Vos Energy Concepts

Summer Home Improvement

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

Garden Houses by DAN VOS Vos Energy Concepts Gardens are green. We plant our own flowers or veggies, water them, watch them grow and chow them down with gusto when things get ripe. At least that’s the plan. There seems to be many obstacles in getting things to work so smoothly. My wife Barb claimed she needed a space to store her ever-growing accumulation of garden tools and such. So we built a combination garden house/storage building. The storage was supposed to be for my extra and recyclable stuff, etc. Well, her area was bigger than planned even before it was completed, so I added on to it. Guess who wants even more now. Yeah, you got that right: Barb. She now uses the space to hang out in kind of like a woman-cave (candles on at night with light jazz playing). I thought I was supposed to get that man cave thing. Oh well, the things guys do to keep their loves happy. Seriously, though, our garden house is a very wonderful thing. One of my favorite parts is the screened-in porch on the side of it. We nestled the place between some trees for shading purposes and we use that thing a lot. It’s my favorite place for taking Sunday afternoon naps. So I guess that’s my man-cave part of it. Bears sleep in their caves right? GRRR naps are manly; it says so right here. I built the foundation as you would a deck, yet I seriously reinforced the floor framing so I can store my manly tractor in there. I then stick-built the walls and roof. I used windows that I found here and there cheap. I used extra cultured stone from many jobs and I even used some real stone for added flavor and texture. The doors are old ones I pulled out of homes as they were replaced. The screens I made from 2×3 cedar and the screen doors are from cedar decking. Barb does hang out in her area, which we separated with a used door, and I must remember to keep it closed if I know what’s good for me. My next project is to put up gutters and a rain barrel. One of my father’s favorite […]


June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Healthy Homes by DAN VOS Vos Energy Concepts A healthy house can mean different things to different people. Some people are sensitive to things that others are not. Many among us have allergies and sensitivities to specific things. When I design one of these homes, I tell the client to identify as many of their allergies or sensitivities as possible, so we can keep them out of their new home. You can be tested for allergies. The prick test is the most common, and the back tends to feel like a combination pincushion and Petri dish. Other ways of testing is to isolate possible culprits by putting them in a sealed container. You then open the container and breathe in the vapors from the container to see if there is a reaction. This is for airborne sensitivities. This process can work very well. There have been many products and building techniques that have come out to play in the last 10 years or so which address the healthy house  issue. Some of them include zero VOC paint, the ban of all formaldehyde in building materials, the use of filtered ventilation systems in homes to assure fresh clean air entering and stale air leaving while capturing the heat in the winter, radon mitigation systems designed into the home, zero step entries, large interior doorways and hallways, and a greater attention to the details involving water penetration into the structure to keep out mold. The way the house is designed and built has a lot to do with how it relates to the health of the people living in it. Being healthy emotionally is as important as being healthy physically. During our long winters, it  is important to get as much sunlight as possible. It makes us feel better and keeps the blues at bay. This is a reason that a Passive Solar design is also a big part of the healthy home. Open spaces are needed as well as comfortable small spaces, depending on our moods and what we’re doing. A craft or art room is good for the right side of the brain while computing takes care of the left. We just need to remember to use these to keep our minds healthy. Not all […]

LEED-Certified Building

May 31, 2012 // 0 Comments

by DAN VOS Vos Energy Concepts LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a process that has to be started at the design stage of a buildings construction. There are meetings held with all people involved in the design and building of the structure so that everyone knows their assignments and works together to smoothly complete the project. The green building council is involved in confirming and registering the project, and a LEED-certified inspector is involved in the process throughout. Recycling of the waste materials is done as much as possible and has to be certified and counted on a weight or volume basis. We must reach a certain percentage of recycled material to trash material in order to even qualify for certification, and this has to be well documented. Some of the things that I’ve found to be recyclable are drywall, roofing material and wood scraps, along with the normal: cardboard, metals, foam, etc. LEED certification is a point-based system. You get points for energy conservation, renewable energy, and environmental concerns. Water conservation is important. I know we live in the Great Lakes state and take fresh clean water for granted until we get our water bill, then conservation starts to make sense. Some of the things considered are a dual flush toilet—one button for “number one” (liquids) and a second button for “number two” (solids)—low flow showers and faucets, rainwater collection and use, and a high-efficiency irrigation system. The other areas that are addressed are framing efficiency, wheelchair access, environmentally preferred products, heating efficiencies and installation, ventilation, mold and radon protection, windows, water heating, lighting, appliances and durability reports. I know you’re probably bored stiff by now with all of my fact listing and no gabbing, but I’m not good at telling jokes, so you’ll have to go back to the editor’s page for relief. Other things considered are regional design, community resources, landscaping, homeowner education, and on we go. I’m sorry, I’ve even bored myself now. As you can see, there is a lot of extra work involved in building a LEED home. It does cost more to build and it does cost more to have it certified. Now you know why. Is it worth it? Some people like to […]

The Greenhouse Effect

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

by DAN VOS Vos Energy Concepts Back in college (early ‘80s), one of my writing projects was to research and report on what was then called the “greenhouse effect.” This term changed to “global warming” and is now called “climate change.” They all refer to the same thing, yet I like the original term because it explains why we are warming. Weather (I know this is the wrong spelling, but I could not resist) this is caused by us or is a natural occurrence is not scientifically provable either way, so you will believe what you want no matter what I say. I only want to describe to you the process in basic terms so you can see how the Earth retains heat so life can live. OK, let’s say it is a hot summer day and you parked the car in the sun, left the windows up and were gone for an hour. It is hot in there, right? In fact, it is against the law to leave kids or pets in the car under those conditions. Well this is a perfect example of the greenhouse effect. The full spectrum energy from the sun hits the car interior through the windows and continually warms it up. This heat is released to the air in the car and tries to get back out those same windows. The key here is that a greater percentage of this interior heat is reflected back into the car. This raises the temperature of the car’s interior. The sun’s energy has a different wavelength ( much shorter and intense) than the heat reflected from the car’s interior (longer and more relaxed wave), and the glass lets more of the sun’s energy through while reflecting more of the heat from the interior. This same thing is happening to our Earth. The atmosphere acts as the car window and, if the make-up of the atmosphere changes, then the Earth’s average temperature changes.  This is why we are so concerned about carbon dioxide. It is a greenhouse gas; one which increases our average temperature. It is certainly not the worst greenhouse gas, but because we produce so much of it on an ever- increasing basis, it could very well be a major reason […]


May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Recent developments by DAN VOS Vos Energy Concepts I will take a break from the green design articles to talk about some recent developments in the renewable energy field. First, Consumers Power is offering a program that will pay you twice what you pay them for your electricity, if you install a solar electric system. They do this occasionally, to get people to become producers of electricity. The contract that is signed lasts 15 years. This program is called Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP), and takes all of the energy you produce and sends it through a separate meter so it is measured accurately. This program, along with the 30% tax credit and the cheaper pricing of the solar panels these days, makes this a deal for those of you who have been sitting on the fence waiting for this technology to be cost effective. Second, micro-inverters are a new option. The inverter changes the solar panel power to that which can be used to power our homes. Normally one large inverter is wired to all of the panels. A micro-inverter is wired to each panel on a one-to-one basis right on the roof. You can get a monitor that will look at each inverter to see how each panel is performing. The advantages to this system is that if there is a problem, the troubleshooting time is minimal, but troubles are rare. Mainly the biggest advantage is that if you have some shading issues, one shaded panel will not drag down the whole system output as it would otherwise. You see normally each panel works like a cell in a battery. When one cell goes bad, it can affect the system output dramatically. So if you have some shading issues, micro-inverters are the answer. Third, solar panel pricing has dropped dramatically in the past few years. The world recession and Chinese pricing have been the cause of this for the most part. Before the recession, many countries were installing many solar electric systems and new companies were popping up while others were expanding. When the money dried up, many panels were built and orders were cancelled. This led to failing companies and lots of product. We are still in this mode. So instead of […]

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