Friday, November 19, 2010


Every year when October arrives we start the discussion about when to start using the wood stove meaning, when do we start heating our home.  This discussion usually takes place while we are stacking the firewood on the back porch.   Jerry always says, “No fire until November 1”.   I usually start whining about the first week in October and every time the temperature dips to 19C inside.   In the four years we have lived here we have not made it to November 1 without a fire but this year we came pretty close.  Thanks to a warm October we only had the wood stove on about 6 times through the month and most of those times were for short periods – a morning fire on a chilly rainy day and a few chilly evenings to help dry the laundry.

Even half way through November we still have not had to have the wood stove working 24/7 thanks to the solar passive feature of our home.  On a partly sunny/cloudy day like today it is 20C at 10:00 a.m. and will likely stay at that temperature without any heat at all.  The fire will be on in the evening to help maintain temperature and we will likely wake tomorrow to the house still at 19C.
On a sunny day in January and February when the sun reaches 20-30 feet into the house the temperature can often be a very balmy 24 -25C without any additional heat.  Our favourite spot in the winter is the window seat on sunny days where we can soak up the heat while reading and taking in the frozen land outside.  

On cloudy days the super air-tight, energy-efficient Pacific Energy wood stove is on all day and we use the radiant floor heat to come on in the middle of the night when the fire dies down.  The floor will feel warm in the morning and will help maintain the temperature at 18-19C throughout the night.
The solar passive feature works so well I am dumbfounded that builders and the general population never seem to consider this when building homes.  Time and time again you see major windows on the north sides of homes, garages facing south or homes with lots of windows facing south but no overhang to keep it from overheating in the summer.   It really should be the first consideration in the layout of surveys and in custom building if we are serious about becoming more energy efficient. 

The best part is that the sun does double duty – while it is heating our home it is also hitting the solar panels and creating our electricity – and all for free - what could be better?
The result of that free sun? Our monthly energy costs are a $30 hydro bill and propane costs of $75 a month.  Our wood is free as Jerry has a deal to clear out dead wood from a property close by but if we had to buy it we would use approximately $500 worth a year so our total energy costs would be $145 a month instead of the current $105.
                                                                     Thank you Sun!