environmental | AiDomes

For those of you wanting to compare the Aidome Building Kit vs Deltec Home Kit, please take time to read and analyze info listed below.  Please compare kit costs and contents of each kit.  Instead of building a home from a Deltec wood kit,  consider building an Ai prefabricated concrete home dome kit.  To warm up the exterior & interior of the American Ingenuity (Ai) concrete dome; 1) paint the dome exterior light green or light tan.  2) install rock or wood on the framed walls under dormers & entryways and on the riser panels. 3) Install wood decks off the first floor entryways.  4) Install trellis with vines to conceal the fire resistant concrete. On the interior adhere oak to the dome shell drywall and install wood flooring, wood cabinetry.

We understand that it is important to compare various companies when it comes to designing and building your home, and that you may want to compare our concrete kit to Deltec homes.

Ai would like to do a comparison between both of our companies, so you can determine which home would be best for you. We want to offer you a comparison showing that Aidome building kits will offer you more for your money, be more energy efficient, offer better defense from the elements and have lower maintenance costs over time.

Please be aware that both AiDomes and Deltec do not install a foundation. That work is completed by a local foundation subcontractor near you. In Ai’s building plans are foundation pdfs detailing foundation dimensions.

Please note in the information below we are simply pointing out the differences in our products.  Deltec makes a fine product, but we at Ai feel we have superior home product.

Let us start with the kit:

DELTEC HOMES AMERICAN INGENUITY (AiDomes)
Standard Shell Kit Standard Shell kit
Wood Frame home, w/shingled roof

No mention of insulation, or drywall for home’s exterior walls

Does not include exterior

siding and shingles

Exterior Concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh & fibers;

7” thick R-28 Value expanded polystyrene insulation

throughout the exterior walls & roof of the home;

½” Georgia Pacific DensArmor – moisture resistant/mold resistant Gypsum Drywall

 

·         2” x 6” x 8’ wall panels

·         Double 2” x 10” headers in all wall panels

·         5/8” CDX plywood sheathing

·         Complete half scissor truss roof system

·         Typar House Wrap

·         Pre-cut roof sheathing & Typar surround

·         Fascia / pre-cut soffit materials

·         1’-9” overhang (3′-9” shown)

·         9 Upper level steel floor support pole (two story)

·         Web-tec floor system for upper level (two story)

·         Compression ring and tension collar

 

Each wall & roof prefab panel consists of a

·         Outer covering of ¾” concrete reinforced w’ galvanized steel mesh & fibers

·         7” thick EPS insulation

(w/a R-28 value)

·         ½” interior DensArmor drywall

by Georgia Pacific (meets 2014 building code)

·        Galvanized Steel Cables are included with the kit (for standard riser panel height design)

 

*Rods & Z plates for second floor are at a nominal charge per plan

 

The Deltec kit: As you can see their system is wood frame, it requires that the house exterior be finished with some sort of siding, and the roof shingled. Per their website, there is no mention of the inclusion of insulation, or drywall for the shell and attic area (there is mentioned as one of the top upgrades (i.e. additional cost) some sort of energy barrier for north & south facing areas of the home, not throughout the home).  Being wood, the wood exterior is subject to fire, rot and termites. 

With an Ai dome Kit:  When assembled, the prefabricated panels produce all the structural components, the concrete roof, all the insulation and all the interior drywall for the dome shell’s exterior walls and roof.  In addition, the dome shell carries a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee.  Ai’s panelized system does not contain wood or steel framing (ribs) to interrupt our standard R28 insulation. There is no exterior wood to burn or rot or for termites to eat.  As an added bonus, there is no roof to blow off in high winds, and has a noncombustible fire resistant concrete exterior.  (Pressure Treated wood is used to frame the walls under the entryways and dormers to accept your locally purchased doors and windows.  During Kit Assembly a temporary wooden rib system is installed to support the panels. However once the seam areas between the panels and the entryways and dormers are concreted, the Aidome is self-supporting and the rib system is removed.)

  • Although all homes require exterior maintenance, an Ai dome (when erected), simply requires painting – there are no shingles to replace. Whereas a traditional home, as well as the Deltec kit would require repair and/or  replacement of the roof, as well as maintenance/repair and/or replacement of the siding.
  • In regards to the cost to build, both Deltec and Ai are kits, they are not complete houses, they are the shell of the structure,  this is done by local contractors (Ai knows of an  Independent Kit Consultant to assist your contractors with shell assembly).

Please give us a call so we can provide information and answer questions for you – 321-639-8777 Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern time.

Below is a Photo Gallery showing various geodesic dome home interiors of finished American Ingenuity Concrete Homes. Domes are built on basements, columns and monolithic concrete slabs.  Ai has geodesic dome home plans for each of its eight dome home kits. The dome plans show high vaulted ceilings over living rooms and dining rooms.   To view stock floor plan layouts, please click on Flexible Design

(Click arrows left and right side to change picture)

On the Main Menu along the left side of our web site are 14 menu items to click on to view more dome photos. American Ingenuity has sold over 800 dome kits into 47 USA states and 15 foreign area.  Below are hyperlinks where we have summarized photos into categories. Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for a chat to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for researching our concrete homes. (Office Hours 9-5 Mon-Fri Eastern time).

Fireplaces

Dome Exteriors

Dome Interiors

Entryways & Dormers

Stairs

Garage Domes 

This menu item contains photos of Energy Efficient Domes. Besides living in a super-energy efficient American Ingenuity dome home, several dome owners also drive fuel efficient cars. Ai dome owners care about saving our planet's natural resources. One of the pictures included in this photo gallery is of a dome built in Colorado in 2000. You will see that it looks like a brand new home versus a home that is fifteen years old.

(Click arrows on left and right of main picture to go to the next picture)

Featured below is a 40′  Aidome home linked to a 30′ garage dome with 2nd floor bedroom loft.  The dome, link & loft in the cupola are 1,985 sq.ft. The 2nd floor loft in the 30′ dome is 211 sq.ft. for total sq.ft of 2,196.   This layout has three bedrooms and two baths in the dome and one half bath on the garage first floor. The loft above the garage is a bedroom and is not heated or cooled.    Currently we have utility bills January through October and when we receive the rest of the year, we will update the September – December electric bills to include Nov and Dec.  The domes are all electric with the AC kept at 77 degrees during the day and 76 degrees at night and on the weekend.

Below this 40′ Energy info are six years of utility bills for a 34′ Ai Florida dome.

40′  Aidome home linked to a 30′ garage dome with 2nd floor bedroom loft. 

An American Ingenuity 40′ in diameter Dome Home with 1,985 sq.ft
can be cooled for less than $50.00 a month during Florida’s Hottest Months

Energy Efficient Concrete Home in Florida – three bedroom two baths.  To view  Electric Utility Bills for a Florida 40′ Ai Dome Home, click on links at bottom of this article to view the utility bills.   The dome home is totally electric with 1,985 sq.ft. and has Ai’s standard R-28 insulation.  For example the 2017 SUMMARY below shows that the Jan – Oct 2017 electric costs of $284.91 to air condition & heat the 1,985 sq.ft. Florida Dome Home in 2017. The following describes how we came to this conclusion.

In February, 2017 no Heat or AC were used, therefore the cost to run everything else in the all electric home (dishwasher, washing machine, stove, microwave, dryer, water heater, refrigerator, television and lights) was $46.12. To determine the monthly Air Conditioning cost, we subtracted $46.12 from each month’s electric bill to get that month’s Heating or Air Conditioning Costs.  The thermostat is kept at 76 degrees when the owner is home and 77 degrees when not home. (The electric water heater is manually turned on prior to use).

To obtain the home’s 2017 monthly average Air Conditioning costs, we averaged the five hottest month’s AC costs.  The five hottest months were June thru October making total air conditioning costs of $234.22 divided by five resulting in a monthly average cost of $46.12 to air condition 1,985 sq.ft. during Florida’s hottest months.  

FYI – The Aidomes are even more energy efficient when heating is required instead of cooling.  When cooling, kilowatts have to be used to overcome heat generated from clothes dryer, dishwasher, computers, stove, refrigerator motor, sun light, etc. When heating the heat generated from these heat sources is used.  Ai’s 3,700 sq.ft. office domes can be cooled for less than $80 a month in the hot Florida summer months.

This is the annual recap for the year 2017 for this 40′ dome home and will be updated when the year is over.  Each recap lists the 12 months in each year and what it costs each month for heat or air conditioning. The utility company is Florida Power and Light  (FP&L)

40′ utility bill summary

2017 Florida 40′ Dome Home Monthly Electric Bills

Jan- April  Utility Bills

May – August  Utility Bills 

September – December Utility Bills

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The following recaps various other Aidomes and their energy info:

L. Henderson of Florida called and explained he is wanting to build an Ai dome for two main reasons: 1) wind strength against hurricanes and 2) energy efficiency. His current two bedroom/two bath home built in the 70’s monthly electric bill is $250; which means the air conditioning cost is around $125 a month in hot Florida summer months.  If he built a 34′ dome he would cut is air conditioning costs significantly from $125 a month to less than $30 a month.

As far as functioning in cold, snowy environment, American Ingenuity domes have been built in such cold climates as Canada, at 7,500 feet elevation in Utah, 3,400 feet elevation in North Carolina, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and all cold states in the USA except for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Dakota.  As described above It is easier to heat an Ai dome that to cool.

Klaus Kolb’s South Carolina Ai concrete dome house earned EPA’s Energy Star.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing. To view pictures of his dome home and Energy Star info, click on Earned Energy Star. He installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System. And scroll down the page.  Klaus’s total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.

One of our customers in Pennsylvania built a 40′ dome on a full basement. This is quote from them: “We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9″ thick livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a GeoThermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system. Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 ft by 73 ft mobile home while building the Dome. Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.” To view pictures of their dome and other info, click on Charles Dome.

A picture of the dome at 7,500 feet elevation showing snow is one of the flashing pictures on our home page. The dome is off the grid and has increased EPS insulation from our standard 7″ R28 to 9″ or R36. Quote from the Utah dome owners: “Our house and solar electric system have met and exceeded all of our expectations. Our home is warm and spacious. Even with nighttime temperatures below zero, a fire in the masonry heater in the evening and a full day of sun warms the house to 70 degrees F.  Our average summertime power consumption is between 150 and 200 kWh/month for 2700 square feet of living space. Wintertime consumption is somewhat higher. For comparison, our average pre-solar usage was near 600 kWh/month in our prior 2000 square foot suburban home.”  To view info about this dome at 7,500 feet elevation, click on Collar Domes.

Question:  How did the American Ingenuity dome perform during the Energy Efficiency Study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy?  Superbly. Test findings were released from a year long study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Florida Solar Energy Center, a governmental consumer agency, in cooperation with the University of Oregon and the University of Central Florida. This study compared an American Ingenuity dome with an energy efficient conventionally built structure and a super energy efficient Styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional house and the Dow test house in being the most energy efficient.

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34′ – 1,075 sq.ft. Energy Efficient Concrete Home linked to 22′ one car garage dome.

(use arrows on right and left side of main picture to view other photos in the gallery)

PDF for Downloading & Printing

Online Viewing – Opens in Browser

An American Ingenuity 34 ft in diameter Dome Home with 1,075 sq.ft
can be cooled for less than $27 a month during Florida’s Hottest Months

Energy Efficient Concrete Home in Florida.  To view Annual Electrical Bill Charts for a Florida 34′ Ai Dome Home, click on links at bottom of this article named Ai Domes Dome Home Electric Use. The dome home is totally electric with 1,075 sq.ft. and Ai’s standard R-28 insulation.  For example the 2015 SUMMARY below shows that the annual costs were $187.94 to air condition & heat the 1,075 sq.ft. Florida Dome Home in 2015. The following describes how we came to this conclusion.

In February, 2015 no Heat or AC were used, therefore the cost to run everything else in the all electric home (dishwasher, washing machine, stove, microwave, dryer, water heater, refrigerator, television and lights) was $36.73. To determine the monthly Air Conditioning cost, we subtracted $36.73 from each month’s electric bill to get that month’s Heating or Air Conditioning Costs.  The thermostat is kept at 76 degrees when the owner is home and 79 degrees when not home. (The electric water heater is manually turned on prior to use).

To obtain the home’s 2015 monthly average Air Conditioning costs, we averaged the five hottest month’s AC costs.  The five hottest months were May thru September making total air conditioning costs of $132.87 divided by five resulting in a monthly average cost of $26.57 to air condition 1,075 sq.ft. during Florida’s hottest months.   FYI – The Aidomes are even more energy efficient when heating is required instead of cooling. When cooling, kilowatts have to be used to overcome heat generated from clothes dryer, dishwasher, computers, stove, refrigerator motor, sun light, etc. When heating the heat generated from these heat sources is used.  Ai’s 3,700 sq.ft. office domes can be cooled for less than $85 a month in the hot Florida summer months.

These are the annual recaps for the years 2010 through 2015 for this 34′ dome home.  Each recap lists the 12 months in each year and what it costs each month for heat or air conditioning:

2010 Summary Electric Use

2011 Summary Electric Use

2012  Summary Electric Use

2013 Summary Electric Use

2014 Summary Electric Use

2015 Summary Electric Use

To view the individual Florida Power and Light electric bills for 2013, 2014 & 2015.  click on the three links below for each year.

2013 Florida Dome Home Monthly Electric Bills

Jan.-April
May-August
Sept.-Dec.
 

2014 Florida Dome Home Monthly Electric Bills

Jan.-April
May-August
Sept.-Dec.

2015 Florida Dome Home Monthly Electric Bills

Jan – April
May-August
Sept.-Dec.

These photos are of a 45′ Geodesic Dome Home built in North Carolina on a basement.
(To view other dome photos, please check out the other photo galleries on the left hand Main Menu)
 
Click pictures once to stop, click twice to enlarge.

The first floor of this 45′ geodesic dome home has 1,476 sq.ft.  The second floor has 560 for dome total of 2,036. The basement square footage is 1,471 for a total sq.ft. of 3,507.   This dome owner chose to design a custom dome floor plan with a large kitchen and living room on the first floor with the entire second floor of the dome dedicated entirely to the master bedroom, master bath and master walk in closet.

Normally a 45′ dome can be designed to include four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths versus this dome is only one bedroom with master bath and two half baths.  Each dome owner customizes their floor plan to fit their lifestyle and desires. Ai is happy to work with each person to design their dome plan to fit their dreams.

Floor Plans in PDF format.  Open by clicking on the PDF below or

download to your computer by right clicking and saving to your computer.

First Floor Plan
Second Floor Plan
Basement Floor Plan

(your browser may allow you to rotate the picture
by right clicking in the picture after it’s open and selecting.)

To read about energy efficiency and the American Ingenuity Dome, view Efficient Ai Dome.

The following information came from:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program’s web site is Energy Star.

Air will leak through a building envelope that is not well sealed. This leakage of air decreases the comfort of a residence by allowing moisture, cold drafts and unwanted noise to enter and may lower indoor air quality by allowing in dust and airborne pollutants. In addition, air leakage accounts for between 25 percent and 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical residence.

The amount of air leakage in a house depends on two factors. The first is the number and size of air leakage paths through the building envelope. As shown in Figure 1, these paths include joints between building materials, gaps around doors and windows, and penetrations for piping, wiring, and ducts. The second factor is the difference in air pressure between the inside and outside.

Pressure differences are caused by wind, indoor and outdoor temperature differences (stack effect), chimney and flue exhaust fans, equipment with exhaust fans (dryers, central vacuums) and ventilation fans (bath, kitchen. To prevent air leakage, it is important to seal the building envelope during construction prior to installation of the drywall. Once covered, many air leakage paths cannot be accessed and properly sealed. There are many products available for air sealing including caulks, foams, weather stripping, gaskets and door sweeps.

Air sealing the building envelope is one of the most critical features of an energy efficient home. Look for the results of a “blower door” test (typically included with a Home Energy Rating) to ensure that your Energy Star labeled home had all air leakage paths identified and sealed using appropriate materials.

Once a house is tightly sealed, you will want to make sure there is adequate fresh air for ventilation. It is better to use controlled or active ventilation than to rely on air leakage. In many Energy Star labeled homes, an active ventilation system is installed along with air sealing to ensure that fresh air is provided.

Benefits: air sealing the building envelope can provide many benefits including:

  1. Improved Comfort: A tighter building envelope reduces the amount of unconditioned air, drafts, noise, and moisture that enter your home. Proper air sealing will also minimize temperature differences between rooms. As a result, tight envelopes can maintain a more consistent level of comfort throughout a house.
  2. Improved indoor air quality: A tighter building envelope reduces the infiltration of outdoor air pollutants, dust and radon as well as eliminating paths for insect infestation. Properly sealing the building envelope will also reduce moisture infiltration from outdoor air in humid climates.
  3. Increased quality: Building codes establish the legal minimum construction standards. Energy Star labeled homes, constructed to exceed these codes with air sealing, can offer a better quality product.
  4. Lower Utility Bills: Air leakage accounts for 25 percent to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling and also reduces the effectiveness of other energy-efficiency measures such as increased insulation and high-performance windows. Thus. Air sealing results in lower utility bills.
  5. Fewer condensation problems: Condensation can lead to mold and mildew problems. In hot, humid climates, moisture can enter into wall cavities through exterior cracks and result in costly damage to framing and insulation. In cold climates, gaps in the interior walls allow moisture from warm indoor air to enter wall cavities and attics. This moisture can condense on cold surfaces and lead to structural damage. By significantly reducing air leakage, Energy Star labeled homes can reduce or eliminate these problems.
  6. Reduced obsolescence: Based on recent trends for improved efficiency and higher indoor air quality, tighter building envelopes are expected to become standard practice for the building industry. Since it is both difficult and costly to make the building envelope tighter after a house is constructed, it is best to seal all joints, holes and seams during construction. Energy Star labeled homes constructed to exceed current building codes are therefore, expected to be less vulnerable to obsolescence.
  7. Improved resale position: Air sealing a home can provide the many impressive benefits discussed above and lead to a more comfortable, quieter and better quality home with lower utility bills, fewer condensation problems and reduced obsolescence. These benefits can translate into higher resale value.

Resources used:

    1. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings (Wilson and Morrill), 5th edition, 1996, available from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy at 510-549-9914
    2. Homemade Money (Heede and the staff of RMI), 1995, available from the Rocky Mountain Institute at 970-927-3851
    3. Caulking and Weatherstripping fact sheet available from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC), POBox 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116, (1-800-363-3732)

The following information covers the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Program
with a South Carolina Ai dome earning the EPA’s Energy Star.

Please click on arrows to view the photos.

Above is photo gallery of Kolb’s 40′ dome home linked to 27′ two car garage dome
which earned EPA’s Energy Star

The Energy Star label can only be placed on completed houses. The label cannot go on a Building Kit. Some of American Ingenuity’s clients have had their completed dome homes rated and received the Energy Star label. To find out how your dome home can receive an Energy Star Label, call the EPA Energy Star hot line 1-888-782-7937 and ask for a company in your area that can rate your home.

Klaus Kolb’s South Carolina Ai concrete dome house earned EPA’s Energy Star.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.   He installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.

Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings operate off the grid by using photovoltaic’s, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.

To view a  fantastic YouTube Video of American Ingenuity 48′ dome with 34′ garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico, click on Gorgeous Dome.  To view Ai’s Energy FAQ’s, click on Efficient Ai Dome.

What does the Energy Star label signify?

Products bearing the ENERGY STAR labels are more energy efficient than standard products, thereby saving energy and money. In general, ENERGY STAR qualified products including: appliances, HVAC equipment, office equipment, residential lighting, and even homes, reduce energy costs by at least 30%.

What is Energy Star?

ENERGY STAR is a government program that offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions, making it easy to save money while protecting the environment for future generations.

Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort. ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice.

If looking for new household products, look for ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR. They meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR partnership for businesses offers a proven energy management strategy that helps in measuring current energy performance, setting goals, tracking savings, and rewarding improvements. EPA provides an innovative energy performance rating system which businesses have already used for more than 26,000 buildings across the country. EPA also recognizes top performing buildings with the Energy Star.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Program promotes the use of high-efficiency technologies and equipment. ENERGY STAR labeled homes use at least 30% less energy than homes built to meet the national Model Energy Code while maintaining or improving indoor air quality.

Many ENERGY STAR qualified new homes feature tighter construction than that of homes built to the Model Energy Code. Tighter house construction can improve the energy efficiency, air quality, and comfort of your home by eliminating unwanted drafts.

Environmental Protection – the following info came from their site.

Did you know that your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? In fact, 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide.

Energy used in our homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and global warming. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate.

Tighter home construction can offer you:

  • Improved comfort – reduces drafts, noise, and moisture.
  • Improved indoor air quality – keeps dust, pollen, car exhaust, and insects out of the home.
  • Lower costs – reduces escape of conditioned air.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of penetrations through a typical home’s exterior (The Ai dome’s tight envelope does not have hundreds of penetrations.  The Ai dome was involved in a US Department of Energy Study on energy efficient housing. The blower door test showed the Aidome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house.) These gaps and holes are often incurred during framing, and from penetrations for wiring, plumbing, and ducts. Air sealing the house’s envelope combined with proper ventilation, can reduce your energy bills and eliminate unwanted drafts and pollutants.

Reduced air infiltration combined with proper ventilation can not only reduces your energy bills but it can also improve the quality of your indoor air. Outdoor air that leaks indoor makes it difficult to maintain comfort and energy efficiency. In addition, air leakage accounts for 25-40% of the energy used for heating and cooling in a typical home.

Today, off-the-shelf technologies such as house wraps, sealants, foams, and tapes reduce air infiltration. In energy-efficient homes, builders use these tools to seal the myriad of cracks and gaps in framing along with hundreds of holes for plumbing, mechanical equipment, and electrical wiring.

These fact sheets are designed to help consumers learn more about the energy efficient improvements to their ENERGY STAR labeled homes. These fact sheets cover:

  1. Air Sealing
  2. Value-Engineered Framing
  3. Balanced Ventilation Systems
  4. Exhaust Ventilation Systems
  5. Supply Ventilation Systems

The following information came from The EPA’s web site http://energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.nh_benefits

Benefits of Energy Star Qualified New Homes

Peace of Mind
Home buying is complex enough without having to know all the details of energy-efficient construction. Instead, look for the

government-backed ENERGY STAR label to easily identify homes that are truly energy efficient. Find the house of your dreams and enjoy peace of mind knowing that it also meets strict energy efficiency guidelines.

Lower Ownership Cost
Compared with standard homes, ENERGY STAR qualified homes use substantially less energy for heating, cooling, and water heating-delivering $200 to $400 in annual savings. Over the average 7 to 8 years you may live in your home, this adds up to thousands of dollars saved on utility bills. Additional savings on maintenance can also be substantial.

Better Performance
Properly installed energy-efficient improvements deliver better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution, and noise. An energy-efficient home helps ensure consistent temperatures between and across rooms, improved indoor air quality, and greater durability.

Environmental Protection
Did you know that your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? In fact, 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide.

Energy used in our homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and global warming. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate.

Heating & Air Conditioning an Ai dome.  Ai dome winner of Energy Star Award.

snow Kolb beautiful

American Ingenuity 40′ dome home linked to 27′ garage earned Energy Star rating.

Typical AC Ductwork Design:  The following info pertains to the chart below:

An air handler is the inside unit that forces cool air into the house. An air handler needs to have a plenum if installing two or more intakes.  A Plenum is a foam box made of special materials that are flame retardant designed for connecting ductwork at the bottom or top of the air handler also for splitting ductwork.  Cut a hole in the plenum to accept ductwork.  It could be done for an air intake grate or exhaust vents.  When installing an air intake in the second floor (Intake is where you put your Air Filter.  It is easier to put the air intake grate in a second floor knee wall.  Knee walls are usually large enough to support multiple duct work.  The grate size will be determined by the size air filter you want to install. Intake ductworks are about 10 to 12 inches large. Exhaust ductworks are usually 6 inches. (Exhaust is where the air comes out of vents in your walls, ceilings and even floors).  Ductwork can be run in interior walls or drop ceilings between floor joists and in knee walls.  If running ductwork in interior framed walls, the walls may need to be wider than normal to support the ductwork.  It is recommended that you install two Intakes one in the upper floor of your house and one in the lower floor of your home. The upper Intake will remove humidity and hot air and dust from the upper floors. The closer you have the Intake to a room, the cooler that room will be. The lower intake is doing the same job as the upper intake removing dust, moisture and hot air. Air needs to exit out of each room, your HVAC subcontractor may have you put a grill above a door or have a space below your door for air to exit rooms.   Mini-split ductless heat pumps can be installed in the dome.

 

AC 2

 

Where are the AC and Heating Ducts installed in the dome? The ducts can be run in the interior walls, second floor joists, and behind the second floor perimeter knee wall.  Above is a HVAC diagram showing typical way system works.  Contact your local HVAC subcontractor for specific needs and air flow to rooms in your dome home.  Or ductless AC/heating units are available.

Ai does not specify which heating and cooling units to use within its domes because the needs vary by regions of the country. Heating and cooling systems that are practical or common in your area can be used in the dome. We have had clients use radiant heat in the floor. We have also had clients’ incorporate large spans of glass to let in the passive heat; usually this is not practical, as the dome is so energy efficient. The large amount of glass just lets in hot or cold air. Our clients have had great success with solar hot water heaters.

For a system that is best for your area, consult a local air-conditioning contractor. All types of systems will work but it would be important to consider what type of fuel is readily available, what type of units can be serviced locally and your own preferences. However, keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the dome, you can reduce the required size of your air-conditioning and heating system by about one third. Also the cost of heating and air conditioning will also be about half that of typical houses in your area and therefore the savings provided by super efficient units will be less. It is economical to select efficient systems but not very expensive systems.

Q: Are electric vents necessary at the peak of the dome as well as in the bathrooms to prevent moisture buildup?

A: Yes due to the tightness of the dome, water vapor from cooking, showering, doing laundry, breathing, etc. needs to be removed from the dome. Electric exhaust vents are installed in a vertical wall near the top of the dome, in top center of the dome, in bathrooms, in laundry room and above stove/microwave to exhaust water vapor.  In interior walls, use galvanized metal ducting that extends down the interior wall, through the floor joist and vents out under an entryway or door dormer framed wall or a hole can be cut in the concrete panel. Instructions in the Dome Kit Assembly Manual.  A heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator will probably need to be installed to remove excess water vapor. To view our web site info on heat recovery ventilators, click on HRV.

Can the smaller American Ingenuity domes be cooled or heated without central air conditioning or furnaces? Yes. The smaller sized American Ingenuity domes have such small heating and air-conditioning demands; it could be practical for you to use only a window air-conditioner and a space heater.  Please check your local building code, some building departments require a permanent heat source to be installed which does not allow a wood stove or fireplace as the permanent source.

What air conditioner size do you recommend for your domes?

34’ Dome: 1 ½ Ton

40’ Dome: 2 Ton

45’ Dome: 2 ½ Ton

48’ Dome: 3 Ton

Tell me about a ground water heat pump. A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is extremely efficient as it uses the constant moderate temperature of underground water to both heat and cool, instead of using outside air, it uses water from a well or underground loop to transfer heat through a concentric copper coil located inside your home. Besides being more efficient than air-to-air unit, it can produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.  Mini-split ductless heat pumps are available. Ask your local HVAC subcontractor what units he prefers.

Can Ai’s Domes be cooled without an air conditioner? Yes. Because the Ai dome is so super insulated, our clients who do not prefer air conditioning, have found the interior of the dome to be cooler than a conventional house.

  • Of course you would want to install windows and doors opposite of each other so that air will flow through the dome.
  • In the hot summer months, you may want to install a window AC to cool some areas and draw out moisture.
  • Standing fans can be used to move the air.
  • Install awnings out from the dormers and entryways to keep the sun from beaming into the dome.
  • To help maintain a cooler interior temperature you may want to consider installing underground cooling pipes which will bring air into the dome that has been cooled by the earth. To learn more about this read about Energy Efficiency under advantages.
  • Plus you can install pipes in the slab to run cold water through. A 45’ dome needs about 2 ½” in diameter cooling pipes that are buried 5’ deep and go out about 20’. You angle the tubes where condensation can be pumped out.

Does the HVAC diagram come with the Building Plans? No. The installation and routing of the heating and cooling ducts, electrical wiring and plumbing pipes can best be determined on site by the person making the installation. Ai has found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when the subs like to design their own layouts.

Do American Ingenuity’s building plans meet the new building codes requiring air exchangers? We are not sure what your code requires, if there is a minimal air exchange from the outside to inside, that requirement would best be fulfilled with an air to air heat exchanger sometimes called a heat recovery unit or energy recovery ventilator. These ventilation systems bring in fresh air and minimize the loss of heating and air conditioning. Please check with your local HVAC subcontractor.

What types of Ducts does your company recommend? Collapsible plastic inner and outer liners have insulating material between the inner and outer liners and a spiral wire that holds them round. Because the dome is all one cooled or heated space (no attic), the ducting does not need to be insulated. Sometimes building departments require insulated ducts.

How do you move hot air from the second floor to the first floor? In a vertical wall near the top of the dome install a bathroom exhaust fan that can be turned on to move hot air to the first floor. Use dryer ducting for the exhaust fan ducting. It extends down the interior wall, through the floor joist and vents out on the first floor. See above description describing possible  HVAC ductwork diagram.

How can I calculate the BTU requirements for Ai Domes? You can calculate the approximate amount of heat required for the different size Ai domes by:

  • Determine the difference in temperature from outside to inside. Say inside is 70 outside is -30, T= 100
  • Look up the Exterior surface of the dome you want to calculate (on back side of Price list) 40’ dome =2,645
  • On the bottom of same Specifications sheet get the K value for the insulation. 9″ K=0.0278
  • Multiply all of these numbers together. 100 x 2,645 x 0.0278 = 7,351 is the BTU’s required to make up what escapes through the dome surface.
  • Do the same thing with the windows. T= same, Add up the areas. For a double pane use K=0.3 or what ever the mfg. specifies.
  • Do the same thing with the floor and its insulation.
  • Add the three BTU values together and that is the approx. heat loss.

Heat & Cool Smartly: Save Energy, Save Money

Replacing old cooling and heating equipment with more efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified equipment is one way to save energy and money. However, your home’s heating and cooling equipment is part of a larger system. Heating and cooling your home smartly can include properly maintaining your existing equipment, using a programmable thermostat, finding and sealing air leaks, tightening up your ducts, and more. To view governments Energy Star web site, click on Energy Star.

Repair or Replace?
Changing out old cooling and heating equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified models can cut your annual energy costs by 20 percent.  Learn more about each cooling and heating product from links in the left column.

Finding the right contractor: 10 tips

10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor

1. Study up – Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

2. Ask for referrals – Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.

3. Call references – Ask contractors for customer references and call them. Ask about the contractor’s installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.

4. Find special offers – A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

5. Look for ENERGY STAR – ENERGY STAR qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

6. Expect a home evaluation – The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers specifications.

7. Get written, itemized estimates – When comparing contractors’ proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

8. Get it in ink – Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It’ll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

9. Pass it on – Tell friends and family about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

10. Get the ENERGY STAR Guide – For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR   1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

Maintain your Equipment: A Checklist
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Use a Programmable Thermostat
Use an ENERGY STAR qualified model to adjust the temperature of your home when you are home or away. With proper use of the four pre-programmed temperature settings, you can save about $100 each year in energy costs.

Duct Sealing
It’s common to find gaps between duct joints, whether a home is new or old. Seal and insulate ducts that are exposed in areas such as your attic or crawlspace to improve your system’s efficiency and your own comfort.

Seal Air Leaks and Add Insulation (Home Sealing)
Air leaks in your home and a poorly insulated attic can lead to significant home comfort problems and high energy bills. By properly sealing those air leaks and adding insulation, you can improve comfort and cut your energy bills by up to 10 percent.

Consider a More Efficient Ceiling Fan
Upgrade to a more energy-efficient ceiling fan. ENERGY STAR qualified models are up to 50% more energy-efficient than conventional fans, with the most potential energy savings coming from those that include lighting. In the winter, set your fan to turn in the clockwise direction to help efficiently distribute warm air throughout your room.

Help Protect the Environment
Individual actions at home can add up to a lot of pollution prevention. If just one in ten households bought ENERGY STAR heating and cooling products, the change would keep over 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air.

Ai Warranty Against Dome Structural Damage
Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform
40′ Concrete Dome Withstood Hurricane Andrew With No Damage.
Your dome home is designed to withstand the powerful forces of nature. American Ingenuity’s warranty or  guarantee assures against any structural storm damage as a result of up to category 4 tornadoes and up to 225 mph hurricane winds on the triangle and riser panels.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas. Such a warranty has been unheard of in the construction industry until now.

Q: What are the advantages of the dome shape?
A: The dome, or partial sphere, is a geometric form that encloses the greatest amount of volume with the least amount of surface area. Historically, massive domes constructed of stones, brick or concrete were common in ancient Greece and Rome. In modern times, Buckminster Fuller was the first to formulate geodesic principles for constructing a spherical surface by triangular subdivision.

During the past decade the home buying public has experienced a substantial increase in the cost of construction, the cost of energy and the cost of borrowing. As a result, there has been increased interest in the use of technology to help address these concerns. In the last decade, many people have discovered that the dome home design offers a viable solution.

As a residential building concept, geodesic dome home construction translates into a highly comfortable and livable home that has a maximum of floor area enclosed by a minimum of materials. These features combine superior strength and cost-effectiveness in a single structure. In short, the building concept of a dome home expands the range of simple and economic housing options.

Manufactured dome homes are constructed using a triangular network to form a spherical shape. This method provides for a free span, self-supporting structure requiring no internal supports such as roof load bearing partition walls. This allows for maximum flexibility of floor plan design and utilization of interior space.

As an architectural form, the dome is one of the strongest structural forms devised and built by man. Domes that were built centuries ago enclose many of the great cathedrals of Europe. Domes are structurally superior to rectilinear enclosures. The partial sphere is an aerodynamic shape that is very stable in high winds and can withstand heavy snow loads. For these reasons, residential domes greatly exceed the structural requirements of the major building codes in the United States.

One of the most exciting architectural environments ever designed, a dome brings its best attributes to your home. It delivers a rewarding living experience filled with warmth, light and open space to those who accept the challenge to build and live in their own dome.

Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

A:  Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.

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American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is not liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.  To read about a load test which proves the strength of the Ai component panel, click on Load Test.  Prior to hurricanes, glass doors and windows should be protected with code approved shutters.

The founder of American Ingenuity, Michael Busick, manufactured and built his first concrete dome in 1976. Since then no American Ingenuity Dome has suffered any structural damage due to hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. As a matter of fact, only one of our domes has suffered any damage during this time due to a hurricane, earthquake or tornado. And that was in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew when a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45′ American Ingenuity Dome. Minor damage occurred, a hairline crack and small chunk of concrete was broken loose. The dome owner caulked the crack and mixed up the special fiber concrete, filled the chunk and painted over the area.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed the Texas coast.  The Seabrook, Texas dome owners slept through the hurricane and had no damage to their dome while their neighbor’s homes suffered damage and the families could not sleep during the howling winds.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. One Ai dome owner could have moved back into her dome but the neighborhood did not have water or electricity.  Another family called and told us that  their conventional house was destroyed so they moved in to their dome while it was under construction.  The shell kit was assembled but the interior had not finished.

In 2004, Florida had four hurricanes, none of American Ingenuity’s concrete domes had any damage.
 
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of South Florida and Homestead Florida.  An Ai dome not only survived Andrew but it survived a tornado and had no structural damage.   To read a recap of the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquake, tree impact and lighting strike the American Ingenuity domes have survived without any structural damage, click on Hurricane Recap.

The following is taken directly from the American Ingenuity Conditions of Sale:

  • American Ingenuity warrants to the original Buyer that their triangle & riser panels will remain free from structural damage directly attributable to hurricane winds of up to 225 mph and category 4 tornadoes, when completely assembled and installed in accordance with: American Ingenuity’s specifications, Professional building practice, Applicable building codes.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas.
  • In the event such structural damage occurs: The Buyer shall notify American Ingenuity promptly of such damage. After receipt of notification, American Ingenuity shall repair or, at American Ingenuity’s option, provide the necessary replacement components at no charge to the Buyer. The buyer shall be responsible for freight charges and/or reasonable travel and living expense of American Ingenuity personnel for travel to the site, if necessary.
  • Disassembly and reassemble of any damaged component shall be the sole responsibility of the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply if the products or components have been subjected to abuse, abnormal wear, corrosive environmental conditions, or improper maintenance by the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply to any glass, utility domes, or related components, exterior doors, framed walls under entryways and dormers, cupola or link. 
  • American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is no way liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.
  • In no event shall American Ingenuity’s liability arising out of this agreement or use of the products or components provided by American Ingenuity exceed the amount paid by the buyer.  American Ingenuity shall not be liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages.

Hurricane Ratings

The following information came from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation. Their web site is http://www.flash.org

What is a Hurricane? A hurricane is a powerful tropical storm that measures several hundred miles in diameter. Hurricanes have two main parts. The first is the eye of the the hurricane, which is a calm area in the center of the storm. Usually, the eye of a hurricane measures about 20 miles in diameter and has very few clouds. The second part is the wall of clouds that surrounds the calm eye. This is where the hurricane’s strongest winds and heaviest rain occur.

How Hurricanes Form: Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods. Hurricanes rotate in a counter clockwise direction around an “eye.” Hurricanes have winds of at least 74 miles per hour. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a three-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine.

Tropical Depression: A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph.

Tropical Storm: A tropical storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.

When a Hurricane Strikes: When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

The Saffir-Sinpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate a hurricane’s present intensity. The scale ranges from one to five and uses sustained wind speed to estimate the potential property damage and flooding from a hurricane landfall.

  • Category One — Wind Speed 74-95 mph. Damage: No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees; also some coast flooding and minor pier damage. Examples: Irene 1999, Allison 1995.
  • Category Two — Wind Speed 96-110 mph. Damage: Some roofing material, door and window damage to buildings; considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood in two to four hours before arrival of the center of the storm. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Examples: Bonnie 1998, Georges 1998 and Gloria 1985.
  • Category Three — Wind Speed 111-130 mph. Damage: Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with large structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than five feet above sea level may be flooded inland eight miles or more. Examples: Keith 2000, Fran 1996, Opal 1995, Alicia 1983 and Betsy 1965.
  • Category Four — Wind Speed 131-155 mph. Damage: More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences; major erosion of beaches. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain continuously lower than ten feet above seal level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far as six miles. Examples: Katrina 2005?Andrew 1992, Hugo 1989, Donna 1960.
  • Category Five — Wind Speed 155 ++++ Damage: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located 15 feet above seal level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within five to ten miles of the shoreline may be required. Examples: Mitch and Gilbert in 1988.

Exterior Hurricane Andrew Dome 6

American Ingenuity Dome went through Hurricane Andrew & Tornado with no structural damage.

Tornado picked up two wide steel horse trailer & slammed it against the dome. Only damage was hairline crack & small chunk of concrete missing. If the trailer had impelled conventional house, typically the trailer would cause a hole in the house to let wind in to lift the roof off the house.  The Ai dome stood strong.

Tornadoes

What is a Tornado? Tornadoes are the most sudden, unpredictable and violent storms on earth. Tornadoes aren’t like hurricanes that are born over open waters and can take days to reach land. Tornadoes are spawned from thunderstorms that form when warm humid air meets a mass of cool, dry air. Only one in a hundred thunderstorms produce a tornado. They can happen quickly and often stay on the ground for only a few minutes. While Florida gets the most tornadoes of any state, a strip of land that extends from northeast Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri has more tornadoes than any other place in the United States. That area is called “Tornado Alley.”

The dangers of tornadoes: During the last century, more than 10,000 Americans died in tornadoes. About 1,000 tornadoes are recorded each year in the U.S. — over 10 times more than in any other country. Tornadoes can happen in any state, at any time — on the plains, in cities or forests, early in the morning or late in the evening. They can start in an empty field, or in a busy city, picking up homes, cars and businesses, leaving nothing but destruction in their path.

Ranking a Tornadoes Strength

The Fujita Scale: The Fujita Scale is used to measure tornado wind speeds and damage.

  • F0 Gale Tornado: Light damage, winds less than 72 mph. Some damage to chimneys, branches broken off trees, shallow-rooted trees uprooted, signboards damaged.
  • F1 Moderate Tornado: Moderate damage, winds 73-112 mph. Surface peeled off roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, moving autos blown off road.
  • F2 Significant Tornado: Considerable damage, winds 113-157 mph. Roofs torn off frame houses, mobile homes demolished, large trees snapped or uprooted, light objects become missiles.
  • F3 Severe Tornado: Severe Damage, winds 158-206 mph. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses, trains overturned, most trees uprooted, heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.
  • F4 Devastating Tornado: Devastating damage, winds 207-260 mph. Well-constructed houses leveled, structures with weak foundations blown-off some distance, cars thrown.
  • F5 Incredible Tornado: Incredible damage, wind 261-318 mph. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and swept away, automobile-sized missiles fly through the air more than 100 yards, trees debarked.