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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I plan on starting my biggest project of my life: building my own home. I am planning for an 800 sq. ft. house, with a bedroom loft. I want to add solar panels and a grey water system, as well as using as much recycled materials as I can. Besides energy efficient appliances and double-paned windows, how else can I reduce my footprint?
 

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For better suggestion you may want to let us in on where you are.
EG: solar panels are not going be much good buryed under 2' of snow.
2 X 6 wall studs.
Spray foam insulation in the walls.
Under floor heating.
Or depending on where you are a simple mini split may do all the heating and cooling needs.
I own an 800 sq. ft. home that has one and it works great.
 
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I live near Boston, so I'm looking for land in Mass or in New Hampshire (Southern). So, the snow actually might be a problem.

You can always use a foam snow rake for your panels. That's what I do. 2 to 3 inches slides off on its own once the sun comes out. There are some great solar incentives in MA that will pay for the majority of a system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dan, that is great advice and I have read about the incentives which would help a great deal.
SPS-1, I'll definitely look into it. I know I want to do a lot myself, but a lot of people on here are really letting me know how stressful it will be so I will probably look into general contractors in my area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Also, what are some ideas on a pellet stove for heating a house. I grew up with a wood burning stove that is the only source of heat at my grandmother's but I really don't want to spend my weekends chopping wood.
 

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A bucket of paint?

:laughing:

I think the thing most people overlook is recycling/re-purposing of materials. Sure this door is made of eco-friendly materials, but what is more eco-friendly than using a door that has already been made and later discarded?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A bucket of paint?

:laughing:

I think the thing most people overlook is recycling/re-purposing of materials. Sure this door is made of eco-friendly materials, but what is more eco-friendly than using a door that has already been made and later discarded?
Haha, they just made a Red Sox line of paint and their 'Green Monster' color would look nice. :laughing: But, yes I've been looking at recycled lumber and tidbits that sell old doors, windows and cabinets. I also peruse Craigslist for free things people are throwing away!
http://www.diychatroom.com//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/
 

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I'd say just keep it as simple as possible within the constraints of codes and your desired level of efficiency. There are a crap-load of systems, technologies & designs that can give great efficiency. Your task will be to pick only those that will get you where you want to be and not add anything just because it's Green. You are already ahead since you're planing a small house (very Green!)
Impeccable air sealing and copious insulation will give you a super efficient little home with VERY low heat/cooling loads. Cellulose, straw and even fiberglass are recycled materials so use plenty ;)
I don't see the need for spray foam other than a bit here and there for air sealing.
Passivehaus standards are cool, but not economical IMO. It is fun to look at some of the things being done under that spec though.

Because your heat/cooling loads are low I'd recommend a mini-split heat pump. Either one Head or (if you need to keep the loft cool in summer) two Heads. Lofts are notorious for overheating btw, so think that part through carefully.

Incorporating moderate Passive Solar Design will give you some free heat, just don't go overboard with huge south windows on a tiny house, or incorporating tons of expensive Thermal Mass. face the house with the long axis E-W and more windows on the south wall, then add as many PV panels as possible on that nice sunny south roof :)

A pellet stove could be very good backup for a mini-split for the coldest nights. Or small catalytic woodstove could be as well. You wouldn't burn much pellets or wood at all so you could skip it to save money & just add a couple electric baseboard heaters for 'Emergency' use.

Think of efficiency for plumbing too. Kitchen sharing a wall with the bathroom and very close to the water heater will save plumbing, water and energy to heat the water.

If you have Nat gas at the site I'd consider using it for water heating, cooking, clothes drier (and maybe a gas stove in place of pellet/wood). Otherwise max out your PV panels & use electric. You don't need expensive solar water heating...
 
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