The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Home energy quiz from the US Dept. of Energy
Posted by Allison Bailes on May 4, 2017
I found this little quiz on Twitter the other day. I got 9 correct out of 12, but I'd like to dispute one of my wrong answers. One of the answers surprised me. And I was glad to see one of them support an article I wrote in 2014. If you want to take the quiz before reading my quick take on it, go...
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Stick-built home with advanced framing
Posted by Allison Bailes on May 3, 2017
Most new homes in North America are built with sticks. The early home builders used bigger pieces of wood — timbers — and when the smaller dimensional lumber that we use so much today hit the market, they scoffingly referred to those new-fangled little woody things as sticks. So now our home...
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A difficult air sealing task with garage ceiling joists
Posted by Allison Bailes on May 2, 2017
The I-joists in the photo above run across the top of the wall between the dining room and the garage. In the old days, before anyone worried at all about air moving through those joist cavities, the builder didn't do anything with them. You can see here, though, that the builder knows a thing or...
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Air sealing the Build SMART wall panels with a sausage gun
Posted by Allison Bailes on May 1, 2017
Seven years ago Georgia led the nation. Yep. We were the first state to adopt an energy code that made blower door testing mandatory. All new homes built in the state had to show through performance testing that they had an air leakage rate of less than 7 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of...
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Building a new home
Posted by Allison Bailes on April 24, 2017
You're having your dream house built. You're into the design phase, working with an architect or looking through collections of house plans. You're doing your homework, trying to find out how to ensure you get a top quality house. And that's when you run into all this stuff about building science,...
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Plastic pipes usually indicate a high efficiency furnace. But what key piece does this ignore?
Posted by Allison Bailes on April 17, 2017
You can tell how energy efficient a furnace is by its official efficiency rating, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). It's a measure of how much of the heat originally in the fuel that's being burned is available for delivery to the home. The more heat that gets lost up the flue or...
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ventilation energy enthalpy recovery ventilator erv humidity
Posted by Allison Bailes on April 3, 2017
Ventilation is a great thing. Bringing outdoor air into the home and exhausting stale indoor air improves indoor air quality. Well, most of the time anyway. Sometimes the outdoor air quality is worse than indoor air. Sometimes you bring in too much humidity and start growing mold. And sometimes you...
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The RESNET-BPI group on LinkedIn has been in decay, as has the ancient Forum in Rome
Posted by Allison Bailes on March 14, 2017
The Internet age has made it easy to find information. Occasionally you can find some that's even true. That's where it becomes helpful to have someone more knowledgeable than yourself to be able to ask for advice and input on stuff you read online, get feedback on ideas you'd like to try on a...
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The HVAC design process begins with a load calculation.
Posted by Allison Bailes on March 7, 2017
Here's a little conundrum for you. To get the right amount of heating and cooling to each room in your home, you need a load calculation. Rules of thumb don't work. But if you do a load calculation, the result isn't the size of air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, or boiler you need. It's only the...
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A plastic film with amazing radiative cooling capacity
Posted by Allison Bailes on February 21, 2017
When it's hot out, we want cold. At night, we like to be able to turn on the lights. During the daytime, it can be hard to find the darkness. All these things — hot and cold, light and dark, day and night — can seem like opposites. Chinese philosophy suggests, however, that these opposing forces,...
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