All-Natural PAHS? (Passive Annual Heat Storage system [seasonal thermal store])


Lately I've been thinking along the lines of the feasibility of homes that don't have any, or hardly any, additional heating or cooling requirements, year-round, in Ottawa, Canada (climate zone Dfb): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_thermal_store http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_zone
While it appears entirely possible, one question is if it could be built using all-natural (ideally, all-local) materials.
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Warm Worm wrote the following:

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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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All I'm seeing in your reply is two hyphens. Does that mean 'no'?
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Warm Worm wrote the following:

No. It meant I mistakenly hit 'Send' when I decided to cancel my response.
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Several things: Cold flows to hot, don't forget that, it's important. The easiest way to achieve what you're talking about is to change the way you think about comfort. Until about 1970 hardly anybody had air conditioning but now its considered mandatory everywhere. Until about 1900 just about everybody used wood to heat their building, today, not so much, cept in northern climes. Vary your comfort zone and the goal becomes easier achieved.
After the sun goes down below the tree line the temp quickly drops from the mid 80's to the low 50's. It was dark at 9pm and I leaned back against a large (3'x3') solid concrete column that faced west and it was still quite warm and would stay so for an hour or more.
Personally I think storing heat is a lost battle for the most part, at least on a large scale. On a micro or nano scale, maybe. Rather than heat and cold I'd like to redefine the term into an inclusive comfort zone. What seems cold to you may not to me, so we can never come to a meeting of the minds because of our differences based on the old paradigm. What if heat and cold were equal and somehow could be made to balance on a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day basis playing off each's strong points? Floor, walls and roof made out of peltier effect material.
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wrote:

I agree with the comfort zone thing and have already thought of it, to the point of even needing any heat at all, save for body and a well- insulated bed.
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In the article Rico posted right away the author mentions the costs associated with *green* design. Slightly tangent from that I've been thinking lately of skewed pricing and how it has effected things overall. I purchased an item awhile back and paid what I thought was a fair price for it. Now, 2 years later, that item has failed and cannot be repaired for reasonable cost so presumably will be thrown away and I am back where I started 2 years ago but lighter in the ass pocket. In considering this, and keeping inflation in mind, I should have paid much more for that item than I did to get the same quality of design and manufacturing from a time when such things were standard. You may not remember it but there was a time when things were built heavy duty to last as that meant credibility to the manufacturer. Now, it's a given that things will fail and you just throw it away and buy another one.
Transpose that line of thinking to residential design and construction. I have been educated along the lines of the latter way, to cut costs and think short term rather than long. Because of skewed costs resulting from inflation we must pay more for less and this results, to the intelligent person, to thinking along the lines of Susanka. Less is more in the long view. Design, construction, materials and methods. Tied back into this is the notion that the average person or family changes residence every 7 years so the idea of longevity doesn't carry much weight.
IOW, if you positively plan to stay in the residence long term than it behooves you to spend the most to get the best, done right as your *investment* will pay off 20-30 or more years from now, in overall efficiency and longevity of materials and maintenance. These are important considerations in not only how one will live, now, but for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, the money thing rears its ugly head again in that we mostly aren't in control of our income and must rely on the interaction of others and thus where we live may change at any time and therefore our *investment* could become invalid. To offload a home as I described is not welcomed by the masses and especially now with all things being as they are, so your quality built home will be appreciated by less than 1 out of 100 potential buyers, narrowing the already very narrow market in the first place.
The natural consideration would be a complete overhauling of the entire economic structure as it relates to you so you are not dependent upon others for your income, to the degree that you now are, and do what it takes to exclude as much money/people exchanges as possible and transfer that effort into things that mean something to you overall.
I have been designing my *tiny house* for some 2 years now and this journey has caused me to slow down and carefully inspect everything in my life, and others, so as to create an environment that is aligned with what I described. Choosing what is important and then figuring out the steps to get there from here. For me it has been incredibly insightful to pull the whole thing apart, to reverse engineer a life and examine all of the things that added up to a life complete, but wrong, and then recreate that life in a more proper light. The tiny house was just part of the picture, or, the last chapter of a book.
It will take some more time to complete this project if it will ever be complete because with each step forward more baggage is encountered and must be dealt with. I wish I had started this when I was about 25 years old because in the 30 years hence nothing but more obstacles have been placed in the path and all of them must be moved to continue the journey. Five acres and a mule.
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No pond yet, it was too costly at the time, about 6 months ago. However, since then someone has given me an idea on to get it done for far less money so early next year I will take another look at it. It MUST be done, no two ways about it. Your home is only as good as your water suplly and around here its almost as expensive to put in a pond as it is to have a well drilled. We have a natural water source on site, a small stream, and an indication that most of that stream is subterranean, so it seems prudent to straddle the stream with the pond and create dams at both ends. Drilling a well doesn't insure that it won't run dry or clog due to the clay nature of the soil here. I can continuosly feed the pond with rainwater runoff from the roofs of the house (2000sf) and my garage workshop (1000sf).
After that, or right along side it, is the task of clearing some of the forest for farming, growing food. I only need 1/2 acre but that means probably removing at least a few hundred trees. I estimate there are around 10,000 trees on this 5 acres. I won't get into all the details of how all of that is going to work but its rather comprehensive. After secure water, food is the next matter of importance, but I'm not done yet.
I need to excavate some of the crawl space under the house to create a root cellar/safe room. The land under the house slopes in 2 directions and the right rear of the house provides the most clearance, almost 5' in height in that corner. On the opposite corner, catty cornered, there is less than 2' of height from the ground to the underside of the floor joists. I will excavate an area about 12' x 12' to a height of 6 to 7' clear, and create a floor from palletes and stud walls that are heavily insulated and sheathed and I will also insulate the entire underside of the first floor. shwew. Alot of that part will done laying on my back on the ground. I just love insulation work. I was gonna go with the spray on stuff but there is no guarantee that it will stick, and because its rather expensive I don';t want to take the chance that it will fail. So I'll just use R19 roll batts and be done with it. I also then have to staple visqueen over the underside of the batts. shwew again.
My 5 year goal is taking a little longer than I thought and much more difficult than I had imagined. Oh yeah, there are a myriad of other little things I've told you about that still need to get done too, outbuildings, solar, waste management, etc. I expect to spend the rest of my life doing this stuff.
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wrote:

Don, unless you're already up on this, before you indiscriminately clear your forest, which may be of benefit in different and unexpected ways, if you haven't already, you may wish to consider permaculture principles. Here're 2 very good videos that come in parts that can be selected from the righthand list. One is of food forest gardens that form part of permaculture; the other is the permaculture concept. Both are on our Transition Ottawa location BTW:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBShBeC1f-Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofKTgmW_FAg&p=ADB15864889A72A2&playnext=1&index=10

Also, about your work, you may also wish to considering some help, maybe barter or volunteering or something like that. I imagine that the skills you have that you may take for granted someone else may find invaluable.
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wrote:

There appear to be little costs to anything, just a whole lot of greed that, over time, ratchets up the illusion of costs to everything. It's like, so the theory goes, "What can I sell you that costs me as little as possible that you're willing to pay as much as I can sell it for?" or, "How low an investment can I go for the highest returns?". Normally that shouldn't work, but then, the nation-state ensures that it does through the police, military and (media-/etc.-)manufactured ideology, etc.... and the 40-hour workweek lie.
Apparently, the true cost of something should be next-to-nothing (or we're not doing it properly). For a decent timberframe for example, just a week or month in the sun with the village hands, or maybe about a year, solo/with relatives. Food grows on its own. Some maintenance, added seeding and harvesting and that's about it. The rest of the time, minus family obligations and whatever else, is yours.
"Hyperinflation is when the money creator, the Federal Reserve in this case, prints money nonstop and technically goes over 100% inflation rate. This means that at the end of the year, your money will only buy half of what it did at the beginning. It quickly spirals out of control as the government prints more and more and more to cover its obligations which get harder and harder to do because the money gets worth less and more worth less until it is worthless (note the spaces). If you want to see a good example, look at Zimbabwe now, Wiemar Germany post-WW1, and some others. Toilet paper will literally be worth more than a dollars. There will be so much around you will have no problem keeping warm in the winter cause you can burn it." ~
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-tI-Wv1wko

Edited for fun: Don wrote: "Slightly tangent from that I've been thinking lately of skewed pricing and how it has effected things overall... In considering this, and keeping inflation in mind, I should have paid much more for that item than I did to get the same quality of design and manufacturing from a time when such things were standard... Unfortunately, the money thing rears its ugly head again... The natural consideration would be a complete overhauling of the entire economic structure... and do what it takes to exclude as much money/people exchanges as possible and transfer that effort into things that mean something to you overall."

How's that coming along?

Talk to this guy: http://living.scotsman.com/people/The-good-life-Living-in.6473262.jp
In the article, it says that children mistake him for a wizard, and it inspired me to ponder along the lines of all wise older people as being wizards in a sense... and that perhaps our culture, through its diminishing of many values (like the value of older people, or 'the tribe'), has lost much of its wisdom, its wizardry.
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I'm interested in the answer as applied to the climate around here in general. Myself, I'm hoping for a quick exit soon.
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You posted a few days early. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/business/energy-environment/26smart.html
R
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Interesting article, and thanks. Benson's often mentioned in a book on timberframe post-and-beam that I had read some of last fall, so I guess he's one of the ones on top of the subject. The funny drier they mentioned, BTW, seems a bit of a pointless luxury.
To elaborate on the question, though, its intent concerns only the (relatively) natural use of the sun for energy, (so photovoltaics, for example, what with their apparent reliance on multiple layers of often non-local infrastructure, is discluded) with maybe the sustainable burning of wood/beeswax/? for, say, cooking, cleaning and candles; with materials that are as local as on the same property and/or within the same town/village and reasonable biking distance, maximum; and completely natural, as in unmanufactured, unless sustainably, using as "natural" a process as possible, and still within said vicinity. "Leftover" mechanical/hand tools and garbage is acceptable. This is offered in the context of a "no-nonsense" ecovillage-style setup in mind. IOW, what can we best do with what is available? "Low- tech, high-thought". I realize that this may beg the old ways of doing things comments, but then, so be it, since it appears we've lost some knowledge of and from it, and since it might be interesting and insightful to see if we can come up with better, if only on paper for now.
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You posted a few days early. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/business/energy-environment/26smart.html
R
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