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Some thoughts and sites and pictures of Eco – Ideas.

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Checklist for your own home or business; 

CHECKLIST                                                                                                     YES NO
Measuring and monitoring – Have you…                                                                                       
 Reviewed your monthly gas and electricity bills?
 Have you checked that your MIC meets your needs?
 Read your meter frequently?
 Established your baseline/out-of-ours energy use?
 Considered sub-metering?
Large Equipment – Have you…..
 Identified your major energy using equipment?
 Surveyed your large equipment usage/requirements
Lighting– Have you…
 Conducted a survey of your light fittings?
 Considered replacing bulbs and fittings with more efficient bulbs/fittings?
 Considered installing timers and sensors?
 Made the most of available natural light?
Refrigeration– Have you….
 Made sure your refrigeration temperatures are set correctly?
 Ensured fridges and freezers are not overstocked?
 Installed timers on display fridges and vending machines?  
 Installed strip curtains in cold rooms?
 Ensured your fridges/freezers are regularly defrosted?
 Checked that fridge/freezer door seals are in good repair?
Hot water – Have you….
 Ensured pipes and tanks are well insulated?
 Fitted timers?
 Ensured water is heated to o optimum temperature and fitted thermostats?
Heating – Have you…
 Ensured your boiler is serviced regularly?
 Ensured doors and windows are kept closed when heating is on?
 Considered zoning your heating?
Ventilation and air conditioning – Have you….
 Made use of natural ventilation where possible?
 Kept fans, air-ducts etc. in good repair?
Procedures, staff awareness and training – Have you…..
 Communicated to staff the importance of energy conservation?
 Trained staff to switch off equipment when not in use or out-of hours?

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A Solar Energy System That You Can Put Together in Your Garage

by  on OCTOBER 17, 2012 Original article:

  • Wouldn’t it be great if generating solar energy at home was:
  • A Do-it-Yourself project you could build using the tools in your garage
  • Built with inexpensive, commonly available materials
  • Modular like a LEGO block that you can snap in to lots of different places where you need it

It can be.

Here’s an example.  It’s called the Solar Flower.  It’s an open source hardware project that was built by Daniel Connell while in Spain.

What is the Solar Flower?  It’s a system that makes it easy to turn sunlight into heat.

Here’s what it looks like.

As you can see in the picture above, sunlight is captured by a U-shaped reflective surface (technically, a parabolic trough).    This reflected sunlight is then focused onto a black copper tube that runs along the length of the system.

Naturally, this makes the copper tube very hot, which in turn heats whatever liquid you want to run through it.

Of course, the Solar Flower only really works if it is facing the sun.

To do that, Daniel built an ingenious (which is often best measured by how simple the solution offered is) passive solar tracking system.  This system doesn’t use electric motors or sensors to track the sun.

To accomplish this, Daniel built a small solar oven that he filled with ethanol (it expands when heated).   Experiments showed that the sun would heat the ethanol enough to turn some gears that would rotate the main reflective surface.  So, Daniel placed the solar oven in a place where it would only “see” the sun just as it was just passing by the optimal angle for the main surface (angled slightly to the “west” of the angle the Flower was pointing).

That plus some simple modifications makes the Solar Flower a solar energy system that you can install and forget.   To make one of your own, Daniel has put together some excellent tutorials.

What do you Do with a Solar Flower?

Anything that involves heating fluids up.  That includes:

  • Heating hot water for your home.
  • Heating small spaces like a greenhouse.
  • Generating electricity from steam.
  • Purifying water.
  • Smokeless cooking.
  • Making biochar.

Basically, lots of great DiY and easy to assemble project modules that you can plug into it.

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Buy Some Compost and get Free Hot Water?

by on July 12, 2012

Here’s a very cool system that I’m currently considering as part of my home’s resilient make-over.  You might be interested in this too.

What is it?  It’s a system that uses a compost pile to produce hot water.

Specifically, this system turns the waste heat of the compost pile you need for your gardening, into something you can use to wash the dishes or heat an ad hoc greenhouse.

I like it because it allows me to take something I’m already doing (making compost for my garden) and do something else productive with it at the same time.

Compost piles as hot water heaters

How does it work?  Well, we all know that compost piles generate heat as part of the decomposition process.  How much heat?  A large, well balanced (nitrogen/carbon), and aerate compost pile can get up to 120-140 degrees for as long as six months, depending on the size of the pile.

It’s certainly not a new technique, it’s been used for thousands of years by farmers to keep livestock warm during the winter.  However, in the last century, the resilient tinkerer Jean Pain resurrected it as a way to generate a) methane for cooking/driving and b) hot water heat for his home/barn.

In the process, he developed some pretty interesting designs (see right) and reignited interest in it as a way to locally produce energy.

For my purposes, and perhaps yours, the system I’m considering would be much more modest.  The reason?  While I have a need for garden compost, I don’t have the need, space, or time required for a huge pile of loose compost.

Instead, I do have space for a less ambitious small system that can a) pre-heat hot water for home use or b) heat a greenhouse.

The resilient home compost heating system?

What would a system like that look like?  Of course, in today’s world, systems that are this innovative aren’t available.  You are going to need to build it as a do-it-yourself project to take advantage of it.

Here are two examples for how to do that.

The pictured system uses hay bales as the walls of the container, garden hose for the piping, and 55 gallon drums as a reservoir.  Pretty slick.

A second approach is to lay out the compost and the piping horizontally, so it can act as the floor of a greenhouse as this family in Oregon did.  They were able to generate at least 90 degree water for 18 months from their system and grow plants outdoors during the winter.

Where do we go from here?

I’d like to see this become a resilient business opportunity.

What do I mean?

Composting is already a big part of the resilient lifestyle (people that don’t compost are throwing wealth away) and efforts to permanently integrate it into a home’s design are already underway.

So, the idea that local professionals will install and maintain permanent composting systems that allow both fast and efficient composting as well as heat isn’t that much of a leap.

It even open ups the potential for deliveries of the composting material you need in bulk (as a supplement to what you already produce), on an annual basis.   For example: a delivery of pulped wood/sawdust or shredded leaves to beef up your home’s supply, in a fashion similar to how a septic tank gets emptied or an oil tank filled, isn’t really that strange of an idea.

Finally, it gets even more interesting when you think about the productive impact of a home scale greenhouses that incorporate composting as a heat source — see picture and click for more info.

Hope this gets you thinking,



About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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