So I was idly wondering how eco developments cope with prolonged spells of
freezing weather. I know extra high insulation is a major part of eco
Rain water collection, solar heat gain, reed bed waste water treatment, I'm
guessing they'll all be affected by the weather, in particular what happens
to the reed beds? If they get frozen there's the potential for a biohazard,
and if the beds serve lots of properties, they could become uninhabitable.
Any eco warriors care to comment.
No different to a conventional sewage/drainage system freezing up.
If temperatures are below freezing, there will be virtually no
biological activity anyway - and no smells.
In practice I doubt larger volumes of water ever freeze solid all the
way through in the UK these days.
Of course there's no rainwater collection if the roof is covered in
snow (then rather a lot when it thaws). Good design should ensure
storage tanks are unlikely to freeze.
Solar gain requires sunlight rather than air temperature, and solar
water heaters will have antifreeze in them.
The more engineering-orientated views I hear (rather than good-life
type views), stress the importance of domestic insulation and
airtightness/controlled-ventilation far above all the other eco-
building objectives. If you have mains water and mains drainage - use
it - the utilities can usually do these things at lower cost and with
greater energy efficiency than the householder can. Grey water/rain
water recycling is a useful addition to reduce drinking water
consumption though. Solar water heating and passive solar gain work
and are cost effective - most other domestic energy sources aren't
cost effective, most of the time.
We're not eco warriors, just pensioners with a conscience but we do
the best we can to protect the environment - the result is a saving of
money which has meant that we could have a (summer) cruise if we
wanted. Having been on one to Greenland and seen the effect of Man's
indulgences we don't want to go again.
We collect water from greenhouse, shed and house roofs for the garden.
There are six large butts, they froze in the recent low temperatures
but since the water wasn't needed then it didn't matter.
The hens are in the greenhouse for a few weeks and we've had to keep
an eye on their drinking water, it has frozen a time or two. The extra
day length they're experiencing (by not being shut in a dark coop
until about 9 am) means that they've come back into lay.
Our domestic hot water solar panel was affected by the snow - the sun
couldn't get to the panel. That was irksome, we had to use the boiler
a couple of times. It's a direct solar panel, the water is heated
itself rather than as a secondary process so there's no anti-freeze
involved. If there's any sun and the panel isn't covered the water
will be heated. The water flows through special small bore silicone
tubing which isn't affected even if the water in it does freeze.
Our wood burning stove is lit in the afternoon and warms us directly
until we go to bed, usually at about 10 pm. It also warms the room
overhead, our bedroom. It goes out during the night but because the
whole fabric of that room is heated while the fire is burning the room
is comfortably warm until the afternoon. The mass of the stove and
furniture act as storage heaters.
I cook on it daily (when it's lit) and the other day there were nine
of us for dinner. I cooked a large pig's leg on it and all the
vegetables for our meal. The plates and sauces were kept warm on it
too. It hasn't been affected by the cold except, perhaps, to increase
the chimney draw so speeding ignition.
Insulation, as much as possible, is vital, as is draughtproofing, with
good ventilation. This year we double glazed the transom lights, it's
made a big difference to our comfort in that room.
The bathroom rh controlled low wattage extractor fan has been
activated when cooking in the recent cold weather.
Our next project is to insulate under the floor. It's been put off for
years because even my very thin spouse finds it difficult to wiggle
through the small gap under the floor. I'd have no chance ...
I would welcome some people's experience of underfloor insulation,
especially in regard to materials used. We're thinking of wool.
We haven't any now, the smallest grandchild lives in another country.
When he comes he'll be sent up the chimney.
No, there are specially treated fleece slabs made just for insulation,
they are vermin, moth and rot-proof and the moisture absorbtion and
release is a positive advantage.
I'd just like to know if anyone here has used it.
What do you use?
Definitely not an eco warrior but I do like to get summat for nowt or
at least reduce my contribution to Bloody Gordons waste funds.
I have an evacuated tube solar collector for my hot water and I can
hear the pump cut in and out when the sun is on the panel even when
the temperature is below freezing.
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