Countdown: Top 10 blogs of 2015

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
 Countdown: Top 10 blogs of 2015

An insulated concrete form home under the construction -- the subject of the top blog of 2015.

Given the flood of content on any number of topics, the expert insights available on have become some of the most valued pieces by you, our audience.

These experts graciously share their thoughts and experiences with us to inspire and educate homeowners and builders to create high performance homes.

While not all of these blogs were produced in 2015, they received significant traffic and social media attention to vault them into the Top 10 most viewed blogs for the year.

Here's a look back at what you viewed, starting with No. 10 and leading to the most popular blog of the year. Click on the link in the headline to read the full blog.

10. Can I retrofit my home with spray foam insulation?

Jennifer Wilson, brand manager for Rhino Linings Corporation, reviews the basics of spray foam insulation in a retrofit situation:

All spray foam insulations install as a liquid that instantly expands to fill between the studs in a wall cavity or ceiling joists. Most of these expanding foam insulations, like DuraTite™ or BioBased Insulation® by Rhino Linings must be installed in an open cavity. Because of that, you can’t re-insulate existing walls with these products unless you are doing a complete renovation and opening the walls or ceilings.

But you can still retrofit your home with spray foam insulation in a couple of different ways:

9. DIY: Determining why your ventilation fan is too loud

Ken Nelson, Northwest Regional Sales Manager for the Panasonic Eco Products Division, answers a reader's question about a noisy bath fan.

Question: I purchased a new house about a year ago with super quiet fans. While they were quiet for a while, now they're incredibly loud. What's up?

Answer: A bit difficult to diagnose without looking at your setup but I'll share a couple of the most common reasons for fans becoming louder after an initial installation period.

Almost all sound related issues are related to obstructions. Obstructions can occur in the blower wheel area, wall/ceiling cap, or the duct itself. Here are some examples of the most common obstructions that can occur after an initial time frame.

8. The pros and cons of greywater recycling

Tom Smith, the former director of operations and marketing at Anua, reviews the pros and cons of recycling greywater from showers and sinks.

The pros of greywater recycling are consistent with the pros of any water recycling (rainwater, yellow water, black water):

  • A growing population — expected 420 million by mid-2050
  • A limited water supply
  • By 2015, it is estimated 36 states will face serious water shortages

7. Precast concrete panels for your home

Lindsay Locke, director of business development for TightLines Designs in Raleigh, N.C., reviews this increasingly popular building technique.

Precast concrete is a panelized (or prebuilt) system for poured concrete that has become an alternative building technique in residential construction. The system provides benefits to the architect, builder and consumer. Precast concrete panel systems combine the energy-saving thermal mass qualities of concrete with the ease and assembly speed of a panelized building system. They install quickly, will not warp or rot, and are termite and fire resistant. From a production standpoint alone, this system can save up to three weeks in contrast to typical wood framing techniques.

6.  How do you properly size a geothermal unit?

Mike Roberts, owner of First Geothermal Energy and an Enertech Global LLC geothermal dealer, answers a reader's question about how determine the correct size for a geothermal or ground source heat pump.

It's essential to properly size a geothermal unit. If it is a new construction or an existing home we do a site visit to see the home and to determine the best location for the loop field (vertical bore, horizontal bore, horizontal dig, open loop or pond loop.) Then we talk to the homeowner so we can gather information on the home they intend to build or on the current one. We need to know what type and how much insulation is to be used or is already in place (ceiling, walls and basement), windows sizes and e-value. A copy of the blueprint is helpful if available — new homes usually have an extra, but existing homeowners may not have them so the houses need to be manually measured. Then a heat loss and heat gain calculation can be determined for the home.

5. How to eliminate water hammer noise after flushing a toilet

Will Wang, director of Marketing at Fluidmaster, gives some insight into a common plumbing problem and how to fix it.

 This is called water-hammer. Water hammer is a pressure surge or wave caused when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly. 

4.  HEPA vs. MERV

Patrick Nielsen, marketing manager for ventilation fans for Broan-NuTone, discussed the different rating systems found in ventilation filters and how to make the best choices for your home.

If you're looking for an air filter for your home, it can get confusing quickly. You'll come across both MERV and HEPA rated filters. It's hard to know which one you might need. If people in your home are bothered by allergies or asthma, cleaning irritating particles out of the air can help them breathe easier.

3. Pros and cons of solar water heaters

Heather Ferrier Laminack, marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, shares her her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques. She answered questions about solar water heaters from her personal experience.

I can testify first hand to the benefit of solar water heating, as I have built and lived in a home that incorporated the technology. In my sunny climate here in Texas, it performed outstanding and I would definitely recommend it. Like many high-performance products, it does require a bit more investment upfront, but you reap the savings over the lifetime of the unit.

2. Will my geothermal system need much maintenance?

Doug Schuster, owner of Schuster Heating & Geothermal & Pump Co., and an Enertech Global LLC geothermal dealer, answers a common question about maintenance of geothermal HVAC systems.

I'm often asked if geothermal systems require much maintenance. The answer is a resounding, "It depends." …

A geothermal heat pump is a high performance piece of equipment. To keep it working at peak efficiency there is some preventative maintenance that needs to be performed. The biggest is keeping your air filter clean.

1.  Ask the Expert: Pros and cons of Insulated Concrete Form

Ted L. Clifton is a designer-builder from Coupeville, Wa., with over 45 years of hands-on experience in the construction industry. His two companies, Zero-Energy Plans LLC, and CVH Inc. have won five Energy Value Housing Awards, and two National Green Building Awards for Concept and Research. In this blog, Clifton answers a question about the pros and cons of building with insulated concrete forms.

The first advantage is the structural strength inherent in a reinforced concrete wall. In one simple operation, you have the structural qualities of concrete, with the air-sealing and insulation qualities of a SIPS wall...sometimes.



Topics: Building Green, Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Heating & Cooling, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF, Maintenance & Repair, Sinks & Toilets, Ventilation, Wastewater Treatment, Water Filtration & Water Quality, Water Heaters

Companies: Panasonic High Performance Ventilation Solutions, TightLines Designs, Anua, Enertech Global, LLC, First Geothermal Energy, Schuster Heating & geothermal & Pump Company, Inc, Rhino Linings, Fluidmaster

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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