Archive for the ‘house’ Category

I’ll keep this short to ensure that it does get posted, but I suspect that I could rant on this till closing time on Friday night. For a recent renewable energy assessment for a client I finally took the time to review the potential for air source heat pumps to deliver carbon reductions and I don’t like what I found. (more…)

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There’s another fridge discussion at No Impact Man, where he’s asked for ideas on how to keep milk fresh. In one of the comments, someone pointed to a passive ice box that freezes about a cubic meter of ice in winter and keeps your food cool the rest of the year. Kick ass. Unfortunately it looks like it requires much colder winter temperatures than we get here in Marche.

Someone else mentioned the Mitti Cool, a passive clay refrigerator invented in India. That’s more like it!

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freezer iceI was lamenting in a post about compact florescent bulbs how I didn’t know where else we could significantly cut electricity consumption. Then I saw this post from Greenpa. Turns out I wasn’t thinking hard enough.


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pellet delivery 2
Maurizio brought round our last one-tonne bag of wood pellets a few weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to post photos since. He’s been holding the last bag for us since last autumn when we only managed to get five of the six tonnes we’d bought into the pellet store.

We’ve now got plenty of pellets. A few too many, actually, because when you buy pellets you should a) buy in the summer when pricespellet delivery 1 are lower and b) buy as much as you can so you spread the cost of transport across as many tonnes as possible. We’ve now got enough pellets to get us through to the start of the heating season, which is a problem. If we buy in the next few months we won’t be able to fit more than 3 or 4 tonnes in the store because of our leftovers. If we buy in winter, we’ll buy at a premium and have to wait in line with everyone else. As a solution I’m hoping to find storage space somewhere (like Carletti’s barn or Marco’s cantina) so we can buy maybe 10 tonnes over the summer and transfer them to the pellet store as we need them.

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Found on the back of our electricity bill:


When we moved into the house in October of last year there were bare incandescent bulbs hanging from the walls. We didn’t get around to putting in low energy bulbs (CFLs) until December, when we replaced about half. At that point, our average daily electricity consumption dropped 16%. In February we replaced the rest of the incandescents and suddenly we were using 32% less electricity than when we moved in.  (more…)

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pelletsAt least around 3000 kilometres. Here’s why:

The BRE gives a carbon intensity of 0.025kgCO2/kWh for biomass. This includes an allowance for planting, harvesting, processing, and delivery to point of use. See the 2001 emissions report and the 2003 update.

But we need to vary the emissions figure based on distance travelled. The European Environment Agency gives a figure of just over 0.12 kgCO2 per tonne per kilometre for road transport, quoted here. Even more pessimistic, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution says 0.18 – 0.27 kgCO2 per tonne per kilometre (see table 4.4). (more…)

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A few weeks ago at the end of a post about the myth of stone walls as insulation, I mentioned that high mass materials can be useful when included inside the insulation layer. Here’s why. (more…)

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In Italy, building professionals often tell you that thick stone walls will keep you warm in winter. Our first geometra said so. And recently my friend’s architect told him it wasn’t worth adding insulation to his walls since they were porous tufa stone, which the architect claimed was a good insulator. But it’s not true.

A good insulator has a high thermal resistance – it prevents heat from flowing from the warm side to the cool side. Polystyrene, rockwool, and sheep’s wool are all examples of good insulators. In many cases you can compensate for lower thermal resistance by increasing the thickness of material: if your insulation isn’t good, just use more of it. But with stone, the thermal resistance is so low that in order to offer a reasonable level of insulation, the walls need to be unrealistically thick.  (more…)

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