House June warmth profiles: III

Part III: Daily temperature cycles, east wing

Graph showing the daily temperature cycles for five days at mid-winter

This five-day period was a testing time for the unheated solar-passive house. Days were at their shortest, some nights were frosty, and overcast persisted for two days. It fell within a cold, wet, and cloudy winter.

This post is about the single-storied east wing of the house. It is the main part of the house, with most of the clearstory windows.

Back to Part I: Average temperature values.

Back to Part II: Daily temperature cycles, west wing

Observations

View of the house from the street

House From the Street

In this wing, seen on the left in the photo, five thermometer stations define a profile in height. They are:

Subsoil in the heat bank beneath the house;
On the floor slab;
On the room wall;
In the clearstory space;
OUTDOORS, in a Gill Screen, 1.5 metres above the ground and eight metres from the house.

During the five days I made 84 observations at each station at intervals as shown. They define the daily temperature cycles. I observed the amount of cloud in Octas (eighths of the sky) at the same intervals.

Table of east wing temperatures.This table lists for each thermometer station the five-day values of the average, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and the temperature range.

The daily cycles

Subsoil

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House June warmth profiles: II

Part II: Daily temperature cycles, west wing

Graph of temperatures in the house west wing in mid-winter

I report here on the thermal performance of a solar-passive house in Manilla, NSW, during five days at the winter solstice of 2016. The house is described briefly in a Note below.
This post is about the 2-storied west wing of the house, which is less successful. The more successful east wing will be considered later. An earlier post showed that average temperatures decreased with height. Go to Part I.

This five-day period was a testing time for the unheated solar-passive house. Days were at their shortest, some nights were frosty, and overcast persisted for two days. It fell within a cold, wet, and cloudy winter.

Observations

View of the house from the street

House From the Street

In this wing, seen on the right in the photo, five thermometer stations define a profile in height. They are:

Subsoil in the garden near the house;
On the downstairs floor slab;
On the downstairs wall;
On the upstairs wall;
OUTDOORS, on the wall of the upstairs veranda.

During the five days I made 84 observations at each station at intervals as shown. They define the daily temperature cycles. I observed the amount of cloud in Octas (eighths of the sky) at the same intervals.

Table of west wing temperaturesThis table lists for each thermometer station the five-day values of the average, maximum, and minimum temperatures, and the temperature range.

The daily cycles

Subsoil

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House June warmth profiles: I

Graph of house temperatures versus height

Where is the warmth in a house?

People are building houses that should keep warm in winter with little heating.
Some parts of the house will stay warmer than other parts. Which parts? How warm?
Answers are not easily found. I hope this temperature record from a house with only personal heating may be useful. This was a time when the house was under extreme stress due to cold weather.

Over a five-day period in winter 2016, I read thermometers frequently at a number of stations around the house. I have selected those stations that form profiles from top to bottom of two wings of the house: the two-storied west wing, and the east wing that is one-storied with a clearstory.
To find how my house differs from yours, see the note below: “Key features of the house”.

Selected thermometer stations

In the West Wing (two-storied)

OUTDOORS, upstairs veranda (+4.7 metres);
Wall upstairs at head height (+4.2 metres);
Wall downstairs at head height (+1.5 metres);
Floor slab surface downstairs (0.0 metres);
Garden subsoil at -0.75 metres.

In the East Wing (single-storied)

Clearstory space at +3.5 metres;
Wall in the hallway at head height (+1.5 metres);
OUTDOORS, in a Gill Screen (+1.5 metres);
Floor slab surface in the en-suite (0.0 metres);
Solid “heat bank” beneath the floor slab (-0.75 metres).

Part I: Average temperature values

SUMMARY RESULT
In the ground under the floor slab the temperature would be just warm enough for winter comfort. Above the floor slab, the higher you go, the colder it gets.

Results

The graph above plots mean temperature against height above the floor slab. (The mean temperature is the time-average over the five days.)

Comparing east wing, west wing, and outdoors

The single-storied east wing was several degrees warmer at all heights than the two-storied west wing. The east wing has advantages: thermal mass, perimeter insulation in the footings, less shading, and a more compact shape.
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Hard Winter for Solar-passive

Graphical log of daily indoor and outdoor temperatures for winter 2016.

Temperature log: main features

This graph, for 2016, shows a winter pattern of indoor and outdoor temperatures that is typical for this house. Indoor temperatures vary much less than outdoor temperatures, they rise and fall with them, and they are higher nearly all the time.
While the outdoor temperatures shown go as low as minus three degrees, those indoors lie within the winter “comfort zone” from 17 to 24 degrees (see this post) nearly all the time.

Weather this winter

This winter was harsh for a solar-passive house. Near-record rainfall (227 mm) came with the greatest number of cloudy days of any winter in the new century. There were 53 mornings with more than four octas of cloud, when the average is 33.

Heater use

Because cloud limited the the solar gain, I had to use blower heaters far more than in previous winters. My records show that I used 320 kWh ($80) in these heaters this winter, when I normally use about 40 kWh ($10).
Heaters were also used by guests who were present on the six days shown. As well as being unused to the climate, the guests lived in the colder west wing of the house. They may have used 72 kWh ($18). Those guests have kindly written reviews of their visit.
Even using 400 kWh of electricity for personal heating in a winter could not make a detectable change in house temperature. I have found that blower heaters are surprisingly good at making a room in this house comfortable. As the radiant temperature of the walls is only 2 or 3 degrees too low for comfort, it can be compensated by making the air temperature only slightly higher.

The pattern in detail

While cloudy days are not plotted here (Cloud observations for this winter are plotted elsewhere.), cloudy days can be recognised on the graph. In this climate, days with low maximum temperature and high minimum temperature are always due to cloud. Only in fine weather are days warm and nights frosty. The graph shows how the weather goes through a cycle every week or two: sunny days get warmer, then rain sets in. As it clears, the air gets even colder, before warming up again.
Indoor temperatures follow the same cycle, but there are differences. There may be a delay of up to a day, and sometimes longer.

Correlations

I did scatter plots comparing all the variables shown in the first graph and I fitted linear regressions. I present the four scatter-plots that had the highest coefficients of determination (“R-squared”). Continue reading

Constructing My Solar-passive House

Photo of tossing a brick

One Brick Thermal Mass

The “Indoor climate” posts on this blog relate to the particular house that I live in. Mainly by luck, it has proved to need very little energy indeed to remain comfortable in all seasons.
Recently, I have collected and arranged photos of the house so that people can see what kind of a house it is.
These photos are accessed by way of “My House Page”.

House footings on a rise

Footings View East

In the last few days I have uploaded photos of the stages in the building of the house. They are in two galleries. The first, “Building Photos: Start” covers from preparation for building up to the erection of timber frames. The photo on the left, showing some of the footings, is an example.

The second new gallery, “Building Photos: Finishing” covers from laying bricks for thermal mass walls (as in the photo at the top) to the completion of an acrylic textured coating on the walls.

Photos of the completed house, inside and out, had been posted already, in “Award photos 1999”.

Once an “Indoor Climate” post or page has been accessed on this web-site, links to all others appear. A post such as this one, when accessed through “Home” will not link to the others until it is selected positively by clicking its title line.

My Solar-passive House Photos and Details

 

A plan of the house

Monash Street House Plan

Distant view from the south-east

Distant view from the south-east

Posts on “Indoor Climate” in this blog come from my experience living in my solar-passive house from 1999, and monitoring its performance.

Until now, I have not given readers a clear idea of what the house is like. I have now set up a special page called “My House Page” where details can be found. So far, there are two sub-pages, both referring to the time when the house was new:

  • A gallery of photos called “Award photos 1999”, and a house plan, which were submitted in an entry for the Housing Industry Association (NSW) awards for 1999.
  • An essay “House Profile 1999” that sets out the principles that I thought important then, and the features that I had built in to the house. I added a reading list of books available at that time, and a list of Credits to those people who built the house.

Navigation

The “My House Page” is not directly indexed in the main menu on the banner, but it appears with a hover over “Indoor Climate”.

Posts and Pages on Indoor Climate have links to each other in the side-bar on the right, in the panel “Indoor Climate Blog and Pages”. This panel does not appear on the Home Page, but only when an “Indoor Climate” blog post (or Category of posts) is selected.

I intend to add more pages in time.

Managing my low-energy house: II. Features needing attention

Photo of clear-story area with winter sun and a fan

Clear-story fan set for winter

This post, and the companion post I. Features needing no attention were posted originally to a forum of the Alternative Technology Association (See Note below.)

My low-energy house at Manilla, NSW, maintains year-round comfort in a climate of daily and seasonal extremes. In the climate classification of the Building Code of Australia, it is in Zone 4: “Hot dry summer, cool winter”, along with Tamworth, Mildura and Kalgoorlie.
This house differs from most houses in relying on the design of the house to achieve comfort, with hardly any energy needed for heaters or coolers.
There is little artificial control: the “home automation system” consists only of timers set twice a year. Some of the comfort features call for daily action in certain seasons. However, these simple daily chores could have been avoided by small changes in the design. [But see “Note added 2016.”]

The success of the house in maintaining comfort in all seasons is shown by scatter-plots of daily indoor and outdoor maximum and minimum temperatures over a period of three years.

Features re-set twice a year

Dates for re-sets

For part of each year, the Manilla climate is too hot for comfort, and for the rest it is too cold. Some house features are re-set twice a year, making a “winter regimen” and a “summer regimen”. At first, I set the change-over dates near the equinoxes, 20th March and 22nd September. For simplicity I changed on 1st April and on 1st October. Later, I found it better to change on 1st March and 1st November, because the time when the climate is too hot is shorter than the time when it is too cold.

Motorized curtains

Curtains fitted to five north-facing windows, and a shutter fitted to a sun-porch window, should be opened to admit winter sun and closed at night to trap the heat. In summer they should be closed by day to keep out radiant heat and opened at night to allow heat to radiate out. The curtains and the shutter have motors controlled by a programmable timer (at lower right in the photo). In autumn (1st March), the timer is set to open at 07:40 and close at 17:20 daily. In spring (1st November) the timer is set to open at 18:00 and close at 06:00 (Standard Time).

Clear-story windows and fans

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