Monthly Archives: October 2011
The $2,000 Bathroom
Linoleum: $50 on TradeMe (3 metres by 3 metres)
Sink: $20 at Hayward’s Auctions
Toilet: $99 at the Renovator’s Centre
Lights: $20 on TradeMe
Medicine Cabinet: Mirror ($15 at Hayward’s Auctions) and Drawer ($1 on TradeMe)
Bath: $55 on TradeMe
Bath Taps: $150 at Mitre 10 (New)
Curved Curtain Rod: $12 at Hospice Shop
Seratone Panels: $400 at Mitre 10 (New)
Towel Racks: $2 at Hayward’s Auctions
Laundry Tub: Traded other materials for store credit at Renovator’s Centre
Washing Machine: $700 at Mitre 10 (New) *Not included in total
Cabinet: $15 at Hayward’s Auctions
Paint: $90 at Mitre 10 (New)
Plumbing Parts and Services: $1,000
Electrical Parts and Services: $100
I’m not including the price of the washing machine because that is not a usual bathroom expense. I’m also not including the cost of replacing the ceiling because most people who spend $20,000 would not to have to replace their ceiling either. This is not meant to be the definitive eco-thrifty bathroom, as the available second hand resources will always vary. This is about as good as we could do in our particular place at this particular time while following the NZ Building Code and keeping down costs and ecological footprints.
Tread lightly, Estwing
Keep it Comfortable
One problem that happens sometimes with passive solar houses is that they can get too hot even in the middle of winter. For instance, once when we were house sitting in Raglan, the temperature inside the house could reach almost 30 degrees in the late afternoon just from sunlight. This happened because it had lots of windows facing north that let the sun inside, but most of the energy from the sun heated the air. But overnight the heat would escape and by the next morning it would be 12 degrees inside. A graph of the temperature would look like this.
This graph shows that it’s hot during the day and cold at night. You might as well live outdoors! The reason for this is because the house had lots of windows in the right places, but not enough “thermal mass” inside to absorb the heat during the day and let it out slowly at night. An example of thermal mass is our brick patio. Even an hour after sunset the bricks still feel warm. In a way, the bricks are like rechargeable batteries because they can store the sun’s energy like a battery stores electricity. But when the energy runs out they need to be recharged.
But of course the patio is outside. We want more thermal mass inside. To get an idea of what might be a good example of thermal mass, think of water and anything that sinks in water. We might call these things “heavy.” Anything that floats in water is not so good as thermal mass, but is better as insulation. That’s what the next post will be about.
So how do we get thermal mass inside our house that is up on piles? Here are a few ways.
Our iron bath.
Our Multi-fuel Stove
Extra layer of GIB on some walls.
We put the bath, the stove and the extra GIB all along the northwest-facing interior wall as shown in the picture below.
The winter afternoon sun shines directly on them, and instead of our house overheating, it gets up to 22 or 23 degrees. Then as the house cools down at night, the heat stored in the bath, stove and GIB goes into the air space of the house. A graph of the temperature in a house that gets lots of sunlight but also has enough thermal mass and insulation would look like this.
This graph shows that it gets warm during the day but not too hot, and it cools down at night but doesn’t get cold. Goldilocks might say that this is “Just right!”
Any questions or comments?
Brains Not Brawn in the Garden
It was August, 2011, and the little blue house on Arawa Place in Wanganui had almost been renovated.
Organizing a Working Bee
The Little House That Could
Introduction: The Little House That Could programme is designed for learners at Levels two and three, and includes four learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum: science, maths, the arts and English. The scientific foundations of passive solar design are presented first in a science unit. This is followed by a combined maths, English and arts unit on eco-design and communication. All of the units are presented as clearly and concisely as possible for ease of implementation.
The Story: The Little House That Could is introduced in a narrative style intended to “hook” students with a recent significant event that made headlines across New Zealand: The coldest week in recorded national history. An illustrated blog post tells the story of an incomplete passive solar renovation project and how it performed during this historic week of frigid, but sunny weather. The wood burner had not been fully installed when the cold southerly blew in…
…but the little house that could…
To be continued at: http://www.ecothriftydoup.blogspot.com/…
A series of interactive posts follow that allow students to post questions.
The Science Unit: Based on the age and ability of pupils, a number of science activities are suggested and described to varying degrees in the attached science unit. They address the basic elements of passive solar design: sunlight energy, thermal mass and insulation.
The Combined Maths, English and Arts Unit: This integrated unit is presented as a cross-curricular approach to meeting learning objectives of the New Zealand Curriculum. It is presented in its entirety, and individual teachers can adapt it to their students’ needs.
The Little House That Could programme was developed by The ECO School with financial support from the Wanganui District Council and administrative support from the Sustainable Whanganui Trust.
From Tar Sands to Tauranga…(and Taranaki)
How to Cook a Goat: Building Community One Koha at a Time
It is difficult to judge which piece of news was more devastating to New Zealanders this week: the unexpected credit rating downgrades from both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, or the equally unexpected World Cup tournament ending injury to All Black stand out, Dan Carter. In the short term, neither development had much effect over the weekend: opposition Labour party leadership blew some hot air at the National government, and the All Blacks beat Canada 79 – 15. But the long term outlook for both offers significant challenges.
I’m neither a financial nor rugby analyst, but I reckon the Wallabies (if they beat the Springboks) could be as tough on the depleted ABs as the Aussie banks will be on indebted Kiwis. Another headline last week about the NZ Rugby Union claiming they may not be able to afford the send the ABs to World Cup 2015 brings up an equally interesting question: will England be able to host it? Current austerity measures in the UK are accompanied by civil unrest, and the 2012 Olympics are likely to run at a massive economic loss. How jolly will Ol’ England be after that?
Interestingly, there only seems to be one growth industry creating jobs. This headline from the USA.
Debt is dangerous. Personal debt is dangerous. Household debt is dangerous. Municipal debt is dangerous. National debt is dangerous. I don’t know how else to put it. This next headline is an example of what debt can lead to. I need not go into inflated housing prices, sketchy mortgage agreements, and people with eyes bigger than their wallets. But debt never forgets, and even people who walked away from their mortgages are being tracked down by debt collectors (see above) and the courts.
While I have no overt love of suburbs, I sold my 38 acre farm – among the most sustainable properties in North America – and now live in a suburb with plenty of poverty. We made this choice to demonstrate that living green and living on the smell of an oily rag are highly compatible. Our power bill is pennies per day, our transportation tab is similar, and our grocery bill is falling monthly as we convert a weed-infested lawn into vegetable gardens, food forests and poultry pastures. We have been fortunate that decades of fiscal conservatism has allowed us to do this without going into debt. But we also realize that this is extremely rare for individuals living in OECD nations. Considering that, the best, most sustainable, most genuine effort any government could make to help the PEOPLE live more sustainably ecologically and economically is to offer zero interest loans for energy efficiency measures in the home.
Insulation, solar hot water, Energy Star appliances, etc. pay a far better return on investment than any term deposit or certificate of deposit in any bank. Congratulations to the state of Massachusetts, USA for offering zero interest energy loans. It is time governments around the world followed suit and served the PEOPLE and instead of the BANKS.
Until then, live within your means, save your pennies, avoid debt and pay cash.