Biomass Heating

Biomass thermal energy is the use of biomass for space and domestic water heating, process heat, and the thermal portion of combined heat and power.

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Free Course: High Performance Building and HVAC 101

[Photos] How to Frame a Super Insulated Home

There has been a lot of hoop-la and craziness around passive homes, net zero energy homes, and super energy efficient homes. I’ve been amazed at how easy it can actually be. My friend is building a house that will burn less then a cord of wood per winter. His building cost? Around $100 to $110 per square foot. Yes, he did do a lot of the work himself. However, if a contractor would do it, the price would still be on par with normal construction.

If you need to learn more about designing a zero net energy home, high performance building and HVAC technologies and principles, we’ve created an amazing free class for you. Our Free Course: High Performance Building and HVAC is the most in-depth, best free course on high performance buildings and HVAC systems available on the internet. You’ll learn from all of the smartest industry experts. The class has 20+ of video lesson, plenty of reading assignments and a number of free tools. It will drastically decrease your learning curve on these subjects. Topics include, residential building enclosures and ventilation, zero net energy homes, passive house design principles, biomass heating, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal. Click here to sign up for High Performance Building and HVAC. 

Before we talk about building a super insulated home, first you need to understand how to design a super efficient shell. The below 26 minute free video lesson is from Marc Rosenbaum’s 10 week, “Zero Net Energy Design” class, where students learn how to design a zero net energy home in 10 weeks.

Here’s how he did it.

1 – Keep the house small. Less resources, cheaper, and less energy use. At 1600 square feet the house will use about a half of cord of wood be winter. We’re burning mainly maple which is 20 million BTUs per cord. Thus, he’ll burn 10 million BTUs per winter. This averages around 55,000 BTUs per day. Don’t believe me, this house will use the tiniest wood stove he could find.


How to Size a Heating and Cooling System – 101

Older space conditioning systems (more than 10 years old) are often unreliable and much less efficient than a modern system. When it’s time for a new replacement, choosing one of the correct size (heating and/or cooling output) is critical to getting the best efficiency, comfort, and lowest maintenance and operating costs over the life of the new system. Some national surveys have determined that well over half of all HVAC contractors do not size heating and cooling systems correctly.

The most common sizing mistake is in oversizing. This not only makes the new system more expensive to install, but also forces it to operate inefficiently, break down more often, and cost more to operate. Oversized heating equipment also often creates uncomfortable and large temperature swings in the house. Oversized air conditioners (and heat pumps) do not run long enough to dehumidify the air, which results in the “clammy” feeling and unhealthy mold growth in many air-conditioned houses.

In this post, I’ll discuss

Incorrect Sizing Methods
Why Most Older Systems Are Oversized
Manual J and D: The Correct Way to Size a System
A Special Case: Sizing Steam Heating Systems
Steps a Good Contractor Should Take to Size a System

Read below for the full post, if you have any in-depth technical questions, feel free to leave a comment or ask them in our geothermal technical help community. 



4-Step Guide to Designing Geothermal Systems

The first part to understanding any aspect of the geothermal industry, whether it be marketing, sales, design or installation is to understand how the technology works and it is designed. By understanding the design process, even if you are never going to do design yourself, you will better understand how the technology is sold, will be confident when speaking to customers, will know what information needs to be collected on a site visit, and which leads have greater potential then others. If you plan on working on the installation side, understanding design will give you the knowledge to understand the different parts of an installation and what those may cost.
If you’re new to the geothermal heat pump industry, read the Geothermal 101 Reading list. It has free tools and articles on geothermal design and installation and sales and marketing best practices. Here are some other free resources:

Free Mini-Course: Installing & Commissioning Real Time Geothermal Monitoring Systems

Article: Lessons Learned on Ground Loop Sizing from 100,000+ Hours of Real-Time Geothermal Monitoring Data

Article: Lessons Learned on Operating COPs from 100,000+ Hours of Real-Time Geothermal Data

Article: Performance-Based Contracting is the Future of Residential Geothermal
Here are the four basic steps to geothermal heat pump design. For this article, we’ll focus on a single-family residential building.
4 Steps

Heat Loss/Gain Calculations
Size Heat Pump
Size Loop Field
Size Air/Water Distribution Center


Which is Better: Solar Thermal Flat Plate or Evacuated Tube Collectors?

Solar thermal flat plate or evacuated tube collectors? This is an incredibly common question in the solar thermal industry. Strangely enough, many people weigh in, and take different sides. Like a Red Sox vs Yankees type of rivalry, it’s a heated debate. In the end, it depends on the job you’re working on — the climate, the roof, your budget, and […]