Latest Posts…

Vapor Barrier Installation

What You Need to Know About Vapor Barriers

Controlling moisture has challenged builders for thousands of years. Too much of it inside a structure can lead to rot, mold, insect infestations. Consequently, roofs and siding, weather-tight windows and doors, and waterproofed basements were developed. It’s one thing, however, to keep water out … [Read More...]

Power tools demo at JLC Trade Show

Building & remodeling news from JLC Live!

Highlights from New England’s biggest construction industry trade show If you’re in the building and remodeling business, you probably know the Journal of Light Construction, or JLC for short. This Hanley Wood enterprise includes a trade magazine, a website  and a schedule of regional trade shows … [Read More...]

Green Homes in Real Estate

Study Shows Surprising Value of Green Homes

You don’t have to wait out the payback period to reap dividends from green home investments Saving money on your household energy bill, year after year, as explained in the video Home Comfort Pays for Itself, is a compelling reason to invest in a home energy upgrade. But what if you’re not sure … [Read More...]


Hot water without a water heater

A surefire way to cut energy expenses: Let another appliance heat the water you use for washing. “Domestic hot water” –the heated water used for washing clothes, dishes and people— is the third-largest energy cost in most households, only exceeded by heating and cooling expenses. Statistics … [Read More...]


Case Study: Geothermal brings 1830s Farmhouse into 21st Century will be producing a series of energy-upgrade case studies. The first describes a job done in 2013 by Halco Energy. Halco was recently recognized as “best in the country” in a field of over 1,900 Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® contractors nationwide. It is a member of the Dr. … [Read More...]

Dirty air can literally be sucked into your home. As heated or cooled air blows into a room, a vacuum is created around the register. If the joint between the duct and flooring is not well sealed, the rush of air will siphon dust and mold spores from floor and wall cavities, and from the crawlspace or the basement.

The best way to clean the air in your home

You can read a lot about air cleaners. They do remove some of the particulate air pollution in your home, but their value is limited. Think about it. The tiny particles of dust, soot, pollen, spores, dander, etc. in your home are not generally floating around in the air. They only do so when … [Read More...]


What is the difference between pink and yellow fiberglass batts?

Some fiberglass insulation is yellow, while other fiberglass batts are white or pink. What’s the difference?   Manufacturers use different colors to “brand” their version of fiberglass batt insulation. Owens-Corning has trademarked its pink-tinted fiberglass. John Mansville produces … [Read More...]


How to improve insulation in existing wall cavities?

I can tell the walls of my house aren't well insulated; they’re always cold in winter. How can I cut down on the heat loss?   Many houses have this problem. The fiberglass batt insulation used in wood-frame walls can’t stop energy losses due to air leakage through the wall assembly. Even … [Read More...]

Next door neighbors

Why are our energy bills higher than our neighbor’s?

A neighbor who lives in a house very similar to our house has lower electric and fuel bills. I can’t tell why I’m paying more than he is. What can I do to find out?    The best way to find out why your house has higher energy costs is to have an energy audit done. But be aware that some … [Read More...]

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats, but no significant savings this winter. What are we doing wrong?

Our house has forced-air heating and AC, with two zones. We replaced our old thermostats with programmable models to save energy, but we haven’t seen any significant savings this winter. What are we doing wrong?   Research has shown that programmable thermostats can cut your heating and … [Read More...]

Improve insulation or replace the furnace? Where to start?

 We live in an older house that isn't well insulated. The furnace is old, too. Which problem do we deal with first?   It’s usually better NOT to replace the furnace before upgrading insulation levels. Recommended insulation levels for different parts of the house can be found at the ENERGY … [Read More...]

cathedral ceiling

Upgrading Cathedral Ceiling Insulation

To solve a common comfort & energy problem, it just takes equal measures of innovation and determination. The extremely cold weather that’s been buffeting most of the country has many homeowners thinking about insulation. More specifically, attention is focused on attic insulation, which … [Read More...]

What are other methods to insulate irregular stone basement walls?

We live in an old house that has a stone basement foundation. Because the wall surface is irregular, we can’t install rigid foam panels to insulate the basement. What other methods should we consider? If your aim is to finish the basement, a good approach would be to have a spray foam contractor … [Read More...]

How much can I save by eliminating “phantom loads”?

I’ve read about phantom loads – how they waste energy and increase your electric bill. How much of a difference will it really make if I cut out some of the phantom loads at home? Phantom loads waste electricity by allowing electronic devices to consume power in “dormant” or standby mode. This … [Read More...]

Should we switch to a tankless water heater?

We have to replace an old tank-type water heater. Should we switch to a tankless water heater?   Some experts contend that switching to a tankless water heater can cut your water heating costs by 40%. But this upgrade option isn’t always the best choice. Here’s why: First of all, a … [Read More...]

Why does my gas furnace seem to be delivering less heat than it did when it was new?

Why does my gas furnace seem to be delivering less heat than it did when it was new?   There are many reasons for reduced furnace performance but a common cause is, in a word, dirt. When the furnace’s heat exchanger or blower wheel gets coated with dust, efficiency is reduced. In the case … [Read More...]


Where should I begin to improve the insulation?

 My house is costly to heat and cool. Where should I begin to improve the insulation? As recommended by the action plan, the best place to add insulation hands-down is the attic. In winter, air that you’ve paid to heat finds its way to the attic by natural convection, literally … [Read More...]

Space heater

Energy Saving Tip: Create “Heat Zones” with Space Heaters

Electric resistance heating is the most costly way to heat your home. In fact, it’s more than twice the cost natural gas per BTU. So it may seem counterintuitive to hear that using electric space heaters can lower your heating costs. Placing a heater in the rooms where you live, however, may … [Read More...]

Low-tech ways to save energy and money

5 Low-Tech Ways to Save Energy and Money in 2014

It doesn't take a big budget to make a big difference in your home’s energy expenses and environmental impact. Full disclosure: The inspiration for this blog came from a well-written post by Derek Markham at As Markham points out, humans have an endless fascination with … [Read More...]

Home Energy Audit Checklist

Why pay for a home energy audit?

Getting a comprehensive, whole-house analysis will enable you to make the right improvements in the right order. A home energy audit is an important first step if you’re aiming to improve indoor comfort and air quality, while also reducing the amount of money spent on electricity and heating … [Read More...]