Energy Vanguard Blog

An Old Home in New Orleans Gets New Sheathing

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Feb 5, 2016

New Orleans is the home of jazz, Mardi Gras, and rot. I grew up about 70 miles southwest of NOLA so I know a little something about the rain and the swamps and the muggy air. It makes it tough on buildings because the moisture comes from so many directions, but it is possible to control moisture there. Here's what we recommended for this hundred year old home that had its share of moisture problems.

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Tags: insulation, moisture problems

HVAC Hacks and Other Screwups — The Backstory

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Feb 3, 2016

I love me some good bad photos. You know, good photos of bad stuff. If you've been here a while, you've seen some of the doozies I've posted in the Energy Vanguard Blog. Take Stumpy, the duct amputee or Release the Kraken or the ice chest in the duct system or any of a number of building enclosure failures. They can be funny and instructive. In 2012, Ralph Harmon started HVAC Hacks and Other Screwups on Facebook and took this thing to a whole new level.

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Tags: fun, heating & cooling distribution, heating & cooling

Can You Cool Your Home with Crawl Space Air?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Feb 1, 2016

I know it's not air conditioning season, but this story is too good to wait until summer rolls around. My friends at E3 Innovate in Nashville — you may remember them for finding the home ventilated with dead possum odors — have done it again. This time they've discovered a crawl space with an unhealthy innovation. Let's take a look at the photos.

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Tags: heating & cooling distribution, crawl space, indoor air quality, ventilation, heating & cooling

The Surprising Building Science History Behind the Revolving Door

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jan 29, 2016

Revolving doors have been around for a century and a half. You see them at the bottom of tall buildings, which tells you something right there. They weren't invented merely to function as a way to enter and exit these buildings. There's a building science reason behind their invention. In fact, the name given them by H. Bockhacker, the original inventor in Germany, tells you why he did it: "Tür ohne Luftzug."

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Tags: design, air leakage, heating & cooling

A Tale of Two Roofs - Frost, Snow, and Attic Heat Loss

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Jan 27, 2016

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of cold, it was the season of heat, it was the ignorance of what was right in front of us, it was the opening of our eyes, we had warmth in our homes, we had warmth in our attics — in short, the period was so like the present period that indeed it is the present period, noisy authorities and superlative degrees of comparison aside.

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Tags: insulation, air leakage, attic, heating & cooling

Unvented Gas Appliance Industry Falls Flat at ASHRAE Meeting

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jan 25, 2016

Unvented combustion appliances were added to the scope of ASHRAE's residential ventilation and IAQ standard (Std. 62.2) recently. The committee has begun their deliberations on the issue, and at ASHRAE's winter meeting in Orlando this month, the unvented gas appliance industry folks attempted a defense of their products. Based on the results they presented and the reaction from most committee members, I'd say they failed.

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Tags: indoor air quality, moisture problems, health & safety, ventilation

Even New Windows Won't Stop This Heat Loss

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jan 22, 2016

This will be a quick article. I just want to show you four images to make a point about heat loss at windows. (I say "at" windows because we all know that windows themselves allow more heat through than the surrounding walls. Here in Atlanta, for example, builders have to insulate walls to R-13 but windows only to R-2.) The first photo shows the window as it normally looks, photographed in visible light. Looks fine, right?

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Tags: air leakage, windows, heating & cooling

What Is the Best Indoor Relative Humidity in Winter?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Jan 20, 2016

It's been a little crackly around here lately. We're having a cold spell in Atlanta, with high temperatures right around the freezing point. As a result, the indoor relative humidity has dropped and we're getting some static electricity. Even better, what I call the Southern Lights are visible at night, too. (I've never called it that before, but hey, a man named Allison is entitled to make things up on the spot.) That's when the microfiber blanket on the bed lights up every time I move.

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Tags: air leakage, indoor air quality, moisture problems, ventilation

Increasing Diversity at the Best Home Performance Conference

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jan 18, 2016

I love the ACI National Home Performance Conference and Trade Show. It's one of my favorite events of the year. From the first time I attended in 2005, I knew this conference was special. It's a great place to learn what your peers are doing in other parts of the country. It's a great place to meet the experts. And it's a great place to hear the latest news in building science and home performance. And now the organizers have a new tool to open it up.

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Tags: fun, conferences

Another Way to Prevent Your Garage from Making You Sick

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jan 15, 2016

If you have an attached garage where you live, the odds are high that your indoor air quality is worse than a home without an attached garage. Just take a look at the photo below to see some of the sources of pollutants that can get into your home's air. How many do you see?

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Tags: heating & cooling distribution, indoor air quality, water heating, ventilation