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Home Talk: How "sustainable" are you right now?, 1 by bbrookrd

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In reply to: How "sustainable" are you right now?

Forum: Home Talk

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bbrookrd wrote:
I thought people on this forum might be interested in our Passive Solar GH

I just cleaned it out for the summer until early most of the plants in Oct. It was built in the early 80's after the last energy crisis. We run no heat into it other than a short run of flu from the back of a wood stove in the house into the greenhouse then back into the chimney. This acts like a waste heat recyling system that keeps the GH above freezing along with the GH's thermal mass rather than just going up the chimney. To utilize the heat in the GH we just open the doors. Our house has the main living spaces along the common masonry wall that concrete block pardged gray with the interior walls being faced with brick for more mass. The floors in the GH are brick set in sand. The glass is really glass panels used for sliding glass doors set in recycled cypress wood from an old Rheingold brewery in NY. There is a venting panel which is opened and closed manually with an old pulley. Window and doors on the east and west end for more ventilation. Part of the south side is set into the side of a hill, thus below grade. The orientation is 5 degrees off due south. The architect was Charles Sawyer from Cambridge Ma and he worked with Mark Ward of Concord, Ma who is a wizard in GH construction and has vast knowledge about old GH's and restoration of them.

The rooms on the north side of the house are insulated between the southern rooms and can be closed off to retain more heat in the southern rooms or opened up to distribute the excess heat during clear sunny winter days. Works well. There is a central open stair well to funnel heat upstairs. We use the wood stove mostly after 3:00 when we close the GH doors. We had preheat water tanks in there for many years, but I opted to remove them for more plant space when they needed replacing due to rust. We are currently putting in an on demand hot water heater as after an energy audit it became apparent that a great deal of our energy bill is just for heating hot water continuously. Stupid waste. It will pay for itself in two years.

So the short of it is that the GH primary function is as a passive heat source for the house, second as a GH for plants that will grow in an unheated environment and thirdly as a nice spot to send on a cold, but sunny day in the winter. I am posting this now as in the winter the GH structure is hard to see for all the plants. My only regrets about it is that it isn't two feet wider and that I don't have a bigger potting, storage area on the east end. But we love it beyond all expectations. Patti

First picture looking east from 2/3 down to the west end. Sink and potting/storage end. Stove pipe and one entrance from the family room/kitchen plus door to the east side herb garden

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