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[Article] Interview with Bill Spohn

On a crisp day in October, Bill Spohn and I met for an interview. He took me to visit the land where he and his wife Marilyn are building a high-performance home. If you look at a road map of Pennsylvania, it is like crazed pottery. Roads crisscross and zigzag in a tight network, created by the landscape of eroded mountains and valleys. Our inspiring conversation took as many winding turns as the roads here do....

[Article] If You Were Plumbing, How Much Beer Would You Hold?

You open the hot-water tap. Then you wait for the hot water to flow. How long (Too long, according to most people, I say.) The time depends on flow rate, the amount of water in the pipe from water heater to tap (multiply that by 2, because it will empty out its room-temperature water first, to be filled by warm). If you know the distance and the type of pipe, how much water is that...

[Article] Why Open Data Standards Matter for Home Performance

Utility and state program administrators have long used proprietary software and communication protocols to manage and process data collected by home performance contractors. This has typically resulted in higher costs of doing business (for programs and contractors), vendor lock-in, and less-efficient management processes, especially if the data were not standardized. It has also greatly limited the ability to track and aggregate energy savings across programs and states, because data are being...

[Article] Highest Lighting Energy on the Block

Beginning with Colorado in 2012, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use, and eight of these have also legalized home cultivation of cannabis. Legislation varies across each state but generally allows home growers to grow between four and six plants either indoors, outdoors, or in a greenhouse. The residential grow market poses a unique challenge to utilities because there is no formal tracking process for home growers, and they may consume more energy ...

[Article] A Solar-Assisted Heat Pump Water Heater

Water heating in residential buildings has become more important as the overall efficiency of buildings has improved over the last decade, with energy efficiency code requirements for A/C, lighting, and the building envelope. Modest improvement in energy efficiency for electric-storage water heaters was implemented in 2015, with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). But much greater improvements remain to be made....

[Article] Solving the Unintended Consequences of a Home Performance Renovation

Tight homes are becoming more common around the country, even in the mid-South where many builders still believe that homes and crawl spaces should “breathe.” And home performance, still not well understood in some markets, is becoming more common in high-end and custom homes. Is the workforce keeping up, and have builders and contractors learned how to design an integrated home...