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Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

Net-Zero, Primary Residence Homes, Part 2

By Tim Biebel / October 12, 2019
Net-Zero, Primary Residence Homes, Part 2 1

First of all, the process of building a house consumes a huge amount of energy before anyone even moves in and calls it home.  Here’s a brief snapshot of what I mean.    There’s no such thing as a house that doesn’t consume energy Site & Concrete:  First the loggers…

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Net-Zero, “Primary Residence” Homes, Part 1

By Paul Biebel / September 26, 2019
Net-Zero, “Primary Residence” Homes, Part 1 2

What is a home?  Is it just a house that people live in until they don’t live there anymore? How is a house different than a condo when both could be considered homes? What about apartments and second homes … third homes, etc.  I always thought there was only one…

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Is Geothermal Right For My Home?

By Restec / September 14, 2019
Is Geothermal Right For My Home? 3

Geothermal heat systems are the most energy efficient, environmentally clean and cost effective space conditioning systems available today declared the EPA in the 1970’s.  And it’s still true.  Conventional residential and light commercial heating and cooling systems are generally fossil fuel and electricity based.  As energy prices fluctuate the demand…

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How Many Solar Panels Do I Need for Net Zero Construction in Vermont?

By Tim Biebel / August 31, 2019
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need for Net Zero Construction in Vermont? 4

If you’re thinking about building a home that will comply to net zero construction in Vermont standards, no doubt you’ll have some questions about solar PV systems. Only a few years ago the thought of having solar panels all over your roof was considered a weird or ugly thing to…

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How Do Micro Inverters Work In a Custom Zero Energy Home?

By Tim Biebel / August 24, 2019
How Do Micro Inverters Work In a Custom Zero Energy Home? 5

Every year when I dig out the Christmas lights I wonder how many of them are going to work and how long it will take me to find the one light that doesn’t, so I can replace that one light in order to get the entire strand to light up.…

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The Top 3 Myths of Net Zero Construction in Vermont and New Hampshire

By Tim Biebel / August 10, 2019
The Top 3 Myths of Net Zero Construction in Vermont and New Hampshire 6

Since net zero construction in Vermont and New Hampshire is the latest (and we think greatest) form of residential construction practices, there are some common myths about net zero homes. Let’s dispel these myths: Myth #1) I Need to Compromise on Design This misperception may have drifted over from the auto…

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Top Questions To Ask A High-Performance Home Builder

By Tim Biebel / July 30, 2019
Top Questions To Ask A High-Performance Home Builder 7

Top questions to ask when interviewing Builders who claim to be knowledgeable about High Performance construction techniques. How do air barriers differ from vapor barriers? What is a Breathable Vapor Barrier? When and where is a breathable vapor barrier used in a house envelope? When is a breathable vapor barrier…

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A Tale of Two Houses (Less to Build vs. Less to Own)

By Tim Biebel / July 20, 2019
A Tale of Two Houses (Less to Build vs. Less to Own) 8

A couple stopped by my office recently and inquired about building a new house. Since we have been building houses for about 40 years, this was no surprise and it also didn’t surprise me that they didn’t have drawings yet. Their thoughts were pretty vague about what they wanted except…

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Solar Harvesting is Agriculture

By Paul Biebel / July 13, 2019
Solar Harvesting is Agriculture 9

The Harvesting of Solar Energy is agriculture.  Geothermal and Wind power is too.  In fact, I contend that all forms of energy harvesting is agriculture.  Property Taxes are determined in various ways but one way is by how we use a specific piece of property.  Some activities are taxed at…

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How Do Micro Inverters Work In a Custom Zero Energy Home?

By Tim Biebel / June 29, 2019
How Do Micro Inverters Work In a Custom Zero Energy Home? 10

Every year when I dig out the Christmas lights I wonder how many of them are going to work and how long it will take me to find the one light that doesn’t, so I can replace that one light in order to get the entire strand to light up.…

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How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home?

By Tim Biebel / June 25, 2019
How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home? 11

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems provide clean electricity that has many benefits. Renewable energy is better for the environment, better for your bottom line, and is long lasting. So while it is easy to understand the benefits of clean energy, it is not alwayseasy to understand how it is produced. Certain components required by code have been left out…

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Home Downsizing Strategies for Seniors – A Case Study

By Tim Biebel / June 15, 2019
Home Downsizing Strategies for Seniors – A Case Study 12

My grandparents have downsized…twice! The first time was when they moved to Florida from New Hampshire about 20 years ago. Then they downsized again a couple years ago when they moved back to New Hampshire to share a home they built with my aunt and uncle. Since they are so…

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4 Reasons Why You Should Let Us Build A Custom Zero Energy Home, pt4

By Tim Biebel / May 28, 2019
4 Reasons Why You Should Let Us Build A Custom Zero Energy Home, pt4 13

Reason 4: Your Home Will Pay You Back Over Time Over the span of a thirty-year mortgage, your operational savings could be as high as $200,000.00, compared to an identical house built to minimum energy codes at the same time. Sustainable strategies really do make a difference! Yes, there might…

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4 Reasons To Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 3

By Tim Biebel / May 16, 2019
4 Reasons To Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 3 14

Reason 3: Every Room Your House Can Be as Warm or Cold as you want it to be in a zero energy home.  Sometimes when I think back about the old way of heating a home and what we can do now, I marvel at the changes, progress, and the options…

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4 Reasons To Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 2

By Tim Biebel / May 11, 2019
4 Reasons To Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 2 15

Reason 2: Your rafters won’t snap at you when it’s really cold and your windows won’t ice up Perhaps your ideal retirement home is an old farmhouse you saw in a brochure about Vermont living. In summer there are wildflowers and wildlife all over the place. How charming and attractive!…

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Four Reasons Why You Should Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 1

By Tim Biebel / April 24, 2019
Four Reasons Why You Should Let Us Build Your Net Zero Energy Home, Part 1 16

Reason 1: Your floors won’t squeak.  It is possible to like squeaky floors for a variety of reasons. If you do, we can build your zero energy home with that feature. Check all the reasons that apply to you:  __ When you’re sleeping, squeaks can alert the family dog that there…

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The 4 Key Steps for Designing for Net Zero Construction in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / April 1, 2019
The 4 Key Steps for Designing for Net Zero Construction in Vermont 17

If you’ve discovered net zero construction in Vermont, you realize you’ve discovered the most efficient living space on the planet. With the unpredictability of utility costs coupled with foreign energy dependence, net zero is the smart choice for both today and the future. What Does it Take to Build a…

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Why Build a High-Performance Home?

By Tim Biebel / March 21, 2019
Why Build a High-Performance Home? 18

If you’re thinking of building a high-performance home, and you want the best “bang for your bucket of bucks,” prudence suggests that you consider the advantages of going high-tech, even perhaps aiming for a net-zero home. “Net-zero” describes a home in which the renewable energy sources that are incorporated into the…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Underslab Solutions

By Tim Biebel / March 12, 2019
Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Underslab Solutions 19

The question isn’t so much, “How can we save money and still get an affordable zero energy home, but “where” can we save money?” Since we start building with a foundation, then it’s logical that the cost of a foundation is a good first place to start looking for places to…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Exterior Wall Assembly

By Tim Biebel / February 23, 2019
Affordable Zero Energy Homes: Exterior Wall Assembly 20

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 a higher…

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Down the Up Staircase – How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece

By Tim Biebel / February 8, 2019
Down the Up Staircase - How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece 21

When Tom and Sarah purchased an 1870 farm house 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 their programs. And a 500-piece…

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