Copper Country Habitat for Humanity Innovations: Hydronic Fin-tube Space Heating - Homes Across America Search Return

Copper Country Habitat for Humanity




Goals of Innovation: To reduce building costs while decreasing fossil fuel use and associated CO2 emissions.

Description: A 40 gallon, natural gas water heater is used to heat this home (as well as supply hot water). The use of a water heater for space heating is efficient because it utilizes the heat typically lost during periods between hot water use. In this system the heat is captured and distributed throughout the home by hydronic baseboard units with copper tubing and fin-tube radiation. The water heater operates more frequently at a steady-state condition, improving its efficiency. An airtight and super-insulated home is critical to the success of this system.

Obstacles: Initially, the concept was difficult to discuss due to the lack of a furnace in this home, which is a non-conventional approach. Yet, on this job, the Designer and Contractor were both knowledgeable about this approach and understood the benefits.

Cost Information: Because the home uses 2X6 construction to achieve super-insulation, there were less material costs for framing. Overall, the home did cost approximately 5% more than a standard home. But, the payback due to energy savings can be seen in only 2 years time giving the occupant a significant savings throughout the rest of the home's lifetime.

Additional Benefits/Drawbacks: Used in conjunction with the other systems in this home, the hydronic fin-tube space heating will provide opportunities for improved health. A thermostat and humidistat controlled by the occupants can provide a comfortable home environment. Also, fresh air is circulated through the home's hear recovery ventilation system.

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