Even before residential energy-saving measures and construction techniques grabbed national attention during the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] frigid January of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] prototype house built and developed in Avis, Pa., had produced a saving of about 40 per cent - in contrast to a similar module of conventional construction.
Kalevi M. Turkia, director of research and development of Capital Housing, Inc., a wholly-owned housing subsidiary of UGI Corp., said that a new line of manufactured sectional houses has been instrumented and studied since November, 1975, by a research team from the University of Minnesota. "Their research report, documented by Dr. John G. Haygreen and Dr. Robert W. Erickson of the faculty, confirms that our theoretical predictions of 30 to 40 per cent energy savings for heating are correct," he said.
The housing operation in Avis is relatively small, with about 360 modular houses produced last year and about 400 to 500 ticketed for production this year. The houses, generally built in two or three sectons and assembled on foundation prepared on a site, are also relatively small. Two energy-saving models have 1,008 and 1,600 square feet of space and are priced (without lot) at about $30,000 or $46,000 depending on the shipping distance from Avis, Turkia said.
"Essentially, the energy-saving houses are constructed to reduce conductive heat loss and also the loss by infiltration," said Turkia, a native of Finland, when he was in Washington recently. "Nothing exotic is involved, just solid construction principles based on geometric design, correctly dimensioned and installed insulation, thermally superior windows and doors, and good joining techniques.
"Innovations include, among other things, two layers of insulation at right angles for both the ceiling and walls, triple glazed windows, double-bladed exterior door and insulation inserted between connecting members when the modules are fastened together on the site."
In the test at Avis, Turkia said, both the energy-saving model house and a control house were electrically heated, with consumption determined by frequent readings and recordings of the kilowatt hours consumed. The comparison was made for the period of Jan. 20, 1976, to March 1, 1976, with the two unoccupied houses being maintained at the same interior air temperature.
"In general, Capital's energy-saving house used only about two-thirds as much heating energy as the well-insulated control house and its actual and predicted performances were in close agreement," the report of the University of Minnesota professors stated.
In terms of specifics, Turkia said that the exterior wall of the new models contain two interconnected layers of framing and insulation which are on the same plane but perpendicular. On the inside of the 2-by-4 vertical stud members there is a horizontal 2-by-2 frame. Both the formed cavities are filled with high-resistance fiberglass insulation, giving a total R-value of 23.3 for the wall. And the ceiling insulation utilizes the same principle with a 6-inch layer and an additional 2-inch layer which covers all the structual framework. The obtained R for the ceiling is 31.07, Turkia said.
"Probably the most significant contribution of our research is that the product is available now at a price most homebuyers can afford and the product does not require sophisticated devices such as solar cells and heat pumps, which can be added for further savings," Turkia said.
"Similar techniques are routine in Scandinavia, where energy is more costly. For instance, triple-glazed windows are compulsory to get a loan on a house in Finland. Here in America, where energy heretofore had been fairly inexpensive, the popular emphasis now seems to be on jump into solar heating without concentrating on shell construction techniques to save energy."
At Edgewater, Md., just south of Annapolis, American Sectional Home Builders, a franchised dealer for Capital homes, recently erected a model at 1611 Havre de Grace St. With water-oriented lot, that house has been priced in the range of about $55,000. Another dealer is Royalty Homes of Calvert in Lusby, Md., where Al Barrett is the dealer.
While current production models are fairly conventional on the exterior and thus sort of routine "package house" in appearance, Turkia said that the firm now is planning new models with contemporary styling. Wood or aluminum siding is used on all the houses.
"Normally," Turkia said, "the modular house components can be shipped from the factory in Avis within four weeks after an order has been received. And, assuming that the foundation for the house is ready when the house shipment arrives at the site, the erection process can be accomplished in two or three days. Usually, the interior finishing and trimming takes two or three more weeks."
Turkia, who was educated at the University of Minnesota and has a master's degree in forest products engineering, now is a resident of a conventional, electrically heated house in Williamsport. Pa., about 12 miles east of Avis. He said his electrical bill for a recent month was about $175. "So you can see why I'm enthusiastic about our energy-saving modular houses," he noted.