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

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

My Top 10 Energy Efficiency Articles and Ideas of 2015

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Dec 29, 2015

The year 2015 is almost finished. I've written 69 articles here in the Energy Vanguard Blog. I've been to a bunch of conferences and talked to a lot of people. A lot of thoughts about building science, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and more have gone through my head. As I sit here at the end of the year looking back on all of it, here's what I see as the best and most interesting stuff I've written about.

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Tags: insulation, spray foam, water, moisture problems, solar energy, electricity

Are You Confusing Insulation with Air Barriers?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Nov 24, 2015

I read a lot of stuff online about insulation and air barriers and other building science topics. I see a fair number of articles bashing certain products or materials. Sometimes it's because the author sells a competing product. Sometimes they just don't like a product. Take fiberglass insulation, for example. What thoughts just went through your head?

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Tags: insulation, air leakage

Accidental Dehumidification - A Preventable Mess

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Nov 20, 2015

"Oops! The house just had an accident. Whose turn is it to clean it up?" Yep. We're entering the season of accidental dehumidification. If you've got windows that start collecting water, like the one shown below, you're a victim of accidental dehumidification. It's not something you want in a building.

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Tags: insulation, air leakage, indoor air quality, water, moisture problems

10 Essential Steps to Building a Pretty Good House

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Aug 24, 2015

My friends up in Maine came up with the concept of the Pretty Good House a few years ago, and I love the idea! Not everyone can or wants to build a LEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge, Passive House. But a lot of architects, builders, and homebuyers would like to design, build, and live in houses that are better than the barely-legal, code-minimum houses that populate the market. The Pretty Good House, then, is the way to go.

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Tags: design, heating & cooling distribution, insulation, air leakage, windows, moisture problems, ventilation, heating & cooling

The Wonderful, Blunderful World of Construction

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 10, 2015

Jeffrey was driving through Atlanta the other day and saw a new building under construction that forced him to slam on the brakes. He got his camera out and took the photo below. Can you see why he was so excited?

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Tags: building enclosure, insulation

Joe Lstiburek's Ideal Double-Stud Wall Design

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Apr 29, 2015

Joe Lstiburek called me last week to set the record straight. I had written an article about a study of moisture in double-stud walls in a Massachusetts home, and his company, Building Science Corporation (BSC), had done the research as part of the Building America program. They found elevated moisture content in the cold, exterior sheathing, and Joe wanted to make sure everyone knew, "I would never build that wall because I consider it too risky."

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Tags: insulation, moisture problems

Is This the End of the Double-Wall, Cold Sheathing Scare?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

Insulation is good. More insulation is better (although at some point, more may not be cost effective). It reduces the amount of heat a home loses in winter or gains in summer. You can get there by building thicker walls and putting more insulation in the cavities, or you can put insulation on the outside of the structure, as in the Perfect Wall. The photo below shows thick insulation in the cavities of a home with double-wall construction.

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Tags: insulation, air leakage, moisture problems, ventilation

An Interview with Terry Brennan — a Building Science Pioneer

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

Last week I got a chance to sit down and talk with Terry Brennan in Dallas at the Air Barrier Association of America’s annual conference. He may not be as famous as Joe Lstiburek, but he’s every bit the building science pioneer. Armed with a physics degree, the ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, and a desire to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, he built houses and wrote energy modeling computer programs back in the 1970s and ‘80s. When he finally met Lstiburek in the early ‘80s, he learned not to bet against Joe’s ability to do ridiculous things. Read the transcript of our conversation and find out what that bet was and more.

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Tags: conferences, insulation, air leakage, environment & sustainability