Cassie Erin

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since Sep 08, 2018
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Recent posts by Cassie Erin

Hi again Travis and Rufus!

Travis, yes, I get it: stop drafts :-) I don't think I'd mind the earthen smell actually, but I see what you mean.


But here's a thought: Consider your existing house carefully and investigate in detail before taking any action. I don't know from your posts how much you know about design of habitat shells, nor what you may have already done.

You said you can't tell my experience from my posts, so I'll flesh that out a bit... I think I said but certainly I didn't clarify I mean the house too, so: I'm doing all this on my own. I know everything there is to know about this shell . And I believe I understand the concepts of shells and insulation, since I was the one who chose and sprayed the insulation myself (so pretty sure I'm beyond the part where I need to spend more hours researching basics of heating and insulation), and would have thought it rather clear I have at least basic understanding of heating and insulation by the specifics of my original post. But thanks for playing it safe and assuming I might not know anything about heating or insulation whatsoever :P Here's a thought, if you're not sure about my experience, as you said, maybe ask instead of assuming someone else sprayed my foam and someone else decided it was best etc etc etc

I appreciate you making sure I go back to cover the basics, and as I mentioned, I agree those are worth considering yet again before sinking money into new heating system... and then beyond these basics, I was talking about wanting to compare RMHs and hydronic heating...

I appreciate what you say about skirting, and that was my thought (animals housing there) when neighbors told me how much more easily they heated their house once skirting went on... so maybe I'll just leave it open like I sort of wanted to to begin with, or make sure it is not animal-permeable.

Happy trails!
1 year ago
oh, I see , makes perfect sense. Thanks for the further clarification!
1 year ago
Hey there Travis,

Thanks for sharing your real world experience! That geothermal chicken coop setup is pretty much exactly the simplest heating method I'd really wanted to be able to do just that --project my models into real space/time and see if it's as functional and efficient as imagined. My house is almost 4 times as big as your chicken coop, so conceivably I could do 4runs of 100 ft. I realize temp differentials are going to be different for me/I would need to do my own adjustments, but this is very heartening!

And that radiant floor heating sounds ideal --your experience gives me a real solid idea of what kind of benefits and return I might expect if I were to install radiant heat flooring. 44 degrees when it's -7 is pretty darn impressive!!

Hiya Rufus, thanks so much for your insights. Yes, I keep learning this more and more myself-- "Plug the leaks and insulate". Each time I ride out a very cold night I learn more how true this advice is. I mean when it's 70 degrees outside you just don't think about the windows or this or that tiny hole, but when it's 20 degrees and no amount of blankets are doing the trick, suddenly things like a simple thick blanket to cover windows... jump out at oneself. And though I've lived here full time a year now, I'm STILL learning things you just don't when you are encapsulated in a constant climate controlled environment, like "just put on more clothes!". Too true!

And thanks for your breakdown of some pro/con requirements of the various heating types. Exactly- electric is expensive, definitely trying to avoid having to use that, unless it's just to run a fan portion of heating perhaps.

My house is 384 SF (ceiling avg 10ft) and has sprayed foam insulation (1/2 depth on walls and ceiling, just enough to seal drafts under the floor -maybe 2-3 inches), and utilizes typical post and beam construction.

Interestingly, I'm seeing a combined sort of inspiration from overlaying both your posts... radiant (water in tubing) heating but rather than in the floor (not keen on cutting holes in my joists or scraping underfloor insulation), I could run heated tubing in the walls, since I have the wall insulation only about 1/2 depth.

Running radiant heating in the walls would be much simpler in my situation (than floor). I'm also still thinking even less work would be required to heat the water and run it through heat exchanger to blower, but obviously it wouldn't be as efficient...

#1 (radiant heat in the lower walls) - would clearly be MUCH more efficient --as the medium doesn't need to be as heated and doesn't lose that heat as much as #2 (using that same medium to heat air and blow it into the house), but #2 would be much simpler to set up and I wouldn't have to cut holes in wall studs.

I suppose I could do a pretty simple experiment without getting in too deep: make a solar heated exchanger / blower thing and see how hot I can get that air in the wintertime. Because that seems like the missing piece for me now, to answer the question... "just how hot COULD I get that blowing air without supplemental boiler/ how much supplemental boiler might I need?"

So here's where I'm at:

1: plug and insulate: Before I go crazy trying to decide or even calculate more about heating methods, plug and insulate more. >> This house is up off the ground on piers (1.5-3ft), so just adding skirting around the bottom would help significantly. Finishing insulation inside, and making good insulating window covers for winter nights, will make a HUGE difference.

2: ...then the amount of required heating would be so reduced it may be such a game changer that the smallest most efficient heating method would be perfectly adequate. I could start by trying out the heated water to exchanger/blower.

..for now it looks like I'll winter with the existing electric oil radiator plus propane heater on coldest nights, then set about finishing insulation and heater experiments for next winter. I'm trying to lower cost of living all round, and still getting some basic infrastructure established, and it's just me doing all this, so I think in the hopes of maintaining sanity I need to keep heating as simple as possible, meaning even if it costs a bit more to run, going with an option that requires less setup work since I have no shortage of labor intensive tasks needing doing.

Loving how your contributions are fleshing out my models and helping me decide stuff! Thanks guys!!
1 year ago
gotcha, thanks for the additional info. I suppose it was the second case in this.. case. The reply became fully visible to me about 35-40 minutes after the 'my posts' view said it had been posted. Thanks!
Hiya Dale, thanks for your reply! Lots of great pointers. I had been thinking "well how do i convince someone it's worth while to let me just come and take a little of this or that from an old building? and what if I can't or don't want to demolish a huge structure" but then I went back to the first problem of even knowing how to even connect with such folks... and you answered it for me. Awesome! This is exciting... (hmmmmmmmm *trying on the prospect of going in on demolition projects with a partner* and how much faster I would be able to get some materials)

For starters tomorrow I'll get to making calls to demo and excavating companies as you suggest :D

Thanks for thinking ahead for me /sharing your experience!
1 year ago
I made a post and from some views on the site I see there is a reply, but when I go to the post there is no reply to be seen. Is there some kind of delay or other reason I may not be seeing the reply? Thanks in advance for your assistance
Years before I finally actually got moved out of the city and to this little piece of land where I now live, I dreamed of a rocket mass heater... about a year ago I finally got things established enough to move into a very small house and almost froze the first winter, so it's time to get back to thinking about heat (at least for NEXT winter, as for this one looks like I'll be hauling more propane). I would love a masonry type RMH with a vertical feed like these, as I could use 1-2" diameter branches of which I have SO MANY that fall to the ground of the forest,,

yet, then the other day I started down the exciting rabbithole of hydronic heating and cooling. and got to thinking... as elegant as such heaters (above) can be, couldn't it maybe be even neater to just pump and heat some water I already want to use in barrels in the greenhouse for keeping plants alive over winter, and run it through a heat exchanger / radiator fan type deal? (loving these videos:  )

It seems like even without crunching astronomical amounts of data it's probably safe to say the electricity needed to run such a heating system would be CONSIDERABLY lower than electric or propane heating, but would it be low enough to compete with the efficiency and permaculture of a RMH? what about the more obvious pros/cons like having/not-having to deal with masonry, bulk, weight of a RMH...?  --for example, even if RMH is much more efficient (which I'm not sure if it's more or MUCH more efficient than hydronic heating), perhaps the cost and effort (and having to reinforce my house's foundation with additional footers under the masonry heater I would want as opposed to a barrel thingy)...might make hydronic heating the clear choice in my case.

In the back of my head for some years I've also had this plan of maybe some day trying earth tubes for heating/cooling air, and then recently found out about what I guess is more common: liquid / heat exchanger/ heat pump type geothermal systems... and while i'm not opposed to almost killing myself digging trenches in the forest (if you haven't trenched in the middle of the woods, pretty sure you haven't really lived :P), the thought of simply pumping and heating water with solar thermal means of some kind and then heating my house's air with that... seems potentially like a big AHA! moment  (especially when you consider such massive earth-moving exercises are a BIG what-if you might have to dig up again no matter how well you plan it out, it seems to me).

So far I've only done something like level 2 (of 10) research on this so far, so a little more than scratched the surface, but now hitting lots of forking info and possible paths!

I'm more interested in solving for heating, but I am also super curious how an electric chiller for hydronic cooling might compare // if there's ANY hope of that being worthwhile compared to electric AC (plus good old heat acclimation, which I do try to utilize as much as possible). Again, cooling seems more iffy/tricky. without an additional chiller, cooling a 400 sf house on 105 degree days with just earth cooled air/liquid might be a challenge, or maybe not. I mean even 80 or 90 is better than 105. But I don't want to do massive earth moving just for cooling (if I can accomplish heating without digging at all), and I'm not sure if a chiller+fan would be any more efficient than a conventional window AC.

would love to hear others' experiences / thoughts!!
1 year ago
I'm trying my best to watch vids and research how others find reclaimed wood (well ,technically i want to reclaim it myself rather than buy it from a company who reclaims), but wow there are considerable layers of learning and challenges too, and as much as I like those (learning and stuff), I also want to get started on my back porch and really really don't want to buy wood if I can reuse some... so thought I'd post this in case someone is interested in helping me learn from their experiences.

First stabs at this I've hit walls like....I live in such a rural area it's between craigslist regions, and even the 'search all craigslist' type sites are tedious to use so far. for all I know maybe there are better sites for this kind of search now... I've skimmed the surface of some freecycle sites, but so far same issues... no way to search or communicate with people who are actually nearby.

I have a couple leads about leads as far as neighbors who know more people and do construction so maybe putting out feelers that way will have results.

Maybe there's just no better way than to take more time and effort to network locally, but if you have some additional tips, I'm all ears!
1 year ago
Located between Antlers and Rattan, very close to (but not touching) the Kiamichi river, this 4.76 acre plot just went up for sale. If you don't know the area, this is 25 minutes from a big/cheap/box store (walmart), and the closest local grocery store, gas stations, couple fast food joints, etc. are about 7 miles away.

I really would love to add this land to my own (it's the only adjoining land to mine), but it's just not in my budget, so next best thing is to inform like-minded permies/homesteading folks in the hopes I may get a neighbor with whom to possibly collaborate about permaculture :-). Surely you can find cheaper (and more expensive) land similar to this; generally speaking a portion of the cost is determined by grid electricity and municipal water access, and this piece of land seems to be in comparable/fair price range for the area, maybe a bit higher than some, but then again on the plus side is owner financing/no interest.

bonus homestead neighbor (optional): :P
and, like I said, a homesteading type!

some fine print:
To be clear, I am not the seller of this land, and I have no vested interest in who might buy it, except I'd LOVE for it to be someone into permaculture (hence this forum post). If you contact me with some basic info I can give you the owner's number. I cannot vouch for the seller or terms of payment, etc, as I don't know them (they bought the land and put down a small concrete driveway pad, and weren't able to be here as much as they wanted / now are selling)... so I'm merely the messenger, but that said, they seem very reasonable. When I spoke with them they were super nice and willing to negotiate payment terms; sounded like he'd be happy with something in the neighborhood of a 5-10 year term, though obviously would prefer selling it outright. If you're interested, I would strongly suggest a contract for deed if you don't buy outright, and consider that in most such cases you don't have any equity until you pay it off (I don't know if the seller plans on supplying a contract, but you should if he doesn't).

the land itself already
The plot is about 85-90% wooded, mix of pine and hard wood (i would have to look more closely, but if like mine there is more pine but decent amount of hardwood). Talking with neighbors, it seems much, perhaps all, this land was cleared about 80-90 years ago and was part of a larger farm/ranch. I haven't tested the soil, but as far as I can tell doesn't seem like it's been used for or contaminated by anything (appears untouched in all the digging and exploring I've done on mine so far). There is nothing built on the land except a smallish concrete pad (travel trailer size) off the one road. You would have 2 adjoining neighbors (me and then eastern neighbors are very nice and super handy with building and all kinds of tinkery stuff).

The sort of creek (not really) is so 'seasonal' that really it doesn't even trickle during dry season, and seems to kind of disappear into the ground as it runs from west to east across the property (depending on how much water is in it). When it's not running there are standing puddles, so not sure if those are springs, or just the actual water table... it *could* be the water table bubbling up, but not sure as topo maps seem to indicate water could be as much as 80 ft down. That said, it *might* be as shallow as 20 feet up closer to the southern border. So, hey, maybe you could do one of those water drilled wells, but rainwater catchment is working great for me, so haven't seen the point to move a well up on my own homestead priorities list yet.

FWIW --as far as prospective neighbors go...
Personally  I've only been living here full time about a year and just starting to get a homestead established (got the land in 2012 and struggled to get a place built and moved. Now, almost a year later, I have initial working versions of water catchment, solar power, grow beds, and so much more yet to...'establish'). FWIW, I intend on focusing on plant-based food, am interested in food forest, and just about any tinkery permacultury projects! I would love to collaborate on this kind of stuff, or on projects related to sharing/teaching and helping others transition to permaculture, such as non-capitalist cooperatives and wherever else our permaculture interests might intersect. I enjoy solitude (wouldn't be buzzing around all the time), but would love to have more neighbors into permaculture as I'm sure we could accomplish that much more, whatever our specific shared goals/projects. I'm always happy to exchange knowledge or lend a hand with house building or whatever other homestead-establishing works.

Like I've mentioned, if you look long enough most certainly could find something similar, possibly for less money (not that it's overpriced as far as I know (which isn't tons // do your research!)), even probably something also with payment option, so I'm not trying to claim anything super special about this land, though, having qualified all that, I'll also say since starting on this homesteading adventure (and as much as I enjoy solitude in nature), in hindsight if I could have moved to an area with a permaculture neighbor I would view that as a much bigger plus than I would have when first searching for land.

just sayin! // Who knows, if you're reading this, and you've been thinking about getting your own place to live it up and live in balance with nature, maybe this is for you.
wow, this is a super timely and helpful thread. I finally got around to deciding what kind of solar oven to get or make, thanks for the experience reports. Very helpful!
1 year ago