How to Achieve Thermal Comfort in a Luxury Home

By Susan Nichol

A San Mateo County, California couple Jennifer and Leo lived in a rental with their 2 children.  A few months back Leo got a great new job in high tech, a sign-on bonus and stock options, he has been investigating building his dream home for years.  Jennifer stays home with the children and sometimes teaches a yoga class or two on weekends.  Leo and Jennifer secured financing to build their new home and they bought a 5 acre parcel of land in San Mateo County.

Jennifer is both excited about the new home and concerned.  She never feels comfortable in the 3K sq. ft. home they currently rent because she is either too hot or too cold.  The worst part was when heating was needed, the noise to heat the home was waking everyone up at night.  She also couldn’t have outside parties or gatherings during the cooling season because the air conditioner in the backyard was so loud that you couldn’t have a conversation.  Her concern is that she felt she would never have thermal comfort in an even larger home.

When Leo and Jennifer met with the architect firm, the goal was to make sure that both Jennifer and Leo were happy with their home after it was built. The size expectation that Leo gave the architect was about a 10-11,500 sq. ft. home.

Leo explained that he wanted a lot of windows for the views some of them guillotine style to increase the air flow and the view. Leo’s wish list includes a lot of stone, tile, a wine cellar with a billiards room, an open concept living room/kitchen and a pool for fun and relaxation.  He also requires good thermal and humidity control for his fine art collection.

Leo mentioned that he promised Jennifer that the home could be designed to be comfortable in the summer or winter and it would be quieter.  The architect knew that Leo’s description could pose thermal comfort issues for the couple, especially for Jennifer.  He made a few sketches to get an idea of what they wanted. He proposed the layout which they liked.

The architect firm contacted Cold Craft, Inc’s. Mechanical Engineering Department because Cold Craft is known for providing its clients designs that accommodates the thermal requirements making the home comfortable while being energy efficient and minimizing visual and acoustical impact of the site and residence.  This is a large project so there was a lot of attention given to discussing heating, cooling, and wine cellar refrigeration options to meet their specific needs.

Geothermal was suggested for energy efficient quiet operation (inside and out) so Jennifer can use the outside area without being bothered by the air conditioning unit because of the radiant option for the tile floors and in the walls. Cold Craft made wine cellar suggestions for a propriety wine cellar cooling unit so it would have less of a chance of corrosion.   And a mini-split unit was also suggested for the art collection room to keep it the ideal temperature and humidity.

Both geothermal and wine cellar refrigeration are specialties that require more finesse and experience. For proper geothermal operation, engineering is needed for proper function, some more work such as soil testing needed to be completed. Wine cellar refrigeration also is a bit trickier because it is neither air conditioning nor refrigeration, it falls somewhere in between.

15 months after breaking ground Jennifer and Leo moved into their home.  They sleep through the night with the quiet heating in the winter. Jennifer is comfortable and Leo is happy to have his fine wine collection safe and convenient in his private wine cellar and billiards room.

Since Cold Craft, Inc. works with clients that demand privacy and anonymity, Jennifer and Leo are not these client’s real names and the photo is close but not exactly how their home looks.

If you want thermal comfort in your luxury home, or refrigeration for your wine cellar, call Cold Craft, Inc. at 408.374.7292, we won’t tell.

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