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New technology for old houses

New technology for old houses
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Traditional wooden farmhouses like those in Appensell, are iconically Swiss, but every year around 30 of them are demolished because it is so difficult to renovate them to modern standards.

But a European research project 3-ENCULT wants to save these houses and is finding new ways to modernise the buildings in an ecologically friendly way. A team at the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, are evaluating the effects of different elements of the renovation – insulation is obviously a major issue and double glazing is essential. This house has been fitted with both external and internal insulation. Monitors around the house help researchers know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

Simone Reeb, a researcher at the University of Darmstadt explained: “We have about 160 sensors in the house, which measure the surface temperature, relative air humidity and absolute air humidity. Additionally, at some points we also collect the airflows. Right now all survey stations are feeding their data into the system, it is analysed, and eventually a heater or a humidifier could be activated as a result.”

Another possibility is using a different type of insulation to improve living standards inside the house, which is completely constructed from wood. Building houses like this is an old-established craft, and there are still some people around who keep the skills alive.

Eventually, the team hopes to find the best ways to insulate and heat these houses, to make them energy efficient, eco-friendly and comfortable to live in… as well as being iconic from the outside.