Bright-Minded Home – June 2014


Q+A with Chris Corson of EcoCor on the deep energy retrofit of his home

Q+A with Chris Corson of EcoCor on the deep energy retrofit of his home

Chris Corson of EcoCor, a design-build firm in Searsmont, decided it was time to fix the cobbler’s own shoes with a Passive House deep energy retrofit of his family’s traditional 1965 New England Cape. 


Q: What made you want to retrofit instead of building new?

A: This home was in my wife’s family for a generation and has quite a bit of sentimental value, great bones, and we love the spot. As well, we have three children and two careers, so the thought of moving was just too much.


Q: What were the major changes?

A: The entire house was stripped of siding and roofing, and all eaves were cut off to eliminate thermal bridges through the rafter tails around the perimeter of the home. We insulated the existing structure with dense-packed cellulose and wrapped the house in 5.5 inches of polyiso [polyisocyanurate] resulting in R47-to-R55 walls, R75-to-R113 roof, and R40-plus basement. Mechanical ventilation was added as well as a continuous air barrier. Windows were replaced with triple-glazed windows and doors, we re-sided with eastern white pine that was farmed and milled 12 miles away, and re-roofed with standing-seam Galvalume. Finally, we replaced the oil boiler with a wood pellet boiler imported from Austria.


Q: What’s your average annual utility bill?

A: Less than $600 for all heat and domestic hot water per annum for a family of five, and we use lots of hot water. We live in a heavily wooded area with limited solar access, so our electric bill is standard.


Q: Anything new you learned?


A: For current retrofits we’ve switched from polyiso to healthier and cleaner cellulose for the exterior puff jacket.  

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