- Is it still worth cabling ethernet in?
- Any ideas for green tech that might actually work and pay off? I'm probably going to put in a wood-burning stove.
I'm doing almost everything myself, and money is definitely a consideration.
You need to think this through if you want to do it, though - devise a way to unlock it mechanically, make sure it doesn't open when the power is off, etc.
More mundane things:
- induction cooking plates in your kitchen. That's a no-brainer.
- Ethernet to a few places, but don't fuss about it. The jacks will never be where you need them, anyway. Instead, make sure you have a solid backplane so that you can put wifi repeaters on each floor.
- Floor heating, as mentioned above. No-brainer too.
- For optimal living comfort, thick insulation. 10cm (4") of PUR at the least, preferably 16 (6"). Make the house air tight. Put in a ventilation system, preferable with active intake and exhaust, with heat recuperation (it's called 'System D' here, don't know if that's international).
Also, put in an easter egg for the next person remodeling the house. Write a message on an inner wall that you drywall over, put a waterproof sealed envelope with some pictures of you and your family in a false ceiling, those type of things. It's awesome to discover one of those (I once did).
Modern building standards (I don't mean building codes, I mean state of the art in building engineering) says to make houses 100% air tight, but with proper ventilation systems, of course. Opening the windows and doors is not enough! CO levels will get back to 80% of their old levels in 30 minutes after closing them! Modern houses need to be continuously ventilated to achieve the highest levels of living comfort.
(PS I'm a real estate developer)
- Lower energy use
- Induction responds equally fast as gas (i.e, instantaneously)
- Standing over an induction stove doesn't get nearly as hot as over a gas stove
- Induction is much much much easier to clean.
- No need to find matches/lighter (unless you get a gas stove with build-in ignition)
- No need to put in separate gas piping
- Safer: never having to worry about children turning on the gas, or accidentally turning it on e.g. by bumping into it with a pot
- Pots are on the stove in a much more stable position, both safer and easier to use.
- Induction comes with build-in timers to turn off the heat for a pot (maybe some gas stoves have this, but then only the very expensive ones - I've never seen an induction plate that didn't have it).
Only disadvantage is that not all pots work on it (i.e., you need pots with iron in it, aluminum won't work).
There's an art to cooking with gas, and being technologically superior doesn't necessarily make it better.
Our expensive cook top was tested and branded as copper safe. It is, until water gets between the cook top and the copper pan. Also found that the rapid heat generated by an utterly imprecise dial control system could damage cookware, so I now tend to bring them to temp in two stages.
I would definitely go with gas if the line is already brought into the kitchen and available.
You can obtain Fogor induction cook tops and try them out and take them back if they don't work. Same mechanic as a full scale range. Make sure you do a double oven and if you can afford it, install a micro hood with a real vent outside the house - or your attic goods will smell like bacon in perpetuity.
We did not go with the induction, I should have run gas. I did, however, test pretty extensively with induction. Even in the $6,000 range I wasn't pleased with the results in testing.
http://hiddenpassageway.com/ (I think this was previously mentioned on HN).
In-floor radiant heating is my absolute favorite feature. Nothing like it.
On-demand tankless hot water system. With two loops (one open, one closed) and a heat exchanger between the two, one on-demand system can serve your domestic hot water plus the in-floor heating.
Humidity switches in the bathrooms to kick on the exhaust fan when moisture builds up from the shower (an anti-mold measure).
I put in structured wiring for phone, Ethernet (CAT 6), and video. I feel really stupid now as the only video I watch is on the computer and I gave up my landline to go solely cellular. I still like the Ethernet jacks in every room but mostly because I can put my wireless router anywhere. Lesson learned: technology changes rapidly. My structured wiring box looks quaint instead of high-tech after only five years.
A solar tube (basically a round skylight with a thirty foot reflective tube) that brings natural light down to ground floor rooms. Very nice.
One piece of advice: Don't get started on house remodeling or construction if you're doing a startup or trying to run a business. It tends to demand far more time than you have. And it's true it can put a strain on relationships (for the same reason).
Put up some solar thermal panels; they last forever and really do work. Look into geothermal, maybe it's worthwhile where you live. But the biggest money saver will be better insulation. You can save up to 70% of your heating/cooling costs by proper insulation.
You should use talcum powder on the cables to easily pull them through the conduits and reduce stress on them.
For example, in my house the conduits are tiny and routed at extreme 90 degree angles in places. There's no chance that I'll ever be able to route any decent cable without degrading its performance. The last time I routed cable it was extremely difficult to do.
Everywhere you think you might need one cable, put 2, need 2, put 4. In fact, 4 strands/room might not be overkill.
Where everything comes back to, put a patch panel - you can buy panels with 24 square slots and a bracket to hook it into the wall. I'd put this in a closet or utility room (laundry room/garage/etc.). Make sure that power and your other utility terminations (cable/phone/etc.) go there as well.
On house time scale, not sure Ethernet is future-proof, might want to run fiber or who knows what in 20 years. Twisted pair is only mass market for last 20 years.
Or you might even want to run speaker wire or who knows what.
And you're not limited to cat6. You Can drop coax, cat3/5/6, fiber, or whatever.
A backup electricity generator would be cool if power outages aren't uncommon in your area. Something like a central UPS.
Good insulation is key. Double glazed windows, etc.
A solar water heater is a good idea if you get a good amount of sunshine.
Grey-water recycling is a good idea. You can also reclaim heat from it.
A composting setup would be handy if you have a backyard or garden.
Choose robustness and longevity over style and minor cost savings for the various components/materials that will be used.
And yeah, visit a hotel that was stylish in the 90s, and never got updated. Just think about the cringe factor your fancy gadgets will have in 10 years time, when everything is wireless and is controlled by iPhones and Androids.
Why Ethernet instead of PLC? I know EthCat6 is faster and reliable... but you can get now 500Mbps from some PLC kits, and no maintaining is required
Mini-split AC system (multi-zoned Mitsubishi or LG).
CAT-6 wired, RJ-45 connections (two in each room).
Electrical, instant-on hot water heater (no tank).
Graywater system to save on toilet flushes.
Double-gang outlet boxes (so you can have 4 outlets, instead of 2).
Air-to-Air heat exchanger (they are called many things - it replenishes stale, indoor air with fresh outdoor air without changing the temperature too much).
CAT-5/CAT-6 to outside eaves of house for CCTV streaming network cameras.
Mutli-zone sprinkler system with soil moisture monitoring.
Rain-water fed cistern (for irrigation, toilet).
Laminar flow fountain with LED color-changing lights.
Green roof (it grows plants on the roof to absorb the sun's energy and reduce rain water runoff).
Natural pool (it uses plants to filter the water, not chemicals).
The combination of Apple's iTunes + Airport Express + Remote app works very well. But it's much more reliable on a wired network. I used to have this setup on a wifi network, and the music would cut out every so often, but that was because my wifi network was unreliable. Also note when it is on ethernet, the Airport Express can also function as a wireless access point at the same time as streaming music.
+1 for ethernet.
For Wireless music you can also using Apple's Airport Express?
I don't know how expensive solar panels are where you live, but here they are definitely worth it, especially as they get subsidized by the government. Another good green thing is a big tank which uses all your overheat to keep water warm, and then uses it. Don't know what it's called, but it saves quite a bit on the heating bill.
Thermomax tubes can collect solar energy to heat water, even when it's freezing outside. You can also use their output as part of a radiant heating system.
Pair solar water preheat with tankless, and you have the best of both worlds -- use of free solar energy with the exact water temperature you want.
These folks used the Thermomax tubes in Arizona -- and had too much energy collected: http://www.solarhaven.org/Hydronic.htm
This guy has a bunch of tricks: http://mtbest.net/
You also might price out getting photovoltaic, and writing your own controller so that a small auxiliary air conditioner (separate from main system) gets turned on, but only when your panels are producing enough juice to run it. This means you are getting all the benefit of "free" cooling, without paying for a battery system and without paying for enough solar panels to run the AC for a whole house, and getting this boost exactly when you need it. (When the sun is beating down on your house.)
You can also look into air heat exchangers. This lets you preheat your ventilation input air with heat from your ventilation output. This only works well for super-sealed super-insulated houses. (The Germans even have a standard for super-green houses that includes such devices.)
In Houston, the air quality varies with the tides. If you are in a similar situation, I'd look into a custom controller that ventilates the house when the air quality is good, but seals it when it's bad.
It's an auspicious week to advocate this because Apple and Intel just released Thunderbolt, formerly known as Light Peak. The initial implementation is all copper, but the protocol is designed for fiberoptic, so within five years we may all be routinely plugging keyboards and monitors in one part of the house into a computer in another part, which in turn is plugged into the storage array in the attic. But only if we pull the cables.
If you have vent system for heating and cooling, it might be worthwhile to look at smart systems with per room control. In my house it's all or nothing, so the bathroom can be 85F while the living room is 65F. (My low tech solution was to cut out thin cardboard from cereal boxes and place it under the vent covers. It's visually unobtrusive, easy to do, and makes a big difference in the heating / cooling effectiveness.)
hack summer - partly screened in deck/porch from mosquitos are wonderful.
I ran a bundled cable containing 2 cat5 and 2 coax to each bedroom, the kitchen, my office and the family room. Even with wireless it's nice to be able to put another access point in pretty much any room. I did additional single cat5 runs to various places where I didn't think I'd need all four. Today I'm not sure the coax is still justified, but it has been handy for satellite. Now, I'd at least run several cat6 to each location and just leave it in the wall.
I ran speaker wire everywhere, every room including the garage, outside for the deck, even the laundry room. It's just sitting in the walls/ceiling in most places still, but I add a new "node" occasionally.
For the music nodes, I have a bunch of airport express units in the basement where all the wiring terminates. They're not running in wireless mode, just plugged into a gigabit switch with a single channel amp hanging off each one.
I got several of them refurb here (apple has them refurb too):
These are the little amps (they have various wattages):
You can spend as much as you want on speakers, but I usually go for the cheap ones since they're generally just for background music anyway. That lets me put in a new node for under $150.
Here are some cheap bics that I have in a couple of rooms:
- take pictures/video of all your open walls so you can find your wire
- label all your wiring at both ends
- you can buy logs made of compressed sawdust for your wood stove. These are sized properly for most stoves, though I find you do need to split them in quarters or thirds to get them to catch well. Splitting a day's worth of pressed wood takes ~5 minutes with a hatchet and is light-duty work.
2. Put velcro on the back of your iPad and iPhone
Warning (taken from Apple's page):
"Tweet from the street at your own risk!*”
*Do not attempt.
- I'm putting in 2 wood stoves too.
- Yes on the ethernet, wifi only takes you that far.
More and more stuff can be carried down UTP like video (HDMI over Ethernet) and USB devices, it is also ideal for hooking up phones around the place too. You can never have too much UTP in your walls when considering possible future requirements IMO.
Oh and don't forget to run some up to your roof area to give you the option of participating in your local wireless mesh project!
Anyway, if you stream from a local server (e.g. a NAS in the basement), it might totally make sense even today.
One day water will drip through the ceiling into the downstairs, and you'll have to start either tearing up the floorboards, or cutting holes in the ceiling, to find out what is leaking from where.
I'm sure there are technical/electrical issues that forced a different design - just a shame it's not as well executed (and over double the price).
Some other things I like:
• zoned small duct/high velocity AC
• PEX for non-potable water supply
• overkill on electrical wiring
• gray water collection
• heat recovery shower drains (depends on the house)
• tankless water heaters / point of use water heaters
• potfiller faucet (wall mount faucet above the stove)
• a sink large enough to hold a baking sheet pan
Also, I've seen a few places with collapsible walls - one of them had a wall between the livingroom and a bedroom, that was collapsible (so that they become one room), and had a flat screen tv in the middle that could rotate (so it would point either at the bedroom or the livingroom) and would collapse to be on the side wall when the whole thing collapsed.
For instance, bathrooms that are easily cleanable. I myself really like the way that Japanese homes generally separate the toilet, sink, and bath/shower into separate rooms. With the bath/shower essentially being a tiled room, it's really easy to clean up without splashing water everywhere.
A continuous hot water heater will pay for itself (and let you take Japanese-style baths).
I live in Austin, so there's only a few months out of the year that this will be useful, but I can only imagine how glorious it will be to walk barefoot on warm tile in the winter. :)
Having a WiFi base station in every room is just the icing on the cake.
If it were my house, I would make sure all those modern gizmos are bells and whistles/icing on the cake and that the entire thing doesn't simply fall apart without them. That's part of my wishlist for some time in the future.
As fall approaches, the leaves fall off of the trees, allowing sunlight to pass, and warm your home.
As spring approaches, the leaves return, blocking the sun, and keeping your house cool.
ALSO, a green roof would be awesome AND a "natural pool".
In fact, I can't wait until I have a place of my own and the money to make this happen.
To mirror everyone else's comments, cable everything you can. I ran 2x RG-6 quad shield, 2x CAT-5e to each panel and home-ran it. If I did it again I'd also run a CAT-3 (I won't use it but future buyers might want it). I've seen cables that have all that plus fiber - check out smarthome.com or similar.
If I need a tv in another room. I carry one in there.
Not sure how good networking over electric cables is these days, but would seem like an easy alternative to wifi.
Rather than run Ethernet cables through the house, I ran them on the outside of the last place I lived. It was easier, and less messy (at least from the inside).
A cool roof energy savings calculator from DOE:
It looks like, today, water desalination can be done for about a $1000 per acre-foot, which is only ~40% more expensive than current prices (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120053698876396483.html?mod=...). Granted there aren't desalination plants everywhere - but in the event of a serious water shortage many would quickly be built.
40% sounds like a lot, but water accounts for such a small percent of most people's current expenses, that it's practically negligible.
Current per capita total water use in the USA is about 180 gallons per day. That means switching to all desalinated water would cost less than $70 extra dollars per year per person.
Water on the Monterey penisula is already several times as expensive as San Jose's. Neither one uses de-salination.
The Monterey peninsula is adding some desalination and the projected cost for all water is double the current cost. (Does anyone think that the projection will turn out low?)
For the uninitiated...