Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We had our first Christmas in our unfinished house, but it was very nice. Our living room has been construction central, but we finally cleaned up some of the tools and ladders for photos. Plus, today we cut down a tiny birch shrub as a Christmas tree!

Since our last post, we've finished our built in bookshelf with Danish oil and two coats of polyurethane. It's real cherry, which was very expensive but it looks awesome and will darken with age. Some of the wood has some really excellent curly figuring, and it almost shimmers in the light, a phenomenon called chatoyance or directionality.

Here it is in relationship for our office upstairs in the loft.

Also, we made our first furniture purchase! Part of our plan with building a small house involved leaving enough to invest in nice furniture right away. We weren't going to buy this so soon, but I surprised Marcy and was even able to sneak it in the house while she picked up her folks at the airport. It's very comfy, but we'll have to cover it up while we make more dust.

Thanks everyone for your continuing support and we hope you had a wonderful Holiday!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Superceding Andrews Energy Blog with Pictures!

Andrew and I have been pretty lazy lately with the blog posts so guess what...you get 2 in one day! Sometimes I forget that Andrew is a photographer until he takes super sweet pictures. He makes our house that, in reality looks pretty messy, into a land of unicorns and fairies. We have actually been working on stuff in our house these last couple of months. We swear. It's hard to believe that we only just moved in about a month ago. Anyway, I don't have much else to say so enjoy!

Below is our upstairs bathroom. It's so close to being done, there are only a couple more things to do yet. How do you like our super awesome inset linen closet with the open shelves? The towels and stuff give it some color. Plus my days as a house keeper come in handy now. I can fold our towels all fancy.

So next is our upstairs bedroom. As you can probably tell we don't have much furniture. Currently we our using our plastic moving totes as bed stands and such. Check out the super cute mini-bifolds! They're on the window that looks down on our living room, from our bedroom. You know, the pants less oration window. The mini-bifolds are one of the custom doors that the finish carpenters did for us. Also I think our closet looks pretty neat. We got some of those nice wooden blinds for the windows. I think they match the rest of our wood really well.

Lastly you have the mock kitchen that I set up last weekend. We don't get our kitchen cabinets in until after New Years. Sorry Mom and Dad, we'll have to take you out to dinner on Christmas or cook a turkey in our microwave. The hall way picture shows our front door and the doors opening into the downstairs bathroom and Pauls room on the right. You'll notice the awesome tile floor. This is my favorite aspect of our house. I think it came out stupendously. All of the grouting is done, boy was that hard work. And the last picture is of our Utility room. It seems we can do our laundry but can't cook a decent meal.

That's it, more to come when we get more finished. Plus we now have super fast DSL so that may mean more blog posts. Yippeee!

Energy shock

Our first energy bills are starting to come in, so we can begin to see if our efforts have paid off...

Most people are feeling the effects of high energy costs, especially those here in Fairbanks. Not only do we have high demand thanks to -40 degree weeks, but energy sure costs more than it used to. Both electricity and heating oil are about 50% more than a few years ago.

We were aware of this in the planning and building of our house, so we took great measures to build an efficient house.

We added 50% more insulation value to the walls. 100% more in the ceiling. Our boiler is 90% efficient. Our radiant heating feels like 70 degrees when the air is only heated to 67. Our vapor barrier has 1/6th the normal number of penetrations, and all of these are double sealed with acoustical sealant and special tape. Fresh air will be brought into the house through an HRV, which extracts 80% of the exhaust heat, compared to 0% for older houses which get fresh air only through leakage. All indoor lighting is energy star compliant fluorescent, which uses about 1/4 the energy. Our front loading washing machine uses 1/3 the water while washing better. The list goes on.

So has it paid off? Hard to tell at this point. Our first 35 days of heating and producing hot water had an average outside temp of 10 degrees, which represents 1/7th of the average annual heating load for Fairbanks. During this time we used about 70 gallons of heating oil, which could be off some based on the tank filling method.

This number is quiet good, but not at all outstanding, which was our goal.

However, during that time, construction was (and still is) very much underway. We had only a temporary door half that time, which was completely unsealed. The HRV has not been installed, and without it our extra-tight construction causes a buildup in humidity (due to wet paint, showering, etc) so a window was cracked most of the time. We also did painting and other wood finishing, and opened several windows for about a week total to exhaust the fumes.

We're now locked down a little better, the HRV should go in this weekend, and we're expecting some of that great cold Fairbanks weather, so the next months should give us a good feel for just how well we did. Stay tuned.