The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

The soffits, fascias, and gutters need to be replaced, opening up an air-sealing opportunity
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 11, 2019
The number one thing you need to do to protect a building is control water.  As the Canadian building scientist Gus Handegord said, "The three biggest problems in buildings are water, water, and water."  So, with the 1961 house I bought this year, one of the first things I discovered was the...
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Spray foam insulation in an encapsulated attic.  How good is at the eaves?
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 8, 2019
An attic that's brought inside the building enclosure is a beautiful thing.  This is most often done with spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation, either open-cell or closed-cell.  Here in the southeastern US, open-cell is most often the spray foam of choice.  But how well does this process of...
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There's a very good reason to build, buy, or convert to an all-electric home
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 2, 2019
Maybe you've heard the rumblings coming out of the environmental and building science crowd.  Maybe not.  But it's getting louder lately.  The rumbling I'm alluding to is the move to switch from natural gas to electricity as the energy carrier of choice for buildings.  There are many reasons for...
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An older house with ducts located in the third worst place you can put them
Posted by Allison Bailes on August 14, 2019
Ah, so many choices.  If you want to design and install a duct system to create problems, the possibilities are endless.  I've certainly written about a lot of them (as well as how to do it properly).  Today, though, let's focus on one particularly bad place to put a duct.  In fact, I think it's...
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A nasty spot on this ceiling tile in my basement indicates a moisture problem
Posted by Allison Bailes on July 18, 2019
That photo above is from my basement.  In case you missed my last article, I just bought a 1961 ranch-style house in Atlanta and am embarking on the wonderful building science adventure of turning it into a high-performance home.  Ultimately, I'd like to take it all the way to net zero energy, too...
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Mid-century house in Atlanta
Posted by Allison Bailes on July 12, 2019
Let me tell you the story about a poor, young country boy who broke the law and launched me into my new project.  Back in February, I was driving home from work one evening when a driver T-boned me.  The crash totaled my car.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but I was pissed because my car was paid...
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fiberglass-batt-insulation-grade-1-building-enclosure.jpg
Posted by Allison Bailes on July 9, 2019
The Home Innovation Research Labs (HIRL) does an annual survey of home builders to find out what they're doing.  The results of their 2019 survey of the homes built in 2018 are out now, and they recently published an interesting article about the breakdown of different insulation materials used by...
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What's the best velocity for moving air through ducts?
Posted by Allison Bailes on June 26, 2019
The first thing to know about the velocity of air moving through ducts is that the slower you get the air moving, the better it is for air flow.  That was the main point of my last article.  In fact, the title asked the question, "Is Low Velocity Bad for Air Flow in Ducts?”  And the answer was that...
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What is the best velocity for air moving in ducts?
Posted by Allison Bailes on June 12, 2019
It's obvious that moving air too quickly through ducts can be a problem.  Faster air means more turbulence, more resistance, and more noise.  But I run into people who think that low velocity also can be a problem in ducts.  Just recently I heard someone talking about how low velocity causes "...
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What criteria should you use to determine when is the best time to change the filter in your HVAC system?
Posted by Allison Bailes on May 20, 2019
One of the topics I've hammered on for years is the inadequacy of using rules of thumb for sizing air conditioners.  The standard one ton of air conditioning capacity for each 400 to 600 square feet of conditioned floor area just doesn't work.  We know that a load calculation based on how a...
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