More Hot Water

Just found a whole bunch of UK studies of hot water – Yay! Here’s one on the cost-benefit of installing thermostatic mixing valves: “It is very likely that installing TMVs as standard in social housing in new buildings and major refurbishments accompanied by educational information represents value for money.”  Here’s a powerpoint from the American Burn Association discussing scald prevention: […]

All of the Cost and Half of the Performance

We have the capacity to build much better buildings. Buildings withdrew a fraction of the energy consumption. Buildings that require painting less than every 20 years. Buildings that don’t leak water, even in extreme conditions.But we don’t build many buildings like this. Instead we use a hodge-podge of glitzy new technologies and really poor techniques that result in not very […]

Category Construction, News

Testimonial with an Evidence-based Twist

I love working for people who test things! Here’s a testimonial from last week’s NJ Home Performance with Energy Star job: “Jesse and his crew had the daunting job of air sealing and insulating the attic of our ranch home.  They did great work even though it was in the July heat.  The on again off again heat waves we […]

Duct Performance

Part of the problem with ducts is related to language. In English, the word ‘always’ and the word ‘never’ sound very similar. Pictured here is the attic duct system on a very inefficient and uncomfortable house. How often should you tap multiple supply ducts into the very end of a supply trunk? Probably nalways.

Category Construction, News

Before and After Photos are Weird

Have you ever noticed how popular ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos are in design and building magazines? Maybe there’s some psychological affect where things seem more beautiful when placed next to ugly things. I’m definitely guilty of taking more than my share of before photos (ugly stuff just begs to be photographed), but I always feel a little weird about showing […]

Custom Shelving

These shelves were designed to house books and items while maintaining the apartment’s contemporary feel.  The client wanted the shelves to appear as though they traveled throughout the apartment, rather than featuring themselves neatly in one plane.  The added third dimension provided by having the cabinets turn against the right-hand wall and sweep away up high presented interesting detail challenges, […]

Replacing Windows while Insulating the Wall Assembly

This video shows our method of installing replacement windows in the new-construction style while increasing the insulation levels in the wall and taking care of a few other technical problems. One benefit of the system is that you can pause for as long as you like between installing the window and insulating/re-siding the walls. This opportunity arises through the installation of […]

Improving buildings in the real world

There is an incredible wealth of information on how to construct energy efficient, durable, and comfortable buildings. Sure, most of that information is totally disregarded when buildings are constructed. But it would be difficult to argue that houses in the US are constructed poorly because technicians don’t have access to good information. This wealth of information should be directly applied […]

Changing heating costs

One of the most complicated issues for homeowners is determining whether or not to make a change to their 1) heating system efficiency, or 2) heating fuel type. There are a multitude of factors that could go into making this decision, including: Current system efficiency, Proposed system efficiency, Current cost of heating fuel, Future cost of fuel, Cost of change […]

Look Ma, No Replacement Windows!

Here are the blower door results from one of the NJ Home Performance with Energy Star jobs we did this week. In most houses we anticipate 30%-40% leakage reductions, which is generally considered pretty good. But 55% leakage reduction is pretty awesome! I’ll try to find time over the weekend to elaborate on our evolving techniques for sealing buildings. Here’s […]