Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Upgrading the house insulation

Our house must have been built just before the 1st Oil Price Shock, around 1973/74. At that time, heating was no problem, oil was cheap and consequently, the houses were barely insulated.

Happy times, gone forever.

Furthermore, practically all houses here are made of stone, the heavier the better. Wood is only used for the roof structure. That is a bit astonishing because France's Auvergne region is covered by forests in all directions. Pastures for cows or forests, that's it, more or less.

When we bought our house towards the end of last Century (sounds good, eh?), we decided to heat the place with a wood stove insert. So starting in 1998 I am in charge of the log preparation. We used about 15 cubic meters of firewood or 530 cubic feet. A huge pile of wood!

Finally, I was fed up to pass 2 months every year to transform oak tree trunks into logs. And an efficient outside insulation is the best method to reduce that big heap to a smaller one.

Thanks to the Internet and Google I found a company that covers the house with a 10 cm (about 4") thick polyurethane layer plus, on top of this, about 2 mm of painted aluminium, a little less than 1/10th of an inch.

Thus in August last year we got the job started and a week later all that remained to be done was to pay.

Funny thing is, the look of the house is the same as before. Only the walls are now about 4 inches thicker. And last Winter, the log consumption fell from about 530 cubic feet to about 350 cubic feet (from 15 m3 to 10 m3) meaning about one third less. And the cherry on the cake was that Goverment gave us a fat tax reduction.

Thus this year I had a new stove installed that is supposed to further reduce consumption. Mister stove's name is Max Heavyweight. Here, have a look at Max in all his glory.

Next week the missing pipe will be installed and if the present foul weather persists, we'll have a trial run.

Right now, my wife uses her iron for about half an hour and the temp rises 1°C in the living room!


  1. hola Herr Georg, you have a beautiful home! and what an epic project, here in San Diego I suffer of little insulation on the 1920's built little cottage I live in, during a storm last year one of the back walls (the bathroom one) sort of flew away, so it was replace by a thicker wall with foam inside! the bathroom now is the only cool place there...

    I am happy that you are upgrading to low fuel features in your home, yes, we all have to save in combustion if want to keep alive our planet and ourselves, huh? it's good to know that governments are giving tax brakes to more friendly technologies... and a pleasure to meet Max Heavyweight, i am sure he'll be your friend for many winters to come

  2. To Berenice
    Thanks for your friendly comments. I'll send you something I didn't dare to post here.


  3. Nice house! The houses were we live are made of wood frame and stucco / plaster. Since out is 70 years old (built in 1940) it is heavier and more solid than the ones that are built today.

    We recently had to put a new air conditioning unit on the roof (115 degree summers require it), and we opted for the more efficent (and expensive) model, because it is so much more efficent. It will pay for itself in energy saving within 5 years. It reduced our electric bill by about 1/3 in the first month.....sweet!

  4. Hi Bruce,

    Wish you all the best for the energy saving scheme. 1/3 is quite huge. Next year let's hear how it went in reality.


  5. my house is about as old as me- 40ish :)seems to be insulated ok- and what i like is the window placement- cross breezes and whatnot. i keep the house at 62 deg. F upstairs and 65 deg. F downstairs and put on a sweater :)

  6. Hallo Georgy,
    Nice work with the house! Good to hear the new insulation and Max are working well and giving you and the ax a little break. :oD I wish we could trade weather. I'm not so keen about this heatwave we're having at the moment. Wishing I could move into the freezer!

    Hope your heel is healing well and that you're having a good summer, bro. :o) Sorry I still haven't gotten the email out yet. It's a work in progress.


  7. Sounds efficient.
    Do you have an option to convert your wood fire place to gas fire place?
    That can save you lots of log cutting :D


    Please excuse my late answering. I have been on a one-week-holiday.

    To Betmo
    Hello, my dear. This has been long. 62/65F seems to be just above shivering level if the air is dry. If the air has about 65% humidity, even a sweater might not give much solace.
    Try a wood stove, that kind of warmth is devine.

    To Smorgy
    Max has not yet been tried out, it is simply too warm here, about 21°C in the evening. Hoping for a little stretch of lousy weather to make a trial run.
    As to my tendon, healing is under way but half a mile is the upper walking limit for the moment.
    Wish you all the best in steamy Didacus.

    To Hiva,
    Terrible suggestion Hiva. Wood fire and warmth is Winter Paradiese. I would not dream to change this against a standardisded gas flame. Should be something like being kissed by a kissing machine. No, no, never, never.

    Cheers to all of you


  9. georg,
    I love that fireplace. It is so beautiful.
    I'm jealous.

  10. Nice post. I want to recommend to publish your New Technology

    post on Technogies

  11. salut Georg!!!
    pas pu traduire. j'ai compris que tu as doublé ta façade et changé ton insert. Tu as raison mais note bien le réchauffement climatique.
    au fait! comment vas tu?
    embrasse Elisabeth;
    PS nous revenons en octobre.

  12. Pour Vincent

    Tu as compris l'essentiel. Et le nouveau poêle s'appelle Max.

    Quant à moi, je marche déjà mieux, beaucoup mieux, je suis à 60%. Avec le vélo encore mieux et avec la voiture c'est parfait. Donnes tes nouvelles quand tu sera dans le pays.


  13. OK Georg!!!
    On devrait venir en octobre. je te fais signe.

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