Energy Vanguard Blog

Are You Confusing Insulation with Air Barriers?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Nov 24, 2015

I read a lot of stuff online about insulation and air barriers and other building science topics. I see a fair amount of people bashing certain products or materials. Sometimes it's because they sell a competing product. Sometimes they just don't like a product. Take fiberglass insulation, for example. What thoughts just went through your head?

Read More

Tags: insulation, air leakage

Accidental Dehumidification - A Preventable Mess

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Nov 20, 2015

"Oops! The house just had an accident. Whose turn is it to clean it up?" Yep. We're entering the season of accidental dehumidification. If you've got windows that start collecting water, like the one shown below, you're a victim of accidental dehumidification. It's not something you want in a building.

Read More

Tags: insulation, air leakage, indoor air quality, water, moisture problems

Valuing Energy Efficiency in the Electricity Market

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Nov 18, 2015

The world of electricity is changing quickly. With all the photovoltaic modules out there generating solar power and the advent of the smart meter, there's a revolution going on within the electric utility industry. I wrote a little bit about it recently when I discussed the duck curve. Near the end of that article, I mentioned that Matt Golden said something about the "new world where [energy efficiency] is dead." So I spoke with Matt last week, and here's more about what he said.

Read More

A Simple, Inexpensive Way to Better Airtightness

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Nov 13, 2015

Airtightness. It's one of the key components of a house that's built well. We know that it's a myth that houses need to breathe. We know it's one of the surest ways to reduce energy bills. We know it's a starting point for achieving good indoor air quality. Yet it can be difficult to achieve when you're building a new home.

Read More

2 Decades of Danny's Home Energy Data

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Nov 11, 2015

Danny Orlando, a manager in the ENERGY STAR program at the US EPA, walks the talk. He's been steadily improving the energy efficiency of his home over the past couple of decades and also monitoring his energy use data. The graph below tells the story.

Read More

Tags: attic, energy conservation, electricity

Electricity Demand and the Duck Curve

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Nov 6, 2015

You may think there's no more boring topic than electric utilities. Power plants. Transmission lines. Engineers with flat top haircuts and pocket protectors full of pens in their white short-sleeved shirts. Well, let me say two words that might help make them more interesting to you: duck curve. If you haven't heard this term yet, you're not alone.

Read More

Tags: energy security, big picture, solar energy, electricity

Do Boilers for Home Heating Actually Boil Water?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 27, 2015

Boilers for heating homes are common in some areas. Not here in Georgia, where I live, but my friends in the colder climates have them. This type of heating equipment takes a fuel like natural gas or fuel oil, burns it to create heat, and then puts that heat into water circulating through the distribution system. Since it's called a boiler, naturally it's heating the incoming water up to the boiling point and creating steam. Right?

Read More

Tags: heating & cooling distribution, heating & cooling

10 Uncommon Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Of course, everyone knows that caulking your windows and weatherstripping your doors won't help you much. Right? Well, all the cool kids do anyway, and that includes you because you're here reading this article. A lot of the standard advice on getting your home ready for winter is filled with bunk. That includes the stuff that comes from many utility companies and famous people who try to help you save money, like Clark Howard. But what should you really do to prepare your home for an efficient and cozy winter?

Read More

Winterizing Your Home? Don't Caulk the Windows!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 13, 2015

Caulk your windows. Weatherstrip your doors. It's that time of year again. No, I don't mean the time of year when you should do those things. I mean it's the time of year when all the news stories that include this ineffective advice start appearing. There's a lot of bad advice included in those articles, but let's just look at why the caulking and weatherstripping advice will provide minimal relief.

Read More

Tags: air leakage, windows, heating & cooling

Enterprise Green Communities — The Best Program You've Never Heard of

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 6, 2015

The best green building program you've never heard of is probably Enterprise Green Communities. Everyone knows about LEED, of course. Regional programs, such as EarthCraft House and Minnesota GreenStar, also have name recognition in their areas. But unless you've been involved with Enterprise Green Communities, you may not have even heard of it. The recent release of their new program criteria means that it's time for that lack of name recognition to change.

Read More

Tags: affordable housing