We are still in suspense, waiting for our products to appear in this season of This Old House on PBS. In the meantime, here’s what happened this week.
Yoga in a Day
Viewers witness an amazing feat: a backyard yoga studio built in a single day. Rick James, construction supervisor, oversees this marvel of premade doors and windows being installed for homeowner Emily Deldon, who always wanted a private yoga sanctuary.
Meanwhile, show regulars Kevin O’Connor and Tommy Silva continue working on the roof over the front porch. Roofer Bob Green comes to install new copper panels. He explains to Kevin and Tommy about attaching the thin sheets of copper with concealed clips. With two joints overlapping each other, not only is the copper gorgeous, it’s waterproof.
Kevin and Tommy install the new window trim, which is made out of PVC measuring more than an inch thick. “Beefy, and that stuff’s not going to rot,” Keven comments, thumbing the trim appreciatively.
Tommy explains rabbited joints, which make the casings interlock to keep water out. “We’re actually going to glue it and screw it together,” says Tommy, who is making darned sure homeowners Emily and Nick have a dry home.
A New Boiler
One of the things that most horrified the TOH crew upon first visiting this Arlington house was what lurked in the basement: a behemoth of a boiler that cost Nick and Emily thousands of dollars per month to heat their house in winter.
No more. In episode 10, there’s a new boiler in town. Richard Trethewey gives viewers a tour of its gas burner with stainless steel mesh, combustion chamber, and heat exchanger sections. “There’s no place for sludge to collect,” Richard points out.
Venting can be an issue in Arlington. After last year brought heavy snow, local codes changed. Now you can’t run a plastic venting pipe out through the chimney unless it protrudes an extra three feet above the chimney. “Looks like a flagpole,” Richard says disapprovingly. Instead, he opts to run the vent pipe through the roof and wrap it with copper, so it looks more like an old plumbing pipe.
When Richard is finished with the job, Nick and Emily will have a heating system that’s 96 percent efficient. Which is pretty darn good for a house built in 1909.
Field trip to Emerson Green
However, builders who start from scratch can attain even more energy-efficient results. Richard takes a field trip to Emerson Green in Devens, Massachusetts. This development uses the marketing line, “Come home to a connected, community-focused neighborhood that hearkens back to a simpler era – and looks ahead to a sustainable future.” Sounds pretty good!
Builder and developer Dan Gainsboro gives Richard a tour of his eco-forward project. His building style starts with an airtight, heavily insulated box. He points out how he uses two-by-sixes instead of two-by-fours, then adds an insulation panel to the outside of the frame. The openings of his triple-glazed windows are wrapped with high-performance all-weather flashing tape, and he uses foam insulation instead of wood above the pane.
Inside one of his model houses, Richard is impressed by how spacious a three-bedroom, 1900 square foot house can feel.
“We took everything and made it a little smaller,” Dan explains.
Super-efficient heat pumps keep the house warm at a cost of about $1,000 for an entire Massachusetts winter. Dan uses LED lighting throughout the house and Energy Star appliances. Solar panels on the south-facing roof provide enough power for a family of four.
Okay, still no word on the mantle and hearth situation in the Arlington house. But as much as we’re on pins and needles waiting to see our products on TV, we have to admit we’re getting hooked on the show.
If you want to make your house more energy efficient, contact an eco genius like Dan Gainsboro. But if you’re feeling the need to upgrade the appearance of your fireplace, call your friends at Old World Stoneworks.