Building Science

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?

How the Stack Effect Can Defeat Your Winterizing Efforts

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Caulk your windows. Weatherstrip your doors. It's that time of year again.

No, I don't mean the time of year when you should do those things. I mean it's the time of year when all the news stories that include this ineffective advice start appearing. There's a lot of bad advice included in those articles, but let's just look at why the caulking and weatherstripping advice will provide minimal relief.

Enterprise Green Communities and Passive House

Posted on October 7, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The best green building program you've never heard of is probably Enterprise Green Communities. Everyone knows about LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. , of course. Regional programs, such as EarthCraft House and Minnesota GreenStar, also have name recognition in their areas. But unless you've been involved with Enterprise Green Communities, you may not have even heard of it. The recent release of their new program criteria means that it's time for that lack of name recognition to change.

The Department of Energy Chooses a Definition for Net Zero

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether homes that produce as much energy as they use should be called net zero energy or zero net energy homes. Several readers offered up another choice: zero energy homes.

How to Become a Building Enclosure Control Freak

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Frank Lloyd Wright was a control freak. This was a guy who not only designed houses but also all of the trim details and even the furniture.

The Science of Air Flow in Flex Duct

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

Sagging flex duct is bad for air flow. We all know it. We all talk about it. It turns out there's research data to prove it, too. Texas A&M did a study a few years ago to look at the pressure drop that occurs for different levels of compression. If you're not familiar with this study, the results may astound you.

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