Looking at a “green” house

Recently I’ve been bitten by the “green” house idea.  A house that is able to sustain itself far more efficently than a normal urban counterpart.

So lets start with the land, any old plot will do as long as the ground hasn’t been used for industrial reactor waste or similar.  Normal footings will have to be dug – ideally laying the groundwork for underfloor heating in all rooms.  Digging the garden over and laying the piping for geothermal pipes to heat the house.

The beauty of geothermal energy is that once installed it costs virtually nothing compared to gas or electricity heating.  The system works by absorbing the naturally occuring heat in the ground – the ground stays at a fairly stable 15-17’C all year round about 5-6 feet down.  The heat passes into the pipes you’ve buried on your plot and taken to a heat exchanger.  The heat exchanger compresses the heat and passes it to your central heating system.  The central heating system passes the heat through the house warming it up.  The pipes under the ground go round in a loop constantly heating.  Obviously the heat exchanger requires electricity – but for every unit used it produces 3 extra units.  In comparison to just a normal electric heater which uses 1 to heat 1.

The heat exchanger has few moving parts and costs around £1,000.  It saves 3/4 of your heating bill though – and if you have solar or wind powered generators it may cost you nothing at all!

Next is the structure – after a fair bit of research I’d look at straw bale housing.  It’s dirt cheap and has one of the highest ratings for insulation.  This means the heating bills are lower – as are the cooling!  Because of the insulation the house just doesn’t heat up during the summer…

Solar panels are the easiest and non-intrusive way of generating electricity.  Otherwise a wind turbine is the cheapest – but has the most impact on the neighbours.  Hopefully you’ve got a nice cheap plot in the middle of the country, so that won’t be a worry.

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