Everybody knows that insulating your home is a good way to cut down on heating and cooling costs, but what if you could turn your entire home into a giant insulated cooler?
Well, it turns out you can, and some people in Europe are doing just that; building new walls several feet outside their existing homes, cladding them with a layer of insulated foam, and then extending their roof out over the new, expanded, and much more energy efficient structure.
Now that's what you call an extreme home retrofit! But it is also the wave of the future, as are new, more sustainable and energy efficient building materials, like mass timber, ultra white paint for roofs, and concrete blocks that store renewable energy.
Inspired by all the smog that our area last week from wildfires in Canada; I wanted to explore what we can do moving forward, recognizing that as temperatures rise worldwide as a result of cliimate change; we are going to be facing increasing financial and health challenges.
I wondered what we can do as individuals and communities, to change our physical surroundings, so we can continue to live in comfort, and not go broke trying to pay for the electricity needed to run our air conditioning?
In addition, using all that extra energy actually contributes to a hotter climate, by increasing greenhouse gas emissions from from power plants. So, it's kind of a Catch-22, unless you actually make changes that can disrupt the cycle.
Change is already underway, with lower carbon vehicle and power plant emission standards, replacing fossil fuel-powered vehicles with EV's, and Urban design that encourages people to walk, bike, and use mass transit.
But what about our houses and office buildings? Can we do something to change and improve the ones we have now, and then also build better, more energy-efficient ones in the future?
The answer, is "Yes".
Dr. Nick Safley, Kent State University