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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Concentric Vents and Blizzard Nemo

by Erik North on July 31, 2013

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    Blizzard Nemo clobbered Maine and most of the eastern seaboard this past February. Snow blanketed the entire coast, piling especially high in the Appalachian foothills. We slogged through a three foot dump in Portland. 50 MPH gusts whipped snow every way, sculpting enormous snow drifts in almost alien landscapes. That’s what our family […]


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 […]


Can Switching to a Dual Flush Toilet Save Heat?

by Erik North on August 10, 2012

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  First off, my wife just joked that I used a photo of a ‘male’ bathroom. Seat up and two rolls of toilet paper. Regarding the heat savings, we’ll see…I haven’t done the math yet. But it is a minor claim occasionally made alongside those of saving toilet water. Dual flush or low flow toilets […]


Post image for The Difference Between Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers

  There’s a great Patton Oswalt bit where he contemplates meeting George Lucas in 1996 (gotta love the oblique intros). After slobbering over the original trilogy and just about suffering an aneurysm over a possible new trilogy, his enthusiasm tapers down dramatically. He finds out what the new movies will be about, namely all the […]


Journal of Poor Homebuilding v.7

by Erik North on June 25, 2012

Journal of Poor Home Building

    Dryer vents…you can’t point them just ANYWHERE. The surrounding loose fiberglass had been soaked and dried repeatedly over the years and had congealed into solid matts. The patch of moisture damage fiberglass was about a yard across. The roof sheathing overhead showed loads of evidence of moisture condensation – staining, small amounts of […]

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17 Free Ways to Save on Your Cooling Bill

by Erik North on April 19, 2012

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  OK, I hope I counted that right but it is very late. We talk here about a lot of different projects that can be done to reduce overall energy use. One common thread with these projects: they cost money, sometimes a lot of money. Spring (and summer) haven’t truly broken in Maine yet but […]


How Do I Control Humidity In My House?

by Erik North on November 5, 2011

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  I get a few funny looks during audits when the conversation turns from insulation to water and moisture control. But the two are interconnected whether or not it is obvious. Your entire house is made of wood, paper, concrete and plastic. Every one of those materials either holds loads of moisture or stops it. […]


Can Ceiling Fans Save Money?

by Erik North on October 23, 2011

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  Ceiling fans are incredibly popular and add an elegant look to most rooms. The popularity of great rooms and cathedral ceilings coupled with myriad design choices make ceiling fans a great option to fill what may otherwise be a dreary ceiling space. But can ceiling fans save money? Beyond the aesthetics, properly run ceiling […]


Post image for Do Programmable Thermostats Save Money (And Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs)?

  Do programmable thermostats save money and how does this involve bacon wrapped hot dogs? The bacon wrapped hot dogs will make some sense by the end of the post. Some sense. OK, not much. OK, I just love that picture. Anyway, I love how this has evolved into the “Should I … ” series […]