Articles About Building High Performance Custom Homes

Budgeting for Site and Lot Improvements, Part 2

By Paul Biebel / November 21, 2020

This document is a very good investment to have in one’s file. It protects everyone past, present, and future; especially when it comes time to sell or re-finance. By state law, Vermont Banks cannot gain clear title to its own property without such letters of compliance. This makes the Banking…

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Budgeting for Site and Lot Improvements, Part 1

By Tim Biebel / November 7, 2020

When I estimate construction costs, I separate my estimate in to several categories of costs. This keeps me organized and focused. In my article on our BBI Website, “How much do you charge per Square Foot?” I explained that the total cost of building a new home includes five major…

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Why Build a High-Tech Home?

By Paul Biebel / October 21, 2020

If you’re thinking of building a 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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COMBINATION SYSTEMS: SOLAR SPACE HEATING & HOT WATER

By Tim Biebel / October 10, 2020

Solar hot water (SHW) systems use the “greenhouse effect” to heatwater or air in a thermal collector, in conjunction with a suitablysized storage tank or ducting system to supply hot water and heatfor use in homes and businesses. SHW for domestic hot water works asa pre-heat system that operates in…

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GEO THERMAL SYSTEMS

By Tim Biebel / September 12, 2020

Geothermal heat systems are the most energy-efficient, environmentallyclean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available today.Conventional residential and light commercial heating and cooling systemsare generally fossil fuel and electricity based. Ground Source Heat Pumps(GSHPs) are the most efficient types of geothermal systems and are becoming more common as the costs of…

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What Is A Stand-Alone Electric System?

By Tim Biebel / August 19, 2020

Stand-alone renewable energy systems often referred to as “off-grid” systems, provide electrical power to homes, businesses, and remote equipment independent of the utility electrical grid. Modern stand-alone equipment and improvements in system design have produced off-grid electrical systems that are reliable, quiet, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. Off-grid living is as…

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Why Are Wind Energy Systems Dependable?

By Tim Biebel / July 29, 2020

blade construction and generator design allow today’s wind turbines tooperate quietly and reliably in a wide variety of environmental conditions.Before deciding on a specific type of wind system, it is important toknow the potential of your site. Ample wind is a prerequisite for successfully siting a wind turbine, and generally…

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Micro Hydro Systems: What Are They?

By Tim Biebel / July 11, 2020

Today’s micro-hydro Run-of-River system designs are dependable, economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly. Harnessing the powerof water to generate electricity allows us to gain some sense of responsibility for meeting our own needs and for reducing our impact on the environment. Micro-hydro systems are typically 4-5 times better cost to energy…

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What Is A Solar Hot Water System?

By Tim Biebel / June 27, 2020

Solar hot water systems use basic thermal principles to capture incomingsolar radiation and heat water for domestic and other uses. Over the years,a variety of system designs have been developed and tested to meet speciMc consumer needs and conditions. Due to the cold climate in the Northeastwe use primarily closed…

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Contractor Believes In Living Prudently

By Tim Biebel / June 13, 2020

Prudent Living is a hybrid company whose purpose is “To promote products and philosophies that encourage a prudent way of life.” Thisway of thinking is still foreign to many, but it is clear that a paradigm shift is occurring in our society and it will continue because it’s a “way…

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Critical Elements to Achieving a Net Zero Home

By Tim Biebel / June 10, 2020

Let’s take a deeper look at what it takes to construct a net zero home. While a fully integrated design-and-build approach is key to success, it also requires a construction crew that cares about the “what” and the “why” of high performance building. Here, critical elements include: 1. Air-Sealing the…

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What is the Net Zero Energy Home Design Process?

By Tim Biebel / May 16, 2020

Creating a Home Design: Net zero energy home designs begin with a dialogue between the client, designer, and builder. At first introduction, prospective clients often bring sketches, pictures, and a wish list with them. An experienced builder is able to clarify a client’s ideas and offer plans or suggestions based…

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Why a ‘HERS’ Rating is Essential for Net Zero Construction in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / May 9, 2020

What is the “HERS” Rating System? Facing the need for a more accurate metric to rate home energy efficiency, in 2006 the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index was established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and is an integral part of the Energy Star Homes rating index. In…

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What is a Prudent Living Net Zero Energy Home?

By Tim Biebel / April 28, 2020

Prudent Living was incorporated in 2009, but it feels like it could have happened this morning. It amazes me how much we have changed and how fast it’s happened; almost as if I got into a DeLorean on my way to work this morning and punched in the year 2013. Does time really…

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The Essential Solar PV System Checklist for a Net Zero Home in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / April 11, 2020

While things like super insulation and heat recovery ventilation systems are important for a net zero home in Vermont (or New Hampshire), a solar photo voltaic (PV) system is most often the ‘key’ element to creating net zero energy. Here’s a checklist of five things to look for when considering solar power for your net…

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IECC Home vs. Net Zero Construction in Vermont: Which is Better?

By Tim Biebel / March 27, 2020

Let me start off by defining, “better.” From the standpoint of construction quality or practices, an IECC home and a net-zero home will be the same. From the standpoint of saving energy, net-zero wins hands down. Let’s see why. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) The IECC is a residential…

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How Solar Power Achieves Net Zero Construction in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / March 14, 2020

For the obvious reason, solar power plays a big part in home energy efficiency. It’s the component that allows most homes within Vermont to become energy independent and achieve annual net-zero energy consumption. Just how important is solar in achieving net-zero construction in Vermont? And what are the big differences you’ll find between…

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How Much More Does It Cost to Build a Net Zero Home in Vermont?

By Tim Biebel / February 23, 2020

One of the main questions people ask about building a net zero home in Vermont is, “How much will it cost?” Building a net zero home costs about 10 percent more than building the same house without the high tech, high performance, money-saving elements.  But spending 10 percent more during…

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Affordable Zero Energy Homes: A Balloon Framed Wall does it All!

By Tim Biebel / February 8, 2020

We’ve discovered that a double 2×4, balloon framed, exterior wall with dense pack insulation performs at the highest level – satisfying both demands of thermal and fire blocking performance and cost effectiveness. Not only that, the less I depend on using foam, the more relaxed my clients seem to be…

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The 4 Key Elements to Achieving a Net Zero Home in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / January 25, 2020

Net Zero Energy is the coming norm for new home construction in several states, including Vermont. While the Vermont Legislature has mandated that all new homes achieve net zero energy standards by 2030, net zero energy is rapidly growing in popularity in states like New Hampshire, that don’t have a mandate.…

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How Real Estate Brokers Can Help with Net Zero Construction in Vermont

By Tim Biebel / January 11, 2020

When you begin your buying journey to build a net zero home in Vermont or New Hampshire, where should you start? What resources should you employ? Typically, buyers and even more so, sellers, of conventional residential homes will contact a real estate broker early in their journey. But what about…

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