15. The Energy Crisis
You remember it as gasoline rationing and lowering the thermostat, but the energy crisis of the 1970s also meant a dramatic change in home design and construction. "Oil prices of the '70s really drove a lot of energy saving in home building," says Tarr. "It led us to better weather stripping, insulations and even double-paned windows." It was a profound change after generations of constructing homes designed to incorporate the air from outside. "Sealing your house is very different, because a century ago, the idea of a house that breathed was attractive," says Shayt. "You'd simply isolate parts of it with ice or furs to cool or warm yourself, but you'd never seal the whole house against the flow of air." Arguably, we still shouldn't, because one unexpected side effect of such measures is only now beginning to surface. "In trying to fill all the holes and cracks, you breathe the same body of air longer, so we've in turn caused air pollution problems inside the home," Tarr notes. Fortunately, air exchangers and proper mechanical ventilation can make even the tightest of houses healthier and more comfortable.
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