In the Enertia® Building System, solid Energy-Engineered(tm) wood walls replace siding, framing, insulation, and paneling. An air flow and access channel, or Envelope, runs around the building, just inside the walls - creating a miniature biosphere. Here solar heated air circulates, pumping and boosting geothermal energy from beneath the house, storing it in the massive wood walls. Thermal inertia causes the house to "float" between the cycles of night and day, and even between the seasons.
Many aspects of the Enertia® House are unusual and innovative - but backed up by science, common-sense, and prototype homes across America. In fact, each aspect listed below increases the energy efficiency of the building. The effect is Synergistic - equal to more than the sum of the parts. The Enertia® House can make more energy than it uses!
In 1981 the National Institute of Standards and Technology constructed six test buildings in Gaithersburg, Maryland and tested them for energy efficiency. Much to their surprise, Building 5, with walls made of solid wood, was the most energy efficient. This was attributed to "thermal inertia," a phenomenon where the solid wood walls stored energy during the day, and released it during the night. Actually the energy efficiency of solid wood is well known in the Scandinavian countries where it is the prevalent method of building. (Its long life is well known too. When interviewed during the 1994 Winter Olympics, a Lillehammer couple casually remarked that their solid wood home had been built in 1406!)
There is no logical reason to use a drop of fuel, or a watt of energy, to heat or cool any home or building attached to the Earth. Just below the surface, within reach of the average basement, is an infinite reservoir of heat that never drops below 50 degrees F. The night-day cycle is more than ample to raise that temperature into the comfort zone, with a simple shift in Time. The use of daytime heat at night, and nighttime cool by day, is made possible by Thermal Inertia, and the engineered Lag-in-Time is a property of the thickness and Specific Heat of the solid wood walls.
HEAT PUMP HOUSE
The task of extracting useful heat from the geothermal reserve or outside air is usually relegated to the electric Heat Pump. They have been tacked onto homes by the millions - encouraged, even financed, by the electric utilities. You have seen them - noisy, power-hungry, CFC-filled, life-support machines - hanging off the side of an obviously troubled building.
Our solution, in the Enertia® Building System, is to make the house itself a heat pump, using the natural energy of rising solar-heated air to extract and enhance the pool of geothermal energy just beneath the building's floor. Simple, foolproof, no CFC's, no electric bill (see "Heat Pump House," Popular Science, June 1992, p.42).
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Thanks Micki for posting the link to this company.
This concept was done by me in the early 80's, somewhat modified but same principals.
I built a house with a large windowed area on the south side and employed a convection current principle to flow air through the house. It worked quite well.
There were several issues such as night feedback where the windows let cold back through the glass, someone had designed a bead filling window that would fill the space between the glass panes with styrofoam beads at night, and vacuum them out in the morning, I did not have this but with temps in Minn. hovering in the -20degrees, it would still be 80 in the solarium/greenhouse.
I like this design a lot, it utilizes a circulation of warm air during the day to heat the house with the remainder going into the thermal heatsink in the basement.
This house obsoletes 'stick built' houses, and makes fossil fuel consumption minimal.