Building Science

Don’t Let Your Garage Make You Sick

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The odds are high that the indoor air quality is worse in a home with an attached garage than in a home without one. Just take a look at the photo here to see some of the potential sources of pollutants that can get into your home's air. How many do you see?

The Pros and Cons of Skylights

Posted on January 13, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Everyone loves skylights. Right? They bring so much light into a room they can turn a Seattle kitchen into a bright and sunny Florida room. Especially at this time of year (in the northern hemisphere), having that extra light can brighten even the darkest days of winter.

But skylights have a dark side, too. If you're not aware of that when incorporating these roof windows into a home, you can end up with high energy bills, rooms that are unusable at certain times of the year, or expensive repairs due to moisture problems.

My Top 10 Building Science and Energy Efficiency Ideas of 2015

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The year 2015 is almost finished. I've written 70 articles in the Energy Vanguard Blog and this one makes 49 here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com. I've been to a bunch of conferences and talked to a lot of people. A lot of thoughts about building science, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and more have gone through my head. (Not to mention all the thoughts about skiing, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and those things that I never let out of the confines of my skull!)

Is Your House Too Leaky Because of Fiberglass?

Posted on December 16, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

I read a lot of stuff online about insulation and air barriers and other building science topics. I see a fair number of articles bashing certain products or materials. Sometimes it's because the author sells a competing product. Sometimes they just don't like a product. Take fiberglass insulation, for example. What thoughts just went through your head?

Preventing Accidental Dehumidification

Posted on December 2, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

"Oops! The house just had an accident. Whose turn is it to clean it up?"

Yep. We're entering the season of accidental dehumidification. If you've got windows that start collecting water, like the one shown here, you're a victim of accidental dehumidification. It's not something you want in a building.

Not All Energy Savings Are Equal

Posted on November 18, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The world of electricity is changing quickly. With all the photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. modules out there generating solar power and the advent of the smart meter, there's a revolution going on within the electric utility industry.

I wrote a little bit about this revolution recently when I discussed the duck curve. Near the end of that article, I mentioned that Matt Golden said something about the "new world where EE [energy efficiency] is dead." So I spoke with Matt last week, and here's some of what he said.

An Introduction to the Duck Curve

Posted on November 11, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

You may think there's no more boring topic than electric utilities. Power plants. Transmission lines. Engineers with flat top haircuts and pocket protectors full of pens in their white short-sleeved shirts.

Well, let me tell you two words that might help make them more interesting: duck curve. If you haven't heard this term yet, you're not alone.

Boilers Don’t Boil

Posted on November 4, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Boilers for heating homes are common in some areas. Not here in Georgia, where I live, but my friends in the colder climates have them.

This type of heating equipment takes a fuel like natural gas or fuel oil, burns it to create heat, and then puts that heat into water circulating through the distribution system. Since it's called a boiler, naturally it must be heating the incoming water up to the boiling point and creating steam. Right?

Solving a Crawl Space Water Mystery

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

When I started Energy Vanguard in 2008, I didn't know how the company would evolve and had thought early on that I may get back into home performance contracting. I did a couple of jobs, the last one being a crawl space encapsulation for my friends Tony and Gabriella. They had a house over a moldy crawl space, and Gabriella had developed a cough since moving in.

Winterizing Tips That Work

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Of course, everyone knows that caulking your windows and weatherstripping your doors won't help you much. Right?

Well, all the cool kids do anyway, and that includes you because you're here reading this article. A lot of the standard advice on getting your home ready for winter is filled with bunk. That includes the stuff that comes from many utility companies and famous people who try to help you save money, like Clark Howard. But what should you really do to prepare your home for an efficient and cozy winter?

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