Thursday, March 6, 2008

Essential Building Concepts


These definitions and illustrations are from the passive solar page of Malcolm Wells' website. These two particular concepts are essential to designing an energy-efficient house.


Thermal mass
Thermal mass
Materials that store heat. Heavy dense materials—concrete, stone, and even water—store a lot of heat in a small volume (compared with most lightweight materials) and release it when needed.

Mean Radiant Temperature
The average temperature you experience from the combination of all the various surface temperatures in a room: walls, floors,

Mean Radiant Temp.
ceilings, furniture, and people.

If your inside air temperature is comfortable but the walls, furniture, floors, etc. are cold, then you will feel cold. Thermal mass keeps temperatures steady. If a cold north wind comes up suddenly, you won't rush to the thermostat if the shell of your home is insulated concrete.
Carpenter's house has been a constant 71 degrees this last week, which feels fine because the walls, floor, ceiling and the air are all in sync. It doesn't matter whether it's 40 degrees outside with a howling north wind or whether it's 60 degrees, calm and sunny. The inside maintains its temperature and stays comfortable.

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