Home-Brew Solar

If you, like me, enjoy building things, or perhaps just want to understand them better, you’ll love BuildItSolar.com.

This amazing site contains a wealth of information for those interested in practical applications of solar energy.

The author, Gary Reysa, lives in a challenging solar environment – Bozeman Montana. Anyone who can make solar work there has to be doing something right!

He’s got the site organized so that you can walk through the process, from getting started, to complete project descriptions and lists of references.

If you’re looking for a specific type of solar project, start at this link of solar projects. He’s got them neatly organized into categories, from energy conservation, to solar thermal and solar electric. There are also sections on solar cooking and bio-fuel. Each section is broken down into sub-sections, where you can find projects like pool heating and greenhouses.

 

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Cautions in Reading and Interpreting Mold Reports

If you’ve bought or sold a house in the 21st century, chances are good that you’ve had to read a mold report. Mold has become the latest bogey-man, leading to considerable (often unnecessary) concern and expense. But it’s become a fact of life that we all have to deal with, so I’m going to do my best to describe the reports so you can interpret them properly.

Before starting, be aware that this post does not contain a detailed discussion of mold varieties, allergies, cleanup, or other such details. There are numerous sites that contain that sort of information.

One caution – due to all the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) there is a huge industry built around “mold remediation.” You will find countless websites of mold companies whose sole purpose is to sell you expensive mold remediation services. Their angle is often to prey on consumers’ fears. As such, you are advised to rely on independent sites for more accurate information on mold. Many states maintain mold awareness sites and have documents available that provide detailed information on how to clean and deal with mold.

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Going Minimal

Aside

In an effort to make Ted’s Energy Tips even more useful, I’ve changed to an ultra-minimal layout to keep the site focused on what’s important – the content.

Gone are the distracting sidebars and hopefully many of the ads that get inserted automatically into my content. What remains is just the list of articles and a simple menu at the top right of the page.

Click on the menu to search or find other site content.

And, as always, keep submitting your great questions!

Humidity Explained

Condensation on wooden windows is more problematic

Humidity. Moisture. Water vapor. Evaporation. Condensation. Mold. Rot.

These are all words that go together in people’s minds when the topic of humidity comes up. But what is it and why is it so important?

I’m going to try to explain this as simply as possible, so for the scientists and engineers reading – please cut me a little slack. I’m going for clarity over precision. However, if you catch the inevitable factual errors, please point them out so I can correct them.

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Why Does My House Smell?

StinkyFace

Yes, that’s your illustrious author making the “stink face”

People often ask: “why does my house smell?” Often, this is during the winter because your house is sealed up for months, with little fresh air. In fact, with tight, energy efficient homes, this has become even more of an issue. It’s one of the reasons that there’s been a backlash against tight houses.

#1 – your house might not be adequately ventilated

First, let me address the energy efficient house issue. The problem is, many builders and architects don’t understand that a house is a complex system. You can’t just air-seal the house and have a healthy house. That’s why building best-practices call for a certain amount of fresh air circulation. So if you live in a tight house, you want to ensure you have adequate fresh air or your house will get stale and smell. If you don’t know about HRV’s and ERV’s (heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators) read this short post. Every modern home should have one of these. Once you’ve lived with one, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.

#2 – there might be a dead mouse/animal somewhere Continue reading

Finally! Time to Buy Small, Round Dimmable LED Bulbs

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It’s about time.

Well, actually, it’s about energy conservation, saving money and light quality.

For years, I’ve been looking for a frosted, round candelabra base (G16) dimmable LED bulb that I can use in my high-use fixtures. And yesterday, I found what I’ve been looking for in my local hardware store.

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Heating Systems 101 – Learning the Lingo

She Blinded Me With Science!

One of the toughest things about researching a new heating system is learning the tech talk. Your HVAC company will throw out all sorts of terminology assuming that you understand what they’re talking about. Some might even be happy that you *don’t* understand so they can confuse you and sound like experts. Well, no more!

This post covers the most common terms that you’re likely to run across. I’m sure I’ll miss some or confuse you, so please post questions if there’s anything you’d like clarified.

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