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The passive solar house is oriented so that the longest side of it’s rectangular shape faces north to receive the maximum winter sun and the least summer sun. All external walls are made from strawbales to provide maximum insulation and minimum embodied carbon. (i.e. carbon released into the atmosphere in the manufacturing, transport or use of a building material.)
Internal walls are mainly of local stone or earth filled and rendered concrete besser blocks to provide thermal mass. The floor is a concrete slab, again for thermal mass. The living area has a 100mm earth floor above the concrete to provide a gentler surface and an interesting feature. Local slate has been used in all the wet areas again to minimise embodied carbon.
A considerable amount of recycled oregan and hardwood timber has been used in the frame construction. Most of the doors and windows are recycled. The windows are predominantly on the northern side of the house. A grape vine covers the pergola on the northern side to provide shade during summer months.
Water supply is 60,000 litres of rainwater. With careful use this provides all our domestic, vegetable garden and fruit tree needs. The house uses a low pressure system whereby water is pumped to a 600 litre storage (header tank) high in the ceiling which gravity feeds water to all areas of the house with plenty of pressure.
A solar hot water system provides free hot water for nine months of the year. An electric boost is used during winter months. A grid connected, 1KW solar PV system provides enough electricity for our careful use.