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Book: A House Needs to Breathe…Or Does It?

Allison Bailes is writing a book on building science

Dr. Allison Bailes is writing a book!  After ten years of blogging about building science, he is now putting some of the most important knowledge about how houses work—or don’t—into a book titled:

A House Needs to Breathe…Or Does It?

This book will lay out the basic science of buildings.  When it comes to how houses perform, professionals and homeowners alike believe many things that just aren’t true.  This book will explode the myths, misinformation, and just plain old nonsense that pervades the world of home building, remodeling, maintenance, and operation.

Current status

Last update:  3 October 2021

  • Finished first draft.  Working on revision/rewrite/supplementing.
  • 140,024 words
  • 19 chapters of first draft complete

When will the book be available?

The manuscript will be done by 1 November 2021.  The book itself will be available by 1 March 2022 and will be available for pre-order again a few weeks before its release.


Have you ever lived in a home where you just couldn’t feel warm even though you had the heat cranked way up? How about one where you have to turn up the volume on the TV when the air conditioner or heater comes on? Or a home with a musty smelling basement?

These and more are problems common to many homes.  Whether you rent or own your home, you most likely have suffered with problems of comfort, indoor air quality, noise, high energy bills, and more.  The primary cause of these problems is that many of the architects, builders, and contractors responsible for delivering the final product don’t take the full occupant experience into consideration.

And they operate largely based on myths about how buildings actually work.  Let exhibit A be the title of the book: “A House Needs to Breathe.”  This statement is usually shorthand for, “I don’t believe the cost of air-sealing a home is justified by the benefits.”  It’s wrong, though. Random air leaks through the building enclosure can lead to moisture problems, indoor air quality problems, and wasted heating and cooling.

This book will explode the myths, misinformation, and just plain old nonsense that pervades the world of home building, remodeling, maintenance, and operation.  You’ll get building science principles in plain English so you can understand why those things you’ve been told are wrong and what are the proper ways to make homes comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient.

Why buy this book?

  • The average American spends about 90% of their time indoors, yet few understand the factors that lead to comfort, good indoor air quality, and energy efficiency.
  • The message about how houses really work is spreading, but it hasn’t gotten through to enough of the stakeholders yet.
  • As we adopt new materials and more advanced technology, the effect on home performance can be significant.  The more people understand the principles of building science, the better this integration will be.
  • The author has a wealth of content to draw from as he has published more than 900 articles over the past ten years in the Energy Vanguard Blog.
  • The style will be engaging and readable.  As Tom White, the former publisher of Home Energy magazine, wrote, “I have to say [Energy Vanguard] is one of my favorite places to read energy tips written in a way that makes learning building science understandable and fun.”


“A House Needs to Breathe…Or Does It?” is targeted at those on the front end of the building science learning curve.  Whether you’re a homebuilder, remodeler, trade contractor, architect, real estate agents, home inspector, or homeowner, you’ll benefit from the information in this book.

Advance praise

“Over the years I have learned so much from Allison’s writing. He has a great talent in making dense topics engaging and relevant. In the field of building science, this is a rarity! If you live in a house, pay utility bills, and are concerned about your health, this book is a must!”

~ Amanda Hatherly, Director, EnergySmart Academy at Santa Fe Community College

“Dr. Bailes is my favorite writer in building science and HVAC design because of how he simplifies and explains complex topics. This book is sure to be a must read.”

~ Bryan Orr, Founder of HVAC School and host of their podcast

“Allison Bailes makes the complex world of building science seem intuitive. He combines the penetrating analysis of a physicist with the flowing narrative of a storyteller. And the story he tells is about what your home can and should be doing to make your life better. You’re going to want to read this book!”

~ Kristof Irwin, P.E., host of the Building Science Podcast

“I am stoked to share my excitement about the upcoming book, “A House Needs to Breathe.” Manufacturers, distributors, trades, and design professionals need to get it right – right now. There’s so much bad BS (building science) floating around, it needs to be sanitized before society moves into more bad houses. Dr. Allison Bailes, a designer’s designer, will clean house with this one – a recommended must-read!”

~ Robert Bean (ret.), ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer, Mechanical and Building Construction Engineering

“If you’re a homeowner or builder who wants to either avoid comfort and moisture problems when planning a new house, or to fix them in an existing home, this is the book for you. Allison Bailes is a Ph.D with decades of field experience who really communicates with the rest of us. Using real-world case histories, photos and diagrams Allison shows and explains classic, common problems; why they happened, how they could have been avoided and how they can be fixed.”

~ Lew Harriman, ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer and author of “Measured Home Performance”

Pre-order campaign, spring 2020

In March and April 2020, a 30-day campaign for the book on Publishizer yielded 1,002 pre-orders.  This book reached 500 pre-orders the fastest of any Publishizer campaign before.  The page campaign page can be seen at:

Publishizer campaign:  A House Needs to Breathe…Or Does It?

    Be one of the first to find out when Dr. Bailes's book is available by subscribing for updates.


    Allison Bailes provided HERS training to me at a recent HERS Rater training course. He is extremely knowledgeable in building science and provided excellent training. He also is very patient and was very concerned about providing the requisite information for his students to not only pass the HERS training curriculum but to ensure that we as HERS raters would be best prepared to execute this training in the field. I highly recommend Allison for training or other services he may provide in the area of building science.

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