Heating the house

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Thedreamer

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I have found during our self build that we have gone against the norm for what you would expect a new self build to contain. 

 

One area was how we would heat the house.

 

The main concern I had as we entered the winter was whether we did the right thing in disregarding the need for underfloor heating and radiators. 

 

I have found that during the day we do not need to heat the house as having sufficient true south facing glazing provides the solar gains to heat the house during the day time. When you are outside and it's -5c wind chill it's a pleasant feeling to come into a house that is 20c with no heating.

 

At night time the temperature would slowly drop without any form of heating.

 

This is where our centrally placed stove surrounded by dense concrete block is used. 

 

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Stoves in the self build community are loved by some and loathed by others. 


I feel if they are used in the right setting they can be a perfect addition to a self build project. For us it was a best choice as having access to wood, space to store and being willing to provide a little bit of hard work results in the heating bills being zero. When we designed the house having a centrally place stove was one of the first items on our list.

 

For our stove we burn a trug load of home grown logs each evening in the winter.

 

I would never have imagined how satisfying it can be to spend an hour on a Saturday morning splitting wood to keep my family warm. It's a great way to keep fit and can be an enjoyable hobby.

 

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Recently we cut back some alder and birch trees which will be left to season and will form next year's winter wood.

 

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Using coppicing as a woodland management will allow the trees with their established roots to regenerate quickly in the spring and perhaps be cut back again in ten years.

 

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It has been an interesting learning curve over the last few months regarding heating our house with wood. I have learnt a lot from my father-in law and also from this book which I would recommend.

 

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wood-Fire-Handbook-complete-perfect/dp/1784726192/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+wood+fire+book&qid=1613167239&sr=8-1

 

The garden is currently a blank canvas and this will be the focus for the spring. 


One job that I am working on at the moment is sorting a load of old stone to build a dry stone wall.

 

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It's hard work but a perfect remedy after a long week of crunching numbers at a computer.
 

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Hope to provide an update in the Spring. Thanks for reading.

 

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Great stuff

 

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I would never have imagined how satisfying it can be to spend an hour on a Saturday morning splitting wood to keep my family warm. It's a great way to keep fit and can be an enjoyable hobby.

Yes! I 100% share your sentiments. And they say harvesting your own wood keeps you warm more than once, so true.

 

Thank you for sharing the book recommendation, that'll be next on my list. Have you read 'Norwegian wood'? I was recommended it a couple of years ago and found myself obsessed with growing my own firewood and went and planted 900 willow and poplar to coppice for logs.

 

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This is where our centrally placed stove surrounded by dense concrete block is used. 

I've been warned by several people that a stove in a well insulated house is an expensive ornament. You've clearly done it and made it work. Do you think that surrounding in dense concrete block helps dampen the heat release to the house?  

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What a lovely location, to die for. I,m with you in that I have a woodstove also surrounded by dense brickwork (great minds think alike) and a plenty full supply of wood nearby. I also have a south facing conservatory which I call my solar collector. Today it was 26’ so opened all the bifolds into the house and let it heat the house for free.

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You have crafted not only a beautiful home but a matching existance.  

 

We're almost in the same position as you with no central heating.

 

In fact I was almost to the point of buying that same charnwood stove last year. I bawked at the price of combined flue and stove (€5000 in Ireland)  and the prospect it would be impossible to convince anyone to install it in an acceptably airtight manner. 

 

For me burning timber became like smoking. I enjoy the odd fag but I wouldn't like to have to do it everyday, and it's easier to make the choice about such things if they're not in the house, although looking at those pictures....................

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5 minutes ago, cwr said:

 

Thank you for sharing the book recommendation, that'll be next on my list. Have you read 'Norwegian wood'?

 

I've had a flick through it a few years ago, before we had a stove. Might see if I can get a copy. 

 

5 minutes ago, cwr said:

I was recommended it a couple of years ago and found myself obsessed with growing my own firewood and went and planted 900 willow and poplar to coppice for logs.

 

That's great. How are they developing?

 

A lot of rough boggy ground here, which allow alder to flourish.

 

My father in law planted a wide variety of trees thirty years ago. Some of the spruce are massive now, we got some nice oaks growing along the driveway. 

 

5 minutes ago, cwr said:

 

I've been warned by several people that a stove in a well insulated house is an expensive ornament.

 

It can be an expensive ornament.

 

I think if self building, only consider a stove if you

 

are in rural location to allow your neighbours not to be affected by your smoke

you should really be splitting and storing wood 

should not have it in a room, should be in a large open plan space to allow the heat to spread

 

If you can't tick these three boxes, alternative heating methods would be a better way to go.

 

5 minutes ago, cwr said:

Do you think that surrounding in dense concrete block helps dampen the heat release to the house?  

 

I know the term 'thermal mass' has been debated here over the years.

 

My feeling it does the job as a storage heater. The block are still warm in the morning and having it in the middle of house no heat is loss to an external wall.

 

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17 minutes ago, joe90 said:

What a lovely location, to die for. I,m with you in that I have a woodstove also surrounded by dense brickwork (great minds think alike) and a plenty full supply of wood nearby. I also have a south facing conservatory which I call my solar collector. Today it was 26’ so opened all the bifolds into the house and let it heat the house for free.

 

On the south facing glazing I was lucky in that we only did minimal modelling on the solar gains. I just wanted as many windows for the views. Having moved in during the summer I am happy that overheating won't be an issue in my location, but I am lucky in that regard. We do have plenty of velux window upstairs to ensure good cross ventilation can be achieved.

 

Managing trees, splitting logs and enjoying an evening stove, these are simple pleasures, in an otherwise complicated life riddled with technology.

 

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28 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

You have crafted not only a beautiful home but a matching existance.  

 

Thanks. 

 

28 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

In fact I was almost to the point of buying that same charnwood stove last year. I bawked at the price of combined flue and stove (€5000 in Ireland)  and the prospect it would be impossible to convince anyone to install it in an acceptably airtight manner. 

 

Well spotted. Happy with the model it cost a fair bit to buy and install, we used a hetas approved fitter for peace of mind.

 

As the wood is free the payback will be achieved relatively quickly. 

 

28 minutes ago, Iceverge said:

For me burning timber became like smoking. I enjoy the odd fag but I wouldn't like to have to do it everyday, and it's easier to make the choice about such things if they're not in the house, although looking at those pictures....................

 

Day to day stuff is minimal, just bringing in the wood. Perhaps empty the ash once a week.

 

 And smoking is bad for you! 😀

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29 minutes ago, Thedreamer said:

Managing trees, splitting logs and enjoying an evening stove, these are simple pleasures, in an otherwise complicated life riddled with technology.

 

 Yes I can agree. 

 

13 minutes ago, Thedreamer said:

As the wood is free the payback will be achieved relatively quickly. 

 

I reckoned 37 years with a air2air heat pump and about 10 with direct electric. That was with free wood also but our heating demand is very small. 

 

13 minutes ago, Thedreamer said:

And smoking is bad for you! 😀

I know! Hence my occasional is just that.

Edited by Iceverge

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Another one here that can confirm a properly positioned stove that is able to circulate air to the whole house, works well in a well insulated house.  It is when you design a stove that is shut in one room with nowhere else for the heat to go, that you get overheating problems.

 

Top tip.  Get all your firewood split in plenty of time.  I need to go out with the snow shovel today just to find my chopping block somewhere under the snow,  then clear a path through the snow for the wheelbarrow.

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1 hour ago, ProDave said:

Top tip.  Get all your firewood split in plenty of time.  I need to go out with the snow shovel today just to find my chopping block somewhere under the snow,  then clear a path through the snow for the wheelbarrow.

 

I'm OCD about the firewood store. Always have three weeks ready to burn in the store, three days in the house.

 

Various logs are in different states of being seasoned all over the place. A moisture meter is a useful tool.

 

I guess some people could view it as being hassle, but for me it's  a hobby and an opportunity to do a bit of exercise. 

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5 hours ago, ProDave said:

Another one here that can confirm a properly positioned stove that is able to circulate air to the whole house, works well in a well insulated house.  It is when you design a stove that is shut in one room with nowhere else for the heat to go, that you get overheating problems.

 

Top tip.  Get all your firewood split in plenty of time.  I need to go out with the snow shovel today just to find my chopping block somewhere under the snow,  then clear a path through the snow for the wheelbarrow.

It's a good plan, I have 3 piles, one woodshed for burning now, when that is empty I move to woodshed 2 which is seasoning and finishing drying, then there is the random big pile waiting to be cut & split, which gets more in the area each time we get more.

As of yet this has all be dead wood / trees around or nuisance weed trees, but we do need to start planting more as I think we only have about 5-8 years supply.

But, with the current house we burn lots as it leaks like a sieve whereas the new one should be air tight so much warmer to start with.

 

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