Folk victorian laundry room
Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
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Warmer Rooms, Lower Bills

When Paula Rau bought her century-old house, it was cold and drafty in winter, hot and stuffy in summer. Here’s how she made her house more comfortable year-round, while also lowering her energy costs.

Created an Envelope

After gutting the interior, general contractor John Workman added a 2-inch layer of closed-cell spray-foam insulation between the studs, and less-expensive open-cell spray foam between attic rafters. The walls then got an additional layer of dense, wet-pack cellulose. Horizontal furring strips were nailed along the studs to create an air barrier between the studs and the drywall. Home-center storm windows provide another insulating air barrier. Workman cut them down to fit precisely inside the windows for a cleaner look.

Went for High-Tech HVAC

The new high-efficiency hybrid Carrier Infinity heating and cooling system saves energy by using electric heat pumps when conditions allow, and natural gas as a backup. Variable-speed air handlers in the basement and attic force conditioned air through ducts to registers in the floors and ceilings.

Used Low-Tech Air Movers

Four ceiling fans help control air-conditioning costs during Virginia's hot months by creating a breeze and circulating cooled air.

Brought in Natural Light

Solar tubes run from the roof to the master bath and the butler's pantry, reducing the need for (and cost of) artificial light.

Shown: More salvaged doors conceal a stacked washer and dryer.
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