Ken Carman

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since Oct 10, 2013
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Recent posts by Ken Carman

When you reduce the amount of water you use when taking a shower, you reduce the amount of electricity and fossil fuels that went into delivering the water to your faucet, you reduce the amount of electricity or fossil fuels used to heat your water, and in summer you may reduce the energy used to cool your home a little.  

Maintaining Comfort – Since the methods for conserving water listed below generally result in the water not feeling as hot/warm, the methods for conserving heat must be applied to counter those effects, and minimize significant reduction of comfort.
Remember, you could practice radical water conservation a few days each week when you simply need to clean your body, and occasionally indulge yourself with a longer shower with a heavier flow of water just for the pleasure of it.  The heat conserving methods listed below will be a win for you, no matter how much water you choose to use to shower.
Conserving Water – There are three primary elements of water conservation when it comes to taking a shower, and they are as follows:
• When water is used – does the water need to be on the entire time you are taking a shower, or could it be on to soap up, off while you wash, and back on again to rinse.
• Water distribution – The finer the spray, the less water will come out of the faucet.
• Water volume – Turning the water volume down will also reduce water consumption.
Conserving Heat – There are four primary elements pertaining to how hot your shower will feel, and they are as follows:
• Shower space size – The larger the space where you shower, the more heat will be lost warming it up. You can actually “shrink” the area where you shower by creating a smaller space within your shower using plastic or foam board.
• Sealing your shower space – When air is trapped in your shower, heat is trapped with it. Your shower space can be completely sealed, other than the water coming out of the shower head, and the water and air going down the drain.
• Insulating your shower – It amazes me that so little effort is made to insolate showers (and tubs). Once again, you want to trap as much heat in your shower as you possibly can, if a hot shower is what you desire. Since heat rises, the “ceiling” above your shower should be low, and well insulated.
• Shower head height – The further the water falls through the air before hitting you, the more heat it will lose on the way. A shower head that is a foot or more above your head will deliver water that feels much cooler than a shower head that is only a couple of inches above you head.  You will need to accommodate different heights to meet the needs of all members of the household. Remember, the closer you are to the source, the warmer the water will be (and feel).

Question:  Do you think you would be comfortable lathering up and washing in a steam room, and then have water flowing at a reasonable volume to rinse? Trapping the heat in your shower plays a crucial role in comfort level.  Experiment a little, and see what you can do to use less water and the energy to heat it, especially seeing how much less you can use without sacrificing comfort.
11 months ago

Matt McSpadden wrote:As far as the heat is concerned, I'll bet you could make use of those wax/oil based vent openers they use in greenhouse. When it gets hot enough they open, and when it gets cold enough they close. No timers or electricity needed.

For the rain events, why not a double pyramid shape. One sheds the rain coming down to protect the chimney, and one side facing downward to direct the air to the side.



Both awesome points and potential solutions . . . thank you!!!  I was just thinking about my own version of the double pyramid, and at first was willing to settle for just a cap without something underneath it to allow the air to move up and out with less resistance. I just took a glance at the wax auto opening system idea, and it looks VERY promising. I had not heard of it prior.  Of course I would have to create a modified version of it (utilizing the principles), but my mind is already humming.  I'll continue to share my thoughts and progress, and as always totally appreciate positive thoughts, ideas, and perspectives of others . . . as well as constructive and useful criticism, provided it isn't founded on negativity and closed-mindedness. Lol.
11 months ago

Felix Weiner wrote:How does this affect the "heat" up there in winter when its cold?



It would definitely need to be closed/inoperable when not needed. At the most basic level, that would involve making a trip up on the roof or up into the attic twice per year.   I am working on coming up with a way to open/extend it and retract/ seal it from down inside the house.  Picture a two chimney system where the first chimney extends from an opening in your ceiling, to six inches below the underside of the highest point of your roof. The second chimney extends from the roof upward (the attic chimney).  I have some ideas on how it would be open and closed from down inside the house, but have not yet solved the challenge of dealing with unexpected rain events. I will post an update when I come up with a satisfactory way to make it operable and closed from inside the house with water not being an issue at all.   The water problem is easy to address if it only extends from the top of the attic upward, and you don't mind going up into the attic to open or close it.  But I am all about make things that help, but are also easy and convenient to utilize.
11 months ago
Anyone can thoroughly wash and rinse their hands using as little as 2 oz. of water, and to the highest standards set forth by the CDC for both technique/method as well as the 20 seconds minimal time recommended.

When residential and commercial water is wasted, it wastes Electricity and/or Fossil Fuels!

Here is a video where my wife used a spray bottle while I washed and rinsed my hands, to simulate the type of flow required to conserve water, and simulate the benefit of hands free:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaETcqLpvWk&t=134s  

All you need to do this is have the water delivered in a reduced flow with an ultra-fine spray, such as how liquids are dispensed from a hand-held plastic spray bottle set to wide spray . . . and not have the water running while you are actually doing the washing.
Water is only needed to initiate the handwashing process by enabling you to lather up your hands. It is not needed during the thorough hand washing process itself, only after washing, to thoroughly rinse all of the soap from your hands.

I know that sensor activated faucets are becoming more common and widespread, even now in residential applications, but we also need some manual methods that provide a hands-free method of turning faucet water on and off quickly and easily.  I believe some kind of foot pedal, similar to what used to be found in hospitals, would be ideal . . . anything that provides a fast and easy way to turn the water on and off without touching the faucet handles with your clean hands.  There are numerous foot or knee operated controls available online, here is one: https://www.amazon.com/Floor-Mount-Single-Operated-Faucet/dp/B0BPSSNNDS/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=foot+operated+faucet&qid=1687184534&sr=8-4     The more common place this became, the lower the cost should be.
Btw, hands fee is essential for two reasons:  First of all, most people do not want to be inconvenienced with having to turn the water on and off more than once. A foot operated (or sensor activated) faucet would diminish or take away that inconvenience.  The second and arguably most important reason by far is that faucet handles have residue from whatever was on anyone’s hands prior to them being washed.  That includes all of those that turn a faucet on shortly after wiping themselves . . . think about it, and imagine worst case scenario. You do not want to touch a faucet after washing your hands, ever!

Btw, I also plan on posting on how to conserve both water, and energy to heat water in a future post, but that is a slightly more complicated topic.
11 months ago

David Baillie wrote:

Ken Carman wrote:

David Baillie wrote:Here code requires 1square inch of roof opening for each square foot of roof surface give or take. Between the vented eaves and the continuous ridge vent we don't get horrible levels of heat build up. I do like the use of the chimney effect though. You would have to make sure you had an air intake though.



Yeah, I'll admit I hadn't dug into national building codes on the subject, and state/local codes follow that to an extent. And you are absolutely correct on reminding folks that the chimney will not draw unless there is a way for the air to be replaced from somewhere else inside the attic.  I have always been amused at the thought that when it comes to an attic, it can be extremely beneficial to be drawing outside air in that may be 100 F or more, as long as it is replacing air that is much hotter.  That also reminds me of those big whole house to attic fans like the one my parents had put in when I was growing up.  What makes them so stupid (IMO) is that you should never run them when the outside temperature is warmer than your inside temperature. Translated, that means that you should never run one during the hottest part of the day, only after the outside temps have fallen below your inside temps, because like you wrote, the replacement air has to come from somewhere.

Interesting that you say "we don't get horrible levels of heat build up".   That makes me wonder where the line is drawn at what would be considered horrible, how close you are to that line, and whether or not adding an attic chimney might further reduce your attic temps enough to be worthwhile. ???  When I share these ideas, My mind is mostly focused on those that they will help the most, but I so often here from folks to whom they may not apply.


You get into diminishing returns. My temperature differential with venting at it's worst is probably about 20 degrees Fahrenheit so the heat gain is not that great a deal so not worth additional measures. I believe attic ventilation would be of most benefit to those with poor attic insulation and for those people your suggestions are dead on. I chuckled when you mentioned you hear most from those who would not benefit from it. I have found myself in the same position often enough both receiving and offering...
Cheers,



And I had no intention of throwing you under that bus, but was thinking more about past experiences over the years.  I greatly appreciate that you mentioned being able to relate to what I said.  One can share an idea that absolutely does not apply to everyone, but would be life changing for some . . .  and then get negative feedback from those few that it doesn't apply to.  Oh well.  Keep pressing on. Lol
11 months ago

Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi Ken,
I always assumed that a cupola was the short cousin of what you are describing.



Well, a cupola is definitely a place where hot air would collect, but I am not certain if they always or even ever have an opening of sorts at the highest point.  I would think that they would certainly help increase the draw of any chimney extending above them.  What's cool/fun is that you just got me to thinking that on top of a church roof, a "chimney" could essentially be hidden inside a cross, and not diminish the aesthetics of the building at all.
11 months ago

David Baillie wrote:Here code requires 1square inch of roof opening for each square foot of roof surface give or take. Between the vented eaves and the continuous ridge vent we don't get horrible levels of heat build up. I do like the use of the chimney effect though. You would have to make sure you had an air intake though.



Yeah, I'll admit I hadn't dug into national building codes on the subject, and state/local codes follow that to an extent. And you are absolutely correct on reminding folks that the chimney will not draw unless there is a way for the air to be replaced from somewhere else inside the attic.  I have always been amused at the thought that when it comes to an attic, it can be extremely beneficial to be drawing outside air in that may be 100 F or more, as long as it is replacing air that is much hotter.  That also reminds me of those big whole house to attic fans like the one my parents had put in when I was growing up.  What makes them so stupid (IMO) is that you should never run them when the outside temperature is warmer than your inside temperature. Translated, that means that you should never run one during the hottest part of the day, only after the outside temps have fallen below your inside temps, because like you wrote, the replacement air has to come from somewhere.

Interesting that you say "we don't get horrible levels of heat build up".   That makes me wonder where the line is drawn at what would be considered horrible, how close you are to that line, and whether or not adding an attic chimney might further reduce your attic temps enough to be worthwhile. ???  When I share these ideas, My mind is mostly focused on those that they will help the most, but I so often here from folks to whom they may not apply.
11 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:

Ken Carman wrote:

Anne Miller wrote:When we lived in the big city, our house had a turbine on the roof.

It is a non-electric type fan that allows hot air to escape.

I check and these are still sold at the big box stores.



Yes, and when is the last time you've seen one located at the top of the roof where the hottest air collects?  



I am sorry if I sounded like I was challenging you.  I was just stating my experience.



Haha, it is funny you say that, because I was concerned that I was coming across defensive. I actually appreciated your example, and  was using it to reinforce my point on two or three counts.  Most importantly is that I have never seen one of those at the highest point where the hottest air collects.  Plus, they may be fairly effective when the wind is blowing, but the fan blade that draws hot air out when it is turning, also blocks a significant amount of air from escaping, anytime it is not turning.
11 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:When we lived in the big city, our house had a turbine on the roof.

It is a non-electric type fan that allows hot air to escape.

I check and these are still sold at the big box stores.



Yes, and when is the last time you've seen one located at the top of the roof where the hottest air collects?  And there is a big difference between air "escaping" as it does with said turbine vents and ridge vents, and having it essentially vacuumed out by the draft of a chimney. Yes, they do draw more air out when the wind is blowing, but when it isn't, the heat simply escapes/leaks.  Oh, and let's not forget that where they are typically located part way down the roof, they are far more susceptible to leaking because of the multiplied amount of water that hit the roof above them flowing past.
11 months ago

Ted Abbey wrote:Great that you mentioned porta-potties.. a solar chimney consisting of black pipe with good southern exposure to the sun can work wonders in mediating odors from composting toilets. The sun heats the pipe, and the air in it, which rises and creates a draw, pulling stinky poo air from your collection chamber.



Yes indeed, great way to minimize odors for a compost toilet.  And for porta potty rentals, it doesn't have to be a transport issue, because it can be stored inside during transport, and raised once the potty arrives on location. It could even be telescoping.   Remember, BSF larvae do an excellent job of minimizing odors if they can be utilized in a composting toilet system.
11 months ago