Energy Solutions

Växjö, Sweden, is a Model of Sustainability

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Alex Wilson

My blog last week about Kansas and efforts to outlaw any mention or promotion of sustainability was so depressing (to write as well read) that I needed to find a more uplifting sequel. I needed to remind myself — and readers — that even if some politicians in Kansas don’t want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren, that’s not a universal attitude.

Gunning for Sustainability in Kansas

Posted on April 4, 2013 by Alex Wilson

I love many things about Kansas — from the tall-grass prairies in the Flint Hills where I’ve hiked through rolling hills overlooking grazing bison to the dramatic waterfowl migrations in the Cheyenne Bottoms region in the western part of the state.

Installing Cork Insulation

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Alex Wilson

What do you do if you’re a builder and your client (that would be me) hands you a material that no one’s ever heard of, let alone installed in this country, and asks you to insulate his house with it? A lot of smart builders would run the other way. Eli Gould, our partner in the Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse we’re renovating (really re-building), took it on as a challenge.

Cork Insulation on Our Farmhouse

Posted on March 21, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Among the innovative — some might say weird — products we’re trying out at our Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse, none is more unusual than the expanded cork insulation we’re currently installing as a layer of exterior rigid insulation. As I mentioned in a blog last summer, cork insulation has a great story behind it.

Extending Window Openings for a Deep Energy Retrofit

Posted on March 14, 2013 by Alex Wilson

A few weeks ago I reported on the amazing, high-tech Alpen, R-12 (center-of-glass) windows that we installed on the north and west facades of our farmhouse in Dummerston, Vermont. At that time I promised to report on the other windows we were installing on the south and east facades (windows 2.0 if you will).

A Pioneer of Low-Energy Homes Since 1973

Posted on March 7, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Bruce Brownell, of Adirondack Alternate Energy, has been creating low-energy, largely passive-solar-heated, resilient homes in the Northeast for forty years — and he’s still going strong. Since 1973, Bruce has built more than 375 homes in 15 states, a third of them in very cold (over 8,500-degree-dayMeasure of how cold or warm a location is over a period of time relative to a base temperature, typically 65°F (although other base temperatures, such as 75°F, can be used for cooling). To calculate the number of heating degree-days (HDD) of a given day, average the maximum and minimum outdoor temperatures and subtract that from 65°F. The annual number of heating degree-days is a measure of the severity of the climate and is used to determine expected fuel use for heating. Cooling degree-days (CDD), which measure air conditioning requirements, are calculated by subtracting the average outdoor temperature from an indoor base temperature.) climates. Most require just a few hundred dollars of heat per year.

Will Natural Gas Be Our Domestic Energy Savior?

Posted on February 27, 2013 by Alex Wilson

In many parts of the country and for many applications, natural gas is considered a panacea to our energy challenges.

FTC Cracking Down on False R-Value Claims

Posted on February 21, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Most of us want to do the right thing in improving the energy performance of our homes. We research energy-saving products like appliances and insulation. We search the internet or clip ads from the paper looking for products that will save us the most energy (and money). We look for the most R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. for the money. Well-meaning homeowners do this all the time.

Commercial-Scale Wind Power

Posted on February 14, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Last week I wrote about the challenges of small wind turbines and the difficulty of successfully integrating wind power into buildings. This week, I’ll look at larger-scale commercial wind power developments.

Wind Power: Why it Doesn’t Make Sense Everywhere

Posted on February 7, 2013 by Alex Wilson

At least in our neck of the woods, wind power is very much in the news these days. The Vermont legislature is debating whether to institute a three-year moratorium on what detractors refer to as “industrial wind power,” and debate is raging in the nearby towns of Windham and Grafton, Vermont about a potential wind farm. I figured I should weigh in.

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