Archive for March, 2009

Woodburning Stoves for Heating & Hot Water in Smokeless zones (update)

A quick update to my post yesterday on Woodburning Stoves for Heating & Hot Water in Smokeless zones. I’ve just had it confirmed by Rayburn/Aga that they do no wood-fired boiler models which are suitable for smokeless zones. So that means that I should update my Bin your Aga – buy a Rayburn post to “Bin your Aga and Rayburn – A Dunsley Yorkshire’s the only one for me”, and it means I can kiss my prospects of a Rayburn Solar Thermal System goodbye too. 

Maybe it’s time to move to the country 🙂 or look for alternatives to a wood-fired stove for my back-up water heating.

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Woodburning Stoves for Heating & Hot Water in Smokeless zones

dunsley-yorkshireWe’re slowly narrowing the field in our wood-fired heating search. Following up on my previous posts on Woodburning Stoves for Heating & Hot Water and Using a Wood-Burning Stove in a Smoke-Control Area, I’ve found an interesting thing:

The Dunsley Yorkshire is the only stove with a back boiler that can be legally used in a smokeless zone

They cost £1922.30 for the wood-only version or £2218.40 for the multi-fuel.

So, if we’re looking at a wood-fired top-up to our solar hot-water that the sort of outlay we’re looking at.

The other consideration is overheating the house – if we succeed in super-insulating the house then having 4.5kw coming out of the Yorkshire into the room might cook us all! I’ll have to do the calculations, and look at how SIP and PassivHaus houses heat their hot water.

Insulating effect of curtains

We’re looking at windows at the moment, and trying to work out what will fit into our budget while giving us the best possible insulation effect (U-Value). The PassivHaus standards state that our windows should have a U value of <= 0.8 W/m2K, so we’re going to try and get as close to that as possible.

It has been suggested that, rather than going for PassivHaus certified triple-glazed units we should go for double glazing and put up some insulated curtains. I’m not sure that would work for every window we have, but it could deliver real cost  savings if it can deliver a decent U-Value.

Not surprisingly, very few people are prepared to put a U-Value on curtains! But I found this great table over at Action 21. It compares the different U-Values for windows alone, and then the total U-Value if using heavy curtains or insulated  shutters.

Window U-value [W/m2K]
Window only
(daytime / nighttime)
with heavy curtains
(nighttime)
with insulated shutters (nighttime)
Single glazed 4.5 3.3-3.6 2.6-3.1
Double glazed, 12mm cavity 2.8 1.9-2.3 1.3-1.7
Double glazed, 16mm cavity, low-E 2.0 1.2-1.6 0.7-1.1
Triple glazed 2.5 1.7-2.1 1.0-1.4
Triple glazed, 2 low-E, Argon filled 1.7 0.8-1.3 0.4-0.8

So it looks like we could get down to 1.2-1.6  with curtains – it’s not 0.8, but it’s pretty close, and according to this table is lower than standard triple glazing.

So this is well worth consideration – but what type of curtains would we need to get those results? Here’s what the Yellow House have to say:

Ecodesign books sometimes talk of “insulating curtains”. These would have to be home-made curtains of insulation sewn between fabric. In order to avoid downdraughts from the window they must fit snugly into a pelmet at the top and a tuckslot at the bottom. In theory an insulating curtain with 60mm mineral wool reduces the u-value of a double glazed window by 75% to 0.6. However they very hard to clean, and there are potential health issues with sharing a living space with mineral wool. A better option might be to convert old duvets into curtains, or make insulation shutters from timber and insulation sheeting. Our feeling is that all these options represent a major intrusion into the living space and are not appropriate for a normal house – though they would be justified in a solar house where there are very large areas of glazing.

Duvets at Sainsbury’s are now incredibly cheap – so maybe that’s what we’ll go for – I’ll chase up prices against triple-glazing.

Resources

Water-efficient shower head

ecocamelJust seen the EcoCamel aerating showerhead – their test results claim a more pleasant shower with almost 50% of the water consumption of a standard shower. At the moment they are £40 for two – not the cheapest option, but a major saving if they work as forecast. Not only do you save water, but also they save the energy required to heat that water – assuming you’re not a devotee of cold showers! Potentially it could also mean that you ned to install less Solar Hot Water panels, which would be a significant saving!

Creating a home greywater system

Just a quick pointer to a video from Peak Moment that I’ve posted over at le Jardin Potager looking at building a greywater system to reuse our waste water for watering the garden. This is a nice system, not too energy intensive and very food-focussed. To view the post go here: Creating a home greywater system.

A Cast-Iron Garden Hand-Pump

handpumpAnother nice resilient piece of equipment. Assuming you’ve got some local water storage – hopefully big rainwater tanks – you need to be able to get to the water in case of long power shortages, where mains water is likely to be unavailable and power cannot be spared for electric water pumps.

Here’s what you need, a nice traditional Cast-iron hand pump. It’s only £35 and should last a lifetime. If you’re not planning on getting little kids to do all the pumping for you there is a matching stand available for another £35 which brings it up to a reasonable height.

Another one to add to the shopping list!

Homebuilding & Renovating Show

logohbr1Now that we’re on-the-ground, having finally made the move back from Australia, I’ll try and write more about what we’re up to, rather than continually thinking about the future. We’ve been around and about looking for our ideal house and it seems that with our constrained budget we’ll be looking for a wreck that needs demolishing a thorough renovation and an extension. With that in mind, we’re off to the National Homebuilding and Renovating Show in Birmingham this weekend.

There seems to be everything we’re after – in particular I’m interested in the The Eco Homes Show section, and there are a bunch of great seminars. I’ll blog what we find out next week – hopefully there’ll be alot of great info and advice. It’ll be interesting to see how wedded to business-as-usual the show is . . .

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