Revisiting an Energy Saving Handbook from 1979

first_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Rummaging through the shelves of a used book store, my son Noah came across an old paperback called Energy Saving Handbook. Written by James W. Morrison, the book was published by Harper & Row in 1979.A brief web search failed to reveal any biographical information about the author. However, I discovered that the book was published under several different titles, and was distributed by at least four state energy offices. Morrison’s book may have been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; some of its chapters seem to have been repurposed from government brochures.This book came out at an interesting time for the field of residential energy efficiency (1979). It was six years after the first oil price shock (the 1973 OPEC oil embargo); three years after the Department of Energy launched the Weatherization Assistance Program; and two years after Gautam Dutt, the discoverer of the thermal bypass, had his “aha!” moment in a New Jersey attic. In 1979, the Iranian revolution caused turmoil in the international oil market — precipitating the second oil price shock of the 1970s.Back in 1979, in spite of Gautam Dutt’s 1977 epiphany, most weatherization workers still had an incomplete understanding of how air leakage affected home energy bills. That’s not too surprising, considering the fact that blower doors were not yet commercially available. (Gadsco began marketing the first blower doors in 1980.)By the late 1970s, residential energy experts were beginning to pay attention to airtightness. In the “Energy Saving Handbook,” Morrison notes, “To determine the heat loss from infiltration, it is necessary to know the rate of air movement through the homes. Most houses undergo from one to three air changes per hour, depending on construction.”Morrison’s estimates of the average natural air changes per hour in older homes was probably accurate. By today’s… Start Free Trial Already a member? Log incenter_img Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.last_img