The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Tackling an Energy Remodel in New Hampshire

Posted on May 1, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

From the sound of it, Ben Balcombe is about to buy a house built like many others in New England in the 1980s: 2x6 walls (presumably insulated with fiberglass batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. ), double-pane windows, baseboard hydronic heat linked to an oil-fired boiler, and vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). siding. The house is in southern New Hampshire in Climate Zone 5.

Balcombe plans to renovate the house in phases. He'd launch a kitchen and bath remodel "as soon as we get the keys," with other upgrades to follow.

Revisiting Net Zero Energy

Posted on April 28, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

An 6-kW photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) system can be installed for about $18,000 in many U.S. locations. With a 30% federal tax credit, the system costs the homeowner only $12,600 — or even less if utility or state rebates are available.

This 6-kW system will produce about 8,000 kWh per year in Boston (worth about $1,600) or 10,300 kWh per year in Phoenix (worth about $1,230). That’s a lot of electricity.

The Energy Conservatory’s New Blower Door Kit

Posted on April 27, 2017 by Peter Yost in Building Science

I don’t do blower door work every day, but I do enough of it to appreciate the attention to detail that The Energy Conservatory (TEC) built into its new blower door kit. The kit features a digital pressure and air flow gauge, the DG1000.

Questions to Ask Your Prospective Builder

Posted on April 26, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

You're having your dream house built. You're into the design phase, working with an architect or looking through collections of house plans. You're doing your homework, trying to find out how to ensure you get a top quality house. And that's when you run into all this stuff about building science, high performance homes, HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. design, blower door testing, and the like. Now you're hooked.

A Forgotten Tool to Solve the Housing Crisis

Posted on April 25, 2017 by David Goldstein in Guest Blogs

“The California housing crisis is even worse than we thought… California is the hardest state in the nation for people to buy their first home.

"Since first-time home buyers are overwhelmingly younger people, the long-term results will have an enormous impact on the economic prospects of the next generation …”

Air Sealing and Insulation in the ProHOME

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Mike Guertin in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the ProHOME series at Fine Homebuilding magazine. Mike Guertin, an editorial adviser at the magazine, is building the house in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

The Exterior Rigid Foam is Too Thin!

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Let’s say you’ve owned your house for several years. Your growing interest in energy efficiency brought you to the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com web site. GBA taught you that it’s a great idea to install rigid foam on the exterior side of your wall 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. , as long as (a) the rigid foam is thick enough to keep your sheathing above the dew point during the winter, and (b) your walls don’t have any interior polyethylene.

Energy Star Delivers Big for America: Why Put It at Risk?

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Noah Horowitz in Guest Blogs

Imagine owning a brand that’s both well-known and widely trusted by consumers and businesses all over America. Now imagine that it turns a $50 million annual investment into $30+ billion worth of annual customer utility bill savings, and has resulted in branded sales of more than 5 billion products since its inception. That’s one heck of a rate of return and a brand that any CEO would die for.

The Hidden Flaw in Some High-Efficiency Furnaces

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

You can tell how energy-efficient a furnace is by its official efficiency rating, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency(AFUE) Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. (AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. ). It's a measure of how much of the heat originally in the fuel that's being burned is available for delivery to the home. The more heat that gets lost up the flue or through the cabinet, the lower the AFUE.

But that rating doesn't capture all the ways a furnace can lose efficiency. Some, like how well the heat gets distributed to the house, aren't related to the furnace itself. But there's one big one that is related to the furnace.

Urban Rustic: An Introduction to a New Passive House Project

Posted on April 18, 2017 by Eric Whetzel in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of posts by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Eric's blog is called Kimchi & Kraut.

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