Monday, December 24, 2007

Catch up

Just a few things I've been up to lately. Last week I went with a couple friends to the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers for a quilt and art show. The quilts ranged quite a bit from one that I would embarassed to have as a dog bed to excellent. I was so involved in looking at them that I forgot to take pictures. Sorry! But I did snap one of the fun someone had with radiators outside:
Can you get much cuter? Actually I can top that. I made a hat for my niece last fall. Well, my other sister got jealous and quite insisted that I make one for her daughter too. Here's what she's getting:

(I warned you it was cute.) I've been on a big knitting kick lately.

And what about the big storm that came through? We've actually had two. We got a lot of snow dumped on us last weekend. And then we had a big windstorm come through this weekend. Wind speeds in the mid 50 mph. We woke at 5 am to a big thump, and Troy guessed it right: we lost part of our chimney. (The one Troy just put up last year.) The "hat" on top came off and the top section of pipe. The stove is still operational (thankfully) so this may wait until Troy's arm is healed. (Most of you know, but for those who don't, Troy had shoulder surgery last Friday to correct some defects. He's doing great.)

The view out my living room window.

And speaking of the living room window, I finally got the big insulated blind DONE and HUNG today. I am so happy about that! Troy currently reports that it feels much less drafty. (No pictures--sorry.)

Tomorrow we will enjoy a quiet Christmas where will pack for the trip and finish up other projects around the house.

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our first heat with methyl esters, aka biodiesel.

So, our new heating device is an oil stove made by a company called Kuma. Ours is the plain utility model that costs approx. $1,400. They have a number of different stoves, from plain to fancy. Here's a website if you're curious:

I was all gung ho to do radiant heat for both the main floor and the upstairs (and the shop actually). Several things have swayed me to reconsider. First, I'm not getting this done fast enough to suit me, and radiant is much more complex to install. Second, radiant cost more. Third, radiant is harder to get code approval if your building inspector is a pickle head. Fourth, I'm not totally confident I could service an oil fired boiler myself. They take special equipment, yada yada. Fifth, one of the advantages of radiant in a conventional house is the nice even temperatures you typically get. But this is not going to be a conventional house. Once insulation levels exceed about r-40, cold spots and cold rooms effectively dissappear. So a complex heat distribution system becomes unneccesary. Lastly, radiant heat has to have electricity, which can fail at the most akward times. The oil stove doesn't.

Of course, there are some down sides. You have to light it with a match. It doesn't have a true thermostat, just low-med-high. There's no provision for a setback thermostat. But it's totally engineered for biodiesel and it's very simple to operate. No moving parts unless you count the float in the carburator.

Our finished installation will not involve a red plastic gas can, but a big tank in the basement with a smaller tank on the main floor in a closet. But this was a quick way to assess the utility of this system.

So far, it's a champ!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My New Best Friend

So who's my new best friend?? It's the oil burning stove Troy installed in our kitchen. (Which makes Troy one of my new best friends too.)
Now instead of a kitchen SOO cold and a floor you can't stand on without your feet getting frostbite, the kitchen is warm enough to almost be cozy! It's so nice.

The red oil can holds the oil which is gravity fed into the stove. It is also built to burn biodiesel so that's a real plus.
When he uncovered the chimney in order to install the stovepipe, Troy discovered that there was a huge hole that had previously been simply covered up with the drywall. Not a good solution. You can see he has nicely filled it in with concrete and sealed it up like it ought to be.

And just for fun, I discovered this moth fluttering in our window trying to warm up. It had a very hairy back, and check out its tongue--creepy!

All for now. Enjoy the snow!


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