This article was originally published in the January/February 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1994



Ten Years of Timeless Home Energy


It's 1994 and Home Energy is ten years old. One of the ways we are celebrating this anniversary is by reprinting classic articles from our archives, along with current articles on the same subject. This issue, the topic is blower doors, and the article that has been resurrected is from 1986 (see Infiltration: Just ACH50 Divided by 20?). We updated a few references, but the information and recommendations remain surprisingly fresh and valuable. Throughout our ten years of existence, Home Energy has been a constant advocate for the use of blower doors. We have published more articles about the procedures, problems, manufacturers, and energy savings associated with blower doors than any other periodical.

There are some curious aspects about the development of blower doors, however, that we haven't described. For many people, technology transfer looks like this: researchers invent something, and then it gradually enters the market, first, through the trendsetters, often the richest or groups able to afford expensive new technologies. Many years later, and after the price falls, the invention trickles down to the middle class. Sometimes even low-income people benefit, too, but not until later still.

That was not the case with blower doors. Researchers invented the blower door as a residential fan pressurization device in the late 1970s. (The original technology was used in Sweden as a blower window for ventilation, before a U.S. firm produced a commercial version known as the Supersucker.) To be sure, a small market of dedicated energy conservation professionals quickly adopted the tool, but the trickle down never occurred. Instead, we are witnessing a trickle up. Weatherization agencies and government programs typically use blower doors to reduce energy use in low-income homes. A recent study estimated that 15% of all weatherization programs use blower doors. In contrast, less than 1% of rich people's homes benefit from this technology.

One reason for the blower door's success in the low-income weatherization sector is its role in quality control. It is possible to quantify air infiltration reductions with a blower door and determine if the crews have really been successful. This was not the function originally envisioned by researchers, who saw the blower door principally as a means of measuring absolute infiltration levels. We'd like to believe that another impetus for the innovative and widespread use of blower doors is that Home Energy kept weatherization agencies and practitioners informed of these adaptations and their results.

Anniversary Index. Home Energy has just compiled a ten-year cumulative index of every article from our premier issue in 1984 through the last issue of 1993. It takes a lot of work to locate the one article you want among that pile of back issues, so now there is an index to help you quickly find the information you need. The index is also available on floppy disk. With a few keystrokes you can find every article published in Home Energy that refers to blower doors (would you believe 108 entries?) or North Carolina, or that was written by Alan Meier.

We have some other surprises in the upcoming issues, but we intend to keep them that way until the next Home Energy arrives in your mailbox.

Alan Meier

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