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Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 3

By Tim Biebel / February 21, 2017

Weather is a fickle thing. One minute it’s snowing, and the next minute it’s snowing again. Then, just like that, it starts snowing again. This week, we received over eighteen inches of snow, which buried our hopes and production expectations for the week. Nevertheless, when I left the site Friday…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 2

By Tim Biebel / February 13, 2017

Winter has returned with a vengeance, which only adds to my already growing disdain for it. February is the worst. Next month, March will be the worst. Construction during the winter can be like running an uphill marathon. Twice. Everything takes longer than it should, and the coffee gets cold…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Exterior Wall Assembly

By Tim Biebel / February 10, 2017

To keep any house affordable, efficiency during the construction process is key. A high-performance wall assembly is no exception. There are multiple ways to construct a high-performance wall, but which one makes the most sense from a cost standpoint when building an affordable zero energy home? Spray foam insulation has…

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Ask the Experts: Energy Consevation

By Prudent / September 1, 2015

Question: I want to do what I can to conserve energy and also to become a more responsible consumer of resources in terms of our home and family. Where can a person begin if they have limited resources but a real desire to live more prudently in relation to renewable…

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Make Your Meter Spin Backwards

By Prudent / September 1, 2015
Custom Home Build

A Spin You Can Trust How often do we wonder if what we hear on the news is really the truth? “It’s all in how you spin it,” they say. One reporter says that “such and such happened” and we believe it.  But then we change channels and get hit…

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Solar Hot Water: Reduce Your Energy Bill by 20–40 Percent

By Prudent / September 1, 2015

by Don Wemple Solar hot water systems (SHW) use basic thermal principles to capture incoming solar radiation and heat water for domestic and other uses. Over the years, a variety of system designs have been developed and tested to meet specific consumer needs and conditions. Due to the cold climate…

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A Home Energy Audit Helps You Save

By Prudent / September 1, 2015

by Tim Biebel, Vice President, Prudent Living Inc. Not so long ago, when fuel oil and gasoline prices were hitting an all-time high, people struggled to pay for their heating bill and gas for their vehicles. Not everyone can install a high-efficiency furnace or buy a new car that gets…

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When Prudence and Presumption Collide

By Prudent / September 1, 2015
Energy code home vs Net zero home

by Paul Biebel, President, Prudent Living, Inc. It was on February 10, 1989, when this builder and his architect suddenly discovered that life guarantees nothing. Of course, we knew this was technically true, as most thinking people do, but we weren’t living as if we believed it. In fact, everything…

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Vermont Home Tour

By Prudent / September 1, 2015
vermont home tour

Passive-solar homesite: We designed our home to function at a passive-solar level by positioning the majority of windows to face the sun. This meant our home would be placed on the site almost on the compass points with the least amount of glass facing north, and the maximum glass facing…

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The Way of the Future

By Prudent / August 31, 2015

by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc. If I were a prophet, I would predict that: • The development of Renewable Energy and Strategies for Sustainable Living will prove to be as important to the 21st century as indoor plumbing, electricity, and the telephone were in the last…

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How’s That Work? – Debunking Energy Myths

By Prudent / August 31, 2015

by Tim Biebel, Vice President, Prudent Living Inc. Marketing firms always present their products in the most positive light possible. In their defense, that is their job. In your defense, you need to be aware that some things aren’t always “AS SEEN ON TV” when it comes to energy efficient…

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NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard)

By Prudent / August 31, 2015

by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc. Last summer, I attended an evening SEON (Sustainable Energy Outreach Network) conference in Brattleboro, Vermont. It was a Building Science Guild meeting where Representative Margaret Cheney was the keynote speaker. She had just returned from a visit to Europe and was…

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Expect Rain

By Prudent / August 31, 2015

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” Must is the key word in this simple phrase. If some rain must fall into each life, sometime, the most prudent approach is to be prepared. The word “pre-pare,” originating around 1525 AD, is from the Latin praeparāre,…

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Net Zero – Buy the Numbers?

By Prudent / July 24, 2015
A Net Zero Energy Home

When evaluating the purchase of a renewable energy component (solar in particular) just how important is that “break-even” number, anyway? Well, it makes very little sense for anyone hoping to advance the merits of solar energy and high performance construction to avoid an issue that, for most consumers, is a…

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Net Zero – Is It Worth It?

By Prudent / January 22, 2015
Net Zero or Energy Code

    A net zero home is one that generates as much energy as it consumes over an annual basis, but is it worth the extra expense?   If you have ever pondered this question you would be well served to join us next on Thursday the 29th for a…

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The Value of a Human Life?

By Prudent / May 21, 2014

Reflections on Forty Years of Building Codes by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc. Forty-three years ago, when I was just starting to learn different facets of the building trade, I worked as an unofficial apprentice to a licensed electrician in his eighties who had been around since…

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Down the Up Staircase

By Prudent / May 21, 2014

How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece When Tom and Sarah purchased an 1870 farmhouse and barn in West Windsor, Vermont, in 2003, their farm was already famous. For example, they were told by several locals that “Good Morning, America” had once used the barn as a backdrop for one of…

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Safety On The Home Front

By Prudent / May 21, 2014

by Nancy Wolff When I was asked to write an article on Safety my mind started to go in all different directions. Should I write about the safety of using homemade cleaning products versus store bought? Of the importance of keeping the prongs of a garden rake pointed downwards when…

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Huey’s Vampire Electronics

By Prudent / May 21, 2014

Adventures of Jeb and Huey: Vampire Electronics by Nathan Biebel The old pickup truck belonging to Jebediah Forethought kicked up dust behind it as it rumbled along the dirt road that served as a shortcut home. The shortcut brought him by the property of Huey Hindsight, which gave Jeb a…

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Safety in Your Home

By Prudent / May 21, 2014
wemple, bridgewater, off grid

by David B. Biebel You may spend half of your life at work or school, but the other half you spend at home. Work places have safety rules with inspections and warnings for workers. How many homes have you been in where safety rules were posted? Many injuries and illnesses…

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How Much Per Square Foot?

By Prudent / May 21, 2014

by Paul Biebel, President Biebel Builders, Inc & Prudent Living, Inc In thirty years of building homes, the most common question I’ve heard from prospective clients is: “How much will it cost per square foot?” The answer to that question is: “Well…cough…sputter…gag…that depends….” If you ever hear another answer from…

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