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Old 03-29-2014, 10:59 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
In warmer climates, some homes were designed for maximum ventilation (such as good window placement, shading that lets in low sun but blocks high sun) before the advent of A/C. Hawaiian homes usually still are. New England homes never were, a boxy two-story design to minimize heat loss was the usual, concerns about keeping the house cool were ignored (summer is short and you can go outside when the house is too hot and stuffy). Old homes don't have the best insulation, but part of the issue might be the insulation materials decay with time. Not sure about that.
I don't remember the homes in HI being particularly "passive heating and cooling", but then, I wasn't there long. Certainly the condos where we stayed were standard condominium design. Pittsburgh area homes pre-war (since that's what we're talking about) were not designed for maximum solar heating/cooling effects. They were put on the streets w/o regard to orientation to the sun. Pittsburgh doesn't have a grid, but my hometown of Beaver Falls does, and the streets were laid out with the major streets running north-south, meaning the broad sides of the houses faced east/west, which is the antithesis of good solar design. A good solar house should have the broad sides facing north/south. Then again, the sun doesn't shine much there, LOL!

Having grown up in "This Old House", my dad was constantly trying to improve the insulation after the "energy crisis". Before that, he didn't much care, so that alone tells me that heating costs were lower then (pre-1973). Anyway, it didn't have much insulation to begin with, and it was hard to retrofit.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:09 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I don't remember the homes in HI being particularly "passive heating and cooling", but then, I wasn't there long. Certainly the condos where we stayed were standard condominium design.
No home in Hawaii would be designed for passive heating, there's no need for heat. Maybe not condos, this is what I had in mind:

Quote:
Originally Posted by hotzcatz View Post
The older single wall plantation houses don't get as hot since they ventilate better. There are a lot of folks who have been building mainland style houses over here and they get a lot hotter than the old plantation style houses. Mainland style houses are sealed so the wind can't ventilate through them, don't have any eaves to speak of, don't have any covered lanais, set on concrete foundations and don't pay attention to which way the prevailing winds come from.

The old plantation style houses were built before there was A/C so the houses were set to get all the prevailing breezes. They have windows set far apart on each side of the room whenever possible so the winds will cool all the room and not just one corner between windows.
They paid more attention to windows and vents low on the wall as well as up high on the walls, not just a band of windows which can't open very much going through the middle of the walls. There is a heavy use of louvered windows since they let in 100% of the breeze when they are open. The foundations are post and pier so the wind blows under the house and cools it off. Also vents in the bottom of closets let the underhouse cool breezes up into the house. The venting closets have louvered doors. The ceilings are nine feet or higher so the hot air can rise to the ceiling and let the people below stay cooler. There are a minimum of three foot wide eave overhangs to keep the sun off the sides of the house so it stays cooler. Big lanais also help shade the sides of the house. There is a lot of ventilation up through the tin roofs since they weren't sealed. None of these old plantation houses are wrapped with tyvek or any of the new house wraps, they were designed to ventilate.
Good window placement, and lack of sealing to allow air to get in. Note the idea is the reverse of insulation: seal the house as little as possible to allow outside air in. Obviously very few places in the mainland US could build that way.

Quote:
Pittsburgh area homes pre-war (since that's what we're talking about) were not designed for maximum solar heating/cooling effects. They were put on the streets w/o regard to orientation to the sun. Pittsburgh doesn't have a grid, but my hometown of Beaver Falls does, and the streets were laid out with the major streets running north-south, meaning the broad sides of the houses faced east/west, which is the antithesis of good solar design. A good solar house should have the broad sides facing north/south. Then again, the sun doesn't shine much there, LOL!
In my quoted post, I said some houses in warmer climates, which Pittsburgh isn't. New England homes were never designed for passive cooling/heating, either.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:16 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,980 posts, read 102,527,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
No home in Hawaii would be designed for passive heating, there's no need for heat. Maybe not condos, this is what I had in mind:



Good window placement, and lack of sealing to allow air to get in. Note the idea is the reverse of insulation: seal the house as little as possible to allow outside air in. Obviously very few places in the mainland US could build that way.



In my quoted post, I said some houses in warmer climates, which Pittsburgh isn't. New England homes were never designed for passive cooling/heating, either.
Yes, I'm well aware that there is no need for heat in Hawaii. It was simply an expression.

I don't know that even in Cali are the older homes designed expressly for passive cooling. It's mostly ranch houses out there in the LA area, from what I recall. My BIL in northern Cali had a standard looking suburban two story.

One can get some cooling from trees judiciously placed to shade the house, given time (for the tree to grow). Our entire directly south facing front yard is now shaded, as is the back of our house. Sadly, we are about to lose a tree to the emerald ash borer.

Boulder survey finds more emerald ash borer infestation across city - Boulder Daily Camera
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:52 AM
 
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If you look a lot more than just materials control where funding in building goes. Its no different than autos now that energy is no longer cheap like past. Labor cost have played a huge role also.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Homes have been built "as cheaply as possible" for a long time now--that's what balloon frames and detail work produced on steam-powered lathes was for, after all. But a century ago "as cheaply as possible" meant frames of old-growth redwood and hardwood, brick and stone.
Redwood siding, yes, especially in California. Redwood framing, not all that common. Mostly softwoods, even 100 years ago (note that both cedar and redwood are softwoods)

Quote:
Drywall vs. plaster? Two words: black mold.
A serious issue if you keep your walls wet or regularly have floods. Personally I prefer to avoid both.

Quote:
We can build them like we used to, but it's more expensive.
And in most cases, not an improvement.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Apartments, yeah. They're built cheaply. I've even heard people say that on "House Hunters".

Older homes didn't even have counters in the kitchen, let alone crappy finishes. I've seen houses built in the 1920s w/o any countertops at all. You were supposed to do all your work at the table. I don't remember what the first counter-top finishes were; I remember my dad doing a DIY with vinyl floor tiles back in the 60s. I remember when formica came out, it was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then corian, and in the last 10-15 years, granite and synthetic granites.

As far from normal wear and tear, apartments get a lot of that, especially when they change owners frequently.
These were supposed to be future condos only one tenant before we moved in. Maybe not we could have been first. I saw the same level of finishes in all of the midrange condos too. They are building cheaply these days. We don't have lots of new single family homes anywhere near me, and as someone who wants a cindo, I've checked those out. Surprisingly many have those paperboard cabinets, solid wood is rare.

We have a million 50s-70s condos and apartments that were mid level ones. Most have new countertops, many have original cabinets. They were all wood ones. I can see the difference in my own neighborhood. Lots of ikea grade cabinets in the new construction.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:28 PM
 
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Seriously? Old houses are uniformly poorly insulated. Central heating was not common before the 1940s, and thermostatically controlled heat was a new thing in the 40s. The energy crisis of 1973 brought about stronger codes for energy efficiency.
Incorrect: A Brief History of Heating and Cooling America’s Homes | Sustainable Dwelling

Quote:
For the first 100 years home heating in a heavily forested America was dominated by biomass (wood) and it was not until 1885 that the nation would burn more coal than wood. Prior to 1885 the majority of homes in America were heated with wood burning brick fireplaces and derivatives of the cast iron Franklin Stove invented in 1742.
By the end of the 19th century the invention of low cost cast iron radiators would bring central heating to America’s homes with a coal fired boiler in the basement delivering hot water or steam to radiators in every room. At about the same time, in 1885, Dave Lennox built and marketing the industry’s first riveted-steel coal furnace.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Apartments, yeah. They're built cheaply. I've even heard people say that on "House Hunters".

Older homes didn't even have counters in the kitchen, let alone crappy finishes. I've seen houses built in the 1920s w/o any countertops at all. You were supposed to do all your work at the table. I don't remember what the first counter-top finishes were; I remember my dad doing a DIY with vinyl floor tiles back in the 60s. I remember when formica came out, it was supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then corian, and in the last 10-15 years, granite and synthetic granites.

As far from normal wear and tear, apartments get a lot of that, especially when they change owners frequently.
In older kitchens, There were often far fewer cabinets. Much of what is built-in today, was movable furniture then.

Inside the Vintage American Kitchen - Decorating - 1900 to the Mid Century - Color - Finishes

Some high-end kitchen designs of today try to mimic the look of separate pieces of furniture.

Re: counter tops. Before formica/plastic laminate, there was: linoleum with stainless steel edges, tile, and even wood. Because linoleum and wood do have a life-span, they were often "upgraded" to laminate, when they wore out. Tile was often replaced, because people got tired of cleaning grout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
In warmer climates, some homes were designed for maximum ventilation (such as good window placement, shading that lets in low sun but blocks high sun) before the advent of A/C. Hawaiian homes usually still are. New England homes never were, a boxy two-story design to minimize heat loss was the usual, concerns about keeping the house cool were ignored (summer is short and you can go outside when the house is too hot and stuffy). Old homes don't have the best insulation, but part of the issue might be the insulation materials decay with time. Not sure about that.

Note wburg said homes had more passive energy saving features before WWII, he didn't mention that insulation was better. But insulation is a much larger factor for most climates.
Re: 1st bolded sentence. I think windows were often much taller, and operable transoms were more common in the south.
Re: 2nd bolded sentence. Heating fuel was cheap and plentiful (maybe this depends on the region of the country...) so insulation was more of an afterthought in old houses. But, I've heard examples of people finding old newspaper used as insulation in the walls of their old house. Insulation types like rock wool will settle and compress over the years, but I don't think they rot.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:41 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 14 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,980 posts, read 102,527,356 times
Reputation: 33045
Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
Incorrect: A Brief History of Heating and Cooling America’s Homes | Sustainable Dwelling





In older kitchens, There were often far fewer cabinets. Much of what is built-in today, was movable furniture then.

Inside the Vintage American Kitchen - Decorating - 1900 to the Mid Century - Color - Finishes

Some high-end kitchen designs of today try to mimic the look of separate pieces of furniture.

Re: counter tops. Before formica/plastic laminate, there was: linoleum with stainless steel edges, tile, and even wood. Because linoleum and wood do have a life-span, they were often "upgraded" to laminate, when they wore out. Tile was often replaced, because people got tired of cleaning grout.



Re: 1st bolded sentence. I think windows were often much taller, and operable transoms were more common in the south.
Re: 2nd bolded sentence. Heating fuel was cheap and plentiful (maybe this depends on the region of the country...) so insulation was more of an afterthought in old houses. But, I've heard examples of people finding old newspaper used as insulation in the walls of their old house. Insulation types like rock wool will settle and compress over the years, but I don't think they rot.
One of my links says this about central heating: **Additional amenities of a 1940s home would include items that are thought of as necessities by today's building standards. For instance, a hot water heater, barbecue patio, double garage, and/or heating system would be included in the sale of a specific home.**

Another says this: **As with older homes, post-war home listings call out materials and design features, but they also mention modern conveniences. For instance, listings of 1940s homes mention central heating and air-conditioning. **

Yes, new kitchens try to mimic the old, but with some twists. In those cases, there is usually a "work island" with a countertop on which the cook can work.

I have posted about the house we rented that was built in 1953, with no central heating, just a big space heater in the living room, that was poorly plastered over when a furnace was added later.

I was just talking to someone a few days ago about newspaper being used as insulation in an old house. Obviously, this didn't insulate a whole lot, and was a fire hazard.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:55 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I have posted about the house we rented that was built in 1953, with no central heating, just a big space heater in the living room, that was poorly plastered over when a furnace was added later.
Is that typical of 50s houses? I think in the 50s I've been in (and lived in) it was installed with central heating. Older homes usually have radiators, I've seen rather old looking radiators in old houses that had to have been pre-1950s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
One of my links says this about central heating: **Additional amenities of a 1940s home would include items that are thought of as necessities by today's building standards. For instance, a hot water heater, barbecue patio, double garage, and/or heating system would be included in the sale of a specific home.**

Another says this: **As with older homes, post-war home listings call out materials and design features, but they also mention modern conveniences. For instance, listings of 1940s homes mention central heating and air-conditioning. **
50s homes in New England and downstate NY rarely had central A/C. Homes with built in A/C didn't become the norm until maybe the 80s. Certainly most Massachusetts homes don't have central A/C, though most have room A/C. Probably most NYC apartment buildings from that era don't have central A/C either (all from the last 100 years had heat*). I think most, of not almost all, were built with central heating (radiators). I'd guess most didn't have built in garages.

*100 year old NYC apartment buildings seem to have too much heat rather too little. Windows open in mid-winter!
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Old 03-29-2014, 01:02 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I don't know that even in Cali are the older homes designed expressly for passive cooling. It's mostly ranch houses out there in the LA area, from what I recall. My BIL in northern Cali had a standard looking suburban two story.
Are those older homes, though? I thought ranch homes didn't become common until the 50s.
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