Energy Vanguard Blog

Heat Is a BTU-tiful Thing!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Feb 8, 2016

Every year on New Year's Eve, I head over to some friends' house here in the Atlanta area. They have the best party around—Possum Drop—and I've been going for nearly a decade now. As midnight approaches, the newly-crowned Possum Queen leads the countdown. The possum is lowered slowly onto the fire and then erupts in an explosion flames and sparks. Don't worry! It's a giant possum made of chicken wire, papier-mâché, fabric, and other scavenged materials...and it's stuffed full of fireworks!

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Tags: fun, heating & cooling

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

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

Big Blowout in the Plastic PortaPotty

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Dec 4, 2015

I saw this portable toilet yesterday at a new home job site. I'd actually seen it a few days earlier from the road and thought maybe someone had backed into it with their truck. Yesterday I drove in to see if I could talk to the builder and found that the damage was of a different sort. And that got my mind to wondering...

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Tags: fun

My New Favorite Duct Disaster

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

WARNING: This article contains graphic and disturbing images of a duct system that may upset anyone sensitive to low-quality air distribution. If you've ever experienced nausea, fainting spells, or outbursts of anger upon being exposed to such stimuli, I urge you to take this in small doses...or not at all.

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Tags: fun, heating & cooling distribution

Fun in the Sun: The 2015 Solar Cooking Festival

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

If you've ever wanted to learn how to cook with the sun, the 2015 Solar Cooking Festival in Sacramento was the place to be. This is the second year of the event, hosted by Solar Cookers International. They had quite a variety of solar cookers on display, from simple, two-panel low-temperature solar cookers to large, high-temperature cookers with concrete bases. There was also a cook-off and lots of advice for those who want to learn more.

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Tags: fun, solar energy

3 Cool Videos about Hydrophilic, Hydrophobic, & Hygroscopic Materials

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Jul 1, 2015

As long as we're exploring the wonderful world of water, we ought to show some of the cool stuff it does. In my article Introduction to the Physics of Water in Porous Materials, I described hydrophilic, hydrophobic, and hygroscopic materials. Turns out they're pretty important to building science. Yesterday I saw a video of hydrophobic sand and that got me looking on Youtube for other good videos of this sort.

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Tags: fun, building science

17 Reasons I Love Working with Buildings

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jun 29, 2015

Yesterday I had lunch with Robert Bean and Eric Griffin at the ASHRAE conference here in Atlanta. As we talked about how we got into the field of building science, I began thinking of the reasons I love doing what I do. My background is physics, and I really enjoyed teaching it when I was in academia, but I didn't really fit in there. When I discovered building science (and later blogging), I finally found my niche. Here's why:

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Tags: fun, design, education, business, comfort, indoor air quality, environment & sustainability, big picture, creativity, health & safety, blogging

The Paranormal - Building Science Nexus

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

Have you seen ghosts? Ever been in a haunted house? Do some homes just give you the paranormal heebie jeebies? The building science ghostbusters are hot on the trail, so you may be able to set your mind at ease.

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

7 Reasons to Go to the ACI National Home Performance Conference

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Apr 3, 2015

The ACI National Home Performance Conference is only a month away. Even more important, the deadline to get the Early Bird rate on the registration fee is Monday, 6 April. If you work on homes, this conference is for you. Here are 7 reasons why.

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Tags: fun, education, conferences