Home Page
Selected Case Studies:
New Construction
Additions / Renovation / Restoration
Super-Insulated Buildings
  The Just Homes Difference
Environmental Sustainability
Comprehensive Services
Whole House Mechanicals
Who We Are
Contact Us


    Whole House Mechanicals: Conversion from Electric Heating 

So you bought your dream house and all's right with the world... except it has electric baseboard heating, and huge utility bills. 

For this situation Just Homes can offer a conversion that's economical and painless... and provides air conditioning as a bonus. Our strategy is an adaptation of the whole-house mechanical system we've been discussing. 

In this case we install the fan/coil unit in the attic, and heat the ground floor with high-efficiency hot-water radiators. This solution brings together two different trades:

  • a plumbing contractor to install radiators to the ground floor and basement
  • a heating contractor to install a fan/coil (with optional air conditioning) in the attic space, to heat and cool the second floor.
The plumbing contractor puts in a distribution pipe around the perimeter to feed hot water to the basement and ground floor radiators, and a pump to get the water up to the attic.

The heating contractor does the rest up in the attic: installing the fan/coil unit and duct work to the supply and return flows. Only a few small diameter holes need to be cut in the second floor ceilings.

By locating the second floor fan/coil return air over the stairwell,  we can draw warm air from the ground floor as well as the second.  And cool air supplied by the attic unit to the second floor uses the stairwell to move downwards and cool the ground floor.

What's the hot water source supplying the radiators and fan/coil? 

Again, we're making the most of our old friend: the domestic hot water heater (DHW). This is generally upgraded as part of the conversion and replaced with a higher-efficiency system. (The new tank will be chosen to supply both the hot water load and the heating load.) 

Finally, a conventional high efficiency outdoor air conditioning unit is used to supply the air-conditioning coil in the attic.

The controls for the conversion are simple: 

  • a heating thermostat for the ground floorn radiators, 
  • plus a heating/cooling thermostat on the second floor to control forced air from the fan/coil. 

As well as the increased efficiency, here's another key advantage of this system that's especially significant in any retrofit project:
Your primary living spaces, the ground and second floor, are left almost untouched.

There are no large ducts to install and hide, and far less disruption to the space -- most of the work takes place either in the basement or attic space. That can translate to significant savings in construction expense!