The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Are door undercuts sufficient as return air pathways?
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 23, 2017
Most people don't know that simply closing a door in their home can make them sick, increase their energy bills, or reduce their comfort. We live in this invisible stuff called air. We pull many pounds of it into our lungs each day. A typical air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace easily moves 20...
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Perfect Balance in-door return air pathway
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 17, 2017
Your bedroom really doesn't aspire to be a balloon. Yet, because of the way your heating and air conditioning system was installed, it may be acting like one. At least to an extent. It doesn't expand the way a balloon does, but it does get blown up. Think about it. If your bedroom has a supply vent...
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Green buildings can make you smarter
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 10, 2017
The room is dead silent. You stare down at the paper on your desk, ransacking your brain for any hint of the answer to this test question that has you stumped. Your desperation mounts as you know the teacher is about to call for your test to be turned in. Why can't I figure this out, you think. But...
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The Insulated Man movie poster
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 6, 2017
Yesterday was Energy Efficiency Day. I saw a lot tweets on the topic, and the photo above, showing the movie poster for The Insulated Man, was in one of them. That, of course, got me thinking about other classic works of literature related to energy and building science. For example, have you read...
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Crawl space moisture sources
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 5, 2017
Here in the southeastern US, we have a lot of crawl spaces. Most are vented. Even most new ones are vented. It's not because it's the best way to keep them dry. That's certainly not true. We have enough research on crawl spaces to know better. No, they're vented because foundation vents got into...
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The outdoor unit of an air conditioner or heat pump
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 3, 2017
I was on a tour of passive house projects in Seattle a couple of days ago when someone asked me, "What do you call the outdoor part of a heat pump? The condenser? The compressor?" For someone not immersed in the field of HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), that can be confusing. So...
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Making third-party HVAC design work
Posted by Allison Bailes on September 28, 2017
What if a builder refused to build from plans drawn by an architect? What if a tile installer refused to implement designs handed to them and instead did their own thing? What if an HVAC contractor told a potential client they wouldn't install a system designed by a third party to ACCA protocols?...
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Your air conditioner is more efficient in fall and spring
Posted by Allison Bailes on September 20, 2017
It's cooled off a bit here in Atlanta. A couple of weeks ago we even had temperatures down in the low 50s Fahrenheit. Ah, that felt nice, especially since I've been running again this year.1 With the fall equinox two days away, we should start seeing more of those nice cool days. We're back up...
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Can you get condensation on a sponge?
Posted by Allison Bailes on September 7, 2017
Last week I taught a class called What the Duct!? at the Builders' Boot Camp in Virginia. Paul Francisco was one of the other instructors (teaching about indoor air quality), and on the last evening at dinner, our conversation turned to building science. (Imagine that!) I don't recall exactly how...
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Moisture problems at the air conditioning diffusers in a trendy restaurant
Posted by Allison Bailes on August 25, 2017
I've got the curse, you know. I can't walk into a building and not check out what's going on with ductwork, windows, and anything else that lets me apply what I know about building science. Yesterday, I went to lunch at a trendy restaurant near Emory University and of course looked up at the...
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