How to Cost-Effectively Withstand the Next Polar Vortex

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he 2019 polar vortex has passed, leaving behind many harrowing stories in its wake. The new Cold Climates Addendum of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Economics of Zero Energy Homes report illuminates how our homes can be better prepared for weather extremes cost-effectively, even in some of the coldest climates in the United States.

The average US home leaks so much cold air that at roughly 20 mile-per-hour winds, all of the air inside a home will be replaced every 6 to 10 minutes. This can lead to dangerous indoor conditions when outside air is coming in at -20 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Some cities still utilize older energy codes that don’t require significantly better performance (or have no energy codes at all), meaning that many homes built today will continue to be challenged by extreme weather events like the polar vortex over their lifetime.

The good news is that our recent research shows that highly efficient homes capable of surviving extreme weather conditions can be built cost-effectively for only a small amount more than standard construction, even in cold climates.

The first step in having a home that can deal with extreme temperature is to eliminate drafts and improve insulation. These measures are especially cost-effective for new homes. Lloyd Alter’s article “Lessons from the Polar Vortex” provides some examples of the benefits just from an improved envelope to provide extreme weather resilience.

Homes can be made even more resilient with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which, with the right equipment, can provide enough power to meet emergency electrical needs through extreme weather events even when electric grid power is temporarily lost. The more energy efficient the home is, the smaller the PV system required to keep it operating. Finally, for a truly resilient home, battery systems can be used to store solar power and keep those systems working even when the sun stops shining. MORE

Energiesprong: Dutch-style retrofits could slash carbon emissions from 11 million UK homes


Energiesprong house retrofitting approach could slash emissions, study suggests

With £120m of backing, Dutch style retrofits could slash carbon emissions, gas demand and consumer bills, Green Alliance report argues.

More than 11 million UK homes could be suitable for a highly energy efficient, Dutch-style approach to retrofitting that could drastically slash carbon emissions, gas demand, and consumer bills, according to a new study today by Green Alliance.

The report argues that learning lessons from the Dutch government’s pioneering Energiesprong approach to retrofitting – a one-step method where ultra-efficient insulation, heat pumps and home batteries are all installed at the same time – could provide a solution for millions of fuel poor homes and make a major dent in UK emissions.

The method has been widely used to create net zero emission houses in the Netherlands, and sees rapid retrofits carried out which are then paid for through long term energy savings. Green Alliance estimates it has the potential in the UK to reduce emissions by 37 million tonnes overall, the equivalent to removing 17 million cars from the roads.  MORE

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The secret to warmer, greener homes lies in going Dutch
A Green New Deal for Housing

 

7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

Insulation is an important part of any home. Not only does it retain heat during the winter by restricting air flow, but it also reduces the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. For more than a century, most new homes were built with fiberglass insulation, but this can cause many health issues. If you are building a new house or remodeling in the near future, try one of these green home insulation alternatives to make your home safe and healthy. MORE