The house is consistently warm and comfortable even on the coldest days. Unlike the house next door, no drafty doors or chilly windows remind you the North Wind is blowing. It can be quite a shock to step outside the airlock.
Marc Bailey of BarlisWedlick recently asked us how the mini split is working. New models coming onto the market can handle colder weather than our model can, which has a lowest operating temperature (heating) of -5 degrees F. Our reply: The mini split seems to function fine at low temps. We have one 9,000 BTU (cooling) / 12,000 BTU (heating) ductless wall-mounted unit, Fujitsu model no. ASU9RLS2.
- Most of the time the controls are set to “heat” rather than automatic, with the fan on. This seems to make the house warmer. It’s set for 70 degrees F.
- Chris cleans the filter screens often. Performance is noticeably better when we keep the screens clean.
- The ceiling fans help to distribute the warm air and even out the temperature throughout the house. If the ceiling fans are off, the first floor can be about 3 degrees cooler than the second floor.
- The upstairs bedrooms are often about 2 degrees cooler than the rest of the first and second floor in the morning, which is probably because we keep the doors closed at night. In this very cold weather, the rooms may be 3 or 4 degrees cooler.
- It is warmest on the open deck area above the kitchen, which overlooks the big South window and is closest to the mini-split. That’s my office area now. On cold days Chris has been using a portable Delonghi electric heater in his lower level studio, which is far from the mini split.
Our plans call for three mini splits in this three-floor house but we have only installed one so far. The walls are plumbed and wired for the remaining two, the installation of which will cost $3,000 each. We are waiting to see how the house feels to live in, and the lower level remains unfinished at this time. So far, we are finding that the mini split in the lower level is mostly needed for heating, and the one in the master bedroom is mostly needed for cooling.
For another blog entry, I’ll find out why some people call this sleek white box a “mini split” while others say “heat pump” or “air handler”.
Marmalade and Muenster joined our family a few weeks ago, strays no more. Five months old, they are shown here resting on the Ikea duvet that makes Lily’s room fit for a tween.
$35 from the neighbor’s tree lot. $100 for new LED lights. Kittens asleep on the snowy tree skirt: priceless. The children chose this 17-footer for the first official Christmas in our new house. Aged 9 and 11, they debated what Santa Claus would do without a chimney.
“Before” in June 2012. “After” in November 2013. Our house is designed for live and work, and it works very well. The studio is in the only cave-like area of the lower level, perfect for light control. It’s where Chris creates illustrations for sale on Getty Images.
While we were building, most of our stuff was stored in a leased 40′ cargo container parked on the edge of the front hay field. We are now cleared out of the container, with boxes sorted — mouse-free and moved in.
Our exterior work was wrapping up in autumn 2012 when cold winter temperatures arrived in November and delayed the application of exterior stucco to the lower level. The area under the front porch was tented for warmth and stucco applied. But most of it remained bare naked through winter and early spring. By June 2013, exposure to sun and weather had started to degrade the surface of the 10-inch-thick blanket of Neopor foam that wraps the foundation. It was finally warm enough to try again.
Exposure to sunlight and the elements melted the foam.We filled in the gaps with new foam.The above two images show our repair patches. Also, the partially completed stucco from last fall had cracked.We have used masonary caulk on these cracks. Later, the stucco will be painted for a more uniform and lighter grey.The stucco product that we used was Parge-All 825, specially formulated to apply over foam. When the company was contacted, they suggested that cold weather caused the cracks last fall. The product instructions say don’t apply if the weather drops below 40 degrees. However, when we applied new stucco at the end of August, we still got cracking, even with temperate weather.
Researching online information, combined with on the job testing, solved the problem. First, we applied a thin scratch coat to set up the surface of the foam, letting it dry for several days. This layer always cracked. Then we applied a final top layer that sets up without cracking. With our exterior foam repaired and the stucco applied, the house was buttoned up for winter 2013.
Issued by the Passive House Academy in Ireland and authorized by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, we are officially certified.
Sunday August 11th: Architecture Lecture by Dennis Wedlick and Alan Barlis
Vanderpoel House of History, 16 Broad St., Kinderhook, NY 12106
Wedlick and Barlis, of BarlisWedlick Architects, will speak on their new book, Classic + Modern: Signature Styles , which features a number of Columbia County homes.
About the book:
“Whether we know it or not, everyone has a signature style. In Classic & Modern: Signature Styles, award-winning architects, Alan Barlis and Dennis Wedlick, share their passion for innovative architecture and interiors through fourteen illustrated stories of homes that are grounded not only in good design practices but also express the distinctive aesthetics of those who live in them.
Classic & Modern: Signature Styles is a vibrant design survey. Each signature style story illuminates the authors’ belief that when homeowners are empowered to identify their personal sense of style—while also understanding the underpinnings of good design—they become full participants in the creation of their own one-of-a-kind homes. This is how a signature style is born.”
Kapil and Dave from the Levy partnership have returned to gather performance information on our heat pump.