Mike Vogel, Montana State University Extension Service



Mike is Professor and Housing and Environmental Health Specialist with Montana State University (MSU) Extension Service since 1982. Since 1997, Mike has also served as MSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Program Leader.

Mike’s primary responsibility is directing and developing housing education programs and resources for Montana consumers and tribes.  Since 1977, he has been involved with energy-efficient construction and training with the U. S. Department of Energy.  In 1977 he authored one of the first consumer-targeted books dealing with …

Tree Planting for Lower Power Bills

Whether it is winter or summer, trees can help you save energy at home.   

Shade for Savings  

Did you know that only 17% shade over your house during the day translates to a savings of 10 dollars a month on your power bill? Additionally, increasing that same shade to 50% will decrease your power bill by an additional $20 per month.  For those without trees, it takes time to plant a tree and generate this shade.  However one study estimates …

Sarah Kirby

Sarah Kirby bio picture

Dr. Sarah Kirby is an Associate Professor, Housing Specialist, and Department Extension Leader in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Kirby directs the E-Conservation Residential Consumer Energy Education and provides leadership for the national eXtension Home Energy Community of Practice. She is a member of the Home Energy eXtension Community of Practice and the Family Caregiving Community of Practice. Dr. Kirby serves as the North Carolina Cooperative Extension …

How do trees and other vegetation affect urban mesoclimates and microclimates?

Vegetation affects urban mesoclimate and microclimate by intercepting solar radiation, directing air movement, and affecting air temperature.  Microclimate, mesoclimate and macroclimate can be used to describe the climate of a given location. Macroclimate covers hundreds of square miles and parameters such as precipitation levels, temperatures and winds. Mesoclimate covers areas of tens of square miles and describes how conditions vary from the prevailing macroclimate due to the effects of water bodies, topographic features (terrain), and other landscape influences. A microclimate …

Considerations for Selecting Energy Efficient Windows for Homes in Different Climates

Reviewed and Revised on 11/13/2013

It is very important that you consider your climate when selecting energy efficient windows to reduce home energy use. One size or type does not fit all homes and climate zones.

Window energy efficiency criteria for different climates

  • In temperate climates with both heating and cooling seasons, select windows with both a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and a low U-factor to maximize energy benefits and savings.

  • For cold or very cold climates where

What is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per pound of coal compared to pound of wood that is released into the air when each is burned?

The amount of carbon dioxide released from coal and wood depends on the type of coal or wood consumed and the moisture contents of both. A very rough estimate is that for each unit of coal or wood consumed, 1.5 units of CO2 are released. Higher-grade coal has higher carbon content so the amount of CO2 released per unit mass would also be higher.

The major difference between the carbon released from burning coal and wood is that …

Time for Trees to Provide Energy Conservation Benefits?

It is possible to plant a tree that within a few years will provide energy conservation benefits. The length of time between planting and energy conservation savings is a function of the following factors:

  • Tree species (fast- or slow-growing)
  • Site (soil qualities such as fertility, moisture, compaction)
  • Desired energy conservation function (windbreak or shade)
  • Size and position of the structure for which energy conservation is desired

Some fast-growing tree species, under ideal growing conditions, may begin providing energy benefits …

What is a perm rating?

It is a standard measure of the water vapor permeability of a material. The higher the number, the more readily water vapor (in the gaseous state) can diffuse through the material. A perm rating of less than 0.1 is considered a Class I impermeable vapor retarder (which is also considered a vapor barrier); perm rating between 0.1 and 1 is considered a Class II semi-permeable vapor retarder; a perm rating between 1 and 10 is a Class III …

What is Kelvin temperature on fluorescent lamps/lightbulbs?

The color temperature refers to the color of light. This temperature is measured in Kelvins. The Kelvin scale ranges from 1500 to 9000. The lower the Kelvin scale number, the warmer the color temperature, resulting in a warmer (more oranges and reds) light source. The higher the Kelvin scale number, the cooler (more blues or greens) the color temperature, or light source. For example, a 3000 Kelvin bulb will emit a warmer light than a 4000 Kelvin. The Kelvin temperature …

Do I need to insulate and weatherstrip the attic access door?

Yes, if the attic access door is within the living space and can open directly into the attic. Whether in a hot or cold climate, the access door should be treated just like an outside entrance door; it must be insulated and weatherstripped.

During cold and windy weather, heat loss and air leakage through uninsulated and non-weatherstripped ceiling openings is a major source of energy loss (resulting in higher heating costs). During the heat and humidity of the summer, where …