The gap is narrowing. What gap, you ask? Why, the gap between stupid and hurt, of course. So says Dr. Joe Lstiburek. Allow me to explain.
Sometimes when you do something stupid, it hurts immediately. A toddler touches a hot kettle, for example, and instantly starts crying in pain. That’s a learning experience.
If that pain didn’t happen until an hour or a day had passed, however, the child would have a tough time learning not to touch hot kettles. Building or remodeling homes is a lot like that.
An architect, home builder, or remodeler can provide a beautiful house to their client, yet it can still be full of problems: air leakage, atmospheric combustion, the dreaded ductopus… And they get away with it because often the hurt doesn’t happen till years, even a decade, later.
Dr. Lstiburek says the gap between doing those stupid things and the hurt they cause is now narrowing. The reason: energy efficiency. As we make homes more and more efficient, the home has less tolerance for the stupid things. And we are making homes more efficient, largely because of the strengthening and adoption of energy codes.
Put a vapor barrier in the wrong place and the condensation and mold start sooner. Make a home more airtight and getting carbon monoxide in the home because of a backdrafting water heater becomes a bigger danger.
Have you felt the hurt?
Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. Check out his in-depth course, Mastering Building Science at Heatspring Learning Institute, and follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.
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