News & Resources

IAQ Rating System

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is of great value to homeowners, builders, energy auditors, and codes-and-standard bodies. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) is developing new IAQ metrics that will provide an easy-to-understand IAQ score. Audiences for IAQ Metrics IAQ...

Economizers and Free Cooling

An economizer is a part of a building's cooling system that uses cool outdoor air to cool the building instead of operating the air conditioning compressor.   An economizer is an optional feature to an HVAC air handler that draws in outdoor air and mixes it with...

Homes Need Ventilation

Most modern homes need mechanical ventilation systems to provide satisfactory indoor air quality. Many poorly ventilated homes have mold and mildew growing in wall cavities, high levels of airborne chemicals, combustion byproducts, or high utility bills. It's...

Tune-ups Reduce AC Costs, Increase Comfort

Click the image to see the laminated double-sided chart. Urgent comfort problems drive AC service calls. HVAC technicians should upsell service calls to include a thorough energy-efficiency tune-up. Customers appreciate the extra benefits of electricity-cost savings...

Air Leakage in Multifamilys

Multifamily buildings usually have relatively tighter enclosures than single-family homes. They also have less exterior surface area per unit of floor area. Furthermore, the multifamily-building exterior is often quite weather-tight to resist rain and wind....

What is Draft

What is draft? Draft is important to combustion efficiency and safe combustion. If draft isn't adequate, chimneys can backdraft or spill.  We measure draft between between two places in a combustion heating system. For example, we measure draft between the a...

LBNL “Smart Ventilation” Research

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) scientists, led by Max Sherman and Iain Walker, are investigating whole-house ventilation options to support California's Zero Net Energy Homes initiative. This research project is called Smart Ventilation for Advanced California...

Sliding Glass Doors: Comfort and Energy

Sliding glass door heat flow A sliding glass door’s large expanse of glass transmits a lot heat out of the home in the winter and into the home in summer. This heat flow takes three forms: heat conducts directly through the glass in winter, solar heat transmits...

Attic Vents and Venting – Part 2: Beyond the Simple Vented Attic

Attic vents and attic venting are the most familiar and reliable roof venting option. That was the subject of part 1 of this post. But they may not work depending on the building's design. Features like sloping ceilings and cathedrals may dictate an unvented attic. An...

Attic Vents and Venting – Part 1

Attic vents and roof venting serve a variety of purposes, depending on roof design and climate. These purposes include preventing ice damming, drying building materials, and controlling solar heat gain. In cold climates, we want to avoid ice damming by keeping the...

Metal Chimney Liners and Other Solutions for Masonry Chimneys

Spring has arrived and Summer is just around the corner. If your heating system is in need of major repair or replacement, this is the time for you to get that done. If your furnace vents into an unlined masonry chimney, then you should install a chimney liner. If...

Choose the Right Window Frames for Your Window Installations

Window manufacturers offer a variety of window frames for the variety of different new and retrofit window installations. Choose the right window frame. In most types of window installation, exterior window trim is an unnecessary and expensive extra to be avoided....

Installing High-Performance Windows

My complements to the European high-performance window manufacturers for providing built-in sills for their windows. I hope that North American high-performance window manufacturers soon provide built-in sills. The built-in sills, along with block-frame window...

Preventing Mold After Water Damages Your Home

The only thing worse than discovering your home has been water damaged is realizing that the damage has increased exponentially through mold. In less than two days, mold can begin to form in the recesses of your house after even minor water damage. Preventing Mold...

10 Major Energy Retrofits

The best time to make major energy retrofits (also called deep energy retrofits) is during a renovation. This is when you’re making major changes to the building, and probably getting a building permit. Ideally, the house will be vacant during this process. Here are...

Flood Recovery and Renovation

Dry and Decontaminate Quickly Flood recovery begins with drying and decontaminating the home as quickly as possible after the flood recedes. Materials like carpet, sheetrock, ceiling tile, insulation, and fiberglass ducts are almost never salvageable because you...

Choosing Roof Designs for New Buildings

A roof’s purpose Before you choose a roof design for a new building, you should understand the purpose of a roof. The primary purpose of roof is to shed rainwater and snow. A secondary purpose — and a less appreciated one — is to provide shade. A roof’s enemies...

Adult-Learning Experiments – 10 Findings

A Collection of Adult-Learning Research Results The book, Building Expertise by Ruth Colvin-Clark, offers one of the best summaries of adult-learning (pedagogy) research available. Like so many fields adult-learning pedagogy is hindered by dubious assumptions and...

Rainscreens and drainage planes

Building assemblies can get wet Building scientists assume that some rainwater leaks through the cladding or roofing and that water vapor migrates through insulated building assemblies, sometimes condensing within those cavities. These two phenomena both can dampen...

Possibilities for Wetting of Cellulose Insulation Part 2

Relative Humidity, Temperature, and Moisture Content This is Part 2 of a two-part series on cellulose insulation and moisture. Cellulose insulation is a hydrophilic material, meaning that absorbs moisture readily. Under certain conditions condensation dampens...

Air and Water Barriers

Old and new water barriers Once upon a time, builders stapled 15-pound asphalt felt to wall and roof structural sheathing as a water-resistive barrier (WRB). The 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) still specifies: “one layer of No. 15 felt… or other approved...

Hygric Buffering & Cellulose Wall Insulation

This is a two-part blog about hygric buffering, cellulose wall insulation, and moisture problems in high-performance buildings. Why not to install cellulose insulation in deep wall cavities Cellulose shrinks, slumps, and dries very slowly after wetting. Deep wall...

New RESNET CEUs Available Now!

Introducing 29 New RESNET CEU Courses Attention raters, rater trainers, and RESNET training organizations: Saturn Resource Management now offers 29 new short courses that qualify for RESNET CEUs. These short e-learning courses mix media such as slides, slide...

ASHRAE 62.2-2013 Confusion

We've been dealing with the ASHRAE ventilation standard for a while. 62-89 goes way back. We used that one for a long time, and it worked well enough. After we taught our students how to use 62-89, they could understand it and implement it. Then came 62.2. We first...

New Homes: Efficiency Priorities

Focus on the Envelope Home owners and builders seldom give the building envelope the priority it deserves. The insulation, air barrier, windows, and doors are the most important features of a new home. These envelope features determine a home's energy efficiency and...

Knowledge Management (KM) Now

KM's History Knowledge management has a long history, including apprenticeship programs, discussion forums, corporate libraries, professional training, mentoring programs, and now data bases designed to manage knowledge. Computers and software have enhanced our...

Educational Credit Made Easy

What is a credit? Saturn uses a formula to calculate how many average hours of student effort that a lesson or course requires. Of course, effort hours differ among different students, but our calculation is a good average. The easiest way to understand the convoluted...

What is Electricity

What the EPA Says EPA's new final rule on Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units  “Energy is transmitted, not electrons. Energy transmission is accomplished through the propagation of an electromagnetic...

More on Moisture and Insulation

The Experimental Findings Building Science Corporation (BSC) published a recent report that spawned a Journal of Light Construction (JLC) article called "Moisture in Fat Walls". Two of the three walls studied are double walls with R-values in excess of R-40. The...

Evaluating the Need for Supplemental Combustion Air

This post is a revised version of the last post about Evaluating Combustion Air. The changes are a result of the many discussions I had with the experts in the previous post. You know who you are. Thank you. I continue to value your suggestions. Feel free to comment...

Evaluating Combustion Air

Hey, I would really appreciate some feedback on this method of evaluating combustion air. Unnecessary Holes in the Building Contractors often cut combustion-air holes in ceilings, floors, walls, and doors without knowing whether the combustion appliance zone (CAZ)...

Helical Piers for Foundations

What is a Helical Pier? A helical pier is a pier that installers screw into the ground using a large drill motor. Helical piers work well in situations where the surface soil isn’t sufficiently supportive for a conventional foundation. When installers can reach stable...

What is a Water-Resistive Barrier (WRB)?

Builders install a variety of products on the exterior of foundations, above-grade walls, and roofs as water-resistive barriers (WRBs), required by the International Residential Code (IRC). Water-resistive barriers are also called weather-resistant barriers, but the...

Low Interest Rates Promote Energy Conservation

The Good News for Energy Conservation The time value of money has always worked against energy conservation. Traditionally a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future by a certain percent, known as the interest rate. The European Central Bank (ECB)...

What Happened to the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014?

The Act and Its Downfall First off what is the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014?  The bill contains 4 parts.  Title I establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy...

Revolving Loan Funds Help Drive Energy Conservation Programs

A Proposal for Energy-Conservation Loans The following is a proposal for a revolving loan fund that a State, municipality, or utility organization could administer. This proposal resulted from a long conversation between John Krigger and Gary Klien, who at the time...

Heat Pumps, Electric Load, Economics, and Our Energy Future

Why heat pumps aren't the answer to space heat yet I talk to people who are convinced that the future of heating and cooling is heat pumps. If you have a passive house and you heat and cool with an on-site PV-powered heat pump, you are living this ideal...

Effective Combustion Safety and Efficiency Testing

The combustion-testing paradox in our industry The recent literature review by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, titled: Assessment of Literature Related to Combustion Appliance Venting Systems, asserts that worst-case depressurization testing isn't likely a significant...

What I Learned from Installing Our New White EPDM Rubber Roof

This post is a continuation of a description of applying liquid EPDM roofing to our existing black EPDM rubber roof. Here I discuss what I learned from that job. See Our New $2 per Square Foot Rubber Roof Inspect Your Rubber Roof - before applying EPDM rubber roof...

Dog Hockey: Seasonal Inter-species Rivalry, Game 1

On Thin Ice My wife Mary, our dog Finny, and I were this season's first skaters testing the ice at Spring Meadow Lake. We didn't invite anyone else for fear that the thin ice might give way. Fortunately, the 2.5-inch-thick ice sheet proved support enough for a couple...

Our New $2 per Square Foot Rubber Roof

My Rubber Roof Dilemma I own a 6600 square foot commercial building, which houses Saturn and one other tenant. The roof is a 20-year-old black EPDM rubber which had puddles in five places. The roof had leaked for a few years during which time we paid a local roofer to...

Frost is Your Friend

It was a bit chilly in Helena, Montana the other day. A cold front from Canada combined with clear skies to take the temperature down to 3°F. Great conditions for frost. Not Robert Frost the American poet. I'm talking about hoar frost. When conditions are the way they...

Excess Combustion Air Wastes Energy

Energy specialists have been using electronic combustion analyzers for decades. These analyzers measure the percent of oxygen in combustion gases. Oxygen is one of the reagents in the combustion process. If you find oxygen in the combustion gases that almost always...

Why I Love Steel Siding

For new energy-efficient homes and superinsulated retrofits, I prefer steel siding to wood, fiber-cement, and vinyl siding. Wood cracks and cups, hail can destroy vinyl, and fiber cement is heavy and needs painted.  Steel is lightweight, easy to cut, and recyclable....

All That’s Old is New Again – Super-insulation then and now

John Krigger has practiced home performance and energy efficiency for more than 30 years. Over that time he's collected a lot of research papers and articles.. We were doing some house cleaning recently and came across some of these older articles and papers in a...

10 Steps to Integrated Foundation Moisture Control

Foundation Moisture Problems Many brand new homes have foundation moisture control problems even though these problems are easy to prevent during construction. The moisture problems include the following. Crawl spaces and basements become moisture sources by leaking...

Solar-PV-Powered Heat Pumps: Why not all homes?

Irrational Exuberance about Heat Pumps The  Passive House and Net-Zero movements  have spawned some irrational exuberance about heat pumps. When you build a home that requires less than 5 BTU/hr per square foot of floor space, you can often heat and cool it with...

Water, Water Vapor, and Building Materials

Characteristics of H2O A molecule of water contains two relatively small hydrogen atoms and one relatively large oxygen atom composing the compound with the chemical name H2O. Water is the only common substance that we encounter in all three of the states of matter:...

Want to Learn More about Energy Efficient Mortgages

In this post, Brittney Marino, a writer for Total Mortgage Services, explains energy efficient mortgages.  Saturn has given her the opportunity to "guest post" on our blog.  Please direct any questions regarding the content to Brittney. How Can an Energy Efficient...

The Contradictions of Cold Climate Crawl Spaces

Questionable Guidance from the IRC The International Residential Code (IRC) identifies two different ways to build a new-home crawl space that resists frost heaving: place the footings below the frost line (historical frost-depth) or heat the a home to 64 degrees for...

The Miraculous Properties of Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose the Air Barrier According to some experts in our industry, cellulose insulation has truly miraculous powers. Many years ago we noticed that blower-door readings dropped significantly after we dense-packed the walls of an existing home with cellulose...

New Construction Guide for Alaska

Building Energy Efficient in Alaska We at Saturn are pleased to announce a new project with the Alaska Craftsman Home Program (ACHP) to republish their excellent new-construction manual, Northern Comfort. Northern Comfort is all about building heavily insulated homes...

The Worst Siding Ever Made

Bad Siding In the past decade, the building industry has introduced pre-weathered galvanized siding for buildings. Same idea as weathered new blue jeans I guess. However if you look at the new building shown here, you'll see that the siding is quickly deteriorating...

Superinsulation Retrofit in the Wild West

Recent Details: Superinsulated Retrofits This post is for building and insulation  nerds. I've been thinking a lot about the superinsulation projects I've accomplished over the past decade and what those retrofits cost. Yesterday I got an eMail from Eric Doub of...

Earth Day Greetings from Helena Montana

Mother Nature had mercy on Montana  yesterday dumping 5-20 inches of heavy snow over a wide area: Snow depth depends on elevation. Saturday offered a blustery spring folf match, and Sunday snowed a winter blizzard most of the day.  Horray for moisture however we get...

Presenting with Too Many Slides

The Fear of Not Enough Slides I just finished a slide show on opportunities in commercial energy management. As usual, I created too many slides. From more than 30 years of presentation experience, 10 slides is enough for most one-hour presentations. Too many slides...

Affordable Comfort in Denver

ACI in Denver In two weeks, we at Saturn will attend the ACI Conference in Denver. Affordable Comfort or ACI is an exemplary conference that nurtures the energy-conservation-home-performance-weatherization community with opportunities for growth, learning and...

Consumer Energy Tax Credit Extended by Congress

Congress Extended Tax Credits for Energy Retrofits A $500 tax credit for residential energy-retrofit customers was preserved by the recent fiscal-cliff agreement. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed by Congress on January 3, 2013, provides extensions of...

Saturn’s Ventilation Standard approved

Saturn is proud to announce that standard, RV168-PH.2015/xt-27, Performance Based Approach to Specifying Reasonable Ventilation for Occupied and Unoccupied Residential Buildings, also known as PBASRVOURB, is  now available for public use. Created by an elite group of...

Baby Boomers: The Final Solution

Congratulations Baby Boomer Corporation! Saturn Resource Management wishes to recognize the contributions of The Baby Boomer Corporation of Helena Montana for their groundbreaking environmental products that provide the following breathtaking benefits. Mitigates...

Our National Disrespect for Blue Collar Work

I just read a great article. The author is James Heckman, a Nobel laureate and professor at University of Chicago. I'm a fan of his work.  He's an economist who studies society's return on investment from various education strategies.  The article I just read...

Selling Building Performance

I ran a building performance business, called Target Energy Savers, from 1980 to 1987 in a small market: Helena, Montana. Population 40,000. In a small market, versatility is important. Back in the early 80's, Target Energy Savers targeted the most prosperous...

Teaching Tips from Educational Researchers

  Converting Research to Suggestions Ruth Colvin Clark has spent much of her career in adult learning, reporting about research into which educational strategies work and which don’t. Her book Building Expertise is based on over two hundred research reports, as...

Uncomfortable, Energy-Wasting New Commercial Buildings

Neglectful Design I understand why developers and contractors want to build commercial buildings out of steel. For cost and flexibility of design, it's hard to beat steal beams, girders, and studs. The design error is to overestimate the R-value you achieve with...

Passive Houses

What is a Passive House? The passive house concept was pioneered in the Northern U.S. and Canada in the late 1970s and early 1980s when it was called "superinsulation". European builders have improved the superinsulation technology and applied it to both...

The Learning Designer Goes to Learning Design School

I routinely field calls from potential customers asking about our online Energy Auditor course. I'm asked questions like: How hard is the course? Is there lot of math? How long is the course? How much study time will I have each week? I provide answers like; That...

New York City: Lost but Really Moving

My Experience as a Trail Blazer My friends laugh when I make the well-worn announcement, “You won’t believe this, but I got lost.” I’m famous for losing my way and leading others with me in the wrong direction. Like the time I guided my sister Sue and three mutual...

Productivity, Unemployment, and Worker Education

Productivity and Unemployment: A Relationship Labor productivity is an index of economic output divided by labor input. This figure rises and falls several times a year and productivity often spikes at the same time that unemployment spikes. During a spike like this,...

Energy Standards: Common sense Basics

Our Current Energy Standards-Making Process Engineers and other contributors often write national energy standards, or change them without a clear idea of the desired benefits or the unintended consequences. The process of updating standards resembles software...

Hands-On Training: The Worst Can Happen

Bruce Manclark and I were training contractors in Pacific Power’s mobile-home weatherization program in a mobile-home court in Yakima, Washington during 1994. We were working on three mobile homes with about 30 participants; insulating, air-sealing, and performing...

Customers Pay for Everything

A Misunderstood Truth When I was six years old, my Dad's business needed a new warehouse. While the workers built the building, I wondered how my Dad got the money to pay them so I asked. He said: "Son, our customers pay for everything." That's one of  the most...

Ranking Window Treatments & Rethinking Storm Windows

Weatherization and home performance practitioners should reconsider the value of window treatments, especially storm windows. Early energy conservation programs overused storm windows and storms were subsequently banned from some weatherization programs because...

Remembering What is Essential

Worldwide Northern Hemisphere prosperity was so high for so long that many of us forgot just what's essential and what's not. Now with the economic downturn and disappearance of jobs, people are becoming more independent and resilient. What is Simple Living? Simple...

Simplifying Worst Case Combustion Testing by Iain Walker Ph.D

The combustion safety testing part of Chapter 8 of the RESNET standard is being revised and we are wrestling with all the issues raised in your blog post "Questioning Worst-Case Depressurization Testing".  I have sent a link to this blog to the RESNET performance...

Banish the Verb “Shall” from Your Writing

I recently read some legal documents and technical standards that reminded me how much I hate the word shall. Dictionary definitions of shall include: must will can should intends to Why would anyone use such an ambiguous verb in documents that are supposed to give...

Radon Risk Versus CO Risk

Over lunch a few days ago I stopped by the hardware store and picked up a Pro-Lab do-it-yourself, short-term radon gas test kit. Cost was $12.99 with $30 paid later for analysis. The kit was hanging next to other DIY test kits. Asbestos, lead, long term radon, radon...

Cost-Effective Biomass Fuels for our Energy Future

Biomass energy, especially woody biomass fuels, is our cleanest combustion solution to heating buildings and generating electricity through combined heat and power (CHP). Unfortunately, there is no powerful lobby to promote biomass heating or CHP.  So most people do...

Time to Simplify Combustion Safety Testing by Jim Gill PE

I have followed all the discussions on LinkedIn, and your SRMI blog, on Questioning Combustion Safety Testing and Combustion Safety Testing and Risk Elimination. I am a civil engineer with many years' experience managing commercial, institutional, and public...

Support or Sabotage?

I recently attended the Women in Home Performance (WiHP) breakfast in Pittsburgh at the ACI Mid-Atlantic Conference.  Just prior to the conference, Amy Fazio (CEO of ACI) had graciously agreed to become my mentor—mentorship being one of the priority goals of WiHP.  I...

Developing a Green Workforce

For the past fifty years, we’ve convinced our youth that a college education is the answer to finding a useful and rewarding career. While millions of college students study anthropology, English, history and other subjects not directed toward essential careers,...

Combustion Safety Testing and Risk Elimination

Am I wrong or are health mandates, such as combustion safety testing and ventilation,  crippling home performance and weatherization? The American quest for risk elimination wastes billions of dollars annually.           For example last week,...

Energy Conservation for Buildings: Our Best Investment

Approximately half of all energy used in the U.S. is consumed within buildings. Half of that energy is wasted because of shortsighted design, sloppy construction practices, and careless building operation. Energy conservation in buildings is the easiest and best...

Questioning Worst-Case Combustion-Safety Testing

What new health-and-safety mandate will the home-energy community embrace next? We have worst-case combustion testing, the new lead regulations, the ASHRAE 62.2 ventilation standard, and new asbestos policies. Given the distraction from the energy-conservation mission...

Inside the Carbon Footprint of a New Building #infographic

A Carbon Footprint Infographic from NOVATEC S.A - by Cristian Fernandez Arquitectos A look inside the carbon footprint of a new building Installation / finishing Interior construction Structural Work SiteWork Want to know more about training to be an Energy...

Solar Energy After Your Building is Efficient

Solar energy is the next best building-energy solution after energy conservation. Wind and photovoltaic electricity are competitive with coal-fired electricity and less expensive than nuclear electricity. However solar energy isn't as powerful, or reliable, as...

Superinsulation Retrofit: What’s it Going to Cost?

I've done three superinsulation retrofits. The cost range is somewhere in the range of $35 to $70 per square foot of conditioned floor space. The best opportunity for a superinsulation retrofit is when you're remodeling or renovating a home.      ...

Prepare Our Girls for Technological Careers

I attended a great seminar in July on motor controls attended by 20 men and two women. This 10 to 1 ratio is common in technical professions, such as engineers, industrial technicians, energy auditors, and building operators. These professions suffer from the lack of...

ASHRAE 62.2 Ventilation Standard

The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) published its current ventilation standard, 62.2-2010 in 2010. The standard has been controversial when applied to existing homes, especially in the Department of Energy's...

Natural Cooling to Beat the Heat

The seasons are heading into fall.  It gets cool at night, but the temperature still climbs to plenty warm during the day.  Here in Helena, Montana, we're dropping down to the low 40s and upper 30s in the evenings and climbing up to the upper 70 and sometimes even the...

Window Shopping? Energy Efficient Windows #infographic

Replacing windows in your home or business could save you energy but be sure to shop for the right kinds of windows. Choose style, materials, and installation processes that will help with Energy Savings. This infographic from the Federal Trade Commission provides...

12 Ways to Save Energy & Go Green in your office #infographic

A Great Infographic from PGi 12 -  Ways you can Green your office You can make a difference by helping the planet and saving energy in your office.  This infographic provides quick hints on ways you can conserve energy and save money.   Originally published...

Affordable Solar Power for your Home

Saturn Resource Management has long been promoting the idea of solar power for your home.  If you live in a sunny location, then solar power is one of the best methods to reduce your dependency on fossil fuels. Mother Earth News is talking about how solar power is...

Preparing your Mobile Home for a Hurricane

With Hurricane Isaac now raging, it is important that everyone stay safe.  One of the key aspects of safety is preparing your home for just such an occurrence.  If you are in a mobile home or manufactured house, this becomes especially important.  The thinner walls...

A Cool Roof Improves Your Home’s Comfort and Reduces AC Costs

Reflective roofs are terrific at repelling solar heat during hot weather. I have coated a couple of roofs during hot weather and you can notice an immediate difference in comfort. Cover up or wear sunscreen when you apply it because the reflected heat gets intense. If...

Changing Light Bulbs Saves Energy

In order to save energy and reduce the need for greater use of resources, changing light bulbs is one of the easiest and most cost effective methods. Today there are choices of CFL bulbs or LED bulbs to replace the inefficient incandescent bulbs.  Below you'll see an...

Fixing Wet Crawl Spaces with Plastic Sheeting

In my last post I explained how wet crawl spaces pose problems to both the home and the homeowners. This post is about keeping crawl spaces dry. My friend Bennie Marshall and I had an interesting conversation about wet crawl spaces the other day on the phone. Bennie...

5 Videos about Cool Roofs

White roofs and cool roofs save energy and could help save the planet! These videos contain information about Cool Roofs, White Roofs and how you can do your bit to save energy. The reward being lower energy costs! Find out more about how you can get a white roof or...

Damp Crawl Spaces with Dripping Floor Joists

With the hot weather the United States has been experiencing of late, a common problem is beginning to occur.  Damp crawl spaces are causing structural problems, as well as health problems, in a lot of houses due to the constant use of air conditioning systems during...

Mobile Home Cool Roof Coatings – White Roof Project #infographic

We found this Energy Infographic from The White Roof Project. This infographic explains in detail how cool roofs and cool roof coatings can help curb climate change, lower peak load blackouts and power outages in towns and cities, and save energy. Black Roofs vs white...

Looking for a career in Energy?

As energy costs rise, and there are increasing reports of climate change, the world is becoming more aware of the need to conserve energy and lower the carbon footprint. With both residential homes and businesses requiring the help of professionals to reduce energy...

10 Ways to make your Mobile Home more Energy Efficient

Save energy in your mobile home by following these simple tips Mobile Home Roof & Ceiling Starting from the top down there are many changes you can make to your mobile home to save energy and cut the cost of fuel and electricity bills. Some changes are easy and...

What is an Energy Auditor?

I am not an energy auditor. I have never worked as an energy auditor, nor do I have enough of the technical knowledge that would allow me to be one if I wanted to. But I have worked for two companies in my illustrious career that employed or trained energy auditors,...

ACI National Home Performance 2013

Are you ready for the 2013 ACI National Performance Home Conference? Affordable Comfort, Inc 2013 National Home Performance Conference When: April 29th - May 3, 2013 Where: Denver, CO Details: Founded in 1986, ACI is a not-for-profit organization that has become the...

Solar Power – Even for the Poor

I heard an interesting article on Earth-Sky yesterday.  It was talking about solar power energy being available for even poor people. It seems that Africa is showing us the way with Shared Solar power grids. Solar power grids, of micro size,  are set up to provide...

Deciphering the HERS Index: Or Trying To

We've been having a very interesting discussion on residential energy indexes like the HERS Index, Energy Score, and others. Some of the participants are advocating for a more direct and transparent number to present to homeowners that represents the energy efficiency...

Cooling Your Home with Night Air

Tired of your house always being hot? Nighttime ventilation works well for cooling buildings in many climates, especially in milder summer weather. Nighttime temperature and relative humidity are big factors for determining whether you can use nighttime ventilation....

Using Words: One Word, One Meaning

Writing Words for Communicating We at Saturn have a few rules about words. One is that we describe an item or idea with a single word or term. We don’t use two terms for describing something or one term for describing two or more things. If there are two common terms...

Energy Efficiency and You

According to Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, energy efficiency is "using less energy to provide the same service". We all strive for energy efficiency for different reasons. Maybe you want to reduce your impact on the environment, or to simply lower your power...

Comfort Expectations and Energy Conservation

Differences in Energy Use Over the years, I  learned a little about how Europeans use roughly half of the energy, per person, as we Americans do. This is true even though most buildings in Europe have no insulation!  I lived in Prague, in the Czech Republic, between...

The Future of Energy

Good Decisions are Important to Our Energy Future There's a problem for the future.  Solving our energy crisis requires making good decisions and avoiding bad ones. Fortunately the right decisions are good for the economy. They're good for carbon reduction and good...

Saving Electricity and Improving Comfort in Hot Weather

 Saving Electricity and Staying Cool in Hot Weather Summer is just around the corner and for many that means air conditioning. Unfortunately it can also mean higher electric bills. But you can do something about it. Saving electricity for air conditioning is easy if...

Biomass Energy Choices

I'm annoyed when renewable energy trumps energy conservation in the media, and nowhere is this tendency more prevalent than with liquid bio-fuels. Biomass Energy Efficiency To make a gallon of ethanol, start with 23 pounds of corn with a potential energy of about...

Energy Futures: Cogeneration, Electric Vehicles, Efficient Buildings

Energy for the Future We just need the courage to invest our remaining wealth in the right energy technologies. The stakes are high because if we delay too long or invest badly, we’ll forfeit our prosperous lifestyle. Our first task is to reduce our energy consumption...

Planting Trees for Our Environment and Economy

Besides just looking good, planting trees provides many important environmental, economic, and energy efficiency benefits. A man doesn't plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity. — Alexander Smith Deciduous trees, planted on the South, Southeast, and...

Selling Weatherization Services

Regardless of current politics and energy prices, our buildings desperately need weatherization. But buildings are owned by our customers who must agree to pay for our services. I'll hazard to state the obvious, but selling is a skill. You can succede at selling...

Lighting Expectations and Energy Conservation

We all have expectations for the lighting of our living and working spaces. Like many electrical energy uses, lighting presents three main energy conservation opportunities.   Remove light fixtures Reduce the wattage of lamps and ballasts Increase the off time of...

Selling Energy Expertise

A company called Energetechs in Missoula Montana sells energy expertise with energy products. This must be a good strategy because they’ve been in business for over 25 years. The company was formed by Gary and Gregg Mazade and was sold to Russ Hellem some years ago....

Ethanol Versus Other Biomass Energy Options

The subsidy for ethanol expired on the last day of 2011 and I didn't shed any tears.  To make a gallon of ethanol, start with 23 pounds of corn with a potential energy of about 185,000 BTUs. Add 40,000 to 80,000 BTUS of fossil energy per gallon and presto you have a...

Why Locate Power Plants in Cities?

Cities are the best places for large power plants. I read a recent Time Magazine article about the Fisk Coal plant in Chicago and its cost in respiratory problems to the citizens of that great city. Time hinted that the city isn't a good place for a power plant but I...

New Words for the New Year 2012

I’ve never coined a word and never wanted to either. The English language has approximately 600,000 words: that’s enough. However I need some catchwords for Saturn’s efforts in the new year of 2012. My first new word is the verb: complexify. We complicate, we...

Insulating Closed Roof Cavities

Many homes with cathedral ceilings or flat roofs have little or no insulation. The IRC 2009 building code requires a ventilated space of at least one inch above the roof insulation. Building scientists sometimes ask how useful the ventilation is and how much...

ASHRAE Ventilation Standards

For years the weatherization industry calculated whole-house ventilation by ASHRAE standard 62-1989. This standard was mercifully simple compared to the new ASHRAE standard 62.2-2010. The BPI building analyst training still trains to the old 62-1989 standard. That...

Curing Water Hammer in Two-Pipe Steam Heating Systems

A steam heating system combines a steam boiler with a distribution system consisting or pipes, valves, and radiators. Steam heating requires more maintenance than hydronic or warm air because of the make-up water flowing into the boiler. Often the boiler water needs...

Multifamily Energy Efficiency

Saving energy in multifamily buildings is similar to saving energy in homes. The choices become different for multifamily housing as the building increases in size. The fact that one building is home to many people also becomes a factor in selecting energy...

Quartz Heaters and Other Electric Space Heaters

Many recent advertisements tout specific electric space heaters as being superior to others. This article explains the operation of the two general types of electric space heaters and discusses advantages and disadvantages of different designs. Electric resistance...

Energy Efficiency through Home Performance

Human nature makes us adopt new and exciting ideas. The recent interest in all things green is an example. Energy conservation is the best way to make your home more environmentally responsible, or green, but how do you find a contracting company that is as green as...

The Mystery of Air Leakage

Air leakage causes curiously high heating and cooling costs in buildings that are supposed to be energy-efficient. This shouldn’t be a mystery. You can’t achieve airtightness without trying. Airtightness has never been a goal of the building construction industry, and...

Solar Energy News

Solar Energy News Department of Energy to Invest $60 Million in Solar Power Technologies The Department of Energy yesterday announced that there will be a $60 million investment over 3 years for applied scientific research to advance cutting-edge Concentrating Solar...