Winter and Spring 2013

More grovelling apologies.  I’ve been sitting on this for months without publishing it and now (round about Christmas 2013) have finally got round to doing something about it.

Well, quite a winter (meaning early 2013)!  This was a severe test of the performance of the house, with long periods with the temperature close to, and often below, 0°C by night and often day.

The house has done well.  A first experience of living in this sort of house makes a few notes worthwhile – how has it performed?

The original calculations suggested that the house would need 48 kWh a day to keep warm. Using the log burner – the Woodfire F12, which puts 10 of its 12 kW into water, we found that burning it for 4 hours an evening during the really cold patch – well below freezing at night and not over 2°C during the day (and a keen east wind – you (if local to Essex) will remember!) provided all the hot water we needed and kept the house warm (~20°C) for the next 24 hours.  And used much less wood than I’d expected.  So we’re well pleased. And half that when the weather was milder. We didn’t need to burn the stove at all for the second half of April – first half of May.  Then there was very grey patch and we had to light the stove briefly to be sure of enough hot water for showers – the house itself was kept warm from lower temperature heat and the solar gain through the windows. The May BH weekend was very sunny.  The temperatures in the thermal store read 72, 72 and 60°C (top, middle and bottom) and it’s a good thing that the water to the hot taps is mixed down to a lower temperature.

The thermal mass also seems to be doing its job.  Again over the Bank Holiday, the main bedroom got up to 23.5°C during the day but only lost a degree over night.  Visitors to see the house – who often take their shoes off – comment that the floors do not feel cold.  As mentioned elsewhere in this site, we do have underfloor heating but have not yet used it.  So the floor slab has picked up the temperature of the house and holds it.

Interesting effect: those of  a certain age – including me – may remember the pretty patterns on the inside of windows, formed by the condensation freezing in very cold weather.  We have had similar pretty patterns on the outside of the outer layer of the triple glazing this winter.  The insulation provided by the windows is that good!

The decking has been laid at the front – well, it’s actually the back, being the other side of the house from the front door – but is on the south side.  And the ground work has been done at the front and sides of the house.  And sheds for tools etc.  Curious, we still seem to be very busy when somehow we expected to be able to relax a bit by now.

Better publish this and get on with the next installment

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