November 8 , 2003
the Cloudy Weather Blues
It's bad enough for the psyche when the weather turns dark and gray, but it doesn't help with the heating bill either. Nine straight days of cloudy weather has pretty much depleted all of the solar heat storage and in doing so, the wood stove has been getting a workout. This is somewhat expected though as November and December are usually rather cloudy. I guess the most frustrating aspect of the weather was the missed opportunity at seeing some very bright northern lights. They must have been quite a sight to see considering that the lights were bright enough to cause the clouds to glow as if there was a full moon. (Such is life in the Midwest during the fall and winter months.)
It will be interesting so see how this winter's weather will compare to last year and how well the house performs. There are two factors that have changed since last year: (1) There's 16 cordwood walls worth of thermal mass inside of the house and (2) the windows are no longer sealed shut with plastic sheeting. There will certainly be some air infiltration through the windows and although it shouldn't amount to much, it may make a difference. We'll have to wait and see how much more heating is required because of it.
And then there's the thermal mass. With 16 out of 32 internal cordwood walls now completed, thermal mass should start to play a role. When the outdoor temperature stays consistently below the indoor temperature, thermal mass doesn't add any value other than acting as a battery to store heat. It will help regulate the indoor temperature, but it may also take longer to reach a desired temperature. I am hoping that on sunny days, the walls will store a few Btu's helping to keep the temperature consistent. I really won't know how well this works (or doesn't work) until the following winter when all the interior cordwood walls have been completed.
The good news is that the sun has finally returned and although it's been cold, (highs in the low 30's and lows in the teens (F°)) the house stays cozy without any substantial additional heat. All that is typically required on a sunny day is a couple of short burns in the wood stove during the evening and morning.
A string of cloudy days require three longer burns in the woodstove per day. There is something about a wood fire though that makes even a cloudy, gray day much more enjoyable. Who needs a TV when you've got a nice fire to watch and warm the bones?
Few of My Fans
Unlike a certain Cub fan (to remain nameless), the ceiling fans have steered clear of any foul balls in the area and/or Moises Alou. The fans are quiet and well balanced. (Unlike Cubs fans.)
Okay, enough Cub fan jokes. Seriously, the recently installed fans have helped to push down the warmer air from the second floor. It's usually 4°(F) or so warmer on the second floor while the wood stove is heating the house, but two fans on medium speed do a great job of distributing the heat evenly between both floors. The ceiling fans installed are energy star rated and use between 10 and 60 watts depending upon their speed setting. I figure they will come in handy in both the winter and summer to keep things comfortable in the house.
That's about it for now. Things will be slowing down a bit before the upcoming holiday season, but I'll be sure to write a few journals between now and the end of the year.
|In case you missed it, here's a photograph of Saturday evening's lunar eclipse..|