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I'm thinking of retiring  RSS feed

 
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I'm thinking of retiring in a few years.  I have a 200 acre site in Northeast Kentucky that I've been using as a hunting camp for the past 18 years.  It has a small house on it. I hope to build an addition and do most of my living in the new space, using the old house for guest rooms, etc.  What I'm looking to y'all for is advice on how best to keep it heated.

Imagine if you will a 40X40 space, built like a large pole barn.  It'll be a big open room with an interior balcony going around the second floor and an open ceiling beyond that.  The front door will be in the SW corner along with the access to the old house. The SE corner will be a living area with lots of windows to look out at the view.  The east and central area will be more living/family room with a stone fireplace on the east wall.  There will be stairs going to the 2nd floor balcony in the NE corner.  On the NW corner there will be a kitchen.  There will be a walk-thru pantry along the west wall leading back to the SE corner and the old house.  

In the dead center of all this, extending from the basement all the way to the roof, I figured I'd dedicate to heating the place. I've set aside 8X8' and told myself, that whatever I use for winter heat will be there. Additionally, I was figuring on a large thermal mass that would act as a heat sink in the summer.  

Electricity is very expensive out there in the sticks.  Right now, I'm running a wood stove for deer camp and supplementing with small electric oil immersion heaters.  It keeps things nice and toasty, but the extrapolating the heating bill to all this extra square footage means I have to do something significant to keep the cost down.

I have an endless supply of wood.
I have access to coal if need be.
I'm starting with a clean slate.
I've got 2 years or more to plan.

What I'm thinking is as follows:

First off, I think I'll put some kind of Heatilator-style rig in the fireplace on the east wall.  When I need supplemental heat or need to warm the place up in a hurry, I'll burn in there.

I would think that the 8X8 center pillar would make a good spot for a masonry heater-- build a fire with a bundle of [small sticks tied with string-- SHEESH!] and keep the place warm for hours at a time.

I might even add a second smaller heater, woodstove or whatever for the master bedroom area that will be next to this pillar up on the second floor.

I've also got the basement I can put whatever I want down there-- I thought about a supplemental wood/coal furnace just pumping out heat below the main living area.  I could also use forced air or radiators to pump that to the older section.

I've thought about geo-thermal to heat/cool the place since I've got all the land I'd ever want or need. If need be, I can dig a pond next to the house.

My wife is a massage therapist. We're planning on an additional annex building for her to work, along with and additional guest room for when the family comes to visit as well as an office for me.  We'll have to heat and cool all that as well, but that's another project.

I've got all these ideas, but I need guidance.  This looks like the right place to start.

Thanks
 
pollinator
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You were probably expecting this, but I would check out Rocket Mass Heaters, specifically the batch box ones.

Also, is there an advantage for you to using coal? On the individual level, I'd expect that it's easier by far to harvest wood, unless you have surface deposits of coal.

I think I would look at a wood-burning boiler setup for hydronic heat, if I weren't going the RMH route.

And if I wanted a system that would self-feed at need, I would get a pellet furnace that feeds small quantities of pellets incrementally from a hopper using a worm screw.

But if you have a properly-built RMH, the mass itself will hold on to the heat, making daily maintenance burns, to keep the mass up to temperature, the only feed you'll need.

Let us know what you're thinking, and good luck.

-CK
 
pollinator
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Welcome to Permies!

What's the insulation like? What material and how thick in walls, floor, ceiling? What are the windows like?

I'm asking because I've noticed huge differences in the heating needs between houses, depending on insulation. Our old house had old double-glazed windows from 1950s and sawdust for insulation. Our new  house has new 3-glazed windows and modern insulation materials. One masonry stove is enough to keep the new house nice and warm. The old house was bigger but we only lived in a portion of it and the living area was thus about the same. In the old house we needed two masonry stoves and some extra heating in very cold weather and it still wasn't very warm.

 
William Allendorf
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Nina Jay wrote:Welcome to Permies!

What's the insulation like? What material and how thick in walls, floor, ceiling? What are the windows like?

I'm asking because I've noticed huge differences in the heating needs between houses, depending on insulation. Our old house had old double-glazed windows from 1950s and sawdust for insulation. Our new  house has new 3-glazed windows and modern insulation materials. One masonry stove is enough to keep the new house nice and warm. The old house was bigger but we only lived in a portion of it and the living area was thus about the same. In the old house we needed two masonry stoves and some extra heating in very cold weather and it still wasn't very warm.



The existing house was built in 1902 with 2X6 stud walls and cedar siding inside and out.  I sealed up the outside and blew cellulose into the walls and attic-- really piled it in. After new windows, the old house is like a Coleman cooler.  I come in on Friday night and the outside temp is 50, and the inside temp is 40.  I have to run the attic fan for an hour just to bring the house up to ambient temps.

The new additions will have at least that much insulation.  I'm also going to eschew windows on the North wall and put almost all of the windows on the south wall.  My only big worry is how to insulate the cathedral ceiling, but I'm sure that's dooable.

 
pollinator
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Do you intend to age in place?
If so,second floor bedrooms/bathrooms and  heating that is labor dependent might be less than optimal.
A single story with geothermal and solar might be more appropriate.
I would favor a central cooking/living/dinning space with bedrooms on the outside perimeter.
Any fireplace would be located there.
A walk out basement could offer another wall for solar gain/nice views,compensating for losing that second floor.
Hydronic heat allows for control of heating zones,storage of thermal energy and a variety of energy sources.
With upfront investments in thermal mass,  insulation, and design,  you could build a passive solar home that needs little in the way of heating or cooling.
A pond could be an amazing resource in so many ways.


The guest quarters might be best as separate buildings, depending on who you are expecting and during what times of year.
The same might be true of your wife's working space.
I'm presuming that the land is close enough to where you ate now that her clients will have no trouble with the move.

Lots of variables here.
This sounds like a wonderful project, I hope you keep us posted.


 
William Bronson
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Do you intend to age in place?
If so,second floor bedrooms/bathrooms and  heating that is labor dependent might be less than optimal.
A single story with geothermal and solar might be more appropriate.
I would favor a central cooking/living/dinning space with bedrooms on the outside perimeter.
Any fireplace would be located there.
A walk out basement could offer another wall for solar gain/nice views,compensating for losing that second floor.
Hydronic heat allows for control of heating zones,storage of thermal energy and a variety of energy sources.
With upfront investments in thermal mass,  insulation, and design,  you could build a passive solar home that needs little in the way of heating or cooling.
A pond could be an amazing resource in so many ways.


The guest quarters might be best as separate buildings, depending on who you are expecting and during what times of year.
The same might be true of your wife's working space.
I'm presuming that the land is close enough to where you ate now that her clients will have no trouble with the move.

Lots of variables here.
This sounds like a wonderful project, I hope you keep us posted.


 
William Allendorf
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William Bronson wrote:Do you intend to age in place?
If so,second floor bedrooms/bathrooms and  heating that is labor dependent might be less than optimal.
A single story with geothermal and solar might be more appropriate.
I would favor a central cooking/living/dinning space with bedrooms on the outside perimeter.
Any fireplace would be located there.
A walk out basement could offer another wall for solar gain/nice views,compensating for losing that second floor.
Hydronic heat allows for control of heating zones,storage of thermal energy and a variety of energy sources.
With upfront investments in thermal mass,  insulation, and design,  you could build a passive solar home that needs little in the way of heating or cooling.
A pond could be an amazing resource in so many ways.


The guest quarters might be best as separate buildings, depending on who you are expecting and during what times of year.
The same might be true of your wife's working space.
I'm presuming that the land is close enough to where you ate now that her clients will have no trouble with the move.

Lots of variables here.
This sounds like a wonderful project, I hope you keep us posted.




Yes, "aging in place" is one way to describe it.  I prefer to envision it as "Stay there until we're mulch."  
As to the stairs, we'll have the option of moving back into the old house if we're become to infirm to climb stairs and turn the upstairs into guest quarters.  However, I figure I gained 40 lbs moving from a 3 story row house back in 1989 to a ranch style, and it's time to get back to stairs or I'll be mulch before I intend.

For now, I'll (I  putter around the woods making [small bundles of sticks tied with string], and maybe keep a coal pile out the back door for the worst days.  I won't have much more to do, so feeding the fire a couple times a day may be my only reason for getting up out of the chair.

"Honey," she'll say, "If you don't get off your [posterior anatomical features] and feed the fire, we're both going to freeze!"


--edited--
 
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The "aging in place" issue is important. You may be fit and strong now, but will you still want to split and haul cords of wood into your 80s?

I would look at steps you can take to reduce the amount of heat your space needs. Insulation, solar heating and the like. You might also look at making some areas within the home particularly snug, so that you don't have to heat the whole property to keep warm.
 
William Allendorf
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Michael Cox wrote:The "aging in place" issue is important. You may be fit and strong now, but will you still want to split and haul cords of wood into your 80s?
.



This is what grandchildren are for.  Mine is a family of walking landforms.  My youngest son, Angus, has woodchopping as his second favorite hobby (bagpipes being the first).   He blows up truck tires on his own to stay in shape. He spent Saturday afternoon in the pouring rain trying out his new ax just for fun.  

 
Michael Cox
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Nice. Can I borrow them?
 
pollinator
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In the event your walking woodsplitter is unavailable, I would buy myself an engine powered one as a retirement gift if possible. You have a lot of area to heat!

That was our gift to ourselves for a big wedding anniversary milestone. With the two of us working, we can go from standing tree to stacked in woodshed in under two hours. Got a used splitter off craigslist and added a $99 motor from Harbor Frieght.  One of our best gifts to us ever.
 
William Allendorf
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Tina Hillel wrote:In the event your walking woodsplitter is unavailable, I would buy myself an engine powered one as a retirement gift if possible. You have a lot of area to heat!

That was our gift to ourselves for a big wedding anniversary milestone. With the two of us working, we can go from standing tree to stacked in woodshed in under two hours. Got a used splitter off craigslist and added a $99 motor from Harbor Frieght.  One of our best gifts to us ever.



You may be right.  Worse-comes-to-worse, I'll ask the neighbors to trade wood for hay or something like that.

The thing of it is, I've got 200 acres and only 40 of it is pasture.  Some is cedar thicket, but the majority is Oak/Hickory Savanah.  Here's a pic from the back of the current house.  Everything there (well most of it) is mine, and what you're seeing is only about a third of the total acres.



There's enough sticks and limbs laying on the ground to heat a small town.  All I need is an efficient means to burn them.
 
Chris Kott
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For that reason, I think a batch-box RMH sized to the space would be perfect. Extremely efficient, and once the masonry is all up to temperature, a daily burn is all that it will likely need to keep your house toasty.

-CK
 
Tina Hillel
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A truly beautiful view! I see why you want lots of windows...and why you want that as a choice of location to become mulch😉

 
William Bronson
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I was wondering what had happened to your post!

I'm a Cincinnati native myself, I even work at the University.
Jim Obergefell is a hero of mine, and a local.
Even provincial old me knows you used the word properly, and without rancor, but like that one word for doing something "in a stingy or meager manner", the worst amongst us have tarnished certain words by being jerks.
I'm married into a family of and have spent most of my working life among white Appalachians.
I don't use the cultural identifiers that they use freely with each other, because those same identifiers have been used to dismiss and oppress them.
But enough of that.

Your family sounds like fun, I can see why guest quarters are in order!
Good points about stairs, built in exercise ain't no bad thing.
Planning ways to stay busy,  also a good idea.
Any plans for a studio?
A collection of tiny houses, one big house with amenities,  a studio for jam sessions...
Walk-in cooler for hanging meat,  maybe plant some corn and get a nuisance hunting  licence?
OK, way off topic, I just can't help but imagine the possibilities!

I think the hydronic heat still might be the way to go.
It has storage,  and it has control.
You can use it with wood burning and you can use propane/oil/even electric as backup.
Geothermal cooling would be great, another argument for the pond.
Most of all,  insulation  is what I would want in a new house.
My nearly 100 year old home is well built,  but the foot thick brick walls on the first floor included no insulation.
We pay for that most of the year.
Solar would be my second wish.
I grew up without AC,  but no,  just no.
It's too damnd hot here,  and it's a wet heat,very humid.
Passive cooling yes,  but AC as well.
Swamp coolers don't work well in high humidity.
Fans or pumps for moving heat around need electricity.
Water from a well or cistern need electricity.
An electric air sourced heatpump water heater is very efficient, and could benefit from wood heat via the air temperature and/or preheating the supply of water via heat exchanger.
 
William Bronson
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Chris Kott wrote:For that reason, I think a batch-box RMH sized to the space would be perfect. Extremely efficient, and once the masonry is all up to temperature, a daily burn is all that it will likely need to keep your house toasty.

-CK



What do you think about the space he is planning for?
Could one single,  central mass cover such an area?
 
William Allendorf
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Chris Kott wrote:For that reason, I think a batch-box RMH sized to the space would be perfect. Extremely efficient, and once the masonry is all up to temperature, a daily burn is all that it will likely need to keep your house toasty.

-CK



Help me out:  RMH ==> Russian Masonry Heater?  Remember, i'm a newbie.

I'm finding that technology very attractive.  

Who in my area will know what an RMH is?  How do I find them?
How do I coerce them out to the boonies to make me one?  





 
Chris Kott
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Sorry, rocket mass heater.

Lots of information on the forum dedicated to them on this very site.

-CK
 
William Allendorf
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William Bronson wrote:[

What do you think about the space he is planning for?
Could one single,  central mass cover such an area?



Remember, that the central mass would be for maintaining the heat.  I can do whatever I want to provide additional BTU's.  I figure the second fireplace can be fired up and send massive blasts of heat as needed.  That's why I thought a Heatilator job would be ideal.  Gramps had a couple in his house .  He'd keep a fire going in one (coal or wood) and then go light a [small bundle of sticks tied with string] or two in the other one to knock of the chill.
 
Chris Kott
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I think a batch-box RMH would have to be designed to heat the mass represented by the central masonry structure. I think that, instead of benches, you'd see a spiral-pattern chimney after the riser passing diagonally up the inside of that mass, angled enough that the exhaust wouldn't cool too much before exiting.

I was thinking that the clearouts could be designed such that in the warm season, the batch box or the clearout just after the end of the riser could be left opened (but grated, no critters allowed), such that the cool air could be drawn in and up with the heated air leaving the top third of the structure, cooling the mass.

If the structure is as insulated as indicated, having a floor-to-ceiling pillar of heated masonry will heat the space, as long as the RMH is sized and designed to handle that action; the cooling action should work similarly well.

-CK
 
William Allendorf
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Please someone point me in a good direction for learning about these RMH devices.  Again, I need to know how to get one built.  I probably won't be doing this by myself.

 
Mother Tree
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Try this link to start you off - rocket mass heaters
 
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European Masonry Stove[ but in the middle of the room. Can cook with them. They have a lot of mass so they're not good for quick heat but for long lasting even temperature. Two story open floor plan, all your heat will be upstairs. Need a big bad ceiling fan to blow it back down.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=european+masonry+stove&t=lm&iax=images&ia=images
 
Chris Kott
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Actually, in the winter, I think the best setting is reverse. Otherwise, the draught makes you feel colder, no matter the temperature.

In a large room, a fan in reverse would suck the air up, creating a current that circulates hot air back down without causing draughty spots.

-CK
 
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Chris,
Here in the US the normal rotation will blow the air towards the ceiling (suck it up from the floor=cold air movement) so reverse blows the air down towards the floor (hot air risen to the ceiling is blown down to the floor).

I'm pretty sure the rotations are the same in Canada.
 
Chris Kott
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They may call it something different, but on the ones that don't switch direction, I'm pretty sure they all blow down. On the ones I've seen that have a little switch to reverse, the one called "reverse" sucks air up towards the ceiling.

Of course, if the one I'm thinking of was wired backwards, well... But I didn't think that was the case.

Regardless, if you have air blowing directly at you, you will feel colder than the ambient air temperature. Also, you might feel the "chop," whereas if the draught is indirect, you won't.

This wikipedia entry details it. It also mentions that uni-directional ceiling fans that only created updraught were rare.

In any case, with that large a two-storey space, air circulation to combat air temperature stratification is a must.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I think it most likely was wired in reverse. I've installed over 200 ceiling fans and never seen one, wired correctly, suck up air, they all blow down in the normal switch position.
 
Chris Kott
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That is what I said. The default setting is downdraught.

-CK
 
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