Here’s a neat piece of pre-production technology called MeterPlug. MeterPlug measures electricity consumption by plugging in between any appliance and the AC outlet. The smart plug uses Bluetooth 4.0 to send data to your smartphone and enable features like proximity control, manual on/off, and vampire power shield. In other words, with a range of about 100 feet and a smartphone, it’s easy to shut down appliances or calculate the costs of standby power. Each plug is a little expensive right now, but if you want to try MeterPlug, you can pledge support at Indiegogo.
Here’s another interesting video from Austin-based builder Matt Risinger about what he calls “practical advanced framing.” In this video, Risinger talks about the difference between 2×4 and 2×6 studs, 16″ and 24″ centers, plywood and OSB sheathing, three-stud and California corners, and uninsulated and insulated headers. Here are Risinger’s three tips for practical advanced framing:
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Philips recently announced its next-generation A-19 bulb with a new design that contrasts sharply with the old yellow EnduraLED or the fluorescent L-Prize bulb. The 60-watt replacement has a white appearance and uses 11 watts while putting out 830 lumens. It will be available in both Soft White or Daylight color temperatures when released.
Looks like wood-fiber insulation board is coming to the USA, according to a Greenbuild update on Green Building Advisor. Agepan THD is the name of the product and it’s used as exterior sheathing for walls and roofs. Agepan boards connect in tongue and groove fashion and insulate to R-5.74 per panel (2″ x 74.5″ x 23-5/8″). The material has a high permeability (18 U.S. perms) and can be used in a wall assembly to dry to the exterior. It’s offered through Washington-based The Small Planet Workshop Store.
I noticed in Dwell‘s Prefab edition that one prefab was partially built with an innovative concrete masonry unit (CMU) by Nevada-based Omni Block. Omni Block is a structural CMU filled with Expanded Polystyrene inserts. Walls with Omni Block can be finished or, in the case of the Simpatico project (see below), left exposed for a modern interior or exterior. The manufacturer says the material is fire resistant, durable, and thermally efficient, and the blocks come in colors or with special aggregates.
Portland-based Terra Bona Materials launched Terralite Cement at Greenbuild this year hoping to deliver a product that meets the energy-efficiency demands of the greater building science community. Terralite is a “lightweight” product made with cement and an aggregate that includes expanded polystyrene. Marketing materials claim the product is 20% of the weight of traditional concrete and, according to company president Terry Cotton, insulative with an R-value of 1.8 per inch.