A Sobering Look at Conservatories

So we are back in the swing of things as the new year starts. The Christmas period actually saw only two days when there was enough sunshine to shutdown the central heating although most days saw some heat come out of the system. Actually I was struck down with severe toothache so the weather was not uppermost on my mind. A combination of painkillers and antibiotics meant I had to forego alcohol on both Christmas day and New Year’s Day – not to mention all the days in between.

But today has been one of those perfect days for trying out passive solar. The outside temperature stuck down at around 6 degrees C while the sky remained clear. The central heating shut down mid morning and air pumped into the house at 33 degrees C. The temperature at the top of the solar chimney was 40 degrees C and the conservatory got up to 29 degrees C – even with a lot of coming and going seeing more than the usual number of air changes.

Despite the many days of cold cloudy weather, which I was forced to experience while cold sober, the system still had an impact on the conventional fuel consumption. One thing to remember about conservatories, and solar chimneys, is they are a form of insulation in their own right. When we constructed the system we calculated that together they provided glass cladding for one fifth of the outside wall of the house – significantly reducing the heat loss for the house as a whole. This provides an interesting way to view a conservatory, which many householders regard as just another room. The idea that it also cuts overall heat loss, and therefore fuel bills, should be an important selling point for vendors – especially if the sort of heat recovery technology we have added can be incorporated.

So that was the first piece of good news for the start of the year. The second being that my enforced abstinence from all things alcoholic means I have a large stock of wine and beer which, drunk at a moderate rate rather than just being poured down the throat as it is at Christmas, should last for a month at least. (The chocolate liquors have already gone)

Have a good weekend – Peter Kruger

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