Tag Archives: insulation

Wise AC and Heating System Buyers Know: It’s Not About the Box

Today, while reading in an interview in a HVACr trade journal, I read a quote that summed up an important point:

It’s not about the box, it IS about the whole house

In this case, the “box” is the new AC and heating equipment you are thinking about having installed. And the whole house (actually the part HVAC insiders call “the envelope”) interacts with the outside elements to determine how comfortable you are inside, how hard your AC and heating equipment has to work, and how much you pay (or save) each month in utility bills.

Here’s a real life example from a reader who sent an email to us recently.

This fellow lives in the northeast U.S., and was quite surprised when his local AC contractor discouraged him from buying the top of the line, most efficient system. Rather, the contractor advised him go for the 16 SEER A/C unit, and to take the extra $2,000 the most efficient AC was going to cost and use that to add insulation to his attic and seal up leaky walls and electrical outlets.  Although the summer cooling needs of this northeastern state are lower than central Texas where we are, the same principle applies everywhere:

For each home or building and its climate, there is an optimum mix of heating or cooling efficiency attributes and energy efficiency improvements that could be done to the “envelope” that interacts with the outside air.

Since you only buy an new AC and heating system every decade or so, you don’t have to know everything about this topic. Your best bet is to be aware of the big picture and ask the right questions. This way you will find a local contractor who uses best practices (training, certifications, experience & business practices) and takes the “whole house” approach.

Let us hear from you if you have experiences to share along these lines

Nanotech Aerogel Insulation and Energy Conservation In Homes & Buildings

A couple of days ago, while searching on Google for new developments in Heating and Air Conditioning, I found two new things: First, a new way to read news articles, called FastFlip. I thought our readers might find it and the second subject, Nanotech Aerogel Insulation, of interest as it realates to HVAC.  Before going further, I’ll add that, after blogging about difficulties with high energy bills, defective drywall, and other challenges homeowners are facing currently, it is fun to write about a topic that could be a breakthrough in energy conservation.  We all could use a break and enjoy more indoor comfort and lower bills, right?

First, a useful new search tool, Google FastFlip

Google Labs has a search product in beta called FastFlip. It’s simple to use and appears to be built to deliver relevant information from trusted sources in a format that is easy to read.  All you have to do is enter the topic on which you want to read the news. The search results page loads with thumbnail views of recent online publications that, to us, appear to have been vetted for quality journalism.  I like FastFlip a lot and hope it becomes a full-fledged service like Google News or Google Images. Now on the heating and AC related topic I found.

SuperInsulating Aerogels in Home Insulation

In the article from Popular Science (link below) there is a brief history of aerogel technology.  It was discovered about 70 years ago, but due to high cost and other limiting factors, aerogels were mostly used by NASA in aerospace, or in deep sea pipelines and other extreme environments or applications. Rather than try to cover the whole topic in one blog, I’ll give a brief overview and provide links to the articles themselves.  On these websites, there are several brief video clips showing the amazing insulation properties of aerogel.  If aerogels work as indicated, they could be a game changer in energy conservation for homes and buildings. The article in Popular Science online has a link that leads to an article in Ceramic Tech Today (link also available below) that shows aerogel being used in a building application. This article has comparative charts on insulating properties of aerogel and more conventional types of building insulation, and lists companies that are making aerogel products that related to home energy conservation,  heating and air conditioning.

Links related to this topic:

Popular Science Magazine Online

Ceramics.org

Aerogel.com_Space

Cabot Corporation_nanogel

Thermablok_Aerogel