Musings of an Energy Nerd

Understanding R-Value 2

Understanding R-Value

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Martin Holladay

R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. measurements are subject to a fair amount of ridicule, especially by marketers of radiant barriers. As it turns out, however, the ridicule is mostly unwarranted.

Energy Auditors Make You Tube Video

A Music Video For Energy Auditors

Posted on March 18, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Is it possible to make a funny music video on the topic of residential energy audits? It sounds unlikely. But a group of Stanford University students have risen to the challenge. Check it out.

Choosing an Energy-Efficient Television

Choosing an Energy-Efficient Television

Posted on March 17, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Last weekend I reluctantly undertook the unpleasant task of buying a new television. The task was unpleasant for several reasons: I have a countercultural aversion to updating electronic devices; I hate shopping; and I especially hate shopping at the only area retailer that sells televisions, a particularly repellent megastore headquartered in Arkansas.

Yes, We Can

Posted on March 10, 2009 by Martin Holladay

After Henry Ford perfected the automobile assembly line, U.S. industry experienced several decades of explosive growth. Although industrial expansion was interrupted for a decade during the 1930s, it roared back during the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Historians have proposed several explanations for these decades of growing productivity, including the country’s high rate of immigration and access to cheap energy and natural resources.

R-Value Crooks2

Beware of R-Value Crooks

Posted on March 3, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Scammers continue to use exaggerated R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. claims to peddle inferior insulation products, in spite of the existence of strong consumer protection laws. Year after year, naïve builders fall prey to Web-based marketing pitches for “miracle” products like “insulating” paint and 1-inch-thick R-10 foam.

Passivhaus window 2

Equipment versus Envelope

Posted on February 24, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Designers of high-performance homes know that there is always more than one way to reduce energy use. It can be daunting to optimize investments in energy-saving measures: even with the help of computer modeling software, designers need to exercise judgment.

Designers face such questions as: Does it make more sense to upgrade the attic insulation from R-40 to R-60, or to upgrade the water heater to a more efficient unit? Does it make more sense to upgrade from double-glazed to triple-glazed windows or to upgrade from a gas furnace to a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures.?

Reinventing the U.S. Economy

Reinventing the U.S. Economy

Posted on February 17, 2009 by Martin Holladay

The U.S. economy has run out of steam. Many Americans have concluded that the time has come for economic models based on never-ending growth to be replaced by an economy based on sustainability.

Although it’s easy to describe the promised land — a nation that spends within its means, does a better job of meeting human needs, protects the environment, provides adequate systems for mass transit, and eschews fossil fuels for renewable sources of energy — it’s hard to imagine a smooth transition between our existing “growth is good” economy and a sustainable future.

Slum

Slums of the Future

Posted on February 9, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Peak-oil alarmists have been predicting for several years that rising fuel costs will eventually make large houses and long commutes unaffordable. According to this scenario, American suburbs are destined to become slums.

More Cool Products From the International Builders’ Show

Posted on January 23, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Here’s my latest round-up of cool products from the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

InSoFast polystyrene panels

A Minnesota company, InSoFast, is selling 2-in.-thick expanded polystyrene panels for finishing the interior of basement walls. The panels have several good design features, including vertical drainage channels on the back side, vertical polypropylene strips that accept screws when attaching drywall, and integrated wiring chases.

Crawl space insulation

Well, They Got It Half Right

Posted on January 22, 2009 by Martin Holladay

At the International Builder’s Show, several demonstration homes have been set up in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas convention center.

The Environments for Living show home has a display promoting the advantages of ventless conditioned crawl spaces; so far, so good. But instead of following best-practice advice and insulating the crawl space walls with rigid foam, the Environments for Living home designers chose to install fiberglass batts between the floor joists — a feature proudly displayed behind a Plexiglas viewing panel.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!

Syndicate content