Dr. Bailes speaks regularly at conferences, training classes, and special events.
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Which takes more heat — melting a pound of feathers or raising the temperature of a pound of feathers from the melting to the boiling point? OK, let me rephrase that. If the Wicked Witch of the West melts at a temperature of 45° C and her current temperature is 35° C, how much heat does it take to get her to the melting point and then to melt her completely?
Many of the problems that people experience with cooling their homes are pretty straightforward — simple to fix and often simple to prevent. Of course, there are also bigger problems, like bad insulation, air barriers, and duct installations, but today my focus is (mostly) on the immediate concern of cooling off homeowners whose air conditioners aren't cooling.
You know how when you change the filter in your air conditioner, it has a little arrow on the edge showing which way the air is supposed to flow through it? What do you think happens if you put it in with the arrow in the wrong direction? And then let it get too dirty? That's what happened with the filter below.
It's summer here in the Southeast. Yeah, I know we haven't reached the official beginning of summer marked by the summer solstice, but air conditioners are roaring here, and that's official enough for us. With that in mind, here are a few tips and trivia about air conditioning as we celebrate the beginning of a new cooling season here in the Northern Hemisphere. (If you'd like to learn more air conditioning, check out our upcoming webinar.)
Spray foam insulation is an air barrier. When you use it instead of the fluffy stuff (fiberglass, cellulose, cotton), a house will be more airtight. That's good.
When I wrote about the net zero energy home that Amy Musser and Matt Vande built, I was really impressed that they were willing to share the mistakes they'd made and what they would do differently if they could go back and start over. Several readers remarked on that in the comments as well. Since I've puffed up my chest in this space several times and written about the green home I built a decade ago, I figure it's about time for me to come clean, too.
My wife and I visited family in Florida recently and our first stop was the home of my sister and brother-in-law in Lakeland (east of Tampa). They haven't lived in the house all that long, and my brother-in-law, Jack, moved his man-cave into the one upstairs room when they settled in. After one summer in the room, however, he abandoned that room for the cooler space downstairs. The problem, although not obvious to homeowners facing it, is a relatively simple one.
If you live in an older home, the walls may or may not have insulation in them. After you've tackled all the easier-to-access parts of the building enclosure, namely the floors and ceilings, uninsulated walls would be next on the list. If you're replacing the siding or doing a full gut-rehab, it'll be easy to determine how much insulation, if any, insulation your home has. Otherwise, you'll need to figure out what you've got, and try to do it without having to knock big holes in the wall, although that would certainly work.
Of course, there are more than 3 reasons that your 3 ton air conditioner isn't really 3 tons, starting with the fact that it's not 3 tons in weight. That unit refers to cooling capacity and harkens back to the days of ice. I'm also not talking about any of the multitude of reasons having to do with improper design, faulty installations, or lack of maintenance, topics that I discuss plenty in this space.
When you think of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), do you think of atomic clocks and hunks of metal that serve as standards of mass and length? Or do you think of cutting edge research in net zero energy (NZE) homes? It turns out, they do indeed still deal with standards, but they also do a lot of great research, including studying NZE homes.
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