Sunday, February 24, 2013

How Did January and February Go?

This winter was considerably colder than last, and we burned more wood. But we have enough seasoned black locust and hedge apple to last several years, so why not use it? We have fired the masonry stove an average of about 1.5 times per day, probably burning about 75 pounds of wood per day. The wood is very dry and the fire burns extremely hot and fast. The two-inch iron pipe we added to the masonry stove to allow combustion air under the grate after the fire has burned down works perfectly. As I had hoped, it reduces the burn-time by about an hour or more, allowing me to close the damper sooner and save heat for the house.

The good news is that our house has been considerably more comfortable this year than last, perhaps because I had hooked up the PAHS tubes a while back. But the PAHS tubes have not worked the way one might expect. Outside air has always come in through the lower cold-air tubes, ever since I hooked them up. The average temperature of the incoming air has risen slightly to around 66-68°F, and this is only noticeable when right next to a register. But the thermometer on the thermostat in the hallway doesn't mind. During the day it registers between 71-74°F and at night between 68-71°F. Consecutive sunny days push the reading toward the high end, and consecutive cloudy days push it toward the low end. So our thermal mass is doing an excellent job of smoothing out the 24-hour fluctuations.

Now a bit about the sunroom. It is sandwiched between the north wall of the house and the garage's south wall, and it is on the east side the entry room where the masonry stove is located. It faces about 20° south of east. Its east-facing, sloped roof is entirely of clear, double-layered, honeycombed panels, the same as used in greenhouses. Its east-facing walls are mostly glass. The sunroom has a ceramic tile-covered, concrete slab foor and brick walls on its south and north sides adjacent to the house and garage. This thermal mass stores a tremendous amount of heat when the sun shines in, and slowly releases it otherwise. Several times this winter we have had temperatures near 0°F, and the sunroom temperature hasn't fallen below 40°F with no supplemental heat. We have a number of plants in the sunroom, and they are happy, some even blooming.