Energy Vanguard Blog

7 Things I Learned at the North American Passive House Conference

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

Yesterday I returned home from the North American Passive House Conference. It was great, as it always is. Wait. No, this was the best one yet. On the 10th anniversary of the first conference, PHIUS put on an amazing conference. It was the biggest one ever, I believe. As I flew home I pondered some of the things I heard and saw in Philadelphia and here are few that stood out for me.

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Tags: fun, conferences, Passive House

Only One Person Can Fix the Passive House Rift

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 29, 2016

In the beginning, there was passivhaus. That was way back in the 1990s. Then the Passive House Institute US, having been thrown out of the party for blasphemy, said, no, passive house started in North America in the 1970s and '80s. But wait, others said, a polar exploration ship from the 19th century was truly the beginning of passive house. And Dr. Joe Lstiburek, as you may recall, said it was the Eskimoes who started it.

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Tags: fun, Passive House

How I Achieved a 21% Increase in Airtightness

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jul 18, 2016

I've got a record of 14 blower door tests on my condo. Many of them were during home energy rater classes, as we'd bring them here for the confirmed rating they needed to complete. The early ones were horrible! But I had a good reason. Our laundry room ceiling was half gone because of a water leak. (Thanks, upstairs neighbors!) After that we had a bunch that were still bad. Now we've had another big jump in airtightness. Wanna see the numbers?

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Tags: fun, air leakage

2 Home Performance Music Videos You Just Gotta See

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

Today I have a special treat for you. These two music videos give a whole new meaning to the term "home performance." The first one came out in 2009, just as the ARRA program was about to crank up. The second one is from 1988, nearly two decades before Youtube. They're both classics. (I would include James Brown's blower door video, too, but I've already put it in another article.)

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Tags: fun

Is This the Worst Duct Retrofit Ever?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Feb 24, 2016

When Stephen Morrison of MoreSun Custom Woodworking sent me the photo below, my reaction was, Wow! Just wow! This duct retrofit is absolutely stunning. It's an elegant display of creativity unhindered by knowledge. Can you see what they've done?

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Tags: fun, heating & cooling distribution

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 not a real live possum. 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