"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Solar/CO2 Heater

Back in the mid 1800s, an experiment was performed. They took a 5 lb. willow tree and planted it in a pot of 150 lbs of oven dried soil.  It received only sunlight and water for about 5 years. No extra fertilizer or food of any kind. At the end of the experiment, they carefully separated out all of the soil from the roots and weighed the tree and the soil separately.  The soil weight was about 149.75 lbs. and the tree was around 60 lbs or so.  What is the significance?  Over 99% of the gained weight of that tree came from the carbon dioxide that was absorbed by that tree.  It's chloroplasts used the energy from the sun to convert the atmospheric carbon dioxide into sugars that the plant used to grow.  That kind of amazing efficiency is just one of the small testaments to intellect of the Creator.
First fire in the new stove

We can use wood for so many wonderful things. We can build beautiful and strong structures, the finest musical instruments.  It is the most easily re-cycleable thing on the planet.  If it dies and falls to the ground, insects, bacteria, and fungi will decompose it rapidly into food for other plants.  If we cut it down or collect it and burn it, most of the "waste" product is carbon dioxide and water vapor, which are also food for more plants.  None of the paper products that come to the Ben-David house go out in the trash.  Any paper that doesn't have wax or plastic coatings or laminates becomes mulch and compost or can now be used as kindling.

This is a good thing.

I finished putting all the pieces in place yesterday, and by 17:00 there was a little fire roaring in the stove and producing a mild warmth that was soothing. It was nice to know that the weather report called for cloudless skies for Monday through Thursday, which means that had I run into any snags, I wouldn't have had to worry about rain, but I'm glad I didn't need the extra time.  I also feel blessed that it is a shallow roof. I think it's stupid to live in the South and have a 45° pitch roof as if you live where snow is an issue.  The gap between the original shingle roof and the new metal roof meant that I need to make a trip to HD for a longer composite blade for the jigsaw, but it was no big deal.  I needed a different type of cap for the stack, and we had forgotten to get a metal bucket for ash collection anyway.

It's a wonderful coincidence that where we wanted the stove is pretty much centered in the house. It would be a bummer to have one end of the house end up extremely cold.  It's also nice that it's on the North side of the house where there are fewer windows.  It's amazing how much solar energy on the south face of the house makes that side warmer.

It lit up fast and easy with some crumpled paper and twigs and the way the stove "breathes" there was only the tiniest amount of smoke.  However, if you've never had a wood burning stove before, there is an initial break-in period where the paint and sealants will smoke off.  The flat black stove paint, as well as the silicone joint sealing compound that I used on the exhaust system all smoked off for about 30 minutes, so we opened a window at one end of the house and used a box fan to exhaust at the other until it was all evacuated.  Now there is only the slightest smell of a wood fire.

Twyla's decorating skills are second to none.  She can take practically nothing and make it beautiful.  We will need to either find another rocking chair or I will have to convert one of the old chairs into one, but the scene in our extended kitchen is now cozy and comfortable.

This is not my first wood burning stove, so I have no illusions about the work involved in cutting, splitting, and storing wood.  No doubt many people think it's crazy to create that much work for yourself.  But those are the same people who think that everything will keep working fine in this country as we keep doing everything as we have for the last 50 years.

Sure it's more work, but I'll look forward to the absolutely necessary exercise program. Funny how that works.  The exercise you get from maintaining your fuel increases your metabolism which means you need less external heat to stay warm, and being in better physical shape increases your tolerance for cold even when you are at rest.
And to cap it all off . . .

The greatest thing about all of this is knowing that if the electrical grid suffered a major failure, and propane was unavailable or prohibitively expensive, we will be fine.  At the end of last winter, we had a final bill for propane of over $1,600.00.  That was with keeping the thermostat at 64° F and supplementing with small electric heaters.  I can't wait to see how well we do this year. If you've been keeping up with this blog, and the more intelligent information sources out there, you know that energy costs are about to rise even more dramatically in the coming months.

 The front porch is now a greenhouse. The temperature out there has gone from 33 at dawn to now 74 at 09:30.  I re-routed the dryer exhaust into the hallway, and Twyla runs the dryer either early in the morning or late evening. We are going to have a much better second winter compared to the first.  Baruch HaShem.

Now I have to work on that big stationary chicken coup.  Shalom.

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