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Showing posts from January, 2013

Some shade please - now!

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Principle 12: Creatively use and respond to change

It's been hot this summer, bloody hot - and virtually no rain for months.

While we wait for our grapes to grow up our new trellis I added shade cloth to give some protection from the harsh sun. It's made quite a difference, helping to keep the deck cooler, reducing reflection inside and while ugly it's going to stay there for the summer.

On really hot days 35º+ we close all the windows and curtains in the house. The pelmets and curtains inside work well, but we wanted to improve on that by reducing the amount of reflected heat coming in through the windows. Once the heat is inside, that's where it stays until we open up the house at night when the weather cools down.

Playing around with shade cloth has helped me envisage what the future may hold for us, after our plants have established themselves. I'm thinking of what to plant on the west side of the house after experienceing the impact of the shade cloth that I&…

Preserving with a solar tyre cooker

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Principle 2: Catch and store energy

Make sure that you read the important update at the end!

It's summer here, and it's been really hot, often 35-40ºC. We've got tomatoes coming on and the freezer has filled up. The last thing I want to do during this time of year is heat up the house with more cooking inside, and I've been thinking for some time that it make sense to take advantage of the hot weather.

I've been looking at how to make use of recycled materials to build a solar cooker. You can find out about the basic principles here. A point to note about my approach is that I am lazy and apply the proverb 'don't do what you don't have to' - seeing what I can get away with before trying to perfect the process. Or, if you prefer, Principle 7: 'Design from patterns to details'.

My first attempt (last summer) was to use a small satellite dish to reflect light to heat water in a billy (a parabolic cooker for fast heating). I had a dish, and I ha…