The Energy Efficiency Lab Home in Pittsburgh – managed by IBACOS and S&A Homes and involving more than 40 local trade contractors and suppliers – has now moved into its research phase. The home was officially opened in November. All entities involved are now working together to find the solutions that will make high quality, very low energy homes affordable to build, own and maintain.
Because heating accounts for nearly 50% of a typical home's energy use in a northern climate, it’s naturally a real focus of the project. The big question being asked is, “will the conditioned air being paid for stay in the house?" In addition to heating, there’s great interest in seeing how the home performs overall. In the enclosure, the organization will be looking at moisture levels within the walls and the concrete slab, surface temperatures on walls and windows, and condensation levels on windows and doors. In terms of windows, provided by Gorell, IBACOS is interested in seeing whether the temperature and high humidity will pose a risk for condensation. So the Lab Home is riddled with more than 300 sensors measuring things like energy use, moisture, temperature, air flow, and heat flux. Over the next three years, IBACOS will monitor energy efficiency, as well as durability and comfort within the house. Before these types of houses go mainstream, this monitoring will help determine if adjustments need to be made in the design to ensure it is not only energy independent, but also maximizes comfort and durability for the homeowner.
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