The Interior Reveal!

During the past year I have spent a major portion of my life dedicated to the implementation of details that would ultimately lead to perpetually lower energy bills.  I am confident based on our final blower door test (0.36 ACH50) and thermal imaging (to be presented in a later blog) that we have achieved the efficiency that I was aiming for.  This being said, a house has to be more than just a set of plans and bunch of numbers on paper.    It needs to be liveable.  It should be a space that you enjoy and become part of as you grow.

My father and I spent two months (ie February-March) working on various interior projects in order to complete the interior of the house.  We had lots of ideas and details that we wanted to achieve.  We decided early on in the project that we wanted a modern traditional look so most finishes were chosen based on that premise. The one project I am ecstatic about is the staircase!  It was my first time building one and it turned out great!

The dining room is bright and spacious (Photo 1-1, 1-2).  The staircase is turned out perfect.  It was exactly as envisioned.  My father and uncle helped with the installation.  It was the first staircase project that I ever completed.  I have quite a bit of woodworking experience so I saw it as a challenge.  The simple spindles and skirts and treads go well with our simple furniture and fit nicely with the modern traditional theme.    We integrated a shelved pantry under the staircase which is accessible by a small door.  I sheathed the wall under the stair skirt with ship lapped board obtained from Cottles Lumber and Wood Products.  We felt that it added to the modern traditional them and also broke up the expanse of white walls.  We decided to go with white (Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore) throughout the house and I am glad we did.  Even on the darkest of days, there is enough light being bounced around from the large south windows that we rarely have to turn on any lighting.

The kitchen was installed Dream Kitchens NL.  We worked one-on-one with Krista Gernat to layout the kitchen.  Krista provided us with options like dovetailed drawers, waste pullouts, etc.  Simple flat panel painted doors and cabinets fit well with the modern traditional theme.  I installed solid birch countertops.  For a wood worker, like myself, wood is easily fixed if scratched or worn.  Simply scraping, sanding and refinishing provides a new counter top without tearing out the old one.  The constrast against the blue cabinets is really eye popping! Photo 2-1, 2-2, 2-3.

The living room is a great space (Photo 3-1, 3-2, 3-3).  A large window provides lots of lighting.  The Walltherm stove is commanding and contrasts nicely against the white walls.  Once again, we dressed the wall behind the wall therm with ship lap board.

The upstairs turned out as envisioned Photo 4-1 through 4-5.  The painted wood floors look great and were quite cost effective.  We glued and nailed the floor down but there are still a few squeeks here and there.  This is to be expected from a wide board softwood floor.  I laugh and tell people that "we planned it that way, it is meant to sound like an old house in a Newfoundland outport community!".  The bedrooms are spacious and have lots of closet space.  Our laundry room was big enough to install lots of cabinetry.  The space will be used for storage of various things including linens, towels and other household items. The master bath has a single sink and lots of space for a makeup vanity.  There is lots of space for storage in all the cabinetry.

Our choices for appliances were limited and all of them had to be ordered.  We went with Samsung energy star appliances where we could.    THe refrigerator (RH22H9010SR/AA) appliances uses about 635 kWh per year.  The induction range (NE58K9560WS/AA) uses  about 355 kWh/year.  The dishwasher  (DW80M9960UG/AA) uses about 239 kWh.  The dryer is a Whirlpool heat pump dryer (WED7990FW).  It has a bit of a hummmmmmm....from the compressor!  It is louder than most dryers but it is very energy efficient (531 kWh/year).  It takes about 30% longer to dry a load but you can turn the heat on high to get it done quicker.   The appliance is more efficient working at lower temperatures so waiting a little longer is no big deal given the energy savings.

What is the house like to live in?  Its actually quite different than a code built house.  It is quiet.....very quiet!  We hear very from outside the house.  We typically don't hear wind unless it gusts to about 50 km/hr!  The triple glazed windows are also more sound proof.  This is good since the glazing area is fairly large compared to some homes.  Because the house insulates sound from the outside so well,  inside sounds become more noticeable since they aren't being downed out with ambient exterior noise.  It's important when choosing appliances to consider the sound rating or your refrigerator compressor and dishwasher pump will make you crazy!  With concrete floors, the sound inside the house does bounce around quite a bit.  It has a bit of a "pingy" sound but furniture and objects in the living space does cut down on this quite a bit.  Comfort is something that I can honestly say that I have never felt until I moved into this house.    This has a lot to do with the fact that the structure is mostly thermal bridge free and therefore maintains a higher mean radiant temperature.   Triple glazed windows make the space more comfortable and should be the standard.  You can actually sit on the wide window sills when it is -10 C and still feel comfortable!  You may notice from some of the pictures that there are no heaters installed under the windows...They're not necessary.  The interior pane of glass is within a couple degrees of room temperature and therefore they do not lead to discomfort issues and are mostly draft free because of this.

In Newfoundland spring is kind of like winter.  It's cold!  People typically heat their houses up until the beginning/middle.  WeatherSpark has some good visual graphs illustrating the weather for our region (https://weatherspark.com/m/147565/6/Average-Weather-in-June-at-St.-John&%2339;s-International-Airport-Canada) Typical average high temperatures in April are about 1 C.  Averages lows are around -5 C. In other words it is still heating season! We have been living in our new house since March.   The first energy reading was in April at 1232 kWh.  On May 10th the meter reading was 965 kWh!  Keep in mind that I am heating two buildings:  A house and a garage for a total square footage of about 3400 square feet.  The three year average for my last code built house was about 2400 kWh for the same month (meter read May 11th).  That's a savings of  about 60% in electricity usage. In that house we cooked with propane and heated the garage with propane.  The yearly cost of propane was about $1100/year.  The energy bills totalled about $4500/year.  The total square footage was around 3100 square feet including the garage.  This is proof enough that a super-insulation, air-tightness and very little thermal bridging) has a profound effect on energy efficiency.

We are now half way through May.  The weather has been uncharacteristically good.  It has been sunny and average temperatures have been around 5 C.  I have been monitoring the heating system.  Each connection on the manifold has a flow meter to indicate if heat is required in a given zone.  There has been little to no requirement for heat during the past two weeks.  Based on this observation, I think we are at the balancing point where solar gains and internal gains (from using appliances, taking showers, etc) are balanced against heat flowing out of the building from thermal losses and ventilation.  What does this actually mean?  It means that heating season is effectively shorter because the house is able to capture more heat passively.

Summer is coming.  I have lots of  exterior work to complete before the end of September...why September? Because it starts getting cold again!  Make hay when the sun shines!



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Photo 3-2

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Photo 4-5


Comments

  1. Very,very nice David, congratulations on a job well done. Yes triple glazed should be the standard but i wouldn't hold my breath on that one. Your blog has been really informative and i have always looked forward to your updates. I don't think you have much to fear when Muskrat Falls comes online.
    Paul F

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