Donald Wulfinghoff is an energy consultant who works in Maryland. In 2013, he published Super House, a 700-page book that explains how an ordinary person without architectural training can design a superinsulated home that (he claims) will use only 10% to 20% as much energy for heating and cooling as a conventional home.
The book is lavishly illustrated and comprehensive. Right off the bat, the author shares his lack of respect for architects: on the first page, he writes, “Is it really possible for a person with no prior experience to design a home that is far ahead of contemporary residential architecture? It certainly is.”
Even for readers who are put off by Wulfinghoff’s exaggerated energy savings predication or his architect-bashing, the book (at first glance) shows a lot of promise. Wulfinghoff is a big believer in superinsulation. Much of his advice aligns with recommendations from energy-efficiency researchers and experienced builders. For example:
BOOK REVIEWS BY MARTIN HOLLADAY
A cranky uncle?
So far, so good. The advice quoted above resembles advice from many experienced builders of high-performance homes.
But once readers dig a little deeper into the book, they start to notice that much of Wulfinghoff’s advice is idiosyncratic. He’s like a cranky uncle with firmly held but arbitrary opinions:
Some of these opinions are defensible, of course. But after a while, readers get the impression that Wulfinghoff’s personality is a little — how shall I put it? — inflexible.
Advice that’s just plain bad
So far, we’ve discussed Wulfinghoff’s good advice and his cranky opinions. There’s a third category of advice in the book, however: bad advice. Wulfinghoff’s advice is so often bad that his credibility evaporates as quickly as dew in Las Vegas:
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