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Posts by Paul Biebel

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

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

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 place we call “home” and…

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Solar Harvesting is Agriculture

Solar Harvesting is Agriculture 2

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 a lower level than others. …

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Down the Up Staircase – How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece

Down the Up Staircase - How an Eyesore Became a Centerpiece 3

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 Rose Art Encore! jigsaw puzzle…

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What Is The Value of a Human Life?

What Is The Value of a Human Life? 5

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 the days of Edison –…

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

How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home? 7

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 of the following diagram in order…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 12

The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 12 11

An air tight barrier in a high performance home is critical to making the home perform at a high level of energy efficiency. To ensure that we are meeting our own expectations for air tightness, I perform a blower door test on the house at least once during construction to identify areas that could use a…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 11

The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 11 13

I have this dream that I will one day live in a high-performance home. It’s hard not to want to when you are involved with building them each day. Super tight construction, high levels of insulation, largely maintenance free, and inexpensive to heat and cool! Who wouldn’t want that? At the end of week 11,…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 10

The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 10 15

Week ten was one of those weeks where it would be difficult to notice how much work was accomplished on this high performance home if you hadn’t been on site all week to see firsthand. These are the times when the crew loves it when I show up and say, “what have you guys been…

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Why Build a High-Performance Home?

Why Build a High-Performance Home? 17

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 design produce the equivalent…

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