The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Is it better to go with exterior continuous insulation or thicker walls?
Posted by Allison Bailes on December 12, 2017
If you live in the world of 2x4 walls, as I do, you may have wondered about the savings you'd get by going to a more robust wall assembly. The typical house in southern climes has 2x4 walls with R-13 insulation in the cavities. Two ways to beef that up would be to add continuous exterior insulation...
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Lake Fryxell on Antarctica will never reach absolute zero (photo by Joe Mastroianni, National Science Foundation, in the public domain)
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 28, 2017
Thermodynamics is a big subject. It's complex because you can get to the same conclusions in multiple ways. Just take a look at the different formulations of the second law of thermodynamics. In addition, the laws are macroscopic, meaning we don't need to know anything about atoms or molecules to...
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Second law of thermodynamics
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 16, 2017
The first law of thermodynamics is one of the more well-known laws of physics, especially in its generalized form of conservation of energy. It provides us with the power to see through stupid ideas and scams. It's so important, in fact, that even Homer Simpson invokes the laws of thermodynamics...
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hvac furnace atmospheric combustion burner dragon heating capacity
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 15, 2017
Today we take the next step on our stroll through the laws of thermodynamics. As you know from reading the first part of this series, the numbering of the four laws begins with zero, so here, in the second part, we discuss the first law of thermodynamics, which is actually the second of the four....
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water ice cube bizarre property
Posted by Allison Bailes on November 14, 2017
Building science is an odd subject. Few colleges and universities teach it. The majority of those who work on buildings call themselves engineers, architects, and contractors, not building scientists. And many of those who do invoke the term can explain at least one formulation of the second law of...
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HVAC system blower
Posted by Allison Bailes on October 24, 2017
We live in this invisible stuff called air. (But of course you knew that.) We pump it into and out of our lungs. We exhaust it from our bathrooms and kitchens. We cycle it through our heating and air conditioning systems. If we're lucky, we live in a home that even brings outdoor air inside as part...
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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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