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We got to 20 below this morning

author and steward
Posts: 47110
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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(38 below if you count wind chill stuff)

We hit 26 below my first winter here.  So this is the second coldest winter so far.  

Before today I would say "about half our winters, we don't even get below zero."  But now I think it might be closer to a third.

As I went to bed last night, the temperature in the house was 71.  When I woke up this morning it was 17 below outside and 61 inside.  I started a fire in the rocket mass heater.  In three hours the inside temp was 75.

We are now measuring the windows to get something a bit insulative on all the windows.  One window has an accordion shade and a light window quilt.  Several have a single accorion shade.  One has just a light window quilt.  One has nothing.  

I guess the big thing is: to go from 61 to 75 in three hours with just a little wood is, IMO, really amazing.  Made more amazing by how cold it is outside and how we really need a lot more insulation.  And while this is an 8-inch rocket mass heater, the wood feed size has been reduced by 35% - so the size of a 6-inch rocket mass heater.

I recently read that most people with wood stoves run them 24/7 for most of the winter.  And even on such a ridiculously cold day (with so-so insulation), my guess is that we will call it good at 3 hours.  With a full 8-inch system we might have been able to call it good in two hours.

Ideas for Improvements

EVERY window has insulation.  Two accordion shades plus a window quilt.  

An enclosed front porch

Add a dehumidifier into each bathroom to be used as an alternative to the fan.

In the rocket mass heater:

    - re-arrange the ducting on the inside to have stratifications

    - add some of the cob with big rocks to the top of ducts

    - reduce the vertical exhaust to six inches and get it closer to the barrel

    - make a better cork for the wood feed

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I spent a winter (December through February) around 2004-05 (?) working outside in Great Falls, MT. We had days that were 50 below. Too cold for me.. Stay warm, and have fun insulating your windows!
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Location: Southern Illinois
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I am a little bit jealous!

I miss the -20 degree days and I never count the wind chill.  I am a misplaced northern Midwesterner transplanted to the border South, so temperatures in the negative double digits never bothered me.  Actually I always liked them and I miss them.  Fortunately I will be traveling 300 miles north in 2 days!

Sounds like the RMH, as always, held up to the task.  3 hours of burning a bundle of wood is virtually nothing compared to the energy inputs from numerous other sources.

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I always thought "out west" was incredibly cold too, until I worked out there. At the time it was January in Wyoming and a guy I worked with from Montana kept saying how it got down to 72 below zero. That struck me as funny because the coldest temperature there was -70 below. I then started to understand what he was saying though... he was including his temps with wind chill.

I am sure it has to do with the lack of trees out there, and the numerous trees here, but we NEVER count windchill in our temperatures here in New England. If the day is windy like today, we might state a double figure as in, "It is twenty below, and blowing twenty".

The other thing I noticed was that it seemed a lot warmer out west because even at a real -20 degrees below zero (f) it felt quite warm to me... and it would... it is so dry compared to moisture-laden New England that picks up humidity off the unfrozen coast. That salty wet air just cuts right through your clothing, always making you feel "damp" that only washing your clothes in fresh water can really cure. It does the same inside the house and so a good fire "can drive off the damp", as we say here. But that is how the body registers warmth or cold; it's temp in conjunction with relative humidly that derives how cold or warm you feel.

But the coldest I ever remember it getting here was in 1993 when it hit -42 below zero (f), but thankfully had no wind. Lately it has been getting warmer. Last weekend we got 30 inches of snow, but today it is supposed to be 50 degrees, 60 mph winds, and 3 inches of rain. Its very rare to have a white Christmas here any more.
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