We’ve thought about what we wanted to do with this area so many times it could make your head spin.
The south side of our property is the area we’ll be putting a very large aquaponic greenhouse, as well as having the majority of our future large animals in this section.
We went back and forth wondering whether to espalier tropical fruit trees on this wall.
Dom wanted to use this space to install a solar hot water heating system. We’ve decided that we can do that on the north east side of the house, and concentrate on making this area the passive solar heat collector to warm the house.
As you can see, there’s a brick planter box that travels down the whole wall to the gate which leads to our courtyard. We’ll be digging down into the planter box about three feet.
After measuring the area, we need to figure out the BTU’s of a 2 liter bottle filled with water.
So far the plan is this (it could change!) :
- Dig down three feet
- Dry fit 2 liter empty GLASS wine bottles
- Using slip straw and cob, create a tight glass insulating barrier on the ground
- after cob sets, add water filled, capped, 2 liter plastic soda bottles standing straight up
- String together the necks of plastic bottles to form a web of string between the bottles
- Add 4-6 inches of cob to the top of bottles to seal bottles in, sequestering any plastic particles from becoming airborne and entering our home
- Paint brick wall and cob black
- Frame out the 3 1/2′ x 22′ area with wood up to the window and roof
- Install glass on framed area
- Of course vents would be added…just didn’t want to get to technical right now.
The photo to the left is similar to what we’d like to do. Once we figure out the technical part, like how many BTU’s does a 2 liter bottle of water hold, and how many would be needed to heat roughly 3,000 sq ft of home. Our home is larger than that, but we won’t need to heat the basement which is about 400 sq ft.
We thought we’d go the full length of the wall and include the window, but in the end, that becomes a dangerous situation if we don’t have a way to escape in case of a fire.
If the 550- 2 liter bottles filled with water will not be enough to heat our home, we can always add courses on top of the cob, and then seal the next level of bottles in with cob also.
We ultimately decided we wanted to go passive solar because it’s a low cost way to heat our home year after year, without the need to purchase wood, gas, or oil. We do have fireplaces and we’ll be adding more, but they will be used for area warmth as well as ambiance. I couldn’t see us needing to buy lots of cords of wood to heat our home, nor do we want to continue to purchase gas from the gas company in order to keep our family warm.
It just doesn’t make sense to us any more. Why would we pay for heat if we can make it with the sun? Wouldn’t a passive solar design help to make conventional modern ways to heat the home obsolete?
We still have a lot of planning to do, but we have some of the basics down as well as most of the materials needed to work on this project in the next month.