Compact and Efficient
Built in Guilford, VT, in 2015
This house was designed for an older single person to spend the next stage of her life. It was imperative from the start of the project to keep energy consumption to a minimum. Keeping the budget low was another concern, as long as energy efficiency was not sacrificed. Finally, handicap accessibility was crucial in the interior design.
A smart low tech solution allowed building a high performance house on a budget. In addition to the 12-inch thick walls that are filled with dense-packed cellulose to an R-value of 44 and 16 inches of loose-fill cellulose in the ceiling generating an R-value of 60, creating a continuous air seal around the entire house was key.
The result is a very air-tight house. The blower door test showed a reading of 1.1 air changes per hour at –50 Pascals (1.1 at ACH 50). The energy modeling for this house suggests that on the coldest night of the year the house will use only 15,000 BTU's per hour to keep the interior comfortable.
Easy to operate and efficient systems provide great comfort. The air source heat pump and air source heat pump water heater form a low maintenance heat and domestic hot water system. A Heat Recovery Ventilation system ensures high air quality.
This house was part of SEON's Sustainable Home Tour in October 2016.
The shower, bathroom sink, kitchen sink, and the open spaces in the house, including the kitchen and hall were carefully designed to let a person in a wheelchair go about daily tasks without being encumbered by small spaces. The pocket doors throughout the house are easier to operate for a person in a wheelchair than are swinging doors. They also save space in the small layout.
This house was designed to be small to fit our client’s needs. However, fairly small modifications to the design and scale of the project would make for a house that could even accommodate a small family. For example, a slightly steeper roof pitch and small knee walls upstairs could provide space for two additional bedrooms. Alternatively, a small ell could add living space for more people or an expanded kitchen.
Design: Robert Swinburne Architect, LLC