Installing the radiant floor heating system we have yet to use …
From Monday evening until Saturday morning this week, we only burned only one small fire in the wood stove, and no other heat sources beside the heat generated by our appliances. This is our 3rd winter in this house and that is the longest stretch in January that I can recall not needing heat. Often we get days or a couple of days, even, where we need no heat other than the sun, but this week was special. Of course, it was sunny outside, but it was definitely cold: as low as -26 at night and hovering around -14 during the day. A little warmer on Friday. During this stretch, the inside temperatures ranged from about 25c in mid-afternoon, to 22c in the evening, and dropping to about 18c by the next morning. By 8:00am each morning, when the sun cleared the trees on the horizon and hit those south windows, the temperature started to rise again steadily.
It’s performance like this that saps any motivation to finally finish installing the radiant floor system. One of these days …
House is performing very well. We have radiant in-floor heating on the main floor and second floor bathroom, but not currently operational. We use the sun to heat the house on sunny days and the woodstove on cloudy days. If it is a sunny day, we do not use the woodstove as this overheats the house even if it is minus 30 C outside. The super-insulated aspect is very important to performance not just increased south windows.
House is also cool in the summer. One important design feature, which was made to our final plans and shades the large south window in the summer, is on the south roof design we made a longer roof section that comes down and shades the large south window in the middle. We also bought blinds for the south windows to shade the windows in the summer and prevent overheating, but found we didn’t really experience any problem. We open windows at night to cool and close up windows during the day. Again, super-insulated walls and roof keep heat out and cool air in.
Thermal mass refers to the ability of materials to store heat. Construction materials store heat differently. For example, wood absorbs heat slowly and steel absorbs heat quickly. Concrete and masonry materials absorb and release heat effectively, which is why we chose concrete floors for our passive solar house.
To improve heating and cooling without relying on supplementary heating/cooling sources as much, a concrete floor can help with heating/cooling on its own. Concrete floors can respond well to the changing conditions between day and night. For example, during the day in the winter, the floors will capture the heat from the sun coming from the south facing windows. At night as the temperature drops, this will trigger the slow release of the heat from the floors into the house thereby reducing the need for supplementary heating.
We will have specially designed outdoor eaves/overhangs to sheild the south facing windows from the sun in the summer months. The idea is to protect the indoors from the sun’s heat in the summer, so as not to overheat the house.
We are working on painting (just finished the primer and ceilings, next is the colour on the walls). Zenon came in and did our hardwood floors. Next up is staining and finishing the concrete floor. Photos to come….