Let's Get This Straight — About the Energy Vanguard Blog

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I started writing the Energy Vanguard Blog in March 2010 and have published more than 350 articles since then. I love doing it. In fact, I probably love doing it a bit too much. Early on I often published 4 or 5 articles a week, but I'm trying to cut back. My goal lately has been 2 articles a week. I'm breaking my rule by writing this one, so I hope you'll forgive me. These things grab a hold of me, and I just have to write.

By the way, that photo you see here isn't of me. I can understand if you're confused. She does look like she could be an Allison, after all, and I AM in Who's Who of American Women, The Millenium Edition. I am NOT a woman, however. Just wanted to clear that up so you don't write in the comments, as one reader did, "You just don't get it, lady." You can read a bit more about me and the manly activities I engage in in my bio. The reason she's in this article, though, is because she's still laughing about the Turbo-Thermo-Encabulator Max.

It's always interesting to see the kind of reactions readers have to my articles. Sometimes an article gets shared a lot. Sometimes one gets a lot of comments. Sometimes it'll get a lot of traffic or links from outside. Occasionally one gets all or most of those, and I love that! Actually I love all of it and have learned to stop trying to predict how an article will do.

But today I thought maybe I should lay out as clearly as I can what the Energy Vanguard Blog is, and what it isn't, because occasionally readers come here with expectations that I don't meet. For example, the first comment to my last article was, "Please drop me from your email list." More often, though, people say things like, "Your blog is off the chain! Your writing is technical yet easily readable, such a rare combination. We so appreciate it!"

Let's start with the well-known definition for blogging:

Blog — a collection of thoughts, links, images, equations, whimsy, ramblings, critique, confessions, humor, and/or rants. It can be personal or formal, educational or stupefying, uplifting or depressing, black or white—or grey—true or false, imperial or metric, noise or silence, life or death, Family Guy or The Simpsons, tattoos or peircings, monkeys or penquins...or anything in between. Or beyond. Or something entirely different.

Here's how I narrow that down. I publish articles about:

I write this blog to bring traffic to the Energy Vanguard website so people will find out about our services. This is a business, and we use the Internet as one way of getting clients. I don't make any money directly from the blog. You don't have to pay to read any of the articles. I don't accept advertising or take pay from manufacturers or other companies to post their content. I just write stuff that I think our readers will find interesting.

It seems to be working, too, because our traffic has grown like mad since I started, as the chart of our unique visitors shows below. We're pushing 50,000 this month. We're almost at 1000 email subscribers to the blog, too. (Help us get there by telling your colleagues, friends, and family to subscribe!)

energy vanguard blog traffic through 20120711 small

What I mainly try to do with the majority of my articles is to explain things in simple terms. I aim for the knowledge level of a homeowner trying to educate themselves about how their home works and the beginning to intermediate home energy pro. I use my physics background a lot in this blog, but I try not to let it go too far. I do occasionally use math and probably throw a bit too much jargon in. My mother-in-law helps keep it real, though, because I try to think, when I'm writing an article, OK, how much of this would Barbara understand? 

I do appreciate feedback and use it to help steer the ship. If I start hearing from readers that they're not finding my articles so useful anymore, I'll look at what I've written lately and make some adjustments. I did that earlier this year because evidently I veered a bit off course.

I love writing this blog, and I love that so many great folks like you come here and read it, share it, subscribe to it, and comment on it. I know most of you take it for what it is — just a blog (see definition above). It's not an academic journal. It's not as rigorous and technical as it could be. I do sometimes get things wrong. I may not choose the direction you'd like to see when I write about a topic, but I do always try to keep it real. (Well, almost always.) I also like to employ humor.

You may not realize this, but one of the greatest benefits of writing this blog is how much learning I've done. I usually learn new stuff when I'm writing an article because I want to make sure it's as correct and complete as I can make it. Then I learn even more when the comments start rolling in. For example, I thought I had a pretty clear understanding of the distinction between a renewable energy source and and an energy load. Some astute readers, including Rob Brown of Northeast Radiant Technology, quickly brought me to the grey zone and made me really think through it, however.

So, thank you for visiting! I appreciate all of you for taking the time to come here and read what I have to say, even when you disagree with me and tell me that I need to take a long vacation or call me a lady. And let me give a very special thank you to our 972 (as of right now) email subscribers.

 

PS I also write for Green Building Advisor now, so if you like this, you should check out that webiste. I'm one of several bloggers there, including the amazing Martin Holladay, the Energy Nerd, and the inimitable Carl Seville, the Green Curmudgeon. By becoming a GBA Pro, you have access to tons of great info, including construction details, product comparisons, and more.

 

Photo of laughing woman by gagilas from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license.

Comments

James Ferguson

Hi Allison - I'm a long time reader and enjoyer ! I hope to emulate your efforts at kWIQly 
 
Just wanted to mention the disqus commenting engine would offer you some huge advantages (eg all comments are real-time and SEO accessible) 
 
Also the engag.io tool for "discovery" is powerful for community building  
 
(I have no link to either of these but like them a lot) 
 

John Poole

Listen, lady, you just don't get it, do you?  
 
"I do occasionally use math and probably throw a bit too much jargon in."  
 
Nonsense! There's not nearly enough math here...where are my partial differential equations?! Gimme PDEs, now, or remove my email subscription! 
 
OK, seriously: A blog can't be all cut and dry, and just focus on a single topic, in the same consistent style, all the time. That would be boring, no matter how much one is committed to the topic at hand. 
 
Sometimes, an article that's a bit off base (or even totally off base) is necessary to break occasional monotony and keep interest up. And your last article was hilarious! SO no need to explain yourself; you're doing fine! ;-) 
 
Signed, 
A committed (and demonstrably certifiable) reader

Nate Adams

I laughed. I cried. I hurled. Well, maybe not the last 2. Thanks for writing it, Allison!

Jamie Clark

Allison, as a guy named Jamie I share your pain about people asuming I'm female. Fortunatly I'm 6'2" and 220lbs so it only happens when I'm writing someone who has never met me. It could be worse our daddys could have named us Sue.

John Mattson

Rather gay for a "get this straight" article. Personally, I liked you better as a woman. I LIKE seeing women pushing the boundaries. However, I will overlook this short coming of yours, and continue to mark well your objective and logical analysis. Keep up the good work, and sense of humor.

Richard Appleton

Allison, 
 
I consider myself very fortunate to have found your blog. I am not an industry professional but merely an interested homeowner. I have been searching for accurate information regarding residential insulation, air sealing, high-performance homes, etc. It searching initially resulting in confusing and contradictory information from self-labelled "experts." Fortunately I discovered the field of building science. However, much of what I read was regarding cold climates. I live in the forgotten realm of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a hot & humid (very humid) climate. Continued searching led to the discovery of your blog and your website. I can't remember for sure but I think I discovered you from a Google search. Thankfully you are located in Atlanta and you are familiar with air conditioning. Unfortunately for me, and for most of the South, residential construction follows "usual and customary" construction practices that have been passed on over the decades and practices that are heavy in the use of "rules of thumb." Now before anyone gets upset and fires off an angry comment that that's not the way they do it, keep in mind I'm not saying every contractor down here is uninformed. But in my personal experience I have experienced in my current home black mold, ductopi (ductopuses?), and the worst possible grade of fiberglass batt insulation. These conditions are endemic in Louisiana. 
 
Thank you very much Allison for taking your time to educate the public regarding HVAC, home energy performance, etc. I have been a subscriber to your blog nearly since the beginning. I am especially thankful for your expertise regarding hot & humid climates. 
 
- Richard Appleton

Vic Hubbard

Allison, 
 
Although my day job is in the energy efficiency field, I tend to read blogs because they are both entertaining and informative. Your's never ceases to be one or the other, or both. In my woodworking blog, I write mostly to keep track of my progress as a woodworker, but am always surprised at how many find my journey interesting. Some of my favorite blogs are my favorite simply because the writing is good. Your writing is always top notch! Keep it up! As long as you're entertaining yourself, you can bet you'll be entertaining to the rest of us. 
 
Vic

Elizabeth Guinn

Your an energy rock star from where I sit. Don't stop, can't float everyone's boat.

Armando

DARN IT!!!... Please remove me from your blog... I thought you were some Hotlanta chick that could spell quantum physics AND could use electronically-commuted, permanent split capacitor, psychrometric consolation, paradigm shift, synergistic collusion, all-in-one sentence. I guess on my next vacation all go pick-up chicks in Timbuktu instead..

Gene Wilhoit

Allison, 
 
Some days peanuts, some days shells. The best you can hope for is crunchy peanut butter. 
 
Quit trying to please everybody and just keep blogging baby!Some of us still love ya and your b log.

AlexandraFunFit

What? You're not a woman? Dagnabbit. Guess that sleepover is cancelled, in that case. And I love your humorous posts, mostly because I don't understand half of the other stuff anyway. But I know enough to know whom I'd hire! A guy named Allison!

Green curmudgeon

I think you need to start a book review category. I have a great suggestion for your first one.

chris in chicago

Allison, this is by far the best and most informative blog for anyone interested in residential energy. Keep it up!

Dan Kerr

Keep it rolling, brother (or is it sister?). You're a blogging rock star

Franklin Orsini

Allison, I enjoy reading your articiles they are good education.

Carl D. Clark

Never stop...... 
This is the most informative, yet entertaining reason for owning a computer, tablet, or smart phone.  
 
You are the Yoda of blogging

shtrum

i also have one of those annoyingly androgynous first names, so i can commiserate. Just wanted to throw in that i work for a state weatherization program, and always find your blog to be informative, interesting and well-written. And the fact that you put in this kind of effort sans compensation shows that either you're very committed, or you should be committed (ba dum bum). 
 
 
 
Plus, my wife's first name is Alison, so there's that. Anyway, keep up the excellent work sir.

Gnarum

I have enjoyed reading your articles. 
It is a good way to keep updated in any news concerning energy efficiency. 
The reasons you give for writing and your passion on it are also good points to keep visiting this blog.

Nicholoteves

No wonder why you have a lot readers because of your being such a great writer, keep it up and post more interesting topics we are just here to read,be educated, be informed about the articles you are posting.