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Our story architecting and buildling the first passive house in Utah.

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Induction Cooktops

Posted: 01/6/2010

For those people that don’t know Rebecca and I.  We love to cook. Being that we are building a passive house we shied away from a gas cooktop because of all the wasted thermal energy. This left electric and induction. For us the choice was clear we picked an Induction Cooktop. In short Induction Cooktops give you an electric cook top with out the cycling of on and off of a traditional electrical cooktop. Think somewhere between the control of gas and the easy to clean/thermal efficiency of electric. The nice thing about not cycling all the time means that you can hold the temperature for things like melting chocolate and making creme sauces where you have to heat milk but not boil it as to burn it. We’ve been cooking for a couple of weeks now on our induction cooktop. And it’s going to take some more getting used to. But so far we love it. It’s definitely not as controllable as gas. That is to say that ours has distinct levels 1 – 10. So it’s not purely analog like a gas cook top.

Because the induction cook top uses a magnetic field we had to find magnetic pans which was a fun little adventure. We got some magnets and tested the pans we were interested in and got a couple of weird looks at the stores but ultimately ended up with everything we wanted.

So for those looking for an alternative to a gas cooktop, be it for energy reasons or because running an gas line is too expensive/impossible. I highly recommend a induction cooktop. Would we have gone induction if we hadn’t had the restriction probably not. But so far it’s worked out great. On really nice thing about the induction cook top is that it is easy to clean and has a nice low profile.

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We’ve Moved In!

Posted: 12/13/2009

We moved in this week. Well mostly… :). There are still a number of boxes to unpack and the kitchen needs an organization pass.  This week has been very very cold with temperatures at night dropping to -1 F (-18c). Even with the very cold temperatures the house was quite comfortable. So in essence we have stressed tested the HVAC solution and it seems to be working great. However, the HVAC solution isn’t 100% complete yet. It still needs some performance tweaks. But over all it’s very comfortable inside.

We have been experiencing the joys of a passive house. For example, our concrete floors are not cold to the touch you can walk on them comfortably. The same goes with the tile in the bathroom. The window frames are also surprisingly warm to the touch. The passive house design seems to be living up to the hype so far. All parts of the inside of the home are comfortable.

Dave’s design of south facing windows has also really proven to be very effective. We can leave the lights off completely during the day even in overcast weather. In fact I’m typing this right now with just the outside light.

I’m looking forward to getting the power metering hooked up so we can start producing graphs of data to measure how we are doing.

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Progress, Final Days

Posted: 11/21/2009


Sorry for the delay between posts. I’m not sure who’s dumb idea it was to try and maintain a blog and build a house at the same time… Things are going well. We are expecting to move into our new home the first week of December. The solar panels are now on, and the heating and cooling system should be finished up today. The Appliances are in and Dave Brach has done an excellent job on the cabinets. Not only good design but also an excellent craftsman. The countertops by Mass Concrete look awesome. We are looking forward to seeing how the final wax coating changes them up if at all.

We haven’t been without our trials of course. The guard screen for the stairs took much longer then originally expected. And the patio stone that was supposed to be here was delayed until next February. So we won’t get a patio before the ground is too frozen to work with. And our steam punk looking boiler showed up later then we had hoped. I want to thank the guys at Helio Centric for working all night long to try and get the heating and cooling system up.

Today we are applying for our certificate of occupancy. Hopefully that will go well and we can sign for the long term loan the following Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Just a word to those that think that Thanksgiving is a good week to close on for a loan.  Yeah don’t. :). Scheduling with the missing two days of Thanksgiving and the day after has been a challenge.

Thank you for everyones kind words of support and encouragement both public and private. The end is in sight and hopefully that will free up some more time so that we can describe the process in more detail.

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Posted: 08/16/2009

This week Rebecca and I have trudged further down the interior design path. Our architect warned us that the number of decisions to be made was daunting. But until you experience it first hand you really aren’t prepared.

We are currently working on trying to pick out the final plumbing fixtures for the upstairs, tile for both bathrooms, closet in the master, lighting fixtures, and of course the electrical plan. We have spent the weekend at IKEA and Bedrosian’s looking at lighting fixtures, tile, counter tops  and possible closet solutions. We did order our tub filler, downstairs bathroom faucet. Next week looks like more lighting fixtures, and maybe taking a crack at a counter top.

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Posted: 08/2/2009

Just a quick note about what’s been going on.

1. The windows shipped, and we are looking forward to them arriving tomorrow Aug 3rd.

2. We’ve been trying to figure out what we will be doing for the patio. And weather or not the flooring from the patio makes it into the breezeway or if the breezeway will mimic the house.

3. We’ve gotten the list of toilets down to two manufacturers. Either Toto Coroma.

4. We’ve almost finalized the plumbing finishes. We’re still looking for a great tub filler.

For this up coming week we should be doing the electrical walk through.

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