My House, My Wife and Cold Weather

The first three years in our new home were the coldest three in living memory for me with recorded temperatures as low as -11C & -6C  during those winters. I had designed to go to just below freezing with no heating so we had to put a small electric heater on, it used about 60W when the temperature was -3C and 300W when we had -6C. It was a simple electric convector heater connected to a plug in thermostat.

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Energy Use

The energy use of my house was calculated by Paul using Hot 2000 a free thermal model used in Canada and by Mike using TAS software, both produced similar results.

The house uses 42kWh/m2/y about a third of the maximum allowed by Passive house. Heating is less than 6kWh/m2/y

The calculated heat loss for October is 100W average but we never need any heating before Christmas.

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Maintaining the external timber

No treatment is necessary for the oak frame as oak is very resistant to decay, it was green oak so some joints have shrunk to leave a crack this is part of its beauty. If it must be treated then use one coat of boiled linseed oil every five years, having started with two coats the first time round. I have no intention of treating my oak. The eagle eyed among you will have seen that I used tiny lead cover flashings to protect the top fully chamfered edges of the horizontal members.

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Heating The Ground

I used to live in a house with a solid uninsulated floor, I have measured the temperature under my floor at various depths and found that they are a lot warmer than is generally believed. This is because I lived in the house and it had been heating the soils under my floors, the heat lost to the ground had warmed up the sub strata and immediately under the floor it had assumed the average temperature of the house (this should in my opinion also apply to insulated floors as insulation slows the passage of heat but does not stop the flow of heat completely).

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Good Things Bad Things

Good Things

  • Warm, Quiet, Nice, Family like it
  • Uses about one third of the maximum energy allowed by Passivehaus
  • Ground warmed up,
  • No condensation anywhere or any signs of it

Bad Things

  • Green oak shrank and pinged off some edges of the lime render,
  • Lost some logged data,
  • Problems with auto shutter controls,
  • Heat exchanger tries to keep house warm in the summer!
  • The house is so well sound insulated that the easiest way in for noise is through the ceiling and even with 450mm of glass fibre quilt it is noticeable and I wish that I had double tacked the ceilings.
  • There was an unusual problem with condensation forming on the basement window lintels in the cavity and running down the outside of the window glass.
  • Front door lock broke several times in the first four years now it is fine.
  • even more remarkably I am on my sixth porch light 🙁

 

Maintainance

The house was designed to be very low on maintainance but as with all building things need to be done

Regular maintenance:-

Filter changes to MVHR, cleaning windows and frames, service window ironmongery – clean and silicone lube, I had relay patio near house due to settlement of soil fill near house sinking into the excavation batters.

Unexpected maintenance:-

Six new porch lights (remarkable misfortune), replace recessed LED strip lights to elliptical ceiling (too cheapo ones used initially), replace electric curtain motor, replace electric front door lock, three popped nail heads in plasterboard ceilings, one in basement two in front bedroom- filled with “onetime” filler and touched up invisibly with the original natural calico paint used on most ceilings.