YOUR HOME - A look into how it should/could; might have to be!
RE-visted the property again mid 2014 and the house looks just as good as ever.
Before we start I think this needs to be said (I edited this in, in 04/2010), what we have designed here is a very affordable home not only for first homeowners but anyone that is on the market for a new home. To give a comparison we built this home in 2001 as we did not get it totally finished we need to do some estimation for the comparison. At the stage it is at it cost $40,000AUD we estimate for tilling and painting plus the kitchen could be done for app' $10,000AUD, so all up this modest 3 bedroomed size home would have been around the $50,000AUD, at the time people where buying 6 meter X 12 meter, 2 & 3 bedroom houses with scillion roof patio, built in wood on stumps for $63,000AUD, that was a lot of money for a small house, that has all the issues of wood which includes no thermal capacity. Back then Mcmansion type homes where costing in the vincinity of $140,00AUD (prices above do not include land).
What we find hard to understand is that in 2010 people are still complaining about the cost of new home and land deals not much under $340,000AUD land/house package on 400 square meter block of dirt. Those homes cost around $140,000+AUD for what is a somewhat modest 4 bedroom Mcmansion, no natural comfort and needing lots of bandaide extras including air-con' and heating, lights on all the time (Seen the latest trend! A communication industry person said that they can all but walk the whole length of some streets over the rooves of the houses they are that close together, what are buyers thinking of I can see issues in painting facias and gutters in the future, there is no room for a person to get between house and fence to do any maintenance, how does the termite man treat that area?. why do they bother putting in windows and how do they get cleaned? might as well cut costs and have a brick wall like a prison, or maybe hang a facade on the wall inside or paint one seen that done to look like a window with curtains or blinds.) Yet what we have built is so much more affordable, livable and comfortable, think about it.
This presentation will take your thinking outside the square, and test your comfort zone envelope, so progressive and forward thinking along lateral lines and being somewhat analytical is needed by the reader.
Have you heard of these terms?:
1.. Eco' friendly?
2.. Enviro' friendly?
4.. Concept design?
5.. Passive cooling/heating
6.. Naturally termite resistant so no preventative treatments needed
7.. High fire resistance (there seems to be a trend in our neck of the woods mid 2010 these newer homes with all their pine timbers when involved in fire it is total damage, not like the older houses way back when hardwood was the timber of choice)
I myself don't truely aspire to tagging things, to me that creates a 'let out' situation so that if lateral outside the box thinking is to be discussed then those who want to denegrate without first looking at, can pigeon hole any otherwise sound ideas that comes along to test individual & community comfort zones.
Our current thought patterns on home design is a trend that has been indoctrinated into our culture from before Australia was settled and those concepts were carried on by early settlers through all sorts of otherwise not very climate & environment efficient homes, and I will add here not very financialy affordable either. these trends continue as new macmansion style trends are superimposed over and including those inefficient styles/designs.
Over the decades it has been said that the European style concept we keep poorly adapting to make fit this unique climate here in australia is "not very efficient at doing what it is supposed to do" that is keep us comfortable winter and summer and without the need to add the running costs by using exteranl heating/cooling devices. The modern home is a high end resource user, devouring vast amounts of trees, power and water as they evolve.
The issues that are with us in this millenia are water or should i say the shortage of it? and power especially that derived from fossil fuels, the later is going to be addressed by our administrators by building clean fueled power stations that is likley to be 'Nuclear', the water issue is being addressed by cohersing the public into accept the cosumption of treated effluent water for drinking and home purposes (these are not local issues these issues will affect all of us).
So an efficient home should also incorporate the use of viable rain water tanks (by viable i mean tanks of no less volume than 14,500 litres (3,200 imp/gallon app')sizes. By my reckoning the average home with 2 adults and 2 children will need two 24,500 litre (5,400 imp/gallon)tanks to serve their needs, if they are managing their water use as will be needed. This home will lend it self extremely well to all renewable energy that is wind solar dual system with all 12 volt lighting and fridges etc.,. One light bulb illuminates the whole house.
NOT: POSITION - POSITION - POSITION ****
**** ASPECT - ASPECT - ASPECT
WHAT SHOULD A WELL DESIGNED HOME DO?
1.. To keep warm:
It must allow the sun in, in the winter time, and have thermal mass to allow for the absorbtion of that heat to keep the home warm through the night. To do this it needs to be oriented on the right aspect land to take advantage of the track of the winter solstice sun. And the use of darker ceramic tiles on the floor and ceramic tiles on the walls where the sun strikes those positions.
2.. To keep cool:
Depending on zone ie.,. sub-tropical, tropical to warm temporate, the home will need high ceilings. The ceilings on our home where 3 meters high at the back wall and 4 meters high at the front wall continuing out to 4.5 meters (an example from the deep tropics was such a home had 6 meters high at the front wall) at the very front over the patio. High rake ceilings allow the hot air to rise to a spot where it can be removed. With what we now know instead of trubine spinners on the roof we could have ahd a row or louvres along the top of the front wall, this then maintains the integrity of the roof, and a row of hoppers under that will just put the icing on the cake.
Scillion rooves are ideal as they are cheaper in construction and there is no roof cavity like in gable homes. This roof cavity is the fator that makes the run of the mill designs uncomfortable, as it needs to be dealt with by insulating it from the inside and then ventelating, all of which does little for the interior for the dollars spent trying to smoke screen this part of the design.
The placement of windows and construction of roof along with the orientation of the house should then keep the heat of the summer solstice sun out of the home. Generally there are no windows on the eastern end of the house and never any on the western end of the house, with hopper type windows along the back southern wall an option.
The placement of partition walls in the home needs special consideration so that dead areas of air and hot/cold spots aren't created as is the case in most if not all modern mansion style homes.
My thoughts are that "we as a race of people are very intelligent, just the way it appears is we aren't very smart"
Why do i say that?
1.. We persist in living in homes that are known to be inefficient for our climate. We persist in living in climatic zones that require the use of excessive amounts of resource in the pursuit of comfort ie.,. electricity, gas and solid fuels for heating!!??. Those living in regions of climatic extremes eg.,. cold, cold winters and weeks of extreme heat wave temperatures in the summer. these communitites consume lots of resource in the pursuit of comfort, and then persist in living in homes that need all that resource to be comfortable??!!, eg.,. people living in those temperate to cold zones are using all the normal gas, electricity to run their homes all year plus in their longer winters they use fuel oil to keep warm plus they are using up to 4 tonne of wood (any combustable fuels used in the home cause pollution in the atmosphere) to keep warm app' 8 months of the year, doesn't make sense does it?
2.. And we still build homes using wood when we all live in areas that are fested by termites, the home we built is termite resistant we needed no chemical or other barriers for termite control, why aren't after 2 centuries all homes built with this criteria??? There are no guaranteed termite proof barriers, so why are home owners paying huge costs for something that is in-efficient at best and a total waste at worst, with ongoing expensive follow up treatments required?? again doesn't make sense does it??
3.. And just to bring the whole planet into the picture, there are communities living in climate zones that have extreme winters for 9 to 10 months of the year and summer where it is hot in the daytime and cold requiring heating through the night or on inclemant days. They can use 20 imp' ton of wood per year (in this case i believe it has to be transported by road and ferry to be delivered onsite) along with gas/oil/electricity. One situation i was told of by the person doing it was - they have 7 fireplaces/wood burning stoves going 24/7 for their long 10 month winter, and still have 3 wood burning stoves/fire places burning 24/7 through their short summer. We humans aren't very smart are we??
Just as a FootNote, fire wood needs effort to be created, trees need to be cut down, then into divots cut which then need to be split, then stacked and transported and stacked again!! Trees also means loss of habitat/bio-divrsity in all it takes away and detracts from nature and our responsibility to conserve and sustain. Fuel oil along with coke and coal needs to be transported and stored onsite!!
Keep in mind not only is water a very obvious limited resource for a lot of us, but power also is not a finite resource and should be used wisely, or get used to the idea of having a clean fueled power station maybe in your neighbourhood?
Now to the Home we designed, from observing other architectural ideas and other common though doubtfull warm-home/cool-home designs (these designs have been adapted to appear to be w-h/c-h principaled but they still coform to the indoctrinated appearance), with an abundance of common sense. Basically the way we see it the design style is what is needed, but the claddings and roof pitch can be altered to suite between tropical and cold temperate climate zones.
So how well your new home is going to work if work at all depends entirely on how well you do in buying a suitable block of land.1.. The home needs to face True North (app' 11 degrees west of Magnetic North, for Northern hemisphere reverse this to facing south).
Good thermal material is as follows:
Stone*, Adobe brick*, Compacted Earth* (with reservations concerning habitat destruction)
Ceramic and clay tiles.
We don't aspire to using fad cladding materials for walls ie.,. "Straw-bale", first up the straw comes from broadacre grain farms that have been created from massive habitat destruction, and as the land degrades beyond commercial value the promponenets clear even more habitat, and along the way they get guaranteed irrigation rites for which they use massive amounts.
So in short "Straw-bale" is not sustainable, and the poor excuse that those who want to promote its use say "We are making use of a resource" does nothing to alter that factor.
It takes massive energy to cut and bale the stuff, then to transport from farm to point of initial sale, and most times then to point of final sale, it from what i have read needs to be especially compacted a process not available from the normal cut & bale process.
Those who want to justify using it find all the positive quotes (containing none of the above concerns) and use them in a biblical way, we find if funny that no one wants to talk about any down sides, and all building materials have down sides.
The favourite sales pitch is that termites won't eat straw, we are no experts on termites but maybe the wood eating termits won't eat straw, but there are plenty of termites out there that gather their needs by eating staws of grass, is there that much difference?
The final 'Furphy' as we see it is that there is no grain or leaf left in the harvest of straw to interest rodents or termites, sorry to say we don't believe that modern harvesting can glean 100% of all grain and leaf from the straw before baling, and our experience in using straw in our gardens proves that. We always got lots of sproutings from straw much more than we ever get from hay, that is why we needed to let the chooks clean and value add.
It matters not what you use as wall cladding it is the design of the home that will work or not work. I saw one example of a home (pointed to by someone using our similar idea of home construction as being the ideal straw bale home) that was a cathederal ceiling construction with a huge 4 or 5 or 6 blade 5 foot ceiling fan in place in what is not that large an area, and a cathederal ceiling should be self ventilating. Our design home never needed that!
Northern aspect land is required with the suggestion that the further south into colder areas you go then the higher up on a northern aspect the home may have to be! If we chose to live in those colder southern climes, our consideration would be of building into a steep hillside, so the only part of the home visible would be the patio overhang and all the windows, take the Copper Pedi (gem fields) trend because of the heat they all live underground, the same works for living in the cold, the temperature underground is usually at a static temperature range. And an added bonus then down south would mean you home is all but bushfire proof.
By northern aspect the intent is that the high land of the block will be south and the block will slope away to the lower section to the north.
Orientation of the house is that the front of the home will face idealy true north (as far as I am aware is app' 11 degrees west of magnetic north), so in the summer the suns track is pretty much over the center of the home from east to west, this minimises the effects of the summer afternoon solstice sun on the rear wall of the home. Therefore in the winter the suns track is along the front of the home.
The scillion roof is the most efficient, effective and economical design, as it takes less materials than does a gable truss, and does not create the roof cavity space that accounts for a lot of need for insulation and ventilation, which has minimal positive effect on the interior of the home, on some badly aspected homes it will have none at all.
Now that the prospects of Efficient Home design are on the table, it is time to fit Renewable Energy into the natural efficiencies of the design, so from here I won't be putting much in but my observations, obtained from reading what those who venture into the abyss of renewable energy are saying, where possible i will get them to detail their experiences so readers might be better informed, and feel less like carrion when confronting those in the industry.
Keep in mind if you go solar or wind or both and you don't have Mains power as a back-up then a generator is imperative, and it won't be any run of the mill stand by unit it will need to do a job ie.,. charge up the batteries (never makes sense), or run the home & trickle charge some into the batteries (makes more sense), so at present the guess would be a Diesel powered unit of around 3kva minimum.
Also what to me makes more sense is a solar/wind combination, as was shown recently we had 1 week of inclemmant weather at the end of winter so the need for power was still in winter mode, now over that week anyone on full solar with battery storage (oh!! did I say, the only way to go it is fantasy stuff this feeding back to the grid), would have been using the generator for some of that time.
Other things to consider:
1.. Convrting fridges and washing machines to dc power.
2.. Buying top of the range efficient fridges/freezers.
3.. Not using any for of automatic washing machine, twin tub models are far more efficient to use.
4.. Having all household electrical units so they are not on standby ie.,. must be turned off at the wall when not in use.
When Retro Fitting! why not solar/wind power your existing hot water system? Some benefits could be a modulated system means individual components can be replaced when worn or updated when out of date a whole lot easier, the main factor would be it is a whole lot cheaper to buy a large hotwater system than it is to buy a new solar unit. And a stand alone system will only use mains power when you switch it on.
You need to become a power miser, and I think this will become evidient as you read these personnal stories.
When comparing home styles always compare oranges with oranges, this style with what is on offer in the climate zones mentioned, also this home is of a design that should not cause a lot of buyer resistance at the time you have to sell, and for most that is about oh I dunno every 10 years?
Have seen Cob houses compared with this one when there is no comparrison realy, this is a regular style home of 3 bedroom standard with a lounge room, a dinning room and kichen as well as bathroom/laundry and of a certain square meter size (how many square meteres of house do ou get for your dollar? For those who see some romantic beauty in Cob houses and living like Celtic Hobbits then hey go for it! But think long term, can see lots of buyer resistance of a style that spread itself around the property and doesn't take aspect or orientation into account.
One example I saw the bedroom is a raised wooden floor near the ceiling older people with issues don't climb up off of floors. Anyhow to each his own.
Here is what might be a classic example of what happens when the regulator offers a rebate for something that is supposed to help the environment by trying to make the community more conservative on the use of resources.
eg.,. The absolute minimum amount of solar was installed, and with lots of quoting "hype" the "feelings" of "goodness" come flowing through, in an instance I read a person thinks that any extra power they "MAY" generate and push back into the grid goes into like a power pool, and can be drawn on later, don't laugh this is quiet a common industry driven conception (not sure it can be called a mis-conception as it is industry drive?).
The other big sales plug is not to buy batteries and store your own generated power (about the only way that will be able to be shown that you are making some sort of difference), no they pull in the "batteries are worse to recycle" bit, so that it steers consumers away from asking the hard questions, as if they had to quote for batteries the real cost of solar power would lose them sales, remember none of the components lasts forever, they all have built in obsolescency, and they all end up in landfill where batteries at least have multiple lives after reconditioning/recycling (don't need to buy new batteries anyway there are other alternatives), that is why again the industry derived the ploy to sell solar on the premise that you can store your power in the grid.
Here are some qrds taken from online:
"We did heaps of research (DH has been into solar since way back when) and we've gone for grid connect - one because the cost of the batteries would have meant no solar for a long time, two because batteries have a very finite life and have to be disposed of and replaced in time, three because we liked the grid connect idea. For us it doesn't matter whether we are using the power or it's going into a 'pool', just that it's being generated, which it is. Also, we like the idea of 'the grid' slowly becoming more of a storage and redirection facility for power being generated small-scale". The reader can make up their own mind, of course the industry research backs up what it uses as its sales ploy, what would one expect??
ON HOT WATER using SOLAR
There is a big Government supported push to make it compulsory for all homes to be fitted with Solar Water Heating units, just watch the prices icrease and increase as this regulation bites!! Plumbers now have a pie in sky option to be eco' or environmently friendyl certified (bet that doesn't make their hourly rate any cheaper). Just because someone install so called Enviro' frindly appliances does not make them any more Enviro' friendly than anyone else in the industry. to support this compulsory move there is a rebate being offered of around $500 to $1000, to offset costs for the consumer, but as in the case of the water tank rebate (tansk produced and installed by city dealers cost up to $900 app' more than the same tank made and delivered by a rural tank maker who does not have a rebate scheme in their area) the price of product and installation services seems to be increasing to absorb as much of the rebate as possible, so in the end the rebate does not realy benefit the consumer as much as it does the industry.
So to Hot Water Systems, PV Solar water heaters come in around $3000 to $7000 (that is an expensive hot water system when you consider a 250 litre electric unit costs around $800), those 2 solar panels and fitting (if fitting is included) must be gold plated and lined with diamonds?), with various rebates of up to $2000. When the tank malfunctions the whole kit and kaboodle has to be replaced as they are integrated systems, and they won't last any longer than electric units will.
Now to the latest Technology in water heating, this one you can retro fit it to your exisitng tank (that part sounds good as when comes time to replece the tank it will be a whole lot cheaper than the PV Solar units) I have heard there is up to $1000 rebate involved but that will reflect in the price of the product.
They are called Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water Systems, they come in combinations of 10, 22 & 30 tubes, the 22 & 30 set ups will be the ones sold the most, the thing that gets me is that like some things that are cheaper by the dozen these seem to have the same price structure ie.,. 22 tubes will cost around $113.64 per tube (can only wonder why), the 30 tube set up comes in at around $100 per tube good one hey? So now that you have calculated the app cost of each setup, add this one in installation adds another whopping app $1200 (less any rebate the consumer may get of course), now by my calculations a good plumber probably charges? Lets say $60 per hour that means it is going to take 20 hours to install a bank of tubes on your roof run a couple of pipes and get a sparky in for 5 minutes work. Now if they had to compete in a fair market place with no rebates and no Governement intervention i wonder what it would all cost then?
Oh forgot to say if you buy a hot water tank as well that is going to cost more plus installation fees as well one would assume? It has been said before "Let the BUYER Beware" and before you make any decisions work out 'WHO BENEFITS' the most, reckon it won't be the consumer.
Some in the industry are saying it is better to wait for the new Sliver Technology collectors to come out! they say "They should be less expensive" my bet they won't be as less expensive as they could be. For the excercise I rang a company (one companies switch board was over prescribed at the time, must be a lot falling for this)their final sales pitch before I hung up the phone was "do you realise your current hot water system is costing you around $500 per annum, and that ongoing costs of $80 per annum on the solar unit it will pay for itself in 'X' amount of years". Well got news our hot water power usage is less than $100 per annum from a total bill of around $800 so poor home design is sucking up more power than the much maligned hot water unit, and there was no mention of obscolescency!!?? You will find that is one topic the industry will never mention.
FOLLOWING IS WHAT THIS PERSON IS USING:
This (there was an acompanying picture but everyone knows what PV cells look like) is 7 of the 9 panels in the system, three 75 watt Photowatt panels, one 125 watt BP panel, and two Siemens 75 watt panels and one BP 75 watt panel. Two additional 75 watt Siemens panels are up there, but you can't se them in this photo. This system runs our house, washing machine, computers, satellite internet, coffee grinder and all the lights and fans in the house and kitchen. The rack is designed to expand the size of the system, up to about 1000 watts. Right now we have 725 watts of power.
As far as I am aware the persons system above does not power fridges.
Another comparative system:
A 2 KW (12 x 167 watt panel) system installed was installed with a Gov' rebate. They use an average of 10 KW day, so their system will cover their use (??!!). They have instant gas hotwater, heating and cooker. It is a $23000 system, with $8000 back. They said 1KW system would have been about $5700 out of pocket (6 x 167 watt panels). They paid an extra $100 per panel in those quotes for a bracket per panel, as they have a flat roof. This project also incorporates a 500W wind turbine which we shall connect to batteries (no costing was offered). They are considering running 12 volt for lighting - a separate system, and estimate it will pay for itself in 10 to 15 years(???).SOLAR AND WIND POWER PRICE LISTS THAT MAY HELP:
YUEQING ZONHAN WINDPOWER CO.,LTD.
SOLAR EXPERIENCE INFORMATION LINKS:
Solar power project
Solar power project
Solar power project
Following is link to a set up for renewable energy and thinking outside the square of indoctrination or where another controlling power, wants users to be going:
Hardworkinghippy and Fabrice and their off grid system.
and another couple of associated links that may be of help/interest:
Wind Power Products
Wind Turbines for Home Power
Cable Sizing - DC Systems
What is a solar charge controller?
Following is what to me is a CLASSIC case of not thinking outside the square, and NOT testing the comfort zone envelope.
This post appeared on a Web forum, the only editing is to protect the identity of the poster and keep secluded the area they live in:
"New developments are managed by the State Goverment administering Industry promoted ideals/standards.
We must have minimum:
- R 1.5 for external walls
- R 3.0 for ceiling
- R 0.6 for Slab edge
- 24.5 degrees for roof pitch for better insulation
Rainwater tank is mandatory and must connected to toilet flushing systems, washing machine and continous irrigation system. So no problem with flushing toilet.
Minimum EER is 4 stars and the home built is 5 stars. As we had double glazing windows added and extra insulation. And it was assessed by Energy Rating scheme and this is mandatory too to all newly built house. So I failed to see how we can get 5 stars rating if our house design isn't compliance with energy efficient requirements. Also the real fact can bee seen in our bills too. We saved so much compared to previous apartment where we live. We paid a lot less than before and this house is so much bigger."
The above post was a reply to explain the the use of some 50 litres of fresh water per hour (one lady reported her latest model unit set to run "efficiently" used 30 litres per hour for cooling purposes and 20 litres and hour for flushing a total of 50 litres) that is needed for Evaporative Air-coolers, and to also explain the use of that same fresh water to flush Urine down the toilet.
Nothing in the above is anymore than industry standard, standards derived so the regulator can control the lowest common denominator, there is no common sense in it, as common sense is hard to put into "hard-copy".
Even if one has a large enough tank to make a difference the water still needs to be managed to keep to an absolute minimum the need for town water.
And at the end of the day "band-aides" like double glazing and extra insulation are exactly that "band-aides" which will work in varying degrees from not at all to only in the imagination of the home owner,who is likley to say anything to defend their choice of something, that is human nature.
For home-owners of the future regulations as the coding mentioned above will carry a sting in it's tail and is very likley going to sting when you go to sell a home built before these "pie-in-the-sky" standards ever came along. I will say it again nothing will ever circumvent good home design, and there is almost none of that around at present.
Continue to the Eco' Home Pictures below in the site index below for pictures and explanations, this style home is very affordable for the new home buyer well for any home buyer, and is very suited to the use of renewables:
|Eco' Home Pictures|
|THE INSIDE STORY|
|Garden Pages Disclaimer|
|Crisis - What Water Crisis?||On Line Opinion: When I tell you that in Brisbane there is no water crisis, and not even a drought, you could be forgiven for checking my medication. But those who didn't come down in the last shower may recognise the debate being shaped, not so much by a conspiracy but, rather, a loose coalition of the well meaning, with opportunists, excuse makers and outright departmental shonks.|
|Termites:||How to Reduce Your Home's Risk of Infestation.|
|Chilipepper||Electric Water Heaters: Anode - The sacrificial anode is a metal rod usually magnesium or aluminum which helps prevent corrosion of the electric water heaters tank.|
|University of Kentucky||PROTECTING YOUR HOME AGAINST TERMITES: Homeowners can reduce the risk of termite attack by following these suggestions.|
|Ohio State University||Termites: How to Reduce Your Home's Risk of Infestation: Termites are the most economically important wood-destroying organism:|
|Recycled Water||Recycled Water Development in Horticulture: Reclamation and reuse of a variety of treated wastewaters on food crops has been practiced the world for more than 50 years.|
|Here I promoted a water tank made in Bundaberg, in my home state, all I can Itterate now is "Buyer Beware", they where a good company whilst everything went well and you simply ordered a tank when you needed one, too easy. But when things go slightly awry then their attitude toward you changes, so no longer will i recommend their products.|
|Rain Harvesting Diverters||Rain Harvesting: Chemical free sustainable water - Provided certain precautions are taken, research supports rainwater as a safe, sustainable source of water that can meet all of a household's requirements.|
|Turbine Roof Ventilators||Edmonds Technologies: Introducing the Hurricane™ Turbine Ventilator - Widely recognised as the most efficient ventilator available in the world today.|
|Build it Solar - Passive Cooling||Build it Solar: Plans, tools, and information to help you build solar projects that save money and reduce pollution.|
|Faster Hot Water||Chili Pepper Appliances: Faster Hot Water From Tankless and Storage Water Heaters! Get your hot water Faster and save water too!|
|Water for the World||Live Journal: Air2Water products are best described as atmospheric water generators. Air2Water water generating machines use technology.|
|Home Filtration Data||Environmental Expert: Home - Technology & Equipment - Water & Wastewater - Water & Wastewater Treatment - Physical & Mechanical Treatment - Filtration.|
A Property Buyers - Must Read
The Real Estate Information Centre
If you are about to venture out to buy any real property my suggestion is to read the above BLOG/Information Centre and learn some of the pit falls of dealing with the Real Estate Industry