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Building Enclosure Blunder in the Basement

 
sealed combustion closet unsealed floor joist duct

The photo below shows a common problem in new homes. It's also one that can make it difficult to pass the blower door test required by many building codes these days. If I tell you that the wall pictured here separates two rooms in a basement and one of them is not conditioned, can you see the problem? If so, how many mistakes do you see here?

The Diminishing Returns of Adding More Insulation

 
blown cellulose insulation grade 1

If you're building a house and want to have a really good building enclosure, you need it to be airtight, handle moisture properly, and have a good amount of insulation. Ideally, you'd also consider the effects of solar radiation on the home, but for now let's just focus on the insulation. What exactly is "a good amount" anyway?

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Insulation to Go - Creativity in the Attic

 
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Someone got creative with their attic insulation!

Are You Being Responsible with Numbers?

 
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Numbers. We deal with them all the time. They come at us from all directions. We believe them. Or we don't. We throw them out and expect others to believe us. Those of us who work in the field of building science have a responsibility to understand them, to use them wisely, to share them appropriately. But there's one word that describes the irresponsible way that numbers are used much of the time.

Amazon to Use Server Farm Waste Heat for Office Heating

 
computer data center server farm waste heat

This morning in my ASHRAE newsletter, I saw an interesting story about a cool thing Amazon.com is planning to do with heat. Amazon, in case you didn't know, is a heavy user of computers. Not only do their run their online store but they also have a popular cloud computing service. Computers turn electricity into kitten videos, celebrity tweets, and waste heat. And that last one is huge.

RESNET Changes Training Policy with Interpretation

 
HERS rater training confirmed rating

The RESNET board of directors last week issued Formal Interpretation 2014-04 (pdf). If you're on RESNET's mailing list, you may not have noticed this one come through on 24 September because they send out so many emails, but it's an important one to look at. It's titled "Clarification of Training Ratings" on the RESNET website. But it's more than a simple clarification. It's a change in policy that doesn't have to go through public comment since the board issued it as an interpretation.

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On the Edge: The North American Passive House Conference

 
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The 9th annual North American Passive House Conference happened two weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. The Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) has been holding this conference every year since 2006, and it just keeps getting better. I've been to the last three now, and it's one of my favorite events of the year, right up there with Building Science Summer Camp (Dr. Joe Lstiburek's conference) and Possum Drop (the New Year's Eve party I go to each year in Georgia). This year's conference seemed especially good because of the direction PHIUS is taking the passive house movement in North America.

An Energy Recovery Ventilator Is NOT a Dehumidifier

 
ventilation energy enthalpy recovery ventilator erv humidity

A common misconception about the energy recovery ventilator (ERV) is that it's good for humid climates because it helps to dehumidify a home. It's usually the better choice for a humid climate when you're trying to decide between an ERV or an HRV (heat recovery ventilator) but not because it's a dehumidifier. It is not a dehumidifier. Here's why.

All Over the Map — The Imprecision of 24 California HERS Ratings

 
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A home energy rating is supposed to tell you how energy efficient your home is. A certified home energy rater goes to the home and collects all the data relevant to energy consumption in the home (well, all the data included in the rating anyway, which is almost everything). Then they enter the data into energy modeling software and get the results: consumption for heating, cooling, water heating, lights, and appliances plus this thing called a HERS Index. But what if the results were off by 50%, 100%, or even more?

This Thermostat Setting Can Cost You Money and Make You Sick

 
air conditioner thermostat fan on temperature 600

I've been experimenting with my family lately. Or is it, experimenting on my family? In either case, I've got the data to confirm something I wrote in a 2011 article. But before I tell you what I did, first let me show you what happened. Here is Exhibit A: A Moisture Mystery. What do you think happened to cause the humidity (blue data) in the air in our condo to rise like that?

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