Building-Winter-Proof-Home-Homes-Alberta-ICF

Forget GoT lore, winter is here in Central Alberta. In fact, that’s a statement that can be made more often that not. For seven months out of the year, the average daily low is significantly below 0°C. In the month of December, the average HIGH is -4°C. As you can see, heating and insulation is big business out here, from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer. However, homeowners are tired of coughing up hard earned dough to retrofit their single detached houses, and more than exhausted by the monthly energy expenditure required to maintain a bare minimum level of comfort.

The demand for better (read: winter proof) residential builds is on the rise and builders/developers that step up to the plate will be rewarded in kind. That good news, is that there is no need to scramble to find a piecemeal solution, as the single definitive answer you’ve been looking for is right here – insulated concrete forms.

Why Insulated Concrete Forms Are the Ultimate Solution for Winter Proofing Homes in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, and Central Alberta

Superior Thermal Resistance

When you tap into the properties of thermal mass you harness the ability to decrease energy consumption, something that is essential in the winter in Central Alberta. Thermal mass will absorb heating/warming gains from windows in a home that face the sun, while also collecting the heat generated when homeowners cook, keep the lights on, and use appliances. All of these activities increase in the the winter and all of this helps keep the house warmer, reducing the need for additional heating. Now in a typical wood frame build, the heat is released from the home much quicker, and quite dramatically from dusk into the night as the local temperature drops. However, when you build a home that provides the most useful level of thermal mass, you keep the generated heat in the home. Concrete in itself inherently has a higher thermal mass, but when you bookend and isolate it with two continuous panels of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam from NUDURA ICF you gain a tested R-Value of 23.59. The results in an abundant reduction in the outward flow of heat through the walls of the home. Occupants are comfortable, warm, and downright cozy, without having to crank the heating up. In fact, energy consumption from heating drops by up to 60%. That will leave households with enough disposable cash to take a tropical vacation, not that they’ll need to when living in an ICF home.

You Can Build Winter Proof Homes…in the Winter

Given that below 0°C temperatures persist for seven months out of the year in Central Alberta, many developers are crippled in their ability to build for over half a year. Those that can manage, are slowed down significantly even when working with traditional concrete foundations as frozen ground makes common pours and other building methods far less feasible. No matter the case, you’re not completing projects as fast as you need to in order to secure and move on to the next contract/project. That’s a lot of lost revenue over time.

However, when you use ICF, you can build through the cold snap with relative ease. Because you’re pouring concrete direct into the ICF block, the temperature is less of a concern. Studies show that concrete can achieve a compressive strength of at least 500 psi before freezing, and can be poured in temperatures below -15°C, which just so happens to be our average low for December. The design strength when using ICF will not be compromised and the isolated concrete will be given a far greater opportunity to properly cure.

What happens when snow or ice finds its way into the bottom of an ICF form? NUDURA states that all you need to do in this case is cut a hole in the bottom of the wall, with a diameter large enough to insert an air tube. Simply apply duct around edges between the hole and tube, and allow the injection of warm air through the cavity until the snow and ice melts. Covering the top of the wall with an air barrier to hold in the heat will further expedite the process.

ICF construction also requires significantly less labor and materials. Given the recently reduced supply of skilled labor it can be tough to call upon workers and subcontractors to brave the freezing temperatures to complete a residential build. This reliance (and competitive vulnerability) is mitigated, and the entire process becomes easier for all as fewer materials and “moving parts” are needed.


Ready to start building truly winter proof homes in Alberta? Learn more by contacting Total ICF. We’re here for you, no matter the time of the year.