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Solar Electricity: "The Final Source of Energy"

 
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Back in 1982, I was an undergraduate studying physics and listening to the Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. I loved my OMD album and was captivated by the song Electricity. Towards the end of the song, they sing:

A Year Full of Building Science Conferences

 
Building science, green building, & home performance conferences are a great way to learn and meet people

I love going to conferences. Since I changed my career in 2004, I've gone to building science, green building, and home performance conferences nearly every year. (I think I missed 2006, but I had a lot going on then.) Last year I went to eleven of them, but then I'm a bit unusual.1 You certainly don't have to go to that many, but if you're a home builder, home performance contractor, or home energy pro, I do recommend going to one a year so you can keep up with the latest trends, talk to your peers, and maybe add some arrows to your quiver.

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The One Thing I'd Love to See Building Enclosure Workers Do

 
fiberglass batt insulation grade 1 building enclosure

I think a lot about building enclosures. I've looked at a whole lot of houses and seen a whole lot of problems with the enclosure. I've also seen a few good ones, although they're all too rare. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I've also written about this topic a lot and have posted a lot of photos, of both the bad and the good. Today I'm going to tell you the one thing I'd love to see when I look at building enclosures.

Fiberglass Insulation Manufacturer Gets Serious About Installation

 
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One of the major fiberglass insulation manufacturers (the color in the photo below gives away which one I'm talking about) is getting serious about the installation quality of fiberglass batt insulation. They've put out a video (embedded below) and a document showing how to achieve RESNET Grade 1 installation quality with fiberglass batts. Have you seen these things yet?

The 3 Types of Heating and Cooling Loads

 
acca manual j 3 types of heating cooling loads

What is it about the number three? You've got the Three Musketeers, the Three Little Pigs, and the Three Stooges. Then there's three strikes (what every pitcher wants), three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), and the three kinds of people (those who can do math and those who can't). And let's not forget three on a match, three wise men, and threepeats. Today we'll look at another big three: the three types of heating and cooling loads. Do you know what they are?

The Fundamentals of Heating and Cooling Degree Days, Part 2

 
balance degree day base temperature

Degree days are a combination of time and temperature. We looked at their uses and where they come from in part 1 of this series, and now it's time to go a little deeper. The temperature enters as a temperature difference, ΔT (delta T), but it's not the ΔT between inside and outside of the building. It's the difference between the outdoor temperature and the base temperature. But what is this thing called base temperature?

The Gap Between Stupid and Hurt Is Narrowing

 
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The gap is narrowing. What gap, you ask? Why, the gap between stupid and hurt, of course. So says Dr. Joe Lstiburek. Allow me to explain.

The Experts Discuss Hygrothermal Analysis

 
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Dr. Joseph Lstiburek started it in 2012 when, in his keynote address at the Passive House conference, he said igloos were the first passive houses and you don't need WUFI,1 the hygrothermal modeling tool, to design and build a good house. Dr. Achilles Karagiozis, one of the leading proponents of WUFI, struck back in a presentation at the 2013 Westford Symposium on Building Science. In it he described a scenario in which Joe was in a helicopter crash in Alaska and had to build an igloo to survive. At the Passive House conference this year, Achilles expanded on that same topic.

2 Bad Ways to Install Windows the Hard Way

 
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I see a lot of interesting stuff at construction sites and in people's homes. I also see stuff I never got to see because people send me photos. I like photos! Remember that ice chest someone had incorporated into a duct system? That was sent to me. So are the first two photos below.

The Fundamentals of Heating and Cooling Degree Days, Part 1

 
thermometer heating degree days

Let's say you did some work on your home to make it more energy efficient - air sealing, more attic insulation, and a duct system retrofit. You've got your energy bills for 12 months before and 12 months after you did the work, and now you want to see how much energy you saved. So you sit down with all 24 months worth of utility bills, convert everything to a common unit if you use more than one type of fuel, and take a look at the numbers. Unless, however, you take into account another important factor, you may be led to incorrect conclusions.

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