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The BS* + Beer Show: A Deep Dive Into Dehumidification

Humidity control in homes is not just a building durability issue, it’s also a significant health issue, and not just because of mold. And mechanical dehumidification is no longer just an issue for hot/humid climate zones. As the earth warms and our climate changes, the length of the hot and humid season is growing in areas where builders have historically ignored dehumidification. Moreover, in low-load homes and swing seasons, where the air conditioner doesn’t need to run constantly, we need to control humidity separate from the air conditioner’s latent load capacity.This is the gist of the latest BS* + Beer…

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Energy Agency Warns of Dangerous Rebound in Carbon Emissions

Investing stimulus money in energy improvements for new and existing buildings would create up to 1.9 million new jobs while reducing carbon emissions, according to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency. GBA file photo. The executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that the next several months will be pivotal in reshaping global economies to prevent a rebound in carbon emissions and the climate change that will come with it. In an interview, Fatih Birol told The Guardian that the trillions of dollars that governments around the globe will pour into pandemic stimulus packages can…

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Pete’s Puzzle: The Jigsaw Approach, Revisited

Back in October 2016, I started my Building Science Puzzles on GBA with this blog: Building Science Puzzles: The Jigsaw Approach. In that post I explained six steps for solving building science problems; steps borrowed from my wife’s approach to solving jigsaw puzzles. Those steps are:Assume nothing Establish boundaries Find patterns Zoom out Cheat Solve and savor Four years and many investigations later, I now have another half-dozen steps to offer—they are not really sequential so “steps” may not be the best term, but I’m sticking to the original construct. So, starting now with step 7, let’s dive in. Step…

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Air-Source or Ground-Source Heat Pump?

It’s been a great 31 years, but the single-zone HVAC system has finally reached the end of the road, and gtmsmith has narrowed the search for a replacement to two possibilities. Neither involves fossil fuels.Gtmsmith describes his options in this Q&A post: A 4-ton ground-source heat pump made by ClimateMaster that will require two 320-foot-deep wells. The full package, including a humidifier and air-purification equipment, will cost $21,500 after a tax credit, including the $11,680 charge for digging two heat-exchange wells. A Daikin 4-ton air-source heat pump, with the same extras, for $18,000. Gtmsmith says the 2700-square-foot house is well…

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The BS* + Beer Show: Do I Need a Vapor Barrier?

The question “do I need a vapor barrier?” is flawed from the start.When this question is asked, there are  a few possible interpretations. One is that the questioner wants to know if they need polyethylene sheeting in their assembly. Polyethylene sheeting is conversationally referred to as a “vapor barrier.” The second possibility is that the questioner doesn’t understand that “vapor barrier” is not a technical term, that their assembly may need some sort of “vapor retarder,” and that in the building codes even polyethylene sheeting is considered a “vapor retarder”— a class I vapor retarder, to be specific. But even…

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Ducted Minisplits in My Conditioned Attic (Part 1)

Last year my wife and I bought a 1961 ranch-style house, and I’ve been having a lot of fun fixing it up. I wrote about the problem with the spray foam in the attic not covering the top plates and how I fixed it when we had the soffits, fascias, and gutters replaced. I’ve also had a lot more spray foam installed in the attic because the original attic encapsulation was pretty bad. And I replaced the old natural draft gas water heater with a beautiful new Rheem heat pump water heater. (I’ll write about both of those topics sometime…

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