Friday, November 9, 2012

Life in OCPH, so far...

First impressions

It has been about 2 weeks since move in day. A whirlwind of activity has my head still spinning but the initial verdict is in. I LOVE MY NEW HOUSE! It is super quiet. I've been sleeping like a rock. The walls are so thick, you hear no outside noise. Good riddance to my old weekly 5 am garbage truck wake up call. We have been experimenting with the temperature in the house. We had our first snow storm two days ago. Our supplemental heat system is a heat pump that supplies both heating and cooling seasonally. Even with sub freezing temps outside, if I don't turn on the heat, the indoor temperature settles at about 66 degrees by morning. On a sunny day the house heats up by solar gains alone to about 71 degrees. Yesterday was cloudy so last night I set the thermostat at 68 degrees and the house is really comfortable this morning. I'm going to turn off the heat pump now. As the sun rises on this sunny day, the house should stay warm through tonight. Now you may think 68 degrees is a little lower than you set your thermostat but let me say something else about Passive House. The house feels warmer because there are no drafts or cold spots and the wood floor feels the same temperature as the air. The ERV (energy recovery ventilation) circulates the heat evenly in the house so it's a warm 68 degrees. It's kind of like Arizona being a cool 100 degrees because it's a "dry heat".

What have we been up to

Paul has been working hard to finish up his DIY solar hot water system. With all the other tasks required to ready the house for move in, closets (woodwork, flooring, not to mention packing and moving) the solar water system was temporarily sidelined. Back on track, Paul has completed soldering the copper piping that sits in the collector panel and we moved it into the frame on the back of the garage. The collector (solar panel) will sit in a sunny spot against the back of the garage where the pipes have a short run down into the basement to the tank containing the heat exchanger coil.

We mounted the copper piping to the insulated frame and wrapped aluminum fins over the top of each pipe creating a conductive contact to collect and transfer solar heat into the water filled pipes. Paul used special clamps to crimp a good contact while he secured the fins with screws. The next step has been slightly foiled by the weather. Next he has to paint the fins with a special solar absorbent black paint that requires a minimum warm temperature for application. Although there is still snow on the ground, It is supposed to warm up to the 60s in the next few days so we will strike while the aluminum is hot.

Wednesday afternoon
Thursday sunset

My goal is still to have most of the detailed finishing work in the interior finished in time for Thanksgiving. It still seems like we are on track and will be ready for turkey day. I have so much to be thankful for this year. Most of all my family.

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