


plans that may be on file at the local Town Hall for site information, such as land contours, adjacent properties, wetland conservation or other zoning regulations. This will give you a headstart on what the architect will have to check later and give you early notice of the permits that are required. A second information requirement is best provided by a one-or two-page list of your general goals and specific room needs. These documents will help you discuss your project with architects whom you interview. (2) Obtain recommendations of architects who provide residential design services by calling the organizations listed in A.6, local architectural societies, universities, other professional associations, or builders. (3) Call the architects’ offices, outline your project’s scope and ask for a list of their residential projects, especially ones that demonstrate their qualifications for solar and energy-efficient design. If solar energy experience is lacking but the architect appears to be otherwise qualified, ask for information on how the architect would involve solar design expertise. (4) From the responses that are received, select at least two to four architects for a personal interview, which can be at their offices. (5) To help make a final selection from those who are still qualified after interviews, a number of questions should be asked and followed up by the homeowner. Specifically, ask for the names of the owners and contractors of two or three prior examples of houses that the architect has completed. Ask to talk to both the owners and the builders. Visit the houses. Ask each one — architect, owner and builder — what he/she would do differently to improve their result. The above steps are obvious ones by which the “consumer becomes informed.” By the end of a selection process that proceeds in this manner, prospective home owners will find that they are as well informed as the professionals whom they are interviewing, since they will have talked to many others and checked for “lessons learned” from different points of view. The architect provides professional advice to the home owner and develops plans and specifications for the contract for construction that is signed between the home owner and a builder. There are standard agreement forms for all aspects of construction. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) agreement form for architectural services, Document B141, details what an architect does. This is available from AIA/Connecticut (address listed in A.1). The basic services of an architect include: design based upon the information that the home owner provides, preparation of construction plans and specifications, helping to select a builder, and administering the construction contract between owner and builder. The fees for architectural services are charged either on an hourly basis or as a percentage of construction cost. In both cases, misunderstandings can result if both the professional tasks and related fees are not fully discussed ahead of time. A point not widely known by many home owners and builders is that they can utilize professional advice — of the architect or the solar consultant — on an “as needed” basis, thus limiting both the professional time and fee to those


specific questions that are most critical. A few hours of such expert advice can be justified by recommendations that save energy costs year after year. As with any agreement, the home owner as well as the professionals involved are protected best by becoming informed and keeping records of work that is accomplished. The best “just one last question” that an alert home owner can therefore ask before selecting an architect is: “What can go wrong and what steps should be taken to make sure that such things do not happen to us?”

3.2 - Selecting a Builder
The process of selecting a builder can be guided by steps similar to those described above in becoming an “informed consumer.” Selection of a builder for a house is perhaps the most important decision that is made by the owner, since the builder is the one most responsible for coordinating the entire process of construction, including fine-tuning and corrections of the work. While the guidelines listed below are by no means exhaustive, they introduce the key steps to help consumers make an informed choice: (1) Obtain names of qualified builders by calling the organizations listed in A.6 and local sources, including the regional Home Builders Association (addresses are listed in A.1), architects, real estate professionals and mortgage officers at local banks. (2) Contact the builders who are recommended and ask for a list of their projects most representative of the type you envision for yourself. Call the owners and, if possible, visit the houses. Just as in selecting an architect, ask what lessons were learned. (3) Home improvement contractors are required to be registered with the State Department of Consumer Protection. Contact that agency and your local Better Business Bureau (addresses listed in A.1) to determine if there is any information on file about the building companies that you are interviewing. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection distributes a useful pamphlet about construction contracts [6]. There are two basic choices of contractual agreement with a builder: (1) a “stipulated sum” contract, which is an agreement to build a house exactly as indicated on plans and specifications for a fixed contract price, or (2) a “cost plus fee” agreement, in which the owner pays for the labor and materials devoted to construction with an agreed-upon percentage added to cover the builder’s overhead and profit. For both types of agreements, standard AIA forms — accepted by the building industry and intended to protect both parties equally and fairly in a construction project — are available from AIA/Connecticut (address listed in A.1). With any agreement, what is written down matters a great deal, so homeowners have to be alert to everything in an agreement, which deserves a line-by-line “reading of the small print” review. Before signing an agreement, home owners will probably have questions about what is and what is not included. The advice of legal counsel and, as appropriate, of other building professionals, financial advisors, insurance agents and town building officials, is best sought ahead of time — before a contract is signed. There are answers to


each and any question that might be raised, established either by law or by common construction practice. The time taken to answer questions ahead of time will result in a smoother running building project for both the owner and the builder. Several additional factors help the informed consumer and home owner who is building a house to be protected against shoddiness and poor construction quality: Firstly, building codes are intended to enforce a standard of health and safety in construction and should therefore be properly and reasonably enforced. Secondly and equally important is the builder’s own standard of care demonstrated in his or her work. This is especially important in energy-efficient construction because looks can be deceiving. Items such as insulation can be put in place, but unless installed carefully, their full benefit can be greatly reduced. Just as there was a “one last question” to ask the architect, a similar key question to ask a prospective builder is: “What can go wrong and what preventative steps should be taken to avoid such pitfalls?” In any construction project, the building owner is protected by a common law warranty that the contractor will be responsible for correcting any defect in workmanship that appears within one year of the completion of the project, normally assumed to be the date of issuing a certificate of occupancy (“C.O.”) by the local building official. It is nevertheless useful to make this warranty explicit in any agreement. Further, building products such as windows or roofing are normally covered by warranties of five or more years. The home owner should ask the builder to maintain an accessible file of all such warranties and include them as part of an “Owner’s Manual” with any and all operating instructions. In energy-efficient construction, there are additional quality control measures that should be included during the construction process. Most useful of these is a “blower door” or air-infiltration test that should be made when the insulation and the “rough in” of mechanical, plumbing and electrical trades are completed, but prior to the installation of gypsum wallboard or other interior finishes. The test takes less than one hour, plus time to correct the air-leaks and to retest, and typically costs about $100. For information on blower door testing see A.8. Even if insulation was installed carefully, the test will reveal where subsequent electrical outlets or outside plumbing lines have created “holes” that need to be insulated. The effect of all of the cracks and leaks in standard construction is significant: When added up, their heat loss effect is typically equal to leaving a two-foot square window fully open in the house all winter long. The job of the home builder undertaking energy-efficient construction has been greatly assisted by improved energy-efficient products, including insulation, air infiltration house wraps, windows, and mechanical equipment. Listings in the Appendix provide the diligent home builder with sources of information through periodicals and professional associations that hold regular trade-shows and conferences related to energy-efficient construction. Participation in conferences about energy-efficient construction is a further indication of the architect and the builder’s qualifications and interest in undertaking a solar home building project.


3.3 - Recommendations for Owner-Builders
The above two sections describe steps to be taken in utilizing the services of architects and builders. Many home owners and home builders are “do-it-yourselfers.” A high percentage of those included in the Consumer Survey summarized in Chapter 4 built their homes themselves. Construction economies can be significant if the home owner becomes actively involved in the construction process, either by acting as “contractor-builder” and subcontracting the separate tasks, or additionally performing some of the construction tasks oneself. The cost-savings that can be realized in constructing a house depend upon how effectively one “manages” the construction process, explained in steps for the owner-builder by a number of books, including those cited in references 10, 11 and 15. Another good investment, if your schedule permits, would be to attend an owner-builder school. Courses typically run from one to three weeks, however some schools offer one- or two-day mini-courses as well. The knowledge, skills and experience these schools provide are well worth the time and money spent. Schools in the New England area are listed in A.5. In addition to the guidelines listed above for selecting a builder, the following are suggested for owner-builders: (1) With a house plan in hand, develop a detailed cost estimate of the entire construction budget, with separate “cost breakdown” prices itemized for the major trades and components [19]. Professional estimators and many builders provide estimates for a fee, which can be more than repaid by subsequent use of the estimate. The most accurate estimates are those provided by local suppliers themselves: Thus, a home builder should obtain quotations from qualified window manufacturers, flooring installers, etc. as part of the overall estimate. This takes time, but allows the owner builder to avoid inflated bids and to shop for the most competitive cost proposals. As with any purchasing decision, “shopping the job” proves to be one of the most effective budgeting controls. One major area where costs can escalate from the estimate is when home owners change plan details after construction has begun. Better planning producing fewer changes will reduce estimate inaccuracies. Undertaking the role of contractor is not a task for everyone, but for those who have prior building experience or have attended an owner-builder school it can provide considerable satisfaction as well as a competitively priced home. (2) If considering a factory-built home, find out what services the manufacturer routinely provides or may offer as options. Some will modify plans to meet your requirements. Some provide on-site construction assistance. Check also for R-values and durability of the materials used. Ask for the names of others who have used the manufacturer’s materials and services and check with them for “lessons learned.” Whether used by a general contractor or an owner-builder, the factory-built or “kit house” may be the best, if not the only, means for some prospective home owners to build an affordable home. The above discussion is intended to help assure that the results of owner-builder efforts are not only affordable but also well built.


To complete the information presented in this booklet, which is intended to convey the lessons learned from designing, building and living in solar houses in Connecticut, this chapter summarizes the highlights of a survey of over eighty solar home owners who participated in Connecticut’s Solar Mortgage Subsidy Program, which regrettably is no longer available. One lasting value of the program is that it did provide a standard of performance for an energyefficient solar home. In each case a detailed heat loss analysis and solar gain analysis was performed to insure that the home met specified performance criteria.
Kosky residence: Bethlehem, CT

The survey was conducted in 1988 by the Energy Division of the State of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management. A questionnaire was distributed that could be completed and returned either signed or unsigned, thus allowing frank and open opinions in the responses. The survey results are remarkable from several standpoints: Firstly, 98% of the respondents were satisfied and the vast majority — 68% of the solar home owners in the survey — stated that their homes exceeded their expectations. These results alone indicate a very high rate of success in building houses with solar and energy-efficient features within affordable budget limitations.

4.1 - Problems and Solutions
The second reason that the questionnaire responses are useful is because they detail the problems encountered. Box 2, Typical Problems in 80 Solar Houses, summarizes these problems and can thus serve as a checklist of items that deserve attention. These “problems” can be anticipated and handled by proper design, as summarized by the following guidelines: (1) Glare or bright light that reflects into the eyes’ “cone of vision” was noted as a problem by 16% of survey respondents, but considered uncorrectable by only 2%. It is caused by direct sun shining off of interior surfaces and also from large windows and skylights on cloudy days, when light is reflected from all directions of the sky. A mixture of dark and light reflecting surfaces relieves such glare. The simplest means to control glare is with gauze-type curtains typically used on window interiors. Such curtains do reduce direct solar gain and, if light in color they reflect some light and heat back out the window, but only partially, so that useful solar heat is still gained. The best option is to provide choice, to use curtains that are easily opened or closed, depending upon the light condition. (2) Condensation on windows (listed as a problem by 21% of respondents and considered correctable by 10%, uncorrectable by 11%). Condensation occurs when moisture in the air condenses on cold surfaces, most commonly the glass surface of windows, but also the window frames if these are metal. Condensation is often present in new houses until the various building elements have had time to dry out. Moisture is only a “problem” if it damages the window sill or drapery fabrics that are close to it. It is conceivable that such condensation would turn to ice if there was extreme heat loss such as through an uninsulated window mullion or a window or door with a poor seal at its edges.

Passive solar home: Canton, CT

Box 2: Typical problems in 80 Solar Houses


Otherwise, condensation is harmless. Some windows have small “weep holes” to drain such moisture to the outside. If it remains inside, it will simply evaporate back into the air as the sun warms the air in the room. If in a sunroom containing plants, such moisture in the air is desirable to reduce drying. There are a number of preventive measures to avoid condensation damage: Condensate pans can be placed at the lower edge of the glass or on the window sill, an ideal feature for greenhouses. More typically, the conventional placement of heating outlets at the bottom of windows is usually sufficient to keep the glass surfaces warm and dry. The best precaution is to anticipate that there will be moisture collecting at the bottom of large glass areas and therefore to install tile or marble sills or a similar water-resistant surface. This is the only precaution that is sufficient if an insulating shade is used to cover the window at night, since the window is thus closed off from the warming effect of the room interior and moisture will predictably condense and puddle at its lower edge. Condensation dripping presents its most disturbing effect from skylights that are installed without a condensation drip edge or pan as part of the bottom mullion. A condensate drain is a standard feature of manufactured skylights but nonetheless bears inspection, since adjacent materials such as gypsum wallboard will become water stained if the drain does not function properly. Because of this, and such possibilities as rain entering an open skylight, materials adjacent to skylights should be stain- and water-resistant. (3) Keeping glass clean (listed as a problem by one-third of the respondents). Clearly, these respondents were the ones in their households who assumed the cleaning chores! They make a convincing critique of designers who place skylights and high windows in inaccessible locations. (Home owner’s equipment to clean high spaces, wash high windows and replace high lightbulbs is available through Sporty’s Catalog, 1-800-543-8633). That glass cleaning is listed as a consumer concern makes a case for specifying windows that are easily cleaned, such as the “tilt-in” styles that are marketed on the basis of easy cleaning and maintenance. (4) Stagnant odors (listed as a problem by 10%, but considered entirely correctable). This concern results from houses being “too air-tight.” See the discussion above in Chapter 1 in which an air-to-air heat exchanger is recommended so that well-insulated houses have proper, healthy ventilation. (5) Fading of furniture, wall coverings, etc. (a problem for 15% of the respondents). The only preventive or corrective measure is to use fade-free fabrics, such as fiberglass curtains and fade-resistant furnishings. Wood furniture has to be properly oiled or finished. Library books and paintings should not be exposed to daylong sun (although observers at some art galleries will find regrettable exceptions). Masonry surfaces such as tile or brick are ideal, not only for being color-fast and undamaged by light, but because of their heat storage capacity, as discussed in prior chapters. (6) Lack of privacy (listed as a concern by 16% of the respondents). The fact that this was a problem for respondents indicates that they were unpleasantly surprised by sound being carried in houses that are open, the very quality of “openness” that is listed by other respondents as a very positive
Hoffman/Loefler home: Colebrook, CT (passive solar with solar hot water system) McCormick home: Pleasant Valley, CT

Passive solar home: West Suffield, CT


feature. The obvious caution is to be aware of this difference of opinion and to decide ahead of time if an open plan suits the lifestyle of the future occupants. Countless examples demonstrate that a house can benefit from solar heat without having an open floor plan. However, when rooms are closed, it is more difficult to spread heat from the south to the north sides, except with fans and ducts. The best approach for those who prefer a traditional house with separate and closed rooms, therefore, is to use the duct work in a hot-air heating system with a fan that is controlled by a switch to circulate solar heat gain throughout the entire house during sunny hours. (7) Drafts (listed as a problem by 11% of the respondents). If a house is well insulated and relatively air-tight, the cold drafts experienced in poorly insulated houses should be all but eliminated. The drafts that caused concern to the questionnaire respondents may have been cold-air currents set in motion down the surface of large glass areas at night: cooler air drops, causing warmer air to take its place. Air that is as warm at 70° F to 75° F can be perceived as cold when it moves past the skin. The precautions to prevent such discomfort are either to close curtains at night, most effective if these are relatively air-tight on all sides (in which case both drafts and condensation are minimized) or to place heating elements at the bottom of the window areas to counteract cold down drafts. (8) Rooms cool down too fast (listed as a problem by 18% of the respondents). That this is listed as a problem indicates that the rooms have a great deal of glass or are underinsulated. As discussed in Chapter 1, a greenhouse that is all glass is not a comfortable room because it gets very warm when the sun is out and very cold at other times. The solution is the type of sunspace recommended in Chapter 1, with a well-insulated roof with widely spaced skylights. Thermal storage in the floor of a room that will be used at night is a further precaution to keep the temperature relatively stable. For the most energyefficient use of glass, insulating draperies or shades that are closed at night will make it as comfortable as any other well-insulated space. (9) Not warm enough (listed as a problem by 9% of the respondents). This complaint indicates either that the house is not well insulated, or there is too much glass, and possibly the “back-up” heating system is not properly sized. In this regard, it should be remembered that most heating systems are designed for the 98% occurrence of temperature and wind speed conditions that are exceeded on average about 2% of the time. (Such limitations or design criteria should be listed in the engineering specification of the mechanical heating system.) Perhaps this is uncomfortable during those extremes, but it is still good engineering judgment, since the heating plant would have to be larger if designed for the 100% extreme conditions, thereby being oversized and less efficient under normal operating conditions. Being “not warm enough” could also indicate a shortcoming of the heating distribution system which could possibly be correctable by “balancing” options normally provided for in the heating system design. In worse cases, it is more economical and energy efficient to add electric heaters for spot heating in problem locations during the hours that discomfort is felt, rather than to oversize the heating system. For example, a room that is used only for occasional guests is best designed as a separate zone with its own thermostat so that it need not be fully heated when unoccupied.

Home with sunroom: Middletown, CT

Passive solar home: Southington, CT


(10) Extreme temperature swings (listed as a problem by 16% of the respondents, over one-third of whom found it uncorrectable). This concern is similar to the problem stated as “rooms cool down too fast”, the effect of a room with a lot of glass which gets warm when the sun shines in and cool when it does not. The recommendations given above, limiting the size of glass, insulating well and possibly using insulating shades, are the appropriate precautions here. In addition, thermal storage such as masonry installed on inside surfaces of a sunroom helps to create stable temperature conditions, principally an advantage of thermal comfort. (11) Weatherstripping or caulking (a problem for 10% of the respondents but entirely correctable). Evidently improper or insufficient weatherstripping and caulking was installed to cause such problems. In wellbuilt homes, the single-most common cause of undesirable heat loss is cracks in doors and windows, most easily addressed by “doing it right in the first place” — by using high quality doors, windows, and sealants. Some types of weatherstripping are easily installed and can be added after a house is built to correct unintentional leaks. The “blower door test” discussed in Chapter 3 is the best diagnostic method for finding leaks and properly sealing a house. (12) Covering sloped windows (a problem for 9% of the respondents). Because sloped glass areas are especially difficult to shade on the outside or to insulate at night, they should be minimized by keeping them small and specified as high-performance glass, as previously recommended. Controls for shading and insulating skylights are available as standard options with high-quality skylights and should be considered if a high standard of energy performance and efficiency is required. The one drawback is the added expense of automatic motors to operate the shades. Otherwise, vertical glass is better for window areas intended to maximize winter sun and to minimize summer sun. Large sloped glass areas are therefore recommended only for greenhouse growing conditions, in which case overhead glass is required for proper plant lighting.

4.2 - Why Solar Heating is Worth the Effort
The above list of problems is instructive. Even though listed by a relatively small percentage of solar home owners, and of themselves only minor problems, such concerns need not be ignored nor underestimated. They indicate the importance of being careful in design and construction, as recommended above and in previous chapters. The end result is that solar homes can be problem free and certainly more comfortable and liveable than less carefully constructed homes. But the true measure of success is found in the words that solar home owners use to express their satisfaction: “We just love the openness...” “We enjoy the brightness and openness...” “Our home is functional and aesthetically pleasing...” “We have to move and are planning our next solar home.”
Passive solar home with attached sunroom and solar hot water system: Salem, CT


“It’s the only way to go.” “A great deal of time in planning paid off in satisfaction with design and comfort...” “Since I built most of the home myself, the satisfaction is great...” “It’s a great house to live in.” “Surprised how warm it gets — up to 80° F when sun is out...”
Passive solar home: Deep River, CT

“Extremely satisfied: Our 2500 SF home is heated for $600 per year.” tions.” “Energy savings and enjoyment of solarium have exceeded our expecta-

“Design works well in summer with proper shading; summer is cool, the winter is warm.” “House works well — best part is amount of light even on grey days; open plan makes our house feel very comfortable...” “I used only 617 gallons of oil first year for 2300 SF and family of five.” “Solar gain is outstanding...our solar room is used year-long.” * * *

Dorothy and Lee Paquette’s solar home can be heated with three cords of wood a year.

Not many consumer surveys obtain 98% satisfaction ratings and such positive endorsements. They are representative of a surprisingly large majority of individuals who have successfully completed solar homes using the resources, designers and builders of Connecticut. The results speak for themselves and provide the best evidence of why making the sun work in Connecticut is worth the effort.


[1] American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy The Most Energy-Efficient Appliances 1995 (or latest edition) $5.00 (address listed in A.1) [2] Anderson, Bruce editor The Fuel Savers: A Kit of Solar Ideas for Your Home, Apartment or Business 1991 Morning Sun Press Lafayette, CA 1-800-888-4741 $4.95 [3] Anderson, Bruce and Riordan, Michael The New Solar Home Book revised edition 1987 Brick House Publishing Co. Amherst, NH 1-800-446-8642 $16.95 [4] Anderson, Bruce and Wells, Malcolm Passive Solar Energy: The Homeowner’s Guide to Natural Heating and Cooling second edition 1994 Brick House Publishing Co. Amherst, NH 1-800-446-8642 $24.95 [5] Brumbach, Joseph J. The Climate of Connecticut 1965 Bulletin 99 State Geological and Natural History Survey Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Out of print, but available at major libraries. [6] Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection The Connecticut Home Improvement Contractor 1995 23 pp. (address listed in A.1) [7] Connecticut Department of Public Health Radon and You: Testing and Reducing Radon Levels in Connecticut Homes 1992; Model Standards and Techniques for Control of Radon in New Residential Buildings U.S. EPA March 1994. Both free from Department of Public Health (address listed in A.1) [8] Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, Energy Division (address listed in A.1) Affordable Housing through Energy Conservation, A Guide for Designing and Constructing Energy Efficient Homes OPM, CL&P, UI April 1990. Out of print but copies are available from OPM. [9] Davidson, Joel The New Solar Electric Home 1990 aatec publications P.O. Box 7119 Ann Arbor, MI 48107 1-800-995-1470 $18.95 [10] DiDonno, Lupe and Sperling, Phyllis How to Design and Build Your Own House 1987 Alfred A. Knopf New York $25.00 [11] Falcone, Joseph D. How to Design, Build, Remodel and Maintain Your Home 1980 Simon and Schuster Fireside Books New York $19.95 [12] Fowler, Paul Jeffrey The Solar Electric Independent Home revised edition 1993 available from the American Solar Energy Society (address listed in A.1) $16.95 (non-member price)

[13] Frank, Ruth F. Something New Under The Sun: Building Connecticut’s First Solar Home 1980 Brick House Publishing Co. Out of print [14] Gipe, Paul Wind Power for Home and Business 1993 Chelsea Green Publishing Co. White River Junction, VT To order, call 1-800-639-4099 or write to publisher at 52 Labombard Rd., North Lebanon, NH 03766 $35.00 [15] Holloway, Dennis and McIntyre, Maureen The Owner-Builder Experience: How to Design and Build Your Own Home 1986 Rodale Press Emmaus, PA [16] Iowa Department of Natural Resources Builder’s Guide to Iowa’s Ideal Homes (undated) Written for


climate of Iowa, but describes high insulation standards and construction details applicable in Connecticut. Available from Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines IA 50319 [17] Los Alamos National Laboratory Passive Solar Heating Analysis 1984 Available from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Atlanta, GA (address listed in A.1) $73.00 (nonmember price) [18] [19] Mazria, Edward Passive Solar Energy Book 1979 Rodale Press Emmaus, PA R.S. Means Company, Inc. Means Residential Cost Data 1994 or latest edition $72.95

[20] National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Solar Greenhouses and Sunspaces: Lessons Learned 1984 available from NCAT (address listed in A.1) $4.00 [21] New Alchemy Institute [21a] Quarterly #26 “We Design Our Home” (Winter 1986) $2.00; [21b] Quarterly #31 (Spring 1988) “Meeting the Affordable Housing Challenge” $2.00 Available from Donald Watson (address listed in A.3). [22] Nisson, J.D. Ned Residential Building Design & Construction Workbook 1988 or latest edition Cutter Information Corporation (address listed under Energy Design Update in A.2) $95.00 [23] Northeast Utilities Passive Solar Subdivision Design: Tips for Developers, Builders and Site Planners, 1983. Part of NU’s Operation SOLAR Series. Others in the series include Protecting Solar Access: Tips for Builders and Homeowners, Regulating Passive Solar Subdivision Design: Tips for Planning and Zoning Commissions, Passive Solar Living, and Solar Water Heating: Is it for You” Out of print but available at public libraries in Connecticut. (address listed in A.1) [24] Passive Solar Industries Council Passive Solar Design Strategies: Guidelines for Home Builders 1989; Passive Solar Design Strategies: Remodeling Guidelines for Conserving Energy at Home 1992 available to participating home builders from PSIC (address listed in A.1) [25] Reif, Daniel K. Passive Solar Water Heaters 1983 Brick House Publishing Co. Out of print

[26] Rocky Mountain Institute (address listed in A.1) Efficient House Sourcebook: Reviews of Selected Books and Directory of Organizations Devoted to Resource-Efficient Housing revised edition 1992 $13.95 plus 20% shipping & handling; A Primer on Sustainable Building $16.95 plus 20% shipping & handling; Homemade Money: How to Save Energy and Dollars in Your Home a practical guide to saving energy and water, improving comfort, and reducing environmental impacts Brick House Publishing Co. Amherst, NH 1-800-446-8642 $14.95 plus shipping & handling. [27] Rouse, Roland E. Passive Solar Design for Multi-Family Buildings: Case Studies and Conclusions 1983 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy Resources This valuable reference is out-of-stock, but available in the Energy Unit of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management. [28] Strong, Steven J. and Scheller, William C. The Solar Electric House: Energy for the Environmentally-Responsive, Energy-Independent Home revised edition 1994 Sustainability Press distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing Co. White River Junction, VT To order, call 1-800-639-4099 or write to Chelsea Green at 52 Labombard Rd. North Lebanon, NH 03766 $21.95 [29] Sunsearch, Inc. Solar Qs & As Informational brochure about solar domestic water heating for DHW system owners 1989; Sunsearch News a newsletter to help solar DHW system owners use their systems To order, call 1-800446-0258 or write to Sunsearch, Inc. at P.O. Box 590 Guilford, CT 06437


[30] Tennessee Valley Authority [30a] Landscaping for Energy Conservation: Plan an Energy Saving Yard 1983; [30b] Introduction to Solar Greenhouses 1981 (address listed in A.1) [31] Walker, Les and Milstein, Jeff Designing Houses: An Illustrated Guide to Building Your Own Home 1976 Overlook Press Woodstock, NY (914) 679-6838 $12.95 [32] Watson, Donald Designing and Building A Solar House revised edition 1985 Gardenway-Storey Publications Pownal, VT Out of print but available at some libraries. [33] Watson, Donald and Labs, Kenneth Climatic Building Design: Energy-Efficient Building Principles and Practice revised edition 1993 McGraw-Hill Book Company New York $29.95


The listings in this Appendix represent information available as of April 1995. Suggestions for corrections and additional listings will be gratefully received (see note on title page). The listings of private businesses, products or services in this Appendix do not imply endorsement by the State of Connecticut

A.1 - Sources of Additional Information and Assistance
State of Connecticut Agencies Department of Consumer Protection 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06l06-1630 Maintains roster of solar contractors licensed under Chapter 393 of the Connecticut General Statutes, (860) 566-3290 or 566-1814; also provides information on consumer-related issues, including small businesses registered as home improvement contractors; 1-800-842-2649. Department of Economic Development 865 Brook Street Rocky Hill, CT 06067-3405 Offers low-interest loans to qualified homeowners for energy-saving projects through the Energy Conservation Loan Program. See information under Connecticut Housing Investment Fund below. Department of Public Health 410 Capitol Avenue, P.O. Box 340308, Hartford, CT 06134-0308 Provides information on radon (860) 566-3122 or 240-9041; asbestos (860) 566-1620; lead (860) 240-9225 Office of Policy and Management 450 Capitol Avenue, P.O. Box 341441, Hartford, CT 06134-1441; (860) 418- 6416 Formulates and coordinates State energy-related policies and programs. Consumer and Professional Organizations American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) 2140 Shattuck Ave., Suite #202, Berkeley, CA 94704; (510) 549-9914. Sponsors and disseminates research related to energy conservation in household appliances and in buildings. Publication list available. American Institute of Architects/Connecticut 87 Willow Street, New Haven, CT 06511; (203) 865-2195. Distributes standard AIA Agreement forms for architectural services and for construction contracts; also provides information to the profession, industry and public on sustainable buildings and communities through its Committee on the Environment. American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 1791 Tullie Circle, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30329; 1-800-527-4723. American Solar Energy Society, Inc. (ASES) 2400 Central Avenue, Unit G-1, Boulder, CO 80301-2843; (303) 4433130. Issues catalog of publications for home builders, teachers and others; sponsors annual conference; publishes Solar Today. Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers 20 North Wacker Drive Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60606 (312) 984-5800 Provides consumer product safety and certification information related to home appliances, including air conditioners, humidifiers and refrigerators. Publication list available. Better Business Bureaus Two offices in Connecticut provide consumer information about Connecticut businesses. Contact nearest office for consumer inquires and complaints. Better Business Bureau, 821 N. Main Street Ext.,


Wallingford, CT 06492-2464; (203) 269-2700. BBB of Western Connecticut, P.O. Box 1410, Fairfield, CT 064301410; (203) 374-6161. Connecticut Housing Investment Fund (CHIF) 121 Tremont Street Hartford, CT 06105 (860) 233-5165 or 1- 800992-3665. Administers Department of Economic Development’s Energy Conservation Loan Program. Assisted by subsidies from Connecticut’s electric and gas utilities, this program provides counseling services and loans up to $6,000 to owners of one- to four-family residential units for the purchase and installation of heating systems, windows, insulation, and alternative energy devices, and for the implementation of cost-saving energy conservation measures. Interest rates vary in accordance with family size, adjusted gross income and locality. Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC) P.O. Box 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116; 1-800-DOEEREC (363-3732). Provides fact sheets and information on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Energy Efficient Building Association (EEBA) 1829 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404; (612) 871-0413. Professional association for designers and builders of energy-efficient structures. Sponsors annual conference and international energy-efficient home competition. Home Builders Association of Connecticut 609 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06l05 State Chapter Office of National Home Builders Association. Contact local chapters for information on home builders in your area: Eastern Connecticut, (860) 859-3518; Fairfield Co., (203) 268-7008; Greater New Haven, (203) 488-3398; Hartford Co., (860) 563-4212; Northwest Connecticut, (860) 563-4212. Massachusetts Audubon Society Educational Resource Office, 208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773; (617) 2599500, x7255 Publishes low-cost informational brochures related to energy-efficient living. National Association of Home Builders 1201 15th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005-2800; 1-800-368-5242. Undertakes and disseminates research on home construction. Publication list available. National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) PO Box 3838, Butte, MT 59702; (406) 494-4572 Publishes low-cost publications on home energy-related information. Publication list available. New England Solar Energy Industries Association (NEW-SEIA) 30 Sandwich Road, East Falmouth, MA 02536; (508) 457-4557. Regional chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association. Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) 50 Miles Street, Greenfield, MA 01301; (413) 774-6051 Distributes publications and organizes conferences on solar energy, quality home construction, and solar/electric transportation. Local chapter of American Solar Energy Association. Northeast Utilities P.O. Box 270, Hartford CT 06141-0270 Offers programs to help all-electric home owners in CL&P service area use electricity efficiently; also offers workshops for builders of electrically-heated homes through its Energy Crafted Home Program. Contact local CL&P office for additional information on these programs. Catalog of energy-efficient lighting products available without charge to all CL&P customers. Call 1-800-5-BRIGHT (1-800-5274448). Solar Home Planbook also available. Call 1-800-545-0663. Passive Solar Industries Council (PSIC) 1511 K Street, N.W., Suite 600 Washington, DC 20005; (202) 628-7400. Industry association of companies and professionals involved in passive solar product design and manufacturing. Offers workshops on “Solar Design Strategies” to homebuilders. Publications list available. People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) 101 Lawton Road, Canton, CT 06019 (860) 693-4813 Provides consumer information and exhibits on renewable energy options; sponsors annual solar house tour in March and other events from time to time.


Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), 1739 Snowmass Creek Road, Snowmass, CO 81654-9199; (970) 927-3851; Undertakes research and disseminates information related to energy-efficient living. Free information packet and publications list available. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) 122 C Street, N.W., 4th floor, Washington, DC 20001; (202) 383-2600. Industry association for companies involved in solar equipment manufacturing and installation. Directories on solar thermal and solar electric system sources available. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 1101 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801) Various publications written principally for U.S. southeast but informative for Connecticut consumers. United Illuminating P.O. Box 1564, New Haven, CT 06506-0901; (203) 499-2000 or 1-800-7 CALL UI (1-800-7225584) for information about Good Cents and other energy-efficiency programs.

A.2 - Periodicals and Newsletters
Energy Design Update Cutter Information Corporation 37 Broadway, Suite #1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552; 1-800964-5118 or (617) 641-5118. Valuable source of updated technical information for energy-efficient construction and heating systems. Annual subscription (12 issues) $327.00. Environmental Building News West River Communication, Inc. RR 1 Box 161, Brattleboro, VT 05301; (802) 2577300. Bimonthly newsletter on environmentally sustainable design and construction. Annual subscription $60.00. Home Power The Hands-on Journal of Home-made Power St. Croix Press, Inc. New Richmond, WI 54017; (916) 475-0830. Annual subscription (6 issues) $22.50. Journal of Light Construction Builderburg Partners, Ltd. P.O. Box 689, Mt. Morris, IL 61054; 1-800-375-5981;. Valuable source of updated technical information for energy-efficient and affordable home construction. Annual subscription (12 issues) $32.50 Northeast Sun (and NESEA News) Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (address listed in A.1). Promotes responsible use of energy for a clean environment through the quality application of solar and renewable resources, energy-efficient construction, and energy management. Annual subscription (4 issues) and NESEA membership $35.00. Solar Today American Solar Energy Society (address listed in A.1). Annual subscription (6 issues) free to members, $29.00 to non-members. Solar Industry Journal Solar Energy Industries Association (address listed in A.1.). Annual subscription (4 issues) free to members; $25.00 to non-members.

A.3 - Stock Plan Sources
Affordable Passive Solar Homes. Crowther, Richard L. 1984. SciTech Publications, Inc. Available from the American Solar Energy Society (address listed in A.1). Over 40 low-cost projects. $20.00 (non-member price) Designing Affordable Houses Steven Winter Associates, Inc. Out of print but reprints can be obtained from Steven Winter Associates, 50 Washington Street, Norwalk, CT 06854. (203) 852-0110. Home Designs For Energy Efficient Living HomeStyles Marketing and Publishing, 275 Market Street, Suite 521, Minneapolis, MN 55405 1991 200 pp. Describes and gives floor plans for about 200 energy-efficient designs. Blueprints available from publisher. $6.95 plus $1.75 shipping & handling.


Home Plans for Solar Living Home Planners, Inc. 29333 Lorie Lane, Wixom, MI 48393 1-800-521-6797 $10.95 Integrated Energy Home Design Book. Paino & Assoc., 821 West Main Street, Kent, OH 44240 1983 55 pp. Lists 23 solar house plans and discusses energy-conservation principles employed. $12.95. The Solar Home Planbook 3rd edition Northeast Utilities (address and toll-free number listed in A.1) Includes designs for nine houses. Construction plans available. Solar Homes Design Portfolio Tennessee Valley Authority, Communications Department, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, Knoxville, TN 37902 1984 32 pp. Provides artist’s renderings and floor plans for 14 passive solar homes. Solar Homes for North Carolina Available from the North Carolina Solar Center, Box 7401, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7401 1992 33 pp. Provides sketches, descriptions, floor plans, and energy analyses for 14 passive solar homes. Construction blueprints available. Sun-Inspired Home Plans Energetic Design, Inc. P.O. Box 4446, Greensboro, NC 27404 1991 62 pp. Floor plans and elevations of energy-efficient, sun-inspired houses. Discusses basic principles of solar design and energy conservation. Ordering information for construction plans provided. Sun-Tel Design 7000 S.W. Hampton, Suite 238, Tigard, OR 97223 (503) 624-0555. Plans for passive solar houses. Donald Watson 54 Larkspur Drive, Trumbull, CT 06611 (203) 459-0332 Plans of solar houses

A.4 - Modular Homes, Panelized Homes and Kits
Amos Winter Homes 74 Glen Orne Drive, Brattleboro, VT 05301 (802) 254-6529 Panelized homes. Benson Woodworking Co. 224 Pratt Road, Alstead, NH 03602 (603) 835-6391 Post and beam panelized homes. Company portfolio $18.00; free literature also available. Epoch Corporation P.O. Box 235, Pembroke, NH 03275 (603) 225-3907 Modular homes. FIRST, Inc. 66 Snydertown Road, Hopewell, NJ 08525 (609) 466-4495 Solar and PV modular homes. Sample designs available. Haven Homes P.O. Box 178, Beech Creek, PA 16822 (717) 962-2111 Modular homes. Lindal Cedar Homes and Sunrooms Box 24426, Seattle, WA 98124 (206) 725-0900 Kits. New England Homes 270 Ocean Road, Greenland, NH 03840 (603) 436-8830 Modular homes, including solar. One Design, Inc. 724 Mountain Falls Road, Winchester, VA 22602 (703) 877-2172 Mini-house kits (440 or 950 square feet) suitable for one or two people (but check with local planning and zoning commission to see if this falls within allowable limits). Informational video available $34.00. Westchester Modular Homes 30 Reagans Mill Road, Wingdale, NY 12594 (914) 832-9400. Yankee Barn Homes HCR 63, Box 2, Grantham, NH 03753 1-800-258-9786 Post and beam panelized homes, custom designed, passive solar.


A.5 - Owner-Builder Schools
Heartwood School Johnson Road, Washington, MA 01235 (413) 623-6677 Shelter Institute 38 Center Street, Bath, ME 04530 (207) 447-7938 Yestermorrow School Box 97-5, Warren, VT 05674 (802) 496-5545

A.6 - Solar Design and Engineering Consultants
Information on individuals experienced in some or all aspects of solar design and engineering is available from the nonprofit organizations listed below: People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) Address listed in A.1. Quality Building Council See address for Northeast Sustainable Energy Assoc. in A.1.

A.7 - Solar Energy Equipment and Systems
Consult this heading in the Yellow Pages for your area. For list of licensed solar hot water contractors consult also the Department of Consumer Protection’s Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing (860) 566-3290 or 5661814

A.8 - Energy Audits, Blower Door Testing
These services are available to Connecticut Light & Power customers owning electrically-heated homes. Contact your local CL&P office. Audits are also offered to customers by other natural gas or electric utilities and by the major oil companies. Audits and blower door testing may be available through your Community Action Agency. Contact the Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), (860) 280-0192, for information. Energy Resource Group Technologies 48 Dayton Hill Road, North Branford, CT 06472 (203) 484-0642 Provides a range of energy management, moisture control and indoor air quality evaluations to homeowners, utilities, property management firms and governmental agencies.


A.9 - Representative Solar Projects in Connecticut
The buildings listed below demonstrate solar heating and energy conservation and can be visited for information purposes: Avon Free Public Library 281 Country Club Road, Avon, CT (860) 673-9712 Architect: Galliher, Baier & Best Simsbury, CT Trombe wall designed to heat community room. (See photo on p. 4) Bethel School System Bethel, CT Contact: Robert Nardine Bethel Board of Education (203) 794-8609. Active solar installations on four school buildings. Branford High School 185 East Main Street, Branford, CT 06405 Contact: Dominic Giordano (203) 488-7291 Architect: Johnson & Michalsen, Branford, CT Solar wall, combining Trombe wall and fan override to collect solar heat for gymnasium. Killingworth Ambulance Association 325 Route 81, Killingworth, CT (203) 663-2450 Architect: Tunney Associates, Killingworth, CT Passive solar heating for office and garage. National Guard Armory Norwich, CT (860) 441-2991 Architect: Centerbrook Architects, Centerbrook, CT Combination of large active system, for hot water and space heating, and passive system. Visit by appointment only. New Canaan Nature Center Horticultural Education Building 144 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, CT (203) 966-9577 Architect: Buchanan Associates and Donald Watson, FAIA, New Haven, CT Solar wintergarden for working greenhouse and visitors facility. Quinebaug Valley Community-Technical College Maple Street, Danielson, CT Contact: John Boland (860) 774-1160 Architect: Ames & Whitaker, Waterbury, CT Passive gain to heat college classroom and offices. Tourist Information Center Westbrook, CT Accessible when traveling northbound on I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike) between exit 65 and exit 66 in Westbrook. Open between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Connecticut Department of Transportation and Department of Economic Development. Architect: Tect Inc. (Henry Merriman, Jr.) Hartford, CT Passive solar heating. U.S. Coast Guard Academy Housing Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT Contact: John Drozdal, Office of Facilities Engineering (860) 444-8220 Large (3000 SF) active solar heating installation for dormitories. Visit by appointment only.
New Canaan Nature Center



facing page: Killingworth Ambulance Association

Connecticut Consumers’ Guide to Solar Home Building and Remodeling
Recommendation 1: In designing any house or apartment, face windows and skylights to the south for cost-effective direct solar heating. For optimal performance, use high performance glass or insulating draperies. Recommendation 2: To achieve maximum comfort in a solar house, use masonry elements such as tile or brick in floors and walls to the extent that is possible within conventional construction and budgeting. Recommendation 3: To achieve high insulation values, use a minimum of R-38 in the ceiling, R-26 in the walls, and R-19 in the floor or basement wall construction. Recommendation 4: To insure air quality in a well-insulated energy-efficient house with a measured air-change rate of .35 or less (or wherever indoor air pollution or radon is a concern), consider installing an air-to-air heat exchanger and exhaust fan. Recommendation 5: Achieve good thermal performance and lighting conditions in a sunspace, by use of maximum south glass wall and partial skylighting in an otherwise well-insulated roof. Recommendation 6: Consider installing solar water heating for domestic hot water and swimming pool uses, to take advantage of its long-term economic and environmental benefits.


Houses with solar heating are warm in winter and bright and comfortable year-round...If sunshine falls upon the house’s windows, walls or roof surfaces, then some form of solar heating can be applied, whether the house is already built or new, a detached single-family house or a multifamily dwelling. The investment in solar heating has triple value: It may reduce the cost of the back-up heating system, it saves on heating bills year after year, and it minimizes the negative environmental impact of conventional non-renewable energy sources. In a recent consumer survey of eighty solar home owners, 98% were satisfied with their homes. They are representative of a surprisingly large majority of individuals who have successfully completed solar homes, using the resources, designers and builders of Connecticut. These results speak for themselves and provide the best evidence of why solar is worth the effort.



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