Hot answers tagged

43

Good ventilation needs a strategy of its own accord. It doesn't just happen. It will depend on what climate zone you're in, and what your building is, but from your question, I'm going to assume that winter means you're having to use some space-heating to get the home to a decent temperature. The very best ventilation strategy we have, is to make sure that ...


34

Open all windows wide but only for a short period. It will replace the air, but won't cool down the walls. This is the usual recommendation of gas companies.


24

I agree that it would be harder to live without the washing machine than almost any other labor-saving device. First, reduce the need. Wool smells less than cotton, which smells less than synthetic materials. You can brush wool clean, instead of washing as often. Leather and fur might be good. Go naked in the summer. Wear a t-shirt and underpants to absorb ...


20

Take a look at a passive solar heat collector. They work on the principle of thermosiphoning. The design in the link and the picture below has an additional top vent exposed to the outside so you can close the top interior vent and draw air out of the building during the summer. I've seen more advanced designs that include doors that automatically close at ...


18

Water takes energy to pump, filter and treat (and the treatment chemicals require energy to make), so it's likely a substantial part of the water cost goes to energy anyway. Given that in your case you can save a massive proportion of water for very little extra electricity, I'd go with the water saving. Secondly, it's often possible to run a lower ...


17

There was a NASA study that indicates that house plants can indeed help clean indoor air. More recently there was a TED talk where the speaker indicated that just three types of plants are needed: Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) Works well in the day time Great for living areas One needs about 4 shoulder high plants/person Needs ...


14

You don't state how much change you are willing to consider. A device called a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) passes the outgoing air and the incoming air through a heat exchanger and transfers the heat from one to the other. It usually would be connected to your central air ducts to distribute the incoming air, and would require pass-throughs for the ...


13

Try the simple answer before looking for more complicated solutions. Apply a white coating. They should be much more durable than a simple white paint, and a good quality coating will return nearly 90% of solar energy to the atmosphere. This should make a big difference. Alternately, cover your roof with solar panels. Since they transform energy rather ...


12

The most common automatic light switch is a PIR sensor. I've looked up technical parameters of several such sensors. The idle (sensing) power consumption of most of them is 0.1 W. Some of them have the idle power consumption of up to 0.3 W and I believe some older ones could consume even 1 W. The active power consumption of the sensor is higher, but it's ...


12

They are ubiquitous in Japan (image), which may be a lead for tracking one down. As the picture shows, they also come with the sink/tank part removed (usually triangular, to fit in a corner), so you can place it wherever you like. I think it may (and does in Japan) replace a normal sink in a guest toilet, but for all other purposes, you need at least ...


12

Just about anything you would normally do with rags, but these ones are already in tube and bag form: Use for washing, polishing and cleaning - just put your hand inside Use to keep stuff in - small items like wingnuts, earrings... Use fancy socks for wrapping presents - tie a ribbon round the top Put stones inside and use to hold down bird nets or apple ...


11

I haven't installed or used one myself, but my initial reaction comes as the following: Saving space - yes, it definitely would. However, it looks like it does so at the cost of accessibility, it looks rather awkward leaning over the toilet bowl to get to the sink each time, and I could well imagine that getting annoying over time. Reducing construction ...


11

I have heard that disposables use less energy than reusables if you also use hot water and they dryer. But it seems that many experts disagree. Most of the energy that goes into reusable diapers is in heating the water and the dryer. So, the colder the water you're using and less often you dry them the better off you are. Using rain water and/or solar ...


11

Yes, limonene is a terpene and terpenes react with ozone to form formaldehyde and other micro-particle pollutants. Limonene itself isn’t toxic and hasn’t been found to be harmful, but some people are sensitive to it’s various oxidation products causing skin irriation or respiratory problems. Research has shown that: when people use the [terpene-based ...


11

@techjerk I too live in India and have the same problem. I don't want to use aircon because it consumes too much energy by local standards. I have so far considered the following: Painting the concrete roof white Adding a layer of roof tiles (placed directly on floor of roof) which allow air to circulate under and over, but keep convectional heating ...


11

Throw a bunch of large potted plants up there - maybe even something edible. They'll shade the roof and help feed you.


11

I live off-grid, so I did a lot of study on this topic. All used coffee grounds make good fertilizer. Drip machines seem to use a lot of energy, and they seem to use it for a lot of time. They also use disposable filters. Drip machines are kind of on the off-grid "blacklist". Percolators waste a lot of energy because they have to keep the water boiling ...


10

Build 3 houses. It takes that long to learn enough to get it right. Live in each one for a while, so you can learn the consequences of your decisions. Really, there's a lot to learn in designing and building a house. Anyone can learn it, but it takes time. Start by learning conventional house construction. There's a lot of hard-learned wisdom encoded in ...


9

If you have the property, and resources, make sure your house is tight. Then, dig a four foot trench that zigzags across a suitable part of your yard, taking care to call Mis Dig for location of underwater electrical, water, and gas lines. Lay PVC pipe into the trench, making sure it's water tight. Bring one end up from the ground, above the maximum snow ...


9

As someone who has hand washed his own clothes, I'd say think again before giving up your washing machine. It is a real pain in the neck, and haunches, and forearms - specially if you're washing jeans! And that was one persons clothes - Washing the clothes of 6-8 people would be a nightmare. It's not that it can't be done, you have to be used to it. Instead ...


9

If you really want to do it yourself: Shred them. Fireproof them. Insulate. It is extremely important to treat newsprint with fire-retardants before using them as insulation. Without treatment, newsprint stuffed into wall cavities or attics is a serious fire hazard. A better option is to simply purchase cellulose insulation. It's made from recycled ...


9

Your most sustainable choice is an old straight razor, but there's a reason the replacement is called a "safety razor"... you're much less likely to kill yourself with a safety razor. But these last a long time and you can shave using a small amount of water and a soap stick. You can buy one second hand, that's how long they last. Much safer is an old style ...


9

Ironically, the better you are at reducing your waste, the less likely you are to succeed at replacing plastic bags for the irreducible portion. My mother throws out actual garbage twice a year - one small plastic bag such as the ones you get from grocery stores, every 6 months. While she always has a reusable shopping bag in her purse, she finds that ...


9

Planting a large garden and covering other areas with gravel and/or stepping stones is one approach. Maybe look into rain gardens; water retention is a key concern here and why you want something water can go into (as opposed to concrete etc.). I've also seen folks use square flat stones to create a large playable chessboard to accomplish this goal (but it ...


9

Building on the garden answer : Turn your lawn into a native plant garden. Six or Seven years ago I turned the front lawn of my house (roughly 30' x 50') into a (mostly) native plant garden. The trick is to pick plants that will thrive in the conditions of your yard as well as maintain a manageable size and shape. Be very wary of invasive and/or spreading ...


9

Original answer (which had a long explanation): I proposed using degree days information to determine a baseload value for consumption of electricity and natural gas by region, and assume anything above this baseload was used for heating and cooling. This assumed that all seasonal changes in energy consumption were for heating and cooling only (so no change ...


9

A related question was asked on SE Skeptics - Is this tealight-flowerpot heater more efficient than just tealights? In the third answer, it is claimed the heat produced by one tea light candle is 0.75 MJ per candle. Where I live, one of the domestic gas suppliers sells gas for 2.78 cents per MJ. The energy value of the gas is 38.713 MJ per cubic metre of ...


8

Thermal lined curtains would make a big difference especially if the windows are single glazed. Draught proofing using self-adhesive strip is both subtle and removable. Topping up loft insulation, as it's out of sight, is something that might be permitted quite easily, but could be expensive. Other options are things like shower flow reducers and toilet ...


8

If you're currently in Western Europe, then Eastern European countries may be very interesting for you to look at, because compared to Western Europe: The cost of living tends to be lower, so you could invest more of your savings into alternative technologies such as solar energy Cost of property tends to be lower (both housing and land) There's generally ...


8

I think you're right that building your own is likely to be necessary (we're in the same position). What I've discovered in Australia is broadly applicable in the global north, so: An earthship can't be sustainable, and is not designed to be sustainable - they are about being self-contained within a very narrow definition of the term. They rely on free ...


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