Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Full of light on the shortest day

Principle 1: Observe and interact

Winter solstice, the day of Sen's first birthday, is the shortest day with the longest shadows. I thought that I would take some photos around midday to record the extremes - fortunately the sun came out to help me.
Observing the solar gain in the living room at midday on winter solstice
Sunlight heats most of the slab during the shortest day

Whilst not necessarily the coldest time of the year, with temperatures hovering between 5ºC min and 14ºC max there have been a few frosts. Average temperatures get lower during the next month or two as the thermal mass of the earth cools down, a bit of a delayed reaction. During this time of the year we see sunlight (when it comes out) cover most of the slab, providing us with valuable radiant heat which is stored in the thermal mass of the concrete, helping to stablise the temperature of the house. It can get very bright in our living space and we sometimes close the curtains so that Kai can watch TV or if we want to sit together at the table, as the sun comes in at eye level for Kai.
The fire is lit every evening now, and sometimes during the day when it's overcast, ensuring that we have hot water and a comfortable living space.
I took some photos around the house to make a record of where the extreme shadows fall. A couple of the garden beds are completely shaded during this time of the year. It may be best to let them fallow during the winter months and just use them as summer gardens, but I've planted them out anyway to see how they go.

These vegetable gardens on the north side of the house remain in full sun for most of the day
Shading from the neighbouring fence and garage over the backyard garden
Shading from water tank over garden near front entrance, which is planted out with broad beans

Most of the garden beds on south side of the house completely shaded by the house

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