Featured Blog Posts (504)

A Solar House with Soul in Wiscasset, Maine

A brand new passive solar house completes the first piece of a long held dream for homeowner Jason Peacock. A builder and LEED Accredited Professional, B.A. Jason also works at Maine Green Building Supply where he has honed his sustainable knowledge. Passionate about green, when Jason bought 36 acres of land just outside of Wiscasset, Maine he had a very specific vision in mind.…

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Added by Samuel Strickland on May 23, 2012 at 1:45pm — No Comments

Energy, Faith, and the Narratives We Live By

(This post first appeared as an article in America Magazine, a Jesuit, Catholic, national weekly journal, in the May 6, 2012 issue.)

Since the beginning of the 20th century, oil has played the role of cheap labor in the U.S. economy and in economies around the world. Traditionally, we have been interested in the horsepower of our car engines, but what if we measured the energy we use in terms of human labor? To power a typical…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on June 7, 2012 at 4:47pm — No Comments

The Google Earth of IR Images—Q&A With Storm Duncan

By now you may have heard about drive-by energy audits. But have you heard of drive-by energy audits performed on entire cities at the same time? Say hello to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, Essess. Essess (pronounced like “recess” without the “r”) has recently entered the home performance scene, and they’re making a lot of noise. In just a couple of weeks, we here at Home Energy received multiple emails from friends and partners in the industry…

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Added by Macie Melendez on June 5, 2012 at 5:07pm — 4 Comments

Diagnosing Improper Fixed Orifice Sizes

   I have found that this topic often goes unnoticed, or can be a guessing game out there in the field.  Diagnosing improper fixed orifice sizes is actually a fairly simple, cut and dry procedure.  First, I would argue for efficiency reasons, as well as ease of proper charging, you should just field install a TXV.  Of course, when you are on the job site you don't want to spend precious time attempting to adjust refrigerant charge with the incorrect orifice. You would never be able to get…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 23, 2012 at 5:31am — 2 Comments

Conversations from the Wx Frontlines: Terry Emelander

Another winner of the 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program National Recognition Award, presented at the National Weatherization Training Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, was Terry Emelander. (You can view an entire list of winners here.)

Terry is the owner and president (along with being a licensed Michigan builder) of T & L…

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Added by Macie Melendez on May 30, 2012 at 8:30am — No Comments

Conventional AC is not COOL

In order to feel comfortable in the cooling season conditioned air has to be at the right air temperature AND relative humidity. Conventional AC dehumidifies when it is running but it is thermostatically controlled by air temperature only. Which means that when air temperature is reached the AC turns off and stops dehumidifying. Not a big problem if you live in an arid climate such as Pheonix but if you live in New England where the summers are very humid and not…

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Added by Joseph Novella on May 22, 2012 at 6:36pm — 12 Comments

Correctly Sizing a Capacitor

I don't know how many times a technician has said that they installed a part based on what was on their service truck.  I have heard of technicians wasting money over-sizing contactors, cutting down air filters, and even using controlled substances to clear condensate drains!  Of course, these scenarios all get the job done, but I would argue the many reasons why not to do these.  The one thing that gets to me is when a technician doesn't verify they are installing the correct size dual run…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 13, 2012 at 11:43am — 2 Comments

Conversations from the Wx Frontlines: Robert Parkhurst

At the most recent National Weatherization Training Conference that took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, six people were presented with a 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program National Recognition Award.

The Recognition Awards acknowledge outstanding contributions that advance the goals of WAP through individual or group achievement, inspiration, or innovation. The Recognition Awards program is open…

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Added by Macie Melendez on May 17, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Missed Opportunity? Energy Audits @ Home Purchase

It may be the…

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Added by Laura Reedy Stukel on May 8, 2012 at 9:30pm — 12 Comments

Realistic Expectations and "The Occupied Zone"

How many times as a technician have you gone out to the same customer's home because of unrealistic expectations?  Some homeowners expect air-conditioners to work like an ice box, want you to size them for their big party on Fourth of July weekend, and expect you to show up at the drop of a dime when it doesn't meet their impossible notion.  Of course, this could be avoided by establishing a standard during the sales process or a little customer education.  I liked to talk about "The…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 5, 2012 at 8:07pm — 1 Comment

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, is a way to exhibit how well an air-conditioner is operating based on the power being used.  Most homeowners are of course familiar with SEER, the ratio across an entire season.  Since SEER is tested at a "partial load", the EER is a more realistic number to use when figuring energy savings.  AHRI tests their EER of residential air-conditioners using 400 CFM per ton of airflow at 95F Outdoors / 80F Indoors and 67F Wet Bulb.  This compared to the SEER testing…

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Added by Christopher Morin on April 28, 2012 at 6:47pm — 6 Comments

Editorial: Reflections on ACI

An industry's health is sometimes measured by the enthusiasm of its trade shows. Arguably, ACI is not a trade show, but it certainly is a bellwether for the home performance industry. And it rocked. By all measures, ACI was larger, broader, and more exciting than past conferences.

ACI continues to be a magnet for audiences ranging from contractors just starting out and receiving blower door training to engineers and building scientists. In this way, it serves as the premier…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 1, 2012 at 10:34am — 5 Comments

A Home Energy Rater or Building Analyst Class Is Just the Beginning

So, you're about to take a class to become a home energy rater or building analyst so you can go out and do energy audits. Maybe you've already taken a class and are out there trying to make a living at it now. You may be aware of this already, but…

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Added by Allison A. Bailes III on April 19, 2012 at 11:55am — 2 Comments

Energy Out West

The Energy Out West conference is held every other year and began in 1996 when a group of people doing weatherization work in the Northwest thought they could help each other do it better. The current president of Energy Out West (EOW) is Mimi Burbage, who should be familiar to readers of Home Energy and anyone in weatherization. Mimi brings that independent, Alaska, straight talk style to whatever she does, from heading the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to her work for EOW.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on April 26, 2012 at 11:33am — 1 Comment

Non-Condensables? Are you sure?

  Non-condensables in a residential split air-conditioner can be, for most technicians, a pandora's box to diagnose.  Fortunately, there is a simple process that can identify this condition without spending hours and hundreds of dollars in virgin refrigerant.  I think we all are aware that R-22 has hit an all time high, so getting this right is more important than ever - if you want to retain your customer.

  There are several ways air and/or water vapor can enter a sealed system. …

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Added by Christopher Morin on April 15, 2012 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

ACI National Home Performance Conference: Setting the Pace for Change

This year ACI held its largest ever national home performance conference in Baltimore, Md.  It was the largest in the number of workshop sessions: over 195 sessions, in 25 thematic tracks; with the largest number of exhibitors (115) and sponsors (48).  

The three themes stood out: a) keep it simple (from the homeowners perspective); b) there is no silver bullet; and c) HVAC is jumping into home performance, maybe not head first, but at least with both feet in a measured…

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Added by Tom White on April 18, 2012 at 5:00am — No Comments

Green Cipherin' - What's Slowing the Mainstreaming of Green Building, and What Homeowners Can Do about It

MLSs (Multiple Listing Services) across the country are unveiling “green-field addenda” (GFAs) and searchable fields to highlight green features.  …

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Added by Melissa Baldridge on April 9, 2012 at 7:00pm — 2 Comments

New England; HRV or ERV?

I remember installing some early version residential Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) and discovering a potential freezing issue.  Also, if I used only a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) than I would be drying the air during the Winter, and adding significant latent load in the summer.  So, which one do I choose?  The homes are tight enough these days to require mechanical ventilation, and I would much rather a balanced ventilation system that I can control.…

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Added by Christopher Morin on April 9, 2012 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

The “Passive House:” Finally a Reality

In years past, the idea of the “passive house” was only a dream. In concept form, the passive house was one that minimized energy losses and operated at maximum energy efficiency. The result would be a home with little to no monthly energy expenses and a fraction of the environmental impact of most homes. Amazingly, the passive house is no longer just a dream; in fact, it’s become a reality. Several companies are able to build passive homes for everyday consumers, creating a huge shift in…

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Added by Jeff Wendland on April 9, 2012 at 6:45am — 3 Comments

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