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Will Open-Cell Spray Foam Insulation Really Rot Your Roof?

spray foam insulation open cell roof rot moisture problem

Murmurs and hearsay about open-cell spray foam insulation have been gaining traction for a while. It rots roofs, people have told me. Not long ago, someone even told me that in Florida, roofing companies won't let their workers go up on roofs with open-cell spray foam because the roofs are so spongy, the guys fall right through. Open-cell spray foam is getting a bad reputation among some people in the construction industry. But is it deserved?

With Ceiling Fans, Bigger Is Better

ceiling fan sizing bigger is better

I bought a new ceiling fan yesterday. As I looked at the boxes in the store, I noticed that many of them gave sizing recommendations. And many of those recommendations were not ideal.


Long Live the One-Week HERS Rater Training!

home energy rater hers training class vent cap

No, this is not an April Fool's joke (as much as I do like writing them, even when it's not 1 April). We've abandoned our 8-day in-class HERS rater training format. Beginning with our next class, the in-class part will last five and a half days. Did you catch the clue in that last sentence?

The 2 Primary Causes of Reduced Air Flow in Ducts

flex duct hvac loose inner liner friction rate

Two things. Just two things in your ducts are responsible for giving the blower in your furnace or air handler a hard time. They make the blower push against more pressure, thus reducing air flow or increasing energy use, depending on blower type. They cut the amount of air that gets delivered to the rooms. And they can be reduced but not eliminated. Do you know what they are?

US Department of Energy Reveals Net Zero Mass/Energy House

net zero mass energy house antimatter

Net zero energy homes, which produce as much energy as they use, are all the rage in the world of green building. Environmentalists and hippies have taken that a step further and proposed net zero water and net zero food homes. Now, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, under orders from their funders at the US Department of Energy to "be more practical and do something useful," have unlocked the secret to using antimatter in building materials. The result is the Net Zero Mass/Energy Home, which could revolutionize the construction industry.


Who's on Your Insulation Crew?

fiberglass batt insulation grade iii installation modular home crew

I used to do some consulting with a modular home manufacturer. We first visited their plant in 2007, and, as you can see below, they didn't quite have the insulation installation thing down. What you see below would be Grade III installation quality according to RESNET's insulation installation grading protocol. Six months later, Mel, their plant engineer, made an illuminating remark to me about why their insulation looked like that and how they changed it.


4 Smart Building Science Learning Opportunities for You

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If you work in the fields of home building, home improvement, or HVAC and want to do the best work you can, you know that you've got to keep learning. Not only is there a tremendous amount to know, but things are always changing. Here are four great opportunities for you to continue your building science education.

A Great Success: Classic 1970s Passive Solar Home Turned Net Zero

passive solar house richard levine kentucky 600

I've been in Lexington, Kentucky this week at the Midwest Residential Energy Conference. It was great! (And I played nice - I didn't mention in any of my talks that I'm a Florida Gator.) One of the many highlights for me was getting to visit Richard "Dick" Levine's 1970s passive solar house. It's not like any other house I've seen, and I've seen other passive solar houses.

These Ain't Yer Grandpappy's Heat Pumps

heat pump outdoor unit cold climate 500

Earlier this month I went to NESEA's Building Energy conference, and I think I heard three terms more than any others: heat pump, net zero, and passive house. (The second most popular trio was beer, wine, and whisky, but that may have something to do with the folks I was hanging out with.) So let's get right to the important question here: Why do these people in the cold climate of New England love heat pumps so much?

Solving a Crawl Space Water Mystery

crawl space encapsulation moisture problem mystery gutter downspout 1

When I started Energy Vanguard in 2008, I didn't know how it would evolve and had thought early on that I may get back into home performance contracting. I did a couple of jobs, the last one being a crawl space encapsulation for my friends Tony and Gabriella. They had a house over a moldy crawl space, and Gabriella had developed a cough since moving in. When I inspected the crawl space, it seemed an excellent candidate for encapsulation, but on the day I arrived to start the work, I discovered a water mystery that I had to solve first.

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