Ice dam

  When my wife and I bought our current house, one appeal was that it was largely uninsulated. Given the choice between somewhat insulated and uninsulated, give me the blank slate every time. We moved in September and between the start of a super busy audit season and unpacking, any desired projects were temporarily back-burnered. […]


Energy Retrofits Without Energy Audits

by Erik North on August 5, 2013

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    While some building folks have opined that energy audits are less than essential, I am admittedly biased. It is what I do. But it raises an interesting question: how could one do the work on a house and ensure air quality, warmth, comfort and moisture control without an audit? What minimum provisions would […]

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Ban The Can: Why You Should Avoid Recessed Lights

by Erik North on July 29, 2013

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    That image above is of a recessed light in a house built in 1994. The blower door was 5750 CFM50, which unless one were testing the Astrodome, is quite high. The outside temperature was around 10F and you can see that inside the can is 27F. Bad bad bad. I ran into a […]


Post image for Sealed Combustion Heating and the Appliance Hot Tub Party

    Sealed combustion systems are apt to become more central to efficient building as the new energy codes introduce air tightness standards. This implicitly means that you’ll need to pay attention to your heating system safety. And conveniently those codes also lay out explicit guidelines for combustion systems. Building and energy codes often get […]


Post image for Journal of Poor Home Building – Video Proof that Balloon Framing Exists

        This isn’t poor home building as much as just how it was done. This home was a balloon framed 1910 old-style colonial. The interior wall was connected to the chimney and both were connected to the attic. End result: An all too common sight in older homes where conditioned air is […]


Should I Insulate Cold Water Pipes?

by Erik North on July 3, 2013

Should I Insulate Cold Water Pipes

  Insulating the hot waters pipes in your house is something of a no brainer. Why let the heat escape willy-nilly? Pipe insulation is inexpensive and the project is one that any homeowner could finish on a Saturday afternoon. Whether to insulate the cold water pipes is less clear cut. The project is still pretty […]

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Post image for Hot Water Pipes and Basement Sills – The Secret Heat Loss

    I’ll preface this by saying that this photo is from my basement…notice the insulated sills in the background (*strains arm patting self on the back*). I wrote previously about low cost/high impact DIY projects for the enterprising homeowner. These are projects that are both common and if so desired, well within the means […]


5 (Fairly) Simple DIY Projects to Save Energy

by Erik North on June 17, 2013

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    I like simple projects because, hey, simple. It’s like whipping up a nice tortellini and pesto dish versus tackling a full blown chicken mole (and for the non-culinarily inclined, check out this epic you-gotta-be-kidding-me recipe for Rick Bayless’ Oaxacan Chicken Mole). They’re both satisfying but one is liable to make the average home […]


Post image for The Worst House Ever Audited (Was Built in 2008) Part 3

    To recap: Last post I started reviewing possibly the worst house I ever audited. The house had built in 2008, which hit one of my pet peeves: That new automatically means good. But to reiterate a buddy’s favorite saying, “a house built to code is the worst house you’re legally allowed to build.” […]


My First Energy Audit…Part Dos

by Erik North on January 28, 2013

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  OK, it’s been a few weeks but with good cause. I recently had a bad accident, breaking my ankle and right tibia. Granted that shouldn’t have affected my writing output but it is difficut to concentrate on other things when walking is suddenly out of the question. Last post, we looked at the house […]