GreenSpec Insights

6 Ways Our Household is Saving Water—And Energy

Posted by Alex Wilson on 04/08/2014

Saving energy isn’t only about using less electricity and fuel; it’s about saving water.

In this weekly blog, I’ve focused a lot of attention on the energy-saving measures at our new home—from the innovative insulation materials we used to the air-source...

Urine Collection Beats Composting Toilets for Nutrient Recycling

Posted by Alex Wilson on 04/02/2014

Human urine collection and use provides a better way to recycle nutrients than use of composting toilets.

Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy this blog over a cup of coffee here’s an article on…urine?

...

Can This Man Reinvent Concrete?

Posted by Alex Wilson on 03/26/2014

A California company, Blue Planet, is reinventing concrete and envisions a world in which the 8 billion tons of concrete used each year sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide.

I’ve been in the San Francisco ...

Our Green Home Cost a Lot, But Yours Doesn't Have To

Posted by Alex Wilson on 03/19/2014

Our house cost a lot more than I would have liked, but many of the ideas used in it could be implemented more affordably.

My wife and I tried out a lot of innovative systems and materials in the renovation/rebuild of our Dummerston, Vermont home—some of which added considerably to the project cost. Alas!

The induction cooktop that I...

Safe, All-Electric "Induction" Cooking: Try This At Home

Posted by Alex Wilson on 03/12/2014

Induction cooktops respond quickly, avoid gas combustion, are tops in energy efficiency, and limit risk of burns.

One of our early decisions in the planning for our farmhouse renovation/re-build was to avoid any fossil fuels. If the State of Vermont can have a goal to shift 90% of our energy consumption to renewable sources by 2050, we want be able to demonstrate 100% renewables for our house today.

That decision meant using...

Heat Pump Water Heaters in Cold Climates: Pros and Cons

Posted by Alex Wilson on 03/05/2014

While a heat-pump water heater will save significant energy on a year-round basis, be aware that in a cold climate the net performance (water heating plus space heating) will drop in the winter.

We chose a heat pump water heater for our new house, and as I've recently discussed here, there are a lot of reasons why you might be doing the...

Picking a Water Heater: Solar vs. Electric or Gas Is Just the Beginning

Posted by Alex Wilson on 02/26/2014

Why we opted for electric water heating over a solar water heater

As we build more energy-efficient houses, particularly when we go to extremes with insulation and air tightness, as with Passive House projects, water heating becomes a larger and larger share of overall energy consumption (see Solar Thermal Hot Water, Heating, and Cooling...

Insulated Vinyl Siding: Worth the Extra Cost?

Posted by Peter Yost on 02/20/2014

Two studies indicate some benefits to using insulated vinyl siding, but more data is needed to win over this skeptic.

Setting aside the overall environmental profile of the oft-demonized PVC (check our coverage in this month’s EBN feature “The PVC Debate: A Fresh Look”), I’ve been getting a lot of questions about insulated vinyl siding—the vinyl siding with form-fitted expanded...

Commissioning Our Home's Heat-Recovery Ventilator

Posted by Alex Wilson on 02/18/2014

To function properly, any ducted HRV has to be balanced after installation

After choosing and installing our state-of-the-art heat-recovery ventilator (HRV), we completed a critical step in the installation of any...

4 Resources Help Draw the Shades on Poor Window Performance

Posted by Peter Yost on 02/15/2014

Predicting performance and rationally selecting window coverings—from awnings to films to cellular shades—is incredibly challenging, but real help is on the way.

There is a lot of interest in just how much (and at how low a price point) window coverings can improve building thermal performance.

Both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been working on this issue; electric utilities would like to know how...

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Recent Discussions

posted by lloydalter
on Apr 11, 2014

I don't think it is a question of urine separating beating composting toilets...

posted by lloydalter
on Mar 27, 2014

My former boss Graham Hill, who built a high end tiny apartment after he left TreeHugger, used induction in an interesting way: since they use so...

posted by brucedonelson
on Mar 22, 2014

If you insulate the mechanical room, your HPWH will certainly become quiter to you upstairs. But it will have less heat available from upstairs...