Energy Vanguard Blog

It's Time to Settle the Net Zero Energy Controversy!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Sep 1, 2015

Some people call it a net zero energy home (NZE). Some call it a zero net energy home (ZNE). The controversy has caused good friends to come to blows. I'm talking Building Science Fight Club on steroids! (Of course, I've been known to exaggerate before.)  Now we need your help.

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Tags: net zero energy

Fundamentals of Psychrometrics, Part 3

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Aug 31, 2015

To this point, we’ve taken a look at what exactly psychrometrics is and defined the top nine psychrometric quantities. Now we're going to delve into how we can combine those quantities and create the psychrometric chart. As you might expect, taking nine variables and putting them into one chart puts a lot of information at your fingertips. It also can take a while to figure it all out. On top of all that, having nine different variables means you’ve got a lot of options for how to show them in a chart.

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Tags: moisture problems

4 Passive House Conference Talks I Can't Wait to Hear

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

The 10th annual North American Passive House Conference is just around the corner. It's in Chicago this year, a nice central location and also where the headquarters of the Passive House Institute US is located. I really enjoy this conference and always get to hear some high level talks there. Looking over the agenda for this year's conference, these are the presentations I'm most looking forward to.

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Tags: conferences

A Canadian Building Science Treat for Your Weekend!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

I have to apologize. I've been holding onto a secret for three weeks now, and I've just got to tell you about it. One of the best things that came out of Building Science Summer Camp this year was an announcement. The photo here holds the clue to that momentous revelation. No, it's not the campaign button for a Trump/Lstiburek ticket in the US presidential election. But it was made by the guy wearing that button: Stephen Collette.

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Tags: education

The Best Way to Cool Your Attic

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Aug 26, 2015

The most contentious issue I’ve written about since I started blogging isn’t bad Manual Js. Nor is it endorsing government intervention by raising efficiency standards or improving energy codes. Incredibly, it’s not even whether or not naked people need building science. Nope. The topic that really gets readers hyperventilating is powered attic ventilators (PAVs). Some people swear it’s the best way to keep their attic cool and reduce air conditioning costs. Apparently they haven’t seen the research about what works better than PAVs without the drawbacks.

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Tags: heating & cooling distribution, attic, heating & cooling

10 Essential Steps to Building a Pretty Good House

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Aug 24, 2015

My friends up in Maine came up with the concept of the Pretty Good House a few years ago, and I love the idea! Not everyone can or wants to build a LEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge, Passive House. But a lot of architects, builders, and homebuyers would like to design, build, and live in houses that are better than the barely-legal, code-minimum houses that populate the market. The Pretty Good House, then, is the way to go.

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Tags: design, heating & cooling distribution, insulation, air leakage, windows, moisture problems, ventilation, heating & cooling

The Secret to Moving Air Efficiently through Your Duct System

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Aug 20, 2015

At my first Building Science Summer Camp in 2011, David Hill (in the photo below) gave a great presentation on some of the big problems with duct systems. (In case you weren’t reading this blog back then, I got myself invited with my 2010 article called I Don't Need No Stinkin' Building Science Summer Camp.) Michael Chandler ably summarized that talk in his article, Stuff I Learned at Joe Lstiburek’s House, Part 2. This year, Hill did a followup presentation, reprising some of his main points but also adding two new pieces, one of which is a nice study he's been involved with on air flow in oval ducts.

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Tags: conferences, heating & cooling distribution

My New Favorite Duct Disaster

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

WARNING: This article contains graphic and disturbing images of a duct system that may upset anyone sensitive to low-quality air distribution. If you've ever experienced nausea, fainting spells, or outbursts of anger upon being exposed to such stimuli, I urge you to take this in small doses...or not at all.

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Tags: fun, heating & cooling distribution

Must the 3 Little Pigs Die?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Aug 12, 2015

Building Science Summer Camp was last week. That means I was in Massachusetts with 500 of my closest friends, staying up too late, talking building science out the wazoo, and attending some great presentations from leaders in the world of building science. My big takeaways from Summer Camp this year were Marty Houston's "hairy hand of quality," Robert Bean's three little pigs, and a black toenail. The first was a striking image, the second is the topic of this article, and the third will probably fall off in a few days. (Sorry. If that makes you squeamish, just be glad I didn't tell you how I relieved the pressure.)

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Tags: big picture, heating & cooling

The Problem with Relative Humidity

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

There's a problem with relative humidity. I hear it a lot when I talk to people about moisture problems. A client with high humidity in his home recently told me he didn't understand how it could be more humid inside his home than it was outdoors. The indoor relative humidity (RH) was 60% while it was only 50% outdoors. Do you see the problem?

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Tags: moisture problems