Musings of an energy nerd : toward an energy-efficient home / Martin Holladay.

Main Author: Holladay, Martin.
Published: Newtown, CT : The Taunton Press, Inc., [2017]
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In this fascinating collection of postings from his popular "Musings of an Energy Nerd" blog, Green Building Advisor's Martin Holladay cuts through the hype and myths about energy efficiency, sustainability, and green building to present the very best ways to make your home more energy efficient.

Martin Holladay has been making weekly postings to his "Musings of an Energy Nerd" blog on Green Building Advisor since January 2009. Along the way, he has gathered a devoted following of "energy nerds" who await his weekly musings with rapt anticipation. For the first time, the 50 most popular postings have been assembled in book form to give homeowners a great opportunity to live a more energy-efficient life in their homes.

The book begins with an overview of energy priorities, and a discussion of what we mean by terms like green and sustainable . Martin presents several options for energy upgrades for an existing house (from replacing windows to adding superinsulation) before looking at ways to improve the energy efficiency of a new house. Separate chapters follow on HVAC, domestic hot water, appliances, and renewable energy, before the book wraps up with an eye-opening chapter on useless products, scams, and myths (including Martin's list of "Stupid Energy-Saving Tips").

Table of Contents


p. 2

Introduction: What is Comfort?

p. 4

1Construction Basics

p. 8

10 Ways to Improve a New Home

p. 9

Banish These Details from Your Plans

p. 14

Martin's 10 Rules of Roof Design

p. 18

How to Build an Insulated Cathedral Ceiling

p. 24

Ice Dam Basics

p. 31

All about Basements

p. 35

Building an Unvented Crawl Space

p. 39

Polyethylene under Concrete Slabs

p. 43

How to Design a Wall

p. 47

2Building Science

p. 54

Do I Need a Vapor Retarded?

p. 55

Forget Vapor Diffusion-Stop the Air Leaks!

p. 63

When Sunshine Drives Moisture into Walls

p. 65

How Risky Is Cold OSB Wall Sheathing?

p. 69

Monitoring Moisture Levels in Double-Stud Walls

p. 72

3Energy Modeling

p. 78

Understanding Energy Units

p. 79

Using Manual J for Load Calculations

p. 82

When Do I Need to Perform a Load Calculation?

p. 86

Energy Modeling Isn't Very Accurate

p. 90

Payback Calculations for Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

p. 96


p. 102

Blower Door Basics x

p. 103

Questions and Answers about Air Barriers

p. 108

Pinpointing Leaks with a Fog Machine

p. 113

All about Attics

p. 115

Air Scaling an Attic

p. 119

Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Air-Sealing Buck

p. 125

All about Indoor Air Quality

p. 129


p. 135

Plan Ahead for Insulation

p. 136

Understanding R-Value

p. 138

Installing Fiberglass Right

p. 140

How to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing

p. 152

Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam Sheathing

p. 155

Insulating Low-Slope Residential Roots

p. 158


p. 164

All about Glazing Options

p. 165

Choosing Triple-Glazed Windows

p. 170

Vinyl Windows and Vinyl Siding

p. 173

"Innie" Windows or "Quite" Windows?

p. 176

Expensive Windows Yield Meaner Energy Returns

p. 181

What Should I Do with My Old Windows?

p. 184


p. 189

All about Furnaces and Duct Systems

p. 190

Duct Leakage Testing

p. 195

Sealing Ducts: What's Bette, Tape or Mastic?

p. 201

Keeping Ducts Indoors

p. 206

Heating a Tight, Well-Insulated House

p. 210

Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole House

p. 215

Designing a Good Ventilation System

p. 221


p. 226

Are HRVs Cost-Effective?

p. 232

8The Passivhaus Standard

p. 238

Passivhaus for Beginners

p. 239

Can Foam Insulation Be Too Thick?

p. 243

Are Passivhaus Requirements Logical?

p. 245

It's Not about Space Heating

p. 250

Reassessing Passive Solar Design Principles

p. 252

Afterword: Martin's pretty Good House Manifesto

p. 257


p. 263


p. 264