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The 2021 Energy Vanguard Wrap-up

This Air Barrier, A Peel-and-stick Membrane, Is A Good Metaphor For The Energy Vanguard Wrap-up For The Year 2021

Here we are at the end of another year.  It’s been a weird one!  I certainly won’t go into all the weirdness of 2021, but let me give you the Energy Vanguard wrap-up, divided into five categories.  Four of them relate to what we’re doing here at Energy Vanguard, but I like to step back and look at the big picture, too.

The blog

It was a really good year in the blog.  This article is the 53rd of the year, which equals the total number I wrote in the two previous years.  It’s the 980th article published in the Energy Vanguard Blog since I started it in March 2010.  I publish a new article almost every week so I can have something fresh to send out in the weekly newsletter.

The topics I’ve covered are a lot of the usual ones.  You know, heat pumps, scams, insulation, air barriers, and the like.  I also wrote several articles on hot water.  But the ongoing pandemic has had me thinking more than usual about health and indoor air quality, so I’ve written a bunch of articles about ventilation, filtration, humidity control, and electronic air cleaners.

I’ll have another article out soon with a list of my best articles of the year.  But there’s also an old article that deserves mention here because it just turned 10 years old:  Naked People Need Building Science.  I put out this anniversary in the newsletter, but for those of you who aren’t subscribers (yet), check it out.  You may find it revealing.

The newsletter

In February, I moved our website and blog to a new platform and used the momentum from that move to revive the newsletter, which is called the News From the Front. (Here’s last week’s issue.) When I started the newsletter in 2011, I published nearly every month. After I few years, though, I started publishing less regularly.

That changed in 2021. Starting in March, I began publishing the newsletter every week. I lead with a new article article published in the blog. Then you’ll find my weekly column, Greetings From the Front, in which I try to do something a little different from what I do in the blog. Then there are links to other articles, a brief update on the book I’m writing, a calendar of events, and a quote of the week.

If you aren’t a subscriber yet, enter your name and email address in the green box on this page and you’ll get the News From the Front in your inbox every Tuesday.

The book

In case you hadn’t heard, I’m writing a book.  The title is A House Needs to Breathe…Or Does It? – An Introduction to Building Science.  It’s taking longer than I wanted, but I think it’s going to be a good overview of the principles of building science.  This week, I’ll be sending the manuscript to the publisher.  It should be out in June.

You can get an idea of what the book is all about and sign up for updates on my book page.  That will also let you in on subscriber-only discounts, and you’ll be one of the first to know when it’s available.  Oh, and you’ll get to see the cover in January, but only if you’re a subscriber.

The company

We survived another year! That puts us at about 13.5 years in business now. 2020 was a hard year because of the pandemic beginning, and that carried over into 2021. We got our pandemic legs under us around mid-year, though, and it turned out to be a pretty good year.

One thing that’s happened is that we’re much more focused on our HVAC design service than we used to be. And we had our best year for that service. We booked 162 new jobs in 38 different states plus one in Mexico. Our top three states are Georgia (24), California (14), and New Jersey (14). Three of the jobs are in Idaho. Our clients are homeowners, custom builders, a modular builder, architects, and building science consultants.

At the beginning of 2021, we had four employees. At the end, we also have four employees, although we did lose one and gain another.

The world

The pandemic, of course, is the big story, for the second year in a row.  We knew it already in 2020, but it became even clearer in 2021 that COVID is airborne.  It’s a problem we can attack with indoor air quality measures.  That means ventilation, filtration, source control, and humidity control.  It also means a lot of companies are looking to make money off of the pandemic with products that don’t offer nearly the level of protection as those four things I just mentioned.  Electronic air cleaners offers the promise of protection, but many don’t have the results to back up their claims.  Caveat emptor, as they say.  Let the buyer beware.

Indoor air quality measures are but one way to combat COVID.  Sadly, the most effective method, the COVID vaccine, has been politicized.  Many people don’t believe the data showing that most COVID cases and deaths are happening with people who are unvaccinated.  The CDC graph below shows the number of cases by vaccination status for two months this fall.  You can find similar data from other reputable sources.  The data are clear.  Vaccinations work.

COVID-19 cases by vaccination status, through 11/20/21 (CDC data)
COVID-19 cases by vaccination status, through 11/20/21 (CDC data)

Another huge story related to what we do here is climate change.  In case you missed it, 2021 was a big year for the atmosphere’s reaction to all the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we’ve been throwing at it.  Fires, floods, tornadoes in December, heat waves, melting glaciers…  We know what we have to do.  We just haven’t shown the will to really embrace a new paradigm.  The result is likely to be more pain than we might have had to go through.

There are positive signs, though.  The coal industry is collapsing.  The fossil gas industry is beginning to feel some pain.  The electrification movement is getting charged up.  We have big, systemic changes to make in the world, but we also can make changes in our own lives.  Lloyd Alter has written a nice little book about using individual action.  You can read my review or just buy a copy* to find out more.

There’s your Energy Vanguard wrap-up for 2021.  Now, let’s get ready for 2022 and hope things won’t be quite as weird.


Allison A. Bailes III, PhD is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the founder of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, Georgia. He has a doctorate in physics and writes the Energy Vanguard Blog. He is also writing a book on building science. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.


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* This is an Amazon Associate link. You pay the same price you would pay normally, but Energy Vanguard may make a small commission if you buy after using the link.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. You’ve been a very busy man, Allison, and can justifiably look back on 2021 with pride of accomplishment. I have no doubt that you’ll continue this in 2022 and I look forward to reading everything you write.

  2. Your success is both the harbinger to the health of a solid building science industry and the fuel to ignite our own successes . . . Have a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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