Cellar Tour

Here’s a quick tour of some of the Cold House cellar features.

This is the laundry area:

We generally wash with cold water, but we do use some hot for whites. The washing machine discharge is conveniently located, making it easy to reclaim wash-water heat. Method: I start the machine, setting it for 8 minutes of washing. I go away and return in 7 minutes. I put the discharge hose in a big bucket. When the machine starts draining the wash water, I collect the water (it’s more than my current 5 gallon bucket will hold, so I just watch carefully and pause the washer before the bucket overflows). Then put the hose back in the drain before the rinse cycle starts. I cover the bucket of hot water and bring it to the kitchen to cool (just like the dishwasher water.)

Speaking of hot water, here’s the hot-water-heater timer I installed yesterday:

At the old Cold House, our hot water was heated by a heat exchanger in the furnace boiler, and was essentially tankless– so we could turn it off easily when not in use, and not keep hot water percolating when we didn’t need it. Unfortunately the new house has just a standard electrically-heated storage tank, which is not so easily controlled. But this timer will help. It’s very flexibly programmable, so we will be doing experiments to see how much it can be turned off. For the moment, it’s set to be off between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am weekdays (9:30pm – 7:00am weekends), but likely we’ll be able to shut it off during the day some, too. If you’re desperate you can push the white button and turn it on any time (or, turn it off…)

Next, this is our wood pile, just waiting for the stove to be installed. It makes me feel warm just looking at it (it also made us quite warm moving and stacking it.)

Lastly, this is the kitty door:

They have a ramp down to the floor. It does not seal very well, unfortunately, but is still probably better than repeatedly opening the human-size doors to let cats in and out. This spot of the house is the one area where I do have concerns about frozen pipes– the drain from a bathtub we rarely use is just adjacent to the window and cat door. So, I’m monitoring the area with the remote thermometer sensor (the little white box atop the pipe.) Right now it’s 45. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue, but I’m going to get some extra insulation done there just to be on the safe side.

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4 Responses to “Cellar Tour”

  1. Doug Says:

    Wow, great stuff. I’ve just started reclaiming dishwasher water per your example. Ours is a bit less efficient, so we use a plastic tote.

    Looks like you need to insulate that cold water pipe too. The hot water in the tank will set up a convection current. You can install a heat-trap, or just insulate the closest meter or so of pipe to the water heater.

  2. Passive Geothermal: A Hole Where The Heat Comes In « Cold House Journal Says:

    […] At the New Cold House, though, I thought it quite possible that the cellar would dip down below 32º and threaten the plumbing.  Other than our (hyper-insulated) hot water tank, and the occasional lurking cat, there is nothing at all adding even incidental heat into the cellar.  With uninsulated concrete walls, some crummy old windows, a frequently-opening cat door, and a barely-heated upstairs above, it seemed there wouldn’t be much to keep the cellar from equilibrating to outdoor temps.  As you may remember, early in the winter I took pains to monitor the temps down there, especially around the plumbing. […]

  3. Alexandra DeBoer Says:

    I very much enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you had any problems with insects or rodents from storing wood in the cellar or garage? I’d like to install a woodstove but I have limited options for storing wood, and am considering the garage (which is attached to the house). All recommendations I have read, however, argue strongly against this.

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      We haven’t had much trouble. In the cellar, I’ve only put kiln-dried wood, which is pretty much dirt- and insect-free. Field-dried wood I have put in the garage, but I clean it off pretty well first. And the garage is unheated, so that keeps the critter population at bay. If we lived further south and termites were a potential issue, I’d definitely think differently.

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