Tuesday, 25 August 2009

How to Not Save Energy in your House

I have been a big proponent of what I call "common sense green". I hate to see people do things for the sake of being green - but are not really green at all. Anyway I came across some useful information on the fine homebuilding blog regarding some green "myths". The article identifies a number of common strategies that do not necessarily save you much energy. Those include the following:
  1. furnace tune ups
  2. sizing furnace correctly (not oversizing)
  3. basement duct sealing
  4. floor insulation
  5. caulking and weatherstripping
  6. window replacements
  7. tankless gas water heaters
  8. cooling your attic
  9. changing furnace filters monthly
  10. opening your refrigerator quickly
  11. using drapes to insulate windows
You should read the entire article if you want further information. See the following link:

Friday, 21 August 2009

House Plans by Ron Brenner Architects and Simply Elegant Home Designs

I told you big news was coming. Here is a copy of the press release.

Simply Elegant Offers House Plans Designed by Ron Brenner Architects.
Nationally recognized residential design firm is offering selected designs.
Marine on St.Croix, MN –
Simply Elegant Home Designs, LLC; is announcing a new marketing agreement with Ron Brenner of Stillwater, Minnesota. Initially six house plans designed by Ron Brenner will be offered for sale exclusively through Simply Elegant at www.simplyeleganthomedesigns.com.
Brenner, President of Ron Brenner Architects; brings over 25 years experience designing single and multi-family residences, community facilities and performing residential development planning. His home designs have been featured in numerous publications. He had this to offer:
“The residential construction industry has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years. We have always worked with clients that care a lot about design. It is natural for people to desire living in a home that is a unique reflection of their own tastes. But increasingly our clients are also looking for more. They want a floor plan that feels spacious but is not oversized. They want a home that is energy efficient and environmentally more conscious. They want a smart and efficient design that meets all of their needs without breaking the bank. In order to achieve all of these goals we have worked closely with client and builder to create highly functional, unique and beautiful designs that are also reasonably economical to construct. We have learned much over the past 10 years, and our new relationship with Simply Elegant Home Designs offers a way for us spread some of that knowledge. It allows us to offer high quality residential design to a wider segment of the general population; and we hope that makes a small difference in our world.”
Ron Brenner’s work has been described as having a “casual elegance”. Strong building forms combined with clean and simple detailing and appropriate but restrained ornamentation give their designs a distinct aesthetic. Their home designs clearly pay respect to the past but move it forward with open space planning and modern convenience. The result is a home that is inviting, comfortable, functional and beautiful but not fussy.
Simply Elegant Home Designs offers pre-designed home plans that are creative, simple, elegant, unique and green to individuals, builders and developers. Their goal is to provide the most discriminating home designs available and to be the most service oriented organization in the pre-designed house plans business. They can be reached at www.simplyeleganthomedesigns.com or 877-380-9470.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Big News on House Plans From Simply Elegant Home Designs

Simply Elegant Home Designs has some big news coming.

Ron Brenner, President of Simply Elegant says "This is going to be bigger than sliced bread. Bigger than the wheel. Well maybe I am going too far; but at least it will be bigger than the Segway"

Stay tuned; a formal announcement will be made soon.

hint above

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Simply Elegant Home Designs is on Facebook

Simply Elegant Home Designs is now up and running on Facebook. We see this as just another way for folks to find us and stay updated on the latest information. It's also a great way to communicate with each other. You can see our facebook page at the following link:

please check us out and fan us.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Light Emitting Wallpaper

Jonas Samson, an interior designer from the Netherlands has created a new kind of wallpaper that is also a light source. The paper has a light emitting layer within that accomodates LED's. The product, which appears to not yet be for sale is touted as being "green". This is due to the efficiency of the LED lighting. I cannot find pricing, but word is extremely expensive - so in my mind that's not necessarily green. Nevertheless this is an interesting idea with lots of possibilities.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Green House Plans - Keep it Simple!

I recently ran across an article at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com that discussed some of the potential drawbacks when you specify highly complex appliances / equipment for your home. This might include items such as heat-recovery ventilators, ground source heat pumps, solar hot water systems, photovoltaics, etc. Some of the drawbacks to this type of equipment may include:
  • Higher up front costs - long payback periods
  • Need for proper commissioning (this means you need to make sure the equipment gets installed and adjusted precisely - or it will not work properly). If not installed and adjusted properly it can actually lead to higher energy costs.
  • Need for ongoing maintenance / adjustment which leads to higher maintenance costs. If not maintained properly it can also lead to higher energy costs.
In general the more sophisticated the equipment the more potential headaches. I have seen other studies that compared the energy use of LEED buildings vs. their non-LEED counterparts. Guess what? - the non-LEED buildings were just as energy efficient as the LEED ones.

So the moral of the story is to keep things simple. Favor envelope improvements and good passive design techniques (see my posting: top 10 green things to do) over sophisticated appliances / equipment.

Click the following for the full Green Building Advisor article: SIMPLICITY VERSUS COMPLEXITY

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Inspector

Do you think you are really smart about house construction? How about my home builder friends out there? How about you building code officials? Fine Homebuilding has a little game that you can play that will test your knowledge. It is called "The Inspector". They present you with a photograph of a construction site and ask you to identify the code mistakes. You get points for correctly identifying the mistakes - and take points away for the wrong answers. Sound easy? Click the link and give it a try. The Inspector.