03 May Does the Comfort of our home affect the psychology of our community?
The City of Regina as with many cities across Canada are asking those really hard messy questions – can we build healthier communities with smarter affordable home design.
To date we have designed our homes to be warmer by increasing the thickness of the insulation and or improving the windows. And here is where the messy question come up time and time again – why do we still have cold basements in the winter and hot homes in the summer? And here is where it gets really muddy – does comfort of the home affect the psychological well being of the community?
We at MacPherson Engineering had to opportunity to work with Saskatoon Housing and AODBT on the affordable living units at Ave K. We are very proud to share that we supplied 18 RadiantLink systems for this project. This project demonstrates how infloor heating is not a luxury – just part of a good design and smart construction. http://aodbt.com/project/avenue-k-housing/
Creating a comfortable living space in the basement.
There have been several studies showing how a student’s performance is improved based on the temperature of the room. http://healthyschools.cefpi.org/temperature.html It is hard to believe that our students will perform better or worse based in a hot or a cold room. Comfort effects our well being. Infloor heating and infloor cooling are seen as a luxury. We at RadiantLink believe that creating comfort for families living on low income is just as important as creating positive learning environments for our students. And Avenue K is a good example of how it can be done.
The difference between a cold basement and a comfortable basement is about 3 degrees. Using the furnace as the heat source, RadiantLink connects the furnace to the floor to create comfort. This creates about 750 square feet of real estate for real living space in the basement. And reduces the heating costs by up to 30%. Infloor heating is very energy efficient. The thermal mass of the concrete floor is a gift of stored energy.
Air cooling in the summer
Stats Canada reported in 2009 that half of Canadian homes (50%) reported having some type of air conditioning system. Manitoba had the highest proportion of households with an air conditioner (80%), followed by Ontario (74%) and Saskatchewan (61%). In contrast, the lowest proportions of households with air conditioning systems were reported in Atlantic Canada (19%) and British Columbia (23%)
Households with an annual income of less than $20,000 were the most likely of all income groups to keep their air conditioner shut off when they were at home and awake. Seventy percent of households at this income level also reported that their air conditioner was turned off when they were away from home (Table 3). This was the highest percentage among all income categories and well above the national rate of 55%. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-002-x/2011002/part-partie3-eng.htm
RadiantLink has the capability to pull coolness from the concrete slab and circulate the cool air to warmer parts of the home. The pex piping embedded in the concrete floor this gives us the opportunity to use this stored energy to cool the upstairs. Creating comfort on those hot days will have a positive effect on the well being of our communities.
Designing Affordable homes – the opportunities of messy questions
These little beach homes were designed to use the coolness of the ocean to cool the space. It is about designing and building smarter. The research from Stats Canada shows that those with an income of less than $20,000 cannot afford to turn on that air conditioner.
To design and build smarter we need to include the behavioral science. Building homes with infloor heating and infloor cooling from the basement floor slab will create the comfort that these families can afford and maintain. And the solutions was there all the time. We just had to get messy and ask the hard questions.