Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Are Stalling...

57 degrees - 7:07 pm - beautiful day...

I have mentioned before how we are not rich, we do not have boatloads of cash, and we are not able to buy everything new.  We are an average single income family.  My husband works, while I stay home with our two young children.

I have also mentioned before how we are kind of doing everything backwards, with a lot of shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s being learning along the way.  That was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out.

What do I mean by ‘doing everything backwards’?  Well, the second floor is further along than the first floor.  More accurately, the first floor doesn’t exist yet...our home kind of looks like a one level on stilts.  Now you understand what I mean by doing stuff backwards.  Instead of building from the floor up, we are building from the roof down.  Once again, that was not intentional, that is just how it has turned out.

So far it has been slow going, and now it is even slower.  We are still doing stuff around the house, just not in it.  We are still gathering firewood, and working on the yard, and a few other random things here and there, but that is about it.  We are stalling.  We are stalling until we can come up with the money for our next big purchase...a poured concrete slab with radiant-floor heating.  Once we get this, then there will be another huge building spurt!

Normally, concrete radiant floors are installed before framing of the building begins (but for whatever reason, we are doing things differently).  A radiant floor system pushes heated water from the boiler by way of tubing laid within a pattern beneath the floor.  In particular systems, the temperature in each and every space can be controlled by governing the flow of hot water by way of each and every tubing loop.  The floors use the thermal mass and conductance of concrete to spread heating and cooling and maintain a constant, even temperature.  Rather than heating the air, radiant floors warm objects.

Fundamentally there are 3 varieties of radiant floor heating systems: electric radiant floor systems, hot water or hydronics radiant floor systems (we’re doing this one), and radiant air floor systems (the heat is carried by an air medium).  Every one of these three varieties may well be broken into smaller groups based on the type of installation: those that make use of the big thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or gypcrete concrete spanning a wooden subfloor (these are named “wet installations”) and the ones where the installation of the radiant floor tubing is located in amongst two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing underneath the completed floor or subfloor (“dry installations”).

Radiant heating has a number of advantages: it is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts.  The lack of moving air can also be advantageous to people with severe allergies.  It is a silent and inconspicuous operation – there’s no hum or whistle of a forced air system and you don’t see any vents.  Hydronic systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid (like us), or in areas with high electricity prices.  The hydronic systems can also be heated with a wide variety of energy sources, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or some combination of these heat sources.

Last, but certainly not least... aesthetics, uniqueness, and ease of maintenance are a few more reasons why we want to do a stained concrete with radiant heat flooring system.  Concrete can be so uniquely designed or so naturally colored that it blends seamlessly with other elements in a room – oftentimes, you don’t even realize it’s a concrete floor you’re standing on!  Another desirable feature is the ease of maintenance.  Not only are polished concrete floors easy to clean, requiring only occasional damp mopping or buffing with a neutral pH floor cleaner, they also hold up extremely well to heavy foot traffic. 

Take a look at some of these gorgeous floors – can you believe they are all concrete!





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