Wednesday, 14 December 2011

When icicles hang by the wall

In our previous house you knew only too well when it was frosty outside. This morning I blithely stepped out and was taken by surprise by the frozen pavements because this house really does seem to maintain its temperature pretty well. The weather the rehau doesn't like is wind and we're noticing that even if the internal temperature drops by 1 degree and forces the top-up heating to come on we are tending to use three times the amount of electricity we use on days when it doesn't start up. Hopefully that will sort itself out once the fabric of the house is warmed up(?).

In the meantime here's more proof that the insulation works with a picture of our roof, the only place the ice is melting is where the air is expelled from the vents on the 'chimney':

And the reason why we need a chimney should be obvious at this time of year....  though I hope the reindeer are sure-footed enough to cope with the roof angles.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Sun = good

This morning the sun is shining which is GOOD. It's not just good because it cheers the world up but because on a sunny day, even in December, we generate nearly as much electricity as we use. Yesterday it tipped down with rain throughout the daylight hours and we didn't generate any electricity (well, none that we could record) and used loads. At the moment we seem to be using vast amounts and we're assuming it's the heating system warming the fabric of the house (thermal mass of concrete was mentioned but my ears glazed over at that point). I hope that's what it is because living in an eco house and using more electricity than you did before doesn't make sense, although it's in keeping with the politican's joke about the UK having the greenest government ever (just google the phrase).

Looking back from the porch here's a picture of what I was doing over the weekend:


I have been planting a winter garden at the front of the house with the advice of a very nice man from Ashwoods, our local nursery and a lot of inspiration from the wonderful National Trust garden at Anglesey Abbey (although minus the Rubus cockburnianus which takes the word invasive to a whole new level!). Readers who know me will understand just how blissful it was to be taking plants out of pots (where they've sat for 4 years) and planting them during a blizzard whilst listening to John Rutter on the mp3 player.

Out in the back garden I've started planting up too but I will finish that over Christmas or when the trees have been planted (we're getting a load to replace the trees that had to be cleared for the build). I just wanted to post this picture which shows the rehau tower in all its glory. I think you'll agree it's something I've got to work with rather than ignore!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Blimey, it works!

You have to zoom in on the picture to get the full effect of it but this is one of the windows on the top floor when we opened the blind this morning. One of the bedrooms has got a duff blind at the moment and some heat still escaped through the triple glazing and the glass was clear. The blind on this window was down so no heat escaped and this is the pattern of frost outside to prove it.

And you know the best bit? We haven't had any heating on in the house for the past three days apart from a bit of additional heat in the sitting room because all the insulation has kept the temperature steady at 19°.

I know I shouldn't really be surprised this bit works ..... but I am!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Flushed with success

The problem with being an eco-pioneer (she wrote with tongue firmly in cheek) is that sometimes you are more like a guinea pig testing out the system for those who follow and 7am this morning was a case in point.

Back in August when this gizmo was installed, I pondered what would happen if the rainwater harvester ran out of water. When it first arrived I had been told that the system automatically switched over to mains water when water levels started to go down but this morning that most definitely did not happen. We woke up to find that none of the loos filled after they were flushed and once we'd wrenched off the panels covering the service duct you could see the lights on the right of the control unit were flashing on and off whilst the 'tank low' light was showing orange.

Fortunately for us, even though it was a Saturday, our wonderful erstwhile site manager was on site by 8.30 and he took the manhole cover off the harvester and refilled it from a hose pipe. As it filled the gague started to move from 30% to 100% full and we were able to flush the loos again, but the lights on the right kept flashing alarmingly. Everyone stood around wondering why it was doing that as the system now seemed to be working and then inspiration struck. Just above the unit is a control switch so I said why didn't we just switch it off and switch it on again....

..... and that, dear readers, is how we rebooted the system. All those years in systems support coming in handy at last!

Mind you, I'm still expecting the experts in on Monday to check the system's working properly.