Guest Blogs

Blue Heron EcoHaus: How Small Can We Go?

Posted on February 4, 2016 by Kent Earle

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, documenting their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. Their previous blog on was called Choosing a Superinsulated Wall System. The blog below was originally published in March 2015..

Looking at the Costs of LEED Version 4

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Stuart Kaplow

With the November 1, 2016, deadline approaching when new 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. projects must register under the new LEED version 4, the real estate industry has been raising questions about the costs and benefits of LEED v4 compliance.

Foundation and Nailbase Details for a Minnesota House

Posted on February 2, 2016 by Elden Lindamood

This is the second part of a blog series by architect Elden Lindamood about the design and construction of his own home. The first installment was called A Low-Energy House for Northern Minnesota.

Why Is It So Cold In Here?

Posted on February 1, 2016 by Scott Gibson

J Pritzen's single-story Illinois house was built in the 1950s. It's heated with a gas furnace fully capable of meeting the heating loadRate at which heat must be added to a space to maintain a desired temperature. See cooling load., but somehow it isn't getting the job done.

The single-story brick house has a mostly insulated, but unheated, basement. Warm air is distributed on the main floor by a series of floor registers set near exterior walls, and an energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. tells Pritzen the furnace is cranking out 10,000 BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. more per hour than is lost through the walls and roof.

The Effect of Low Oil Prices on Climate Emissions

Posted on January 28, 2016 by David Goldstein

Editor's note: The first blog in this two-part blog series was titled How Low Oil Prices Can Be Good for the Environment.

Ditch the Tax Credits for Renewables

Posted on January 26, 2016 by Tristan Brown

Congress last month extended valuable tax credits to producers of electricity from wind turbines and purchasers of solar equipment, a move that came as a relief to an industry that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.

A tax credit for wind power producers had lapsed almost a year ago, and the credit for solar power was scheduled to decline sharply at the end of 2016. Now, renewable electricity generators have several years of unprecedented stability: the renewed wind and solar power credits don’t expire until 2020 and 2022, respectively.

Getting Spray Foam Right

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Paul Eldrenkamp and Rachel White

Spray foam insulation scares homeowners more than it should — although this is hardly surprising given the horror stories that abound on the Internet. While some of these stories are legitimate, more are based on skewed perceptions or flawed science. The truth is that spray foam is an incredibly effective insulation material and that failures are incredibly rare.

How Low Oil Prices Can Be Good for the Environment

Posted on January 20, 2016 by David Goldstein

Over the past year and a half, oil prices have declined from over $100 a barrel to less than $35 a barrel. Should environmentalists be worried that this will cause people to turn away from clean energy and fail to meet climate pollution goals?

Finishing Touches for a Pretty Good House in New Hampshire

Posted on January 19, 2016 by Brian Post

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of blogs chronicling the design and construction of a house owned by Brian Post and Kyra Salancy. The first blog in the series was titled Building a Small House in the White Mountains.

Settings Matter

Posted on January 14, 2016 by Noah Horowitz

Now that the gift-giving holidays are nearly in the rearview mirror and bill-paying season is just ahead, it's a good time to remind you that those electronic devices given or received need not result in higher electric bills.

There are ways to keep your energy use under control without always visiting your brother-in-law's house to borrow a little electricity. In fact, many electronics manufacturers today offer settings that fine-tune the efficiency of their gadgetry — and usually those settings are pretty easy to manipulate.

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