Wrap Your Home in A Greenhouse

Would You Wrap Your Home in a Greenhouse?

In 1976 Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto  in Stockholm wrapped  their summer home in a greenhouse according to an article written by Yuka Yoneda in 2010 and published in http://inhabitat.com/naturhus-an-entire-house-wrapped-in-its-own-private-greenhouse/

Wrap Your House in a Greenhouse
Wrap Your House in a Greenhouse

A New Way to Insulate Your Home

They implemented this method of insulation, after deciding to use an existing summer home to live in year round.  

Since they were unable to find a lot near their current location to build a permanent home, they took a different approach!  

Since Charles is an engineer, he evidently thinks outside the box plus he was acquainted with an architect who had been designing similar houses since 1974.

 Some changes were made to the home before enclosing it in a permanent greenhouse.  The “roof” was no longer needed so that area was turned into living space and “outdoor” playing space for children.

The greenhouse   is made of extra thick pressure treated safety glass which means if it is broken it shatters into small pieces. 

Compare it to the safety glass used in cars, to give you an idea.  

Originally Sacilotto looked for an empty lot to build an entirely new Naturhus, but he eventually settled on an old summer house on the Stockholm archipelago.

Using Warne’s design, he covered the small summer house, plus an addition, in 4 millimeter glass. The footprint of the greenhouse is nearly double that of the home, leaving plenty of room for a wrap-around garden, and since inside the bubble it’s a Mediterranean climate, the couple now grow produce atypical for Sweden (e.g. figs, tomatoes, cucumbers).

The favorite spot is the glass-covered roof deck. Since there’s no longer need for a roof, the couple removed it and now have a large space for sunbathing, reading or playing with their son on swings and bikes.

The greenhouse isn’t the only novel point to the Granmar-Sacilotto home.

They are also completely independent from city sewage. Built by Sacilotto- an engineer by training-, the sewage system begins with a urine-separating toilet and uses centrifuges, cisterns, grow beds and garden ponds to filter the water and compost the remains.

* In the video, Granmar mentions architect Bengt Warne’s influence in the 1990s since this is the date he reached a larger audience with his book release.  Original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/…

Will living in a Greenhouse Save Money

Their results are amazing.  They were able to cut their electric consumption in half.  Also able to reduce the months when they need heat by two. 

A More recent article about their unusual home was featured in In Habitat which emphasized the wrapping as  protection from the cold.  

One of the benefits of the glass enclosure is that it expanded the living area of the home because of added decks, and use of the now flat roof as living space. 

Greenhouse saves on maintenance creates more living space
Wrap Your House in a Greenhouse Greenhouse saves on maintenance creates more living space

Of course they enjoy the benefits of growing vegetables, figs and other tropical plants that normally will not survive the sever winter cold in Stockholm.   

There is an suggestion at  Build it Solar that bubble wrap is being  used to insulate green houses. 

It would be a daunting undertaking to install bubble wrap on this greenhouse.

But Build It Solar wondered if it would work on their  windows in their home. 

Amazingly it made a big difference.  They estimate that their energy savings paid for installing the bubble wrap in just two months. 

There are detailed instructions with some nice pictures on the site.

How to Install Bubble Wrap on Windows as Insulation

 

To make it simple, cut your bubble wrap to the correct size for your window. 

Use a spray bottle and spray plain water on the window and apply the bubble wrap with the bubbles towards the window

Press in place and it usually stays in place. 

No glue needed.   

It seems that larger bubbles give a clearer view, but the small one work just fine. 

Also they added a second layer on top of the first layer when they used the small bubble wrap. 

Apply exactly the same as  when applying to a window.   

Why Haven’t More People Become Interested In Living in a Greenhouse?

It is amazing that this house and its greenhouse haven’t created a stir.

Since there is no exposure to the elements, the house’s exterior is really simple to maintain.  On the wood siding they applied an oil rub and nothing else.

The video on the page explains quite a lot of other things that they have done, even about how they handle waste water from the bathroom.  They have several methods of disposal and use a great deal of the water for growing plants. 

But to me, the amazing thing was the almost  outdoors feeling  you get on the roof and the balconies.  

Summer of course means opening and venting to reduce heat. 

Currently the greenhouse will not totally heat the house in the dead of winter, but if there is sunshine, it certainly lowers the heating requirements.  

I have a small above ground swimming pool and was looked at like I was not all there when I expressed a desire to build a greenhouse over it. 

Just wait till I tell the naysayers  about a house in a greenhouse! 

references:

  1. http://liveoutdoor.us/family-wraps-their-home-in-a-greenhouse-to-protect-it-from-the-cold/nggallery/image/floors/                                            2. http://inhabitat.com/naturhus-an-entire-house-wrapped-in-its-own-private-greenhouse/  3. http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrap.htm

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C.

Green Tips: Should I Repair or Replace

Going Green doesn’t just happen.

Green Tips Make it Easy to Decide When to Repair or Replace!

With a little planning and looking out for green tips, deciding if you should repair or replace  is a quick way to  get a leg up in the Save Money and Conserve Energy game.

Columbia University  has a  list of 10 Green Tips, all short and to the point. 

Especially great are these two:  

  • Save Energy to Save Money and
  • Save Water to Save Money.   

These are laid out on a page called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… which says it all.  

What brought all this up, was a problem I had with my tankless water heater. 

Now we all know that regular old water heaters are lucky to make it to 10 years without having to be replaced  (at least in my experience)… 

Well, my tankless had been rocking along for 19 years  as close as I can figure…then it developed a small leak and started flipping the reset button on the middle element.  

Even though I had a warranty on the tank  (LifeTime)  I was having a hard time finding the original manufacturer.  

Finally found out the owner died and the company had been sold.  I contacted the new owner of the company that I has purchased water heater from and he agreed to honor the warranty. 

Instead of taking his great advice to pack it up and mail back to him and he would repair…requested that he send a new tank. 

I had new elements in a box…bought them two years after I purchased the water heater,,,sitting on the floor below said heater. 

What I didn’t do was follow the directions that came with said heater: 

“replace elements every 2 years especially in hard water areas.”  

Hmm. 

I don’t have a calcium build up problem here in Tennessee like I did in Florida. 

I can remember hooking up a hose and draining my water heater there about every 6 months and watch the white scale pour out.  

Long story, short…I had one element that set up electrolysis  and made a minute pin hole in the very top of the middle tank.   

Discovered this one day, when I hit the reset button and it was wet!

Things went downhill from here. 

Between the plumber and Mr. Fix it my tank got damaged, so I ended up packing up the water heater, mailing it back to Miami and it was repaired. 

New parts, tank repaired, total damage $91.53  including shipping. 

Inside a Tankless water heater
Inside a Tankless water heater repairing

 

Even with the charges, it is a bargain.  A  new heater is now $432.00, and it is worth it, but also worth it to repair and reuse

It shaves a little over $20. a month off my electric bill.  So even  when new, it paid for its self in 2 years.   Way I figure it, this phone book sized monster has paid me $240 a year since the day installed.   

Sorry, this is  a little over kill on the subject of making a decision to replace or repair, but in this case,  repairing was the best choice and it did cost a great deal less than replacing would have set me back. 

Now on to bigger and better things. 

 

In the list of Green Tips from Columbia University was the Save Energy to Save Money Tip. 

This is one of the best energy savers that I have in my house. 

But now we come to another problem that surfaced about the same time. 

My shower started dripping …un huh. 

So in order to cut down on the water that was dripping away, I got out my computer and started searching for repair parts. 

Most helpful were Amazon and YouTube. 

Found this great video by Delta that even featured my old shower faucet a Monitor 1300/1400 with a water pressure equalizer to keep you from getting scalded if someone uses water while you are in the shower.  

This is not the best type of shower faucet to use with a tankless water heater by the way.  It errs on the cold side when someone causes the water pressure to vary…almost always have to turn off and start over to get warm.  

Ended up ordering a new Delta valve, and an O ring  on Amazon for about 1/3 the price if I had ordered from Delta. 

Nice. 

This whole unit, if replaced would have been over 200 dollars, so for less than $35.00  it was repaired as good as new. 

Two out of Two isn’t bad.  

But if you have an appliance, especially a refrigerator you might want to do some reading at  Consumer Reports  where they have an outstanding information packed page about when to repair or when to replace. 

Of particular interest is the refrigerators, mainly because if it is really old, it may be an energy hog. 

The newer refrigerators and freezers are much less expensive to run than the older ones. 

So this means if you need to replace, as long as you choose one with the Energy Certified tags on it, you might be able to replace with a larger unit that will run for less than your older, smaller unit. 

Something to think about! 

Something else to pay particular attention to is the part about warranties, repairs and who to get to do them.  If not done by someone approved by the manufacturer, you can get into trouble.  

Here was Consumer Reports’s  advice on whether to replace or repair: 

No matter who does the repair, our long-standing advice remains. Don’t spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new product on repairing an old one. And if an item has already broken down once before, replacement may make more sense.  Should you repair or replace that product?
How to save money on appliances, electronics, and lawn and yard gearhttp://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm

So do your reading or video watching and figure out what makes economical sense…repair or replace. 

Good Housekeeping didn’t beat around the bush. 

They listed 15 things to repair instead of tossing. 

Anything from Shoes, Luggage, a shirt with a button missing…Even a Teddy Bear.   Some nice slides with illustrations. 

They didn’t give much repair information but focused on whether to get it professionally done or do it yourself. 

They even recommend YouTube and several other places to get information if you want to do it yourself.

If you are having a hard time deciding whether repairing or replacing is the thing to do,  read some some of the suggested articles.  

I found them helpful, mainly because they justified what I had already done.

Good Luck with your updating, whatever you decide.  If you found my ramblings helpful, please share or comment below.  Feedback is appreciated!

C.