Archive for the ‘Energy conservation’ Category

Subterranean heating & cooling system

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

The previous post on the geodesic dome greenhouse outlined the logic in choosing a dome for this site and how it was by far the better option for fitting in all the things I wanted to have in this greenhouse. These include an aquaponics system and a bathroom as well as growing space for tropical and frost-tender fruits and vegetables, seed growing areas, a rocket-stove water heater and a worm farm – a fair bit to cram into an area measuring just 7x5m at the outset.

Geodesic dome greenhouse frame

I also wanted to build in a subterranean heating & cooling system (SHCS) to make even better use of all the thermal mass present in the solid bedrock floor and back wall. This is a proven low-tech solution for maintaining comfortable temperatures and humidity levels in the greenhouse year round. It can minimise or even eliminate the need for supplementary heating or cooling.



Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

I had been thinking for some time on how to tackle the issue of refrigeration on the quinta. An early experiment hadn’t been encouraging. It’s all very well using a zeer pot for a few items (I have one in the yurt made from 2 large plant pots), but when there’s volunteers or guests staying, it’s a lot less practical. I found myself torn between the desire the keep it low tech and cool things naturally, and having the convenience of somewhere I could easily store more sensitive foods like meat and even indulge in the occasional ice cream. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I have two cats and a dog who do. With the price of pet food rising while the quality plummets, I’d also been thinking about making my own animal food. This would be a lot more tricky without a fridge.

Zeer pot used for refrigeration in the yurt


Fridge, part 1

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

SPOILER … This experiment didn’t work! See the Comments section.

With summer temperatures looming, so have thoughts about refrigeration. We don’t have any sort of fridge. For most of the year – autumn, winter and spring – this is much less of a problem than it might at first appear. Most dairy products last well enough at yurt temperature that they’re eaten before they go off. Milk that does turn can be turned into cheese and when we occasionally buy meat it’s eaten right away. But summer? Well that’s a different matter.


More work on the back roof

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

With the sudden advent of summer, we’ve been moving rapidly ahead on the rear roof. Three days of solid work has seen

  • the roof lights installed
  • the two membranes laid
  • flashing around 8 of the 10 light frames completed (we ran out of flashing tape and none of the local builders merchants have any more in stock right now)
  • the finishing work done to close the gap at the rear gully
  • the last leg to support the purlins installed
  • the rear land drain laid
  • the gravel infill completed

PET soft drink bottle lights


Let there be light!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Welcome though it’s been, the last month of rain has brought work on the roof behind the main building to a standstill. Jonny was able to construct all the wooden boxes for the slightly unconventional lighting system, but without a rain-free day to fit them, he never got to oversee the completion of his roof before he had to return to the UK. So this one’s for you, mate! (And by the way, I still have your fleece, your gloves – 2 pairs, your …)

Today, the sun returned, and with a rain-free forecast in prospect, we stripped the temporary plastic covering off the roof and got to it.

Light box assembly line

The light box assembly line. Wooden frames and lids assembled and waiting on waterproofing


Of winter heat and summer cold

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

With all the clearing work we’ve been doing in the woods, there’s now a need to get all the firewood-to-be under cover to season well before use. The log store we’ve been constructing next to the main building at last has its roof – a patio area – complete. We just need to relocate the things presently occupying it – like the washing machine – which, as is the way of these things, ideally requires completion of another couple of stages in the project beforehand.

Log store patio roof under construction

Log store patio roof under construction – membrane goes down on screeded roof


The heart of the matter

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Permaculture, yes, but this is only the beginning. The first baby steps. To truly work with nature, not against it, we need to listen to our elder brothers …


Making yoghurt

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Back in Scotland when I lived in houses with big cast iron range cookers in the kitchen, I used to make yoghurt all the time. It was so easy just to sit it in a water bath on the back of the stove. Since then, I’ve not been very successful at finding a way of keeping the yoghurt at the right temperature for the required time, short of buying an electric yoghurt maker which I really didn’t/don’t want to do.

But now I have. It was obvious really. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

Yoghurt maker