Reason 2: Your rafters won’t snap at you when it’s really cold and your windows won’t ice up
Perhaps your ideal retirement home is an old farmhouse you saw in a brochure about Vermont living. In summer there are wildflowers and wildlife all over the place. How charming and attractive! In winter the four foot banks of snow around the house seem, in a photo at least, to snuggle up to the house and keep the occupants warm. A closer look at the winter photo shows multiple huge icicles hanging off the house en masse, and you imagine how entertaining it will be to grab one from time to time and lick it like it was an ice cream cone.
It's one thing to fall in love with images like that. It’s entirely different to live in such a place, as the following testimonial illustrates:
I grew up in a farm house that was built in 1764. Along with the wonderful history that represents, there were also drafty windows, drafty walls, drafty doors…you get the picture. In my early days during winter, we heated with wood. The rooms closest to the heat were uncomfortably hot. The rooms away from the heat were just plain cold. By spring, much of the inside of the house sported a thin layer of soot. Summertime often found the whole house sweltering and at times the upstairs bedrooms were so hot we would sleep outside. Summertime also brought to bear all the downsides of an unfinished dirt basement. It was often damp, and mold could be a problem. By the time I was a teenager, a hot air, oil furnace had replaced the wood. While it was a step up from the wood as far as even heat, I remember being comfortable only when it was running. On a cold winter night, when the hot air stopped blowing, we immediately felt the cold air draftiness. And then the volatility of oil prices really made it hard to anticipate heating costs! When the time came to build my own home, the prospect of a well-insulated home, heated and cooled by a geo-thermal system and producing much of its power with solar energy, was very exciting to me. It is environmentally friendly, healthier to live in, and something I’ll be proud to have my family use for the next 252 years! Our net zero home has been all that I hoped for. If I had to do it all over again…I would!
When it gets really cold in Vermont, certain things happen as the attic rafters freeze and unfreeze (the north country word is “unthaw”). Back in “the day,” it was not uncommon for cold snaps of below zero weather to last from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day. Indeed, it could get so cold that about the only thing you could do was sit around a wood stove at the local General Store, play checkers, and talk about how loud the attic rafters were snapping during the night. That’s where the term “Rafter Snapper Night” came from. Couple that sub-zero cold with gusts of snow flying past the windows sideways and the chill factor might hit minus forth or more by midnight.
Usually, the windows were single pane glass. There were wooden window covers for the winter, but often those were in storage somewhere in the barn, and “somewhere in the barn” had a meaning all its own – for example, it usually meant “under, behind, or above something else that would be really difficult to move.” So during really cold spells, the glass had a quarter inch of frost on the inside, and the windows themselves were frozen shut from the ice around the edges.
And the icicles that adorned the eaves occurred as warmth escaping from inside the house melted snow on the roof. With just the right conditions you could end up with icicles forming on the icicles that were already there. Trust me, this might resemble a “Currier & Ives” moment, but one of those really big icicles had the potential to kill someone or something if they came down all in one piece.
If you’re thinking of retiring in such a picturesque place, we have two words of advice for you – Net Zero Energy Home. It would be prudent to let us build a net zero energy homestead for you. With its superior insulation, foundation to roof, and the use of high tech doors and triple glazed windows you will eliminate rafter snapping nights and all the discomfort and danger of that quaint old farmhouse while still being able to live in the beautiful north country setting of your choice.
There are so many advantages to net zero energy custom built homes that we have created an e-book that you can download from our website for free. It’s called, “The Ultimate Guide to Net Zero Home Construction,” and can be found at: http://bit.ly/2eGlnlq.
We can even make it look like a farmhouse if you wish, sans icicles because the only heat that might melt the snow on the roof will come from the sun. Hope that doesn’t disappoint you.
Next time: Reason 3 You Should Build with Us – Every Room Your House Can Be as Warm or Cold as you want it to be.