Summer brings to mind not only warm evenings and flowers, but the cost to cool a home. Timber frames are uniquely qualified to withstand the onslaught of summer heat because by the nature of the design, the ductwork is inside the building envelope. If you consider that just something to work around as you design your timber frame home, you’ve missed a very important point.
Timber frames are typically enclosed in an insulated envelope. That necessitates having all the ducts and plumbing inside a conditioned space. Doing just this is really a “best practice”, but timber frames do it naturally. The importance means lower cooling costs and less loss of cool air to the heat. If ducts reside in an unconditioned attic, the loss is compounded by the superheated air that accumulates in the attic. The air conditioning unit works harder to produce less cool air. In warmer climates, this is a significant loss.
In cooler climates, the reverse is true. If the ducts are run through an unconditioned attic, the heat is sucked away from the warm air before it can get to the rooms it is meant to heat.
An excellent article on the Energy Vanguard Blog makes the case for getting the ducts out of the attic. They linked to an article by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory “Ducts in the attic? What were they thinking?” that offers statistics and real numbers that impact the comfort of a home and the energy used.
So why am I saying all of this. Because it’s a problem that timber frame homeowners don’t have to deal with…ever. The ducts are inside the conditioned shell in timber frames. The way it should be done is the way it’s done in a timber frame.
So, as our energy bills languish (our running tally for the past twelve months is $1026 to heat/cool and supply electricity to all lights and appliances), we once more get to offer yet another reason why timber frames are sustainable and energy efficient.
Building a timber frame home is simply the best choice. And when you build remember to Build Boldly.