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Why Is RESNET Limiting Its Options for Improvement?

 
How can RESNET improve the consistency of the HERS Index?

In case you haven't heard, last year RESNET created a task force to look at ways to improve the consistency of results among certified home energy raters (aka HERS raters). One week ago, executive director Steve Baden sent an email about the latest developments in the process. He also attached a document titled Quality Improvement Working Group RESNET QA Options (pdf) that outlines the areas of consensus and gives three options for changing the way quality assurance (QA) is done. Unfortunately, there's a glaring omission from the list.

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Moisture and the Quirkiness of OSB

 
oriented strand board osb permeability

Oriented strand board (OSB) gets blamed for a lot of problems that are really the fault of the designers and builders. Part of the problem, of course, is the perrenial confusion between correlation and causality. OSB hit the market as we really started getting serious about insulation and air sealing. As I described in the story of painters refusing to paint insulated homes, building assemblies that keep the exterior sheathing and cladding colder restrict its ability to dry. Is that the fault of the OSB? Or the insulation? Or the lack of a vapor barrier? Or something else altogether?

5 Reasons to Attend the Passive House Conference in California

 
north american passive house conference california 2014 phius

The 9th annual North American Passive House Conference is less than a month away. You knew it's going to be in California, right? It's unfortunate that the other passive house group has chosen to use the same name PHIUS has been using since 2006, but I've already discussed that confusion. All you need to know is that the main passive house conference is in California, not in Maine. And here's why you ought to get yourself registered for it ASAP.

Why Is Clark Howard Giving Bad Energy-Saving Advice?

 
clark howard diy ways save energy bill

Clark Howard is the penny pincher's guru. My wife loves his radio show and website for all the money-saving tips he provides. Naturally, anyone trying to help people save money at home has to address energy use, and Howard does, too. Unlike some others, though, he's generally well educated on the topic because he's hung around the Southface Energy Institute enough to know the basics. (I don't know if he ever used the clip, but he filmed me teaching how to do a blower door test there a few years ago.)

Are You Making This Mistake with Humidity?

 
water words vocabulary dew point psychrometrics hygroscopic

I want you to think about humidity today. Look at the photo below. What do you see? Dew drops on blades of grass. Where did that water come from? Out of the air. What was it about the air that caused the water to go from the vapor state to the liquid state? Wait! Don't answer! If you go any further, you're likely to make the mistake that so many people do.

Matt Risinger's Building Science Summer Camp Interviews

 
Table talk at Building Science Summer Camp

August for me is dominated by Building Science Summer Camp. It's a great event with lots of learning, great discussions, and meeting friends, old and new. I'll be writing about Dr. Chris Timusk's presentation on his OSB research later and possibly one or two other topics. Hal Levin spoke most of Tuesday, and, after his rambling, two-hour introduction, his talk on indoor air pollution was full of useful information. Today, though, let me just give you this nice little video that Matt Risinger put together from interviews he did with me, Joe Lstiburek, and Mark Laliberte.

The Pen Test — A Control Layers Tool for Architects and Contractors

 
pen test liquid water control layer epa moisture guide 550

I listened to the IAQ Radio podcast a couple of weeks ago when they interviewed Lew Harriman and Terry Brennan, who were discussing the new moisture control guide published by the EPA last year. Brennan is the lead author of the document, and it's a really great resource full of useful information about indoor air quality, fundamental building science principles, and how to control moisture. If you have anything to do with buildings, you really should download it now and read it.

4 Ventilation Quotes That Will Rock Your IAQ World

 
perforated buckskin underclothing ventilation iaq quotes

I've been writing some articles on ventilation for the Journal of Light Construction lately and have come across some great material. The first quote here makes the point about indoor air quality with a graphic underwear metaphor. It's from an 1893 book whose author was a medical doctor and interested in ventilation to prevent diseases like phthisis (what we now call tuberculosis).

Can You Save Money by Closing HVAC Vents in Unused Rooms?

 
air conditioner heat pump furnace supply vent register

Your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace probably uses a lot of energy. Heating and cooling makes up about half of the total energy use in a typical house. For air conditioners and heat pumps using electricity generated in fossil-fuel fired power plants, the amount you use at home may be only a third of the total. A question I get asked frequently is whether or not it's OK to close vents in unused rooms to save money. The answer may surprise you.

FBI Investigates R-22 Substitute Air Conditioner Refrigerants

 
R-22 air conditioner refrigerant

And the battle over air conditioner refrigerants continues. The US EPA just issued another warning, "cautioning homeowners, manufacturers of propane-based refrigerants, home improvement contractors and air conditioning technicians of the safety hazards related to the use of propane in existing motor vehicle and home air conditioning systems." Now the FBI has entered the battle, too.

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