Sleepless in Vermont

Posted by Energy Wire on July 9, 2010 at 4:11 PM
A few months ago I wrote several posts about the energy efficiency project at our 19th-century Vermont farmhouse ( and I reported that we achieved a 78% improvement in air-tightness, as measured by before and after blower door tests.
That put me in energy efficiency heaven. Until this week.
The heat wave that's gripped the eastern half of the U.S. has millions sweating, including me and my wife. And it's revealed a crack in my household's energy efficiency strategy. All that foam and blown-cellulose insulation not only keeps the heat in in winter, but in summer as well.
In short, our non-air-conditioned bedroom is sweltering, most likely because the 18 inches of cellulose in the ceiling above is doing it's job admirably. This is the hottest our bedroom has been in the 25 years we've lived in the house, making sleep uncomfortable if not impossible. (Perhaps you can sense my sleeplessness in this musing.) Our two fans aren't providing much relief.

Naturally, if we had air conditioning, I could claim that the insulation would make it more efficient. But this is Vermont and for most of the summer the breezes provide plenty of natural air conditioning. And if we added air conditioning now, it would be an energy efficiency setback.

What to do? The tug of the appliance aisle at Home Depot grows stronger with each sweltering night.

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