Wednesday, June 24, 2020

“Everyone” May Not Want an Energy Efficient Home

It has always fascinated me when I see seminars, conferences and webinars being promoted about the latest research and findings into how to improve air quality, air infiltration and energy efficiency for everyone.


The people that host and speak at these events are experts in their fields and have done much to improve the quality of life for everyone but who exactly is “everyone?”

The Coronavirus hit the world and immediately we all accepted ‘sheltering at home’, working remotely, wearing masks, social distancing and on-line shopping only. The experts had spoken and “everyone” started doing those things.

That is, until it became unbearable for the “everyone”. Masks and sheltering were a couple of the first things to go, followed by demand for shops and restaurants to reopen. “Everyone” had spoken.

The same thing can happen when environmental scientists spend millions on research, then hold conferences and seminars about their research and then construction’s governing bodies adopt the ideas from all that research.

But does “everyone” really need or even want those new rules on all those wonderful things.


The construction industry continually builds new homes with better insulation, better house wrap and better ventilation systems and “everyone” opens their windows to let in fresh air. Or they crank the heat up in the winter and ‘crack open’ a couple of windows to get fresh air. Window manufacturers include screens with their windows as standard expecting people to open them.


Throw those HERS ratings right out the open window!


Some, myself included, put screen doors on all outside entries. My wife and I sleep with our windows open in the Spring and Fall and at night in the Summer. My wife, like many others, occasionally ‘cracks’ the window to get fresh air in the house in the Winter.

The entire construction industry wants to build better homes with great energy savings and air quality for the home buyer but what happens when “everyone” really wasn’t asked what they wanted in a new home.

They want a good quality home, built by skilled people and at an affordable price. A low monthly mortgage would be nice also.

“Everyone” is taking a second look at what Coronavirus has done to our everyday life and they are speaking out. Maybe the experts should listen to “everyone” once in a while.


Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of the ModcoachNews blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer


13 comments:

  1. Gary.

    If you have a new home and you feel the need to crack a window for fresh air. Then the home wasn't built right.

    If you have an old home and you need to crack a window, then you're making the argument that we need better energy efficiency standards because the old standards weren't right.

    jason webster
    Huntington Homes

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  2. Jason Webster, why would window companies include screens if they thought people didn't need fresh air? If your houses are so perfect, don't supply screens with your windows. Better yet make every window stationary. People want the option of opening windows and getting fresh air and designing a house that discourages that is simply wrong.

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    Replies
    1. You guys missed the point on so many levels. As did Gary on this one: the argument of freedom of choice vs. mandated safety.

      If I choose to go 120mph in my Chevy SS, it's my choice. But it's also illegal because it's not safe. Neither is giving a mentally disturbed person an open carry permit.

      If the window industry supplies screens w/ every window, it's their choice to meet market demand. But really, it was the builder who ordered all the screens guessing buyers would want them in the first place. Even if most Americans in suburbia never open their windows unless WiFi operated from some confusing app integrated into their "smart home" system. Uh huh.

      I could go on and on about the balance between choice and safety. Just because old schoolers like Gary know how to operate a whole-house exhaust fan at night doesn't mean a Gen Z owner can (unless connected to his ridiculous smart app). The latter home owner is why code requires specific, automatic fresh air replacement.

      I'm reminded of our old VCR's... rarely did I see any with clocks NOT blinking 12:00 infinitely.

      If these "elitist" researchers didn't do what they do, we'd be forced into programming our homes from our phones. Or, we'd all be on buggies w/ no AC and shitting in outhouses because hey - we need the fresh air.

      Delete
  3. Curious as homes are built tighter why does there become a need for mechanical air exchange systems when a window as a manual system accomplishes the same thing.

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  4. Anonymous 7:05AM. I like my windows open when I'm NOT running my mechanical system. Like right now. It's a very pleasant 75 degrees in Vermont with a slight breeze. My windows are open (screens in). I'm listening to the birds and the winds go through the garden. Maybe in four months when it starts to get cold I'll shut the windows, light the woodstove and turn my HRV on.

    Not sure where you're writing from. Maybe you're in an area that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. So you always have a mechanical system running. But trust me this having your windows open when a (properly installed) system is running is confusing your mechanical systems. Wasting fuel (and dollars). And likely making you more uncomfortable. . . . . it's like trying to fill a colander with water.


    jason

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous's missed the point on so many levels. As did Gary on this one: the argument of freedom of choice vs. mandated safety.

    If I choose to go 120mph in my Chevy SS, it's my choice. But it's also illegal because it's not safe. Neither is giving a mentally disturbed person an open carry permit.

    If the window industry supplies screens w/ every window, it's their choice to meet market demand. But really, it was the builder who ordered all the screens guessing buyers would want them in the first place. Even if most Americans in suburbia never open their windows unless WiFi operated from some confusing app integrated into their "smart home" system. Uh huh.

    I could go on and on about the balance between choice and safety. Just because old schoolers like Gary know how to operate a whole-house exhaust fan at night doesn't mean a Gen Z owner can (unless connected to his ridiculous smart app). The latter home owner is why code requires specific, automatic fresh air replacement.

    I'm reminded of our old VCR's... rarely did I see any with clocks NOT blinking 12:00 infinitely.

    If these "elitist" researchers didn't do what they do, we'd be forced into programming our homes from our phones. Or, we'd all be on buggies w/ no AC and shitting in outhouses because hey - we need the fresh air.

    ReplyDelete
  6. William aka " Little Bill"June 24, 2020 at 4:18 PM

    Harris, I love your reply. You really hit the point. Keep up the good work of building great homes in Maryland and promoting the modular industry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Harris from Finishwerks, our family builds more than 20 modular homes a year and not one customer has asked us to specifically build an energy efficient house or wanted to know the HERS rating.
    They simply want an affordable home and we are happy to do that.
    I build what people want, not what I think they need.

    ReplyDelete
  8. and this does not even touch on S/H vs D/H window....and please don't forget that the experts also told us as kids not to sit too close to the TV...we would go cross-eyed....

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  9. When we asked our customers what they wanted, they said they wanted a faster horse - Henry Ford.

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  10. Gary.

    I've re-read your post. And the comments. And I'm confused as heck about what ya'll are saying about about open windows and screen doors. Are you saying that energy efficient homes and open windows are mutually exclusive ALWAYS? . . . . They're only mutually exclusive when the windows are open AND the mechanical / ventilation systems are on. When the weather is nice HECK YEAH open those windows. But shut your mechanicals off. Otherwise you're wasting money. I can't believe I'm having this conversation.

    Don't even get me started on the "houses need to breathe" thing. NO houses don't need to breath. Humans need to breathe. Houses that breathe are generally uncomfortable (and why you feel the need to open windows when the heat is on).

    The general consensus of building science professionals (NOT energy efficiency zealots, but building science professionals) is that air tight wall assemblies that can dry faster than they can get wet (bulk water and condensation) coupled with high efficiency mechanical systems and a properly installed ventilation system is where it's at. If you're a builder and you're not doing this or paying attention to this then you're not providing the best service to your client.

    As Tom Hardiman alludes above, clients don't know what they don't know. It's our job to give them more than they're asking for. They should pay $5 and get $6.

    Proudly signed,
    jason webster
    huntington homes, inc

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anony 12:20AM Eastern: your customers want a faster horse. And that is just fine if that's what they want. I told my Doctor that I wanted Viagra to reduce my high blood pressure. He shrugged and said "ok"

    I'm not being snarky here. Markets vary everywhere. But don't forget the fact that YOU are the expert. You are the Doctor of home building. You cannot possibly expect your customers to know what a HERS rating is, anymore than they know how to erect a 4-box 2-story w/ a 2ft cantilever.

    Unless you take the time to educate them about high performance and healthy home features, you have effectively removed a choice they never knew they had. It's as simple as that.

    ReplyDelete