The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Negative pressure in homes can bring outdoor air in through the chimney
Posted by Allison Bailes on January 8, 2020
Ever have the smell of your fireplace inside your home?  It's not uncommon.  Here's a question I got from a reader named Rob last month: We always have a smoke smell from our fireplace, more on some days than others.  I had the chimney cleaned really well and the damper closed and it was fine. ...
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The Sorcerer Possum hangs above the fire at the 2019 Possum Drop party
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 31, 2019
It's been another good year in the Energy Vanguard.  I've published 28 articles here in the blog this year (counting this one), which brings me to 902 since I began this little project back in 2010.  Hard to believe it's been almost ten years now, but I'll wait and do a retrospective in March when...
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An old falling-down house at the end of its life
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 18, 2019
The old shack above has been around a long time.  It still looks good in its old age, but you'd probably have to pour a lot of money into that building to make it useful again. This home looks nice.  It doesn't appear to be all that old.  The inside was nicely decorated and the family I met there...
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Is there a limit to the amount of ductwork you can put on a low-static pressure ducted mini-split heat pump?
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 9, 2019
I like mini-split heat pumps, especially of the ducted variety.  And because I don't like to pay for a lot of excess power, I prefer to use ducted mini-splits with smaller blower motors operating at a low total external static pressure.  The Mitsubishi* units we have in our office and that I have...
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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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