Building Science

Installing Insulation With the X-Floc Ventilated Dry Injection System

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Peter Yost

At the end of my recent blog on Kooltherm rigid phenolic foam insulation, I mentioned that the roof and wall assemblies at an energy retrofit project in Brattleboro, Vermont, were insulated with cellulose by a company called American Installations.

Is R-8 Duct Insulation Enough?

Posted on February 14, 2018 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

If you know a little building science, you've no doubt seen a lot of problems that occur with air distribution systems. Ducts just don't get anywhere near the attention they deserve in most homes.

I've written about ducts quite a bit here and have shown problems resulting from poor design and installation. We all know how stupid some of those problems are. So today I'm going to talk about a problem that doesn't get nearly enough attention: duct insulation — even when the design and installation are perfect.

Kingspan Kooltherm Phenolic Foam Rigid Insulation

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Peter Yost

Improving the thermal performance of an existing attic is often challenging: workers are faced with narrow cavities, low clearances, and claddingMaterials used on the roof and walls to enclose a house, providing protection against weather. systems that make it hard to achieve desired R-values while still maintaining the necessary drying potential of the assembly.

The house at 81 Chapin Street in Brattleboro, Vermont, is no exception. It’s a 100-year-old wood-framed two-story home that Alex Beck and Candace Pearson are determined to comprehensively retrofit to high performance.

Adjusting Bath Fan Use in Winter

Posted on January 24, 2018 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

You may have heard or read somewhere that you should run your bathroom exhaust fan whenever you take a shower and then let it run for a while after you're done with the shower. Showers increase the humidity in the bathroom. Sometimes it gets high enough to cause condensation to appear on the mirror and other surfaces in the bathroom. And that can result in mold growth.

So you should always run your bath fan when you shower. Or so they say.

Ventilating a Home in Cold Weather

Posted on January 10, 2018 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

When I woke up Saturday morning, the temperature outdoors was -40 degrees. The wind chill was -100 degrees! It was just unbelievably, impossibly, inhumanly cold outside. Fortunately, that was on a mountaintop in New Hampshire and not where I was. I happened to have woken up on a mountaintop in North Carolina, where the temperature was a much warmer -3°F.

Night Surveys: The Lights Are On, But Nobody is Home

Posted on December 21, 2017 by Peter Yost

Julie Paquette has been Director of Energy Management at Yale University for about 6 years. That means the buck stops at Julie’s desk for the energy consumption of over 400 buildings on campus. Yale has a pretty sophisticated approach to energy, including the Yale Facilities Energy Explorer, an energy dashboard system that shows energy consumption and details for every one of those 400 Yale buildings.

The Buy-in Problem

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Last week I read a nice little article by Steve Baczek about getting buy-in from the various stakeholders involved with building a home. He's an architect who works closely with the people who build the homes he designs. He's also a former U.S. Marine who understands the importance of what he calls "a ladder of leadership and responsibility."

Exterior Insulation on 2x4 Walls Versus 2x6 Walls With Cavity Insulation Only

Posted on December 13, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

UPDATED on December 18, 2017 with a corrected energy savings table.

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. The two ways to beef that up would be to add continuous exterior insulation or to go to a thicker wall. But which saves more energy? And how do they compare to the plain old 2x4 wall?

How Does a Heat Pump Get Heat From Cold Air?

Posted on December 6, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Cold weather is coming back to Atlanta this week, so let’s talk about heat. An increasingly popular way to heat buildings these days is with heat pumps, even in cold climates. But how do they work?

Extending the Reach of a Moisture Meter

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Peter Yost

Typical pins on moisture meters are ½ inch long, meaning you can only determine moisture content by weight near the surface of building assemblies and materials (including wood, gypsum wallboard, and concrete). But I often find myself needing to assess moisture content of first condensing surfaces in walls and ceilings or well below the surface of basement slabs.

This article looks at ways to extend the reach of a moisture meter. (For introductory information on moisture meters, see Tools of the Trade: Moisture Meters.)

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