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Getting hold of information on insulation and retrofitting

Q. Last summer the Monitor had an article on an energy-efficient house that used insulated double exterior walls with the space in between filled with insulation. Are stock plans available for various styles of homes built in this way?Where can I find more information on such energy-efficient construction methods and details? The article also referred to the retrofitting of existing homes. Is any such information available? Brenda Krachenberg Plymouth, Mich.

A. Various state and federal agencies have pamphlets, sometimes plans and specifications, showing energy-saving construction details. Check with your state college or university as well as such federal agencies as the Department of Energy for information.

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Local gas and electric utility companies also have much to offer the public concerning energy-saving methods in new construction as well as in retrofitting.

Further, local and state libraries have reams of articles, books, and pamphlets on thermal-engineering methods for maximum energy efficiency. Ask the librarian for such documents and publications, and even for stock-plan books that are up to date on thermal details.

Large newspapers frequently have good articles on how to build energy-efficient dwellings, as do magazines and periodicals, such as House and Garden.

If you are seriously considering the designing and building of an energy-efficient house, don't forget that some local architects and engineers are well trained and specialize in up-to-date methods on how to save energy. Discuss their energy approach with such professionals. Choose a design office or individual about whom you feel right.

Amateur design in complex thermally efficient structures may well lack the necessary depth which can only be achieved by experienced professionals. Retrofitting an existing dwelling as well as doing the details on new buildings is better when based on experience, rather than experimented with.

For stock plans, check bookstores and large magazine counters.

Like mushrooms, a plethora of solar-energy companies have sprung up almost everywhere. Consult with one or two in your area to see what they have to offer about retrofitting your present house as well as their ideas on new construction.

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