Building Science

The Best Way to Keep Your Attic Cooler is to Change Your Roof Color

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The most contentious issue I’ve written about since I started blogging isn’t bad Manual Js. Nor is it endorsing government intervention by raising efficiency standards or improving energy codes. Incredibly, it’s not even whether or not naked people need building science. Nope.

How to Move Air Quietly Through a Duct System

Posted on August 19, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

At my first Building Science Summer Camp in 2011, David Hill gave a great presentation on some of the big problems with duct systems. (In case you weren’t reading this blog back then, I got myself invited with my 2010 article called I Don't Need No Stinkin' Building Science Summer Camp.)

Must the Three Pigs Die?

Posted on August 12, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Building Science Summer Camp was last week. That means I was in Massachusetts with 500 of my closest friends, staying up too late, talking building science out the wazoo, and attending some great presentations from leaders in the world of building science.

Relative Humidity Doesn’t Tell You How Humid the Air Is

Posted on August 5, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

There's a problem with relative humidity. I hear it a lot when I talk to people about moisture problems. A client with high humidity in his home recently told me he didn't understand how it could be more humid inside his home than it was outdoors. The indoor relative humidity (RH) was 60% while it was only 50% outdoors. Do you see the problem?

The 2015 Solar Cooking Festival

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

If you've ever wanted to learn how to cook with the sun, the 2015 Solar Cooking Festival in Sacramento was the place to be.

This is the second year of the event, which is hosted by Solar Cookers International. They had quite a variety of solar cookers on display, from simple, two-panel low-temperature solar cookers to large, high-temperature cookers with concrete bases. There was also a cook-off and lots of advice for those who want to learn more.

How Much Will Shading Your Air Conditioner Improve Its Efficiency?

Posted on July 22, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

I got a question this weekend that's often asked — and, I'm sure, wondered about — by homeowners: "Will my household AC system run more efficiently (perhaps cycle on/off fewer times, or the compressor won't have to run as long when it cycles on) by shading the compressor?"

I've written about the outdoor unit of air conditioners and heat pumps a few times, but I've never tackled this question directly. Let's change that now.

Could a Bare-Bones Energy Code Work?

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Energy codes have all kinds of requirements. You have to have certain R-values in walls, floors, and ceilings. Your windows have to have the right U-values and solar heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. coefficients. The infiltration rate and duct leakage have to be measured and come in below a threshold for your climate zone. And then there are the different pathways for compliance: prescriptive, UA tradeoffs, performance, or HERS Index.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner Condensate Drain

Posted on July 8, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

An air conditioner does two jobs: It cools down the air and it dehumidifies the air. If you live in a dry climate, you don’t want the AC to dehumidify much because it uses extra energy and makes you spend more on lip balm and hand lotion. If you live in a humid climate, you really want it to do that second job as well as it can to keep your indoor air dry and comfortable. But where does all that condensate go?

Is Spraying Mist on Your Air Conditioner the Answer to High Bills?

Posted on July 1, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

This time of year, air conditioners are running like mad to keep people cool in their homes. Here in Atlanta, we've had a couple of weeks of hot, muggy weather, with a little break on Sunday. Now we're heading back to the mid-90s with high dew points again.

As a result, some people are starting to dread those air conditioning bills arriving and wondering what they can do to save energy. Is the Kickstarter-funded Mistbox the answer?

Four Ventilation Quotes That Will Take Your Breath Away

Posted on June 24, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Looking back over my last several articles, I see that I’ve been going off the deep end. Psychrometrics, hygrothermalA term used to characterize the temperature (thermal) and moisture (hygro) conditions particularly with respect to climate, both indoors and out. analysis of double-stud walls, the physics of water in porous materials... That’s some heavy stuff. So this week I’m going light with some fun quotes about ventilation and indoor air quality.

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