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 […]

{ 1 comment }

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

Post image for 5 (Fairly) Simple DIY Projects to Save Energy

    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 […]


Should I Insulate My Garage Door?

by Erik North on June 14, 2013

Post image for Should I Insulate My Garage Door?

    One of the core questions an auditor asks themselves during a home inspection is ‘Where is the thermal boundary?’ and ‘Where is the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts?’ Those two questions run neck and neck. The thermal boundary is the demarcation line for energy movement between the unconditioned exterior and conditioned interior air. This can […]


Does More Wall Insulation Reduce Cooling Cost?

by Erik North on June 10, 2013

Post image for Does More Wall Insulation Reduce Cooling Cost?

      Hey, hey…It’s warm enough so that I can get back to publishing those air conditioning articles from last summer’s backlog. Does More Wall Insulation Reducing Cooling Costs? A little but way less than you think. That’s the short answer. The long answer will take…a bit longer. Adding insulation reduces heat flow. That’s […]


Why I Hate, Hate, Hate Skylights

by Erik North on May 27, 2013

Post image for Why I Hate, Hate, Hate Skylights

  Title reference in memory of Roger Ebert and his book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie. Why the skylight hate? Because I’ve rarely seen one that isn’t either causing a problem or in the process of causing one. They fall squarely into a group with recessed lights and cathedral ceilings: Homeowners love them and […]


A Belated Energy Auditor New Year’s Resolution

by Erik North on May 20, 2013

An Energy Auditor's New Year's Resolution

      The beauty of this title given my article backlog is that I can publish it any time, even next year. It’s multi-purpose. The folks at Maine Green Building Supply have been discussing the ‘Pretty Good House’ for several months now and I’ve had the chance to sit in on a few of […]


Post image for Reader Questions – Basement Ceiling Insulation and Moisture

  Erik, I have been trying to educate myself so that I may finish my house. I have a garage/basement that is above ground. Above that is the finished house. I want to fire safe my house, i.e.. separate the garage from the main house using 5/8 drywall in the ceiling. What I am not […]