Musings of an Energy Nerd

‘Insulating’ Paint Merchants Dupe Gullible Homeowners

Posted on September 11, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Scammers have been selling “insulating” paint to gullible consumers for at least 27 years. Among the exaggerated claims made by distributors of these overpriced cans of paint is that the “low-e” coatings will “lower energy bills.” In addition to liquid paint, some fraudsters sell powders or paint additives, usually described as “miracle” products containing “micro-spheres” or “ceramic beads.”

The Jevons Paradox

Posted on September 4, 2009 by Martin Holladay

UPDATED with new photo on May 6, 2011

Let’s say you’ve sold your old, leaky house and moved into a new, well-insulated home with Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. appliances. With all of its efficiency improvements, your new home requires 30% less energy than your old home. That’s got to be good for the planet, right?

Well, maybe not — especially if you save so much on your energy bills that you decide to fly to Florida for your next vacation.

Solar Hot Water

Posted on August 28, 2009 by Martin Holladay

If you’re aiming to reduce your carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. , you’ve probably thought about installing a solar hot water system. Here’s the good news: if you have an unshaded south-facing roof, you can install a solar hot water system that will meet about half your annual hot water needs.

The bad news: the typical solar hot water system costs between $6,000 and $10,000.

Can Foam Insulation Be Too Thick?

Posted on August 21, 2009 by Martin Holladay

In the U.S., designers of cutting-edge superinsulated homes generally recommend 2 to 6 inches of rigid foam insulation under residential slabs. For builders who use extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.), the most commonly used sub-slab insulation, that amounts to R-10 to R-30.

The History of the Chainsaw Retrofit

Posted on August 14, 2009 by Martin Holladay

To achieve the carbon reductions needed to prevent a global ecological catastrophe, almost every house in North America will need a deep-energy retrofit. If the projecting elements on a home’s exterior — especially the eave and rake overhangs — can be stripped away, the best retrofit option is to wrap the exterior of the house with an airtight membrane and a deep layer of insulation, followed by new siding, roofing, and windows.

Getting Insulation Out of Your Walls and Ceilings

Posted on August 7, 2009 by Martin Holladay

More and more builders have realized the advantages of leaving stud bays empty and putting all of a home’s insulation outside of the wall and roof sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. . If done correctly, exterior insulation can help produce a building that is almost airtight, very well insulated, and almost immune to water damage.

High-Solar-Gain Glazing

Posted on July 31, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Homeowners can now receive a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of new energy-efficient windows. The credit was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed by President Obama in February.

Green Homes Don’t Have To Be Durable

Posted on July 24, 2009 by Martin Holladay

According to most green advocates, green buildings must be durable. Alex Wilson memorably summed up the case for durability in an Environmental Building News article titled “Durability: A Key Component of Green Building.”

In Defense of the Lawn

In Defense of the Lawn

Posted on July 15, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Environmentalists often bad-mouth lawns. The anti-lawn stance was summed up in a recent essay by Kerry Trueman, who wrote, “The typical American lawn is pretty much an unmitigated environmental disaster.”

Installing Fiberglass Batts Right

Installing Fiberglass Right

Posted on July 10, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Of all of the commonly used types of insulation — including cellulose, rigid foam, and spray polyurethane foam — fiberglass batts perform the worst. As typically installed, fiberglass batts do little to reduce airflow through a wall or ceiling assembly; rarely fill the entire cavity in which they are installed; and sometimes permit the development of convective loops that degrade insulation performance.

Knowing this, why would any builder choose to install fiberglass batts? The answer is simple: because fiberglass batts cost less than any other type of insulation.

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