The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Insulation on flex duct (Photo by Mike MacFarland, used with permission)
Posted by Allison Bailes on February 13, 2018
If you know a little building science, you've no doubt seen a lot of problems that occur with air distribution systems. Ducts just don't get anywhere near the attention they deserve in most homes, partly because they're hidden from view. I've written about ducts quite a bit here and have shown...
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Condensation in the bathroom after the morning shower
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 22, 2018
You may have heard or read somewhere that you should run your bathroom exhaust fan whenever you take a shower and then let it run for a while after you're done with the shower. Showers increase the humidity in the bathroom. Sometimes it gets high enough to cause condensation to appear on the mirror...
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Water vapor and cool surfaces are a bad combination
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 17, 2018
Because I've written so much about moisture in buildings, I get a lot of questions on the topic. Some are about walls. Some are about the attic. Some are about windows. Some are about the crawl space (which generates the most questions on this topic). The key to answering a lot of those questions...
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ventilation energy enthalpy recovery ventilator erv humidity
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 9, 2018
When I woke up Saturday morning, the temperature outdoors was -40 degrees†. The wind chill was -100 degrees! It was just unbelievably, impossibly, inhumanly cold outside. Fortunately, that was on a mountaintop in New Hampshire and not where I was. I happened to have woken up on a mountaintop in...
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When stakeholders buy in to doing things right, building enclosure problems like this are reduced.
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 3, 2018
Last month I read a nice little article by Steve Baczek about getting buy-in from the various stakeholders involved with building a home. He's an architect who works closely with the people who build the homes he designs. He's also a former US Marine who understands the importance of what he calls...
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A certified Passive House in Seattle, Washington
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 2, 2018
Well, another year has come and gone. Out with the old, in with the new, and all that. A time for introspection and resolutions. Taking stock of where we are and plotting a course for where we want to be. All because of a somewhat arbitrary turning of the calendar from one year to the next. A...
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A 2x4 wall with blown fiberglass insulation
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 19, 2017
Remember that article I wrote last week? You know, the one about how much you might save if you go beyond a standard 2x4 wall in a warm climate? I showed three tables in the article. The first was a list of the whole-wall R-values for the standard 2x4 wall and three better walls. The second showed...
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Is it better to go with exterior continuous insulation or thicker walls?
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 12, 2017
If you live in the world of 2x4 walls, as I do, you may have wondered about the savings you'd get by going to a more robust wall assembly. The typical house in southern climes has 2x4 walls with R-13 insulation in the cavities. Two ways to beef that up would be to add continuous exterior insulation...
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Lake Fryxell on Antarctica will never reach absolute zero (photo by Joe Mastroianni, National Science Foundation, in the public domain)
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 28, 2017
Thermodynamics is a big subject. It's complex because you can get to the same conclusions in multiple ways. Just take a look at the different formulations of the second law of thermodynamics. In addition, the laws are macroscopic, meaning we don't need to know anything about atoms or molecules to...
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Second law of thermodynamics
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 16, 2017
The first law of thermodynamics is one of the more well-known laws of physics, especially in its generalized form of conservation of energy. It provides us with the power to see through stupid ideas and scams. It's so important, in fact, that even Homer Simpson invokes the laws of thermodynamics...
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