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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That has been the saying for many a years.I decided to reuse some old boards from my recently replaced deck.

Picnic time!

I just need to sand and stain. I am in no hurry for that. It will still function just fine without stain.


Can this really be done? If you only run the toilets and kitchen sink to it. (think black water. We know what to do with grey water.) Could a composting toilet system keep up with a “normal household” load? These are a few of the questions I would like answers to.

Let’s try to answer the first question; Can this really be done? Not in my current neighborhood. But if I were to live in a more rural setting then, yes it could easily be done. The most major consideration is that the main unit be located below everything else. If one was thinking about a large slab foundation, this would be a problem. One would almost certainly have to have a basement.

Question number two; could a composting toilet system keep up with a “normal household” load. We will take normal to mean a household with 4 people. The real question becomes; how much water enters the system per day. For kitchen use we will say twenty gallons. For toilet use, we will say 55 gallons. That equals about 30 toilet flushes with a regular toilet. Low-flush or composting specific toilets would be less. For now, I will just use this number. From the information that I been reading, no. The system would have to evaporate almost 80 gallons of water a day. That is just too much.That said all the central systems have an over flow outlet. This could work but I believe you would always be overflowing.

If you used the SeaLand Toilet, you would reduce the 55 gallons down to a little under 2 gallon. That is because the SeaLand only uses one pint of water to flush the toilet. I think a the system could handle 22 gallons. But if we were to remove the kitchen waste water it would work as intended. The problem is that the kitchen waste water can have a large amount of food debris. This would not be a good idea to introduce into a gray water system. It could be done, but you would have to drain the sludge out much more frequently.

Third question; What about local building codes? If I was an inspector I would like this system better than a septic system. You are not burying anything in the ground! I am sure many people have had no problem with the inspector.

Lastly, cost. Does this thing cost more? No, in many cases it should cost much less than a septic and leach field. How much? I don’t know. But the top of the line unit sells for a little over $2000. + $500 per SeaLand Toilet  Having priced septic tanks for my rain water collection investigation, a 1000 gallon tank costs $1000. Then you have to deliver it. Then you have to dig a big hole for it. All that and you still need a leach field. Ever had to have your septic system repaired$$$.

Yes, if I were to build a home away from a local sewer system I would have a composting central toilet system and a gray water system. I would not want to bother with a septic tank or a leach field.

Someone, not me, forgot to close the umbrella on the back patio. Well, a storm came through and blew it right into the house. One window is now broken. So the question is,

Repair or Replace?

How efficient are my windows right now? Not very. I have double pane with 7/8″ argon filled gap. No low-e coating. From what I can tell, that is about R-2.5. In another blog, I figured I was wasting twice as much energy from heating my house because of windows and doors. Not that all of that waste can be stopped. I still need t get into the house! But, if even 50% of the heat loss is from the windows, I could save money by upgrading. (R-2.5 is equal to a U value of 0.4)

I can replace the window for over $600 or repair it for $240. This was a very easy decision, repair. I am not ready to spend $600 for one window. I want to replace them all and not right now.And I don’t have thousands of dollars. But…

How much would I save if I were to replace my windows with the installers recommended R-8.3 window. If installation was comparable to what I have now then I would lose 3X less energy. That would be about 35% saving in lost heat energy. Or, very close to a 20% total saving in total energy. How much would the saving in $$$ be. Well not as much as you think. Maybe $200 a year in heating saving, and another $50 in cooling. A non-cost adder would be increased levels of comfort. I know I would save more money by replacing my HVAC and it would cost less. But neither are happening anytime soon.

So I would say it is the middle of winter. Maybe not by the calendar, but the thermometer says so. From my observations, the electricity usage for the hot water heat pump have increased from 3.33kW hours to about 4kW hours per day on average.  This increase can be attributed to three factors.

  1. The incoming water temperature has decreased because of colder ground temperatures.
  2. The heat pumps ambient air temperature has decreased.
  3. The shower “anti-scald valve” has caused me to increase the tank temperature.

Factors explained.

  1. This is easy. Colder air temperatures cause the ground temperatures to go down also.
  2. I would say the air temperature in the summer for the heat pump was about 80 degrees. Now it is around 60 degrees.  This makes the heat pump work heard to get the tank back to the set point.
  3. The shower fixtures in my house have a anti-scald valve. This is for safety. This means that cold water is always mixed with incoming hot water and that comes out of the shower head. I use to have the tank set at 120 degrees. Now I have to have it set at 125 degrees to get the same hotness of water at the head. I was also informed today that “my shower was not hot enough”, so I may have to increase the tank temp. again.

If I had my old gas tank, I would only have to deal with 1 and 3. Personally, I think it is 1 and 3 that are causing the biggest increase in energy usage. This means I am still money ahead in using my hot water heat pump.

Tonight it is going to get down to 5 degrees. Not unheard of in Indiana but it is still cold. My furnace will run all night to keep up. I have thought about pellet stove on and off for the past four years. I do like the ones that can burn or bio-mass products, such as corn. Now the furnace running for 12 hours will use 6 kW hours for the blower motor. (In any new house I would build I would have radiant floor heating. The water pumps use much less than that.)

I have been able to gather that a typical stove uses about  150  Watts while running. This is an average, so for this night it would be more. 150 W x 24 hours = 3.6 kW for the entire day not just the 12 hour night. With my current furnace setup I figure the corn stove/pellet stove would use have as much power.

So if the stove use 3.6kW a day that would be 100 kW hours. Not that the stove would provide 100% of my home heating needs. (maybe?) 100 kW hours is equal to about $10. If one burns for 5 months a year that is $50 added to the pellet stove operating costs. For most, it may only be an additional 10%. But it is something to remember.

I read somewhere that these films can damage your windows. But if it means I can delay replacing them for a few more years than it would be worth it. My windows are construction grade windows. My guess is the minimum allowed by law at the time. (Like everything else) So if I can get more usable life from them then I am going to try. I don’t want to spend too much but I also don’t want to buy junk. After reading around on the Internet, I have decided on Gila window film from Lowes.

I will wait a few months, right now I want to sun to warm the house. Hopefully, for about $60, I can reduce the amount of heat gain on the south side of the house. This film will also reduce heat loss. Maybe I will buy a roll now and apply some on the backside windows. As inexpensive as it is, it is worth a try.

According to Gila’s website it is safe for double pane windows.

I never wanted a house in the middle of nowhere. I also did not want a house where my neighbors were 30 feet on either side of me. But I do like my neighbors.

What I would like is about 5 acres. Half of it would be woods and the other half split between a small pond and flat open grassy area. (right now I have 0.5 acres and four trees.)

Ideally the house would be shaded by the woods and the solar array would be pole mounted away from the house.

As much as I like having a big yard I don’t like to mow it. I have read some on buffalo grass. Only needs mowed once a month and does not need to be watered. It is a native grass to North America.

Since we built this house nine years ago with our future children in mind, we will not be moving anytime soon. The dream will have to wait until the kids move out. (They are 5 and 2 right now)

I think I purchased too much. By the looks of it I have about R-60 up there now. I would show a picture but it just insulation. All in all, it took about 3 hours. That included adding the deck boards to walk on. I really believe that I only had maybe R-30 before. It just did not look very deep. I understand that blown in insulation settles but it looked less than 12″ thick. With this additional fluff, I hope to reduce my gas usage this winter by 10%. The total cost on the insulation was $175. A 10% reduction in gas usage would be about $100. This will payback in less than two years. Since this will also help reduce the temperature difference between the upstairs and downstairs of my two story house I think that alone has made it worth it.

So I am visiting Florida. It is hot and Humid. My first question, do people even have heaters in there homes? I am sure they have electric resistive heaters. I would think they get used very seldom. The next question I had, why doesn’t everyone have a solar hot water heater. Just running the water thru the collector without any sun would at least get it up to ambient temperature. Which right now is 91 degrees. The next question is, why doesn’t everyone have solar modules on their roof? With the great solar insolation that Florida receives it would seem to be an easy option. It is easier to cool down from 90, then it is to heat from 20. Since it seems to rain almost every day, a rain barrel would have you covered on the days that you get missed by mother nature.

Let me first say that if I could get my wife to use this along with myself I would buy it already. The NatureMill website is very good. From what I can tell there are two models. The extra $100 for the Pro does not get you very much. Designer colors, heavy duty mode, life time filter, and a three year warranty. I don’t care about color since it would go under the sink. Heavy duty mode may come in handy. Filters only cost $8, replace every five years. The warranty extended to 3 years may be good too. But for $100, I will pass.

Plus XE for only $299. Shipping costs $15. If I could change my trash pickup to every other week I could pay for this composter in a few years. But the biggest benefit is the compost itself. For years I have tried to grow vegetables in my garden. This last years tomatoes were worthless. I need to amend the soil. The compost would be perfect.

I havew never composted anything from inside the house to the outside. (I know, shame on me.) So I think I should start off a little slower. Countertop Composter. I am planning for two compost bins this fall and I figure I could take this out every few days to the bins. (Have to plan for the cold winter days???)