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Old 04-23-13, 09:54 PM   #1
scottorious
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Default stone age simple geothermal

Ok, we all know the benefits of thermal mass and using the ground as a wonderful heat sink. Just for the sake of experimenting I have come up with an interesting experiment. I have a rather small house and I live alone so I think I can get away with this. I have posted an statement to all friends and family asking for donations of empty milk jugs. I will clean and fill these milk jugs with water to the tune of near 1000 or more of them hopefully. I will attempt to place them all throughout the house in areas out of the direct sunlight. My plan is to use them as thermal mass and see exactly how much I could offset the running of the AC in the summer. Now clearly I will still have to potentially run the AC the same amount to remove the heat but I have 3 plans for that.

Plan 1: If the nighttime low will cool enough to assist in cooling my thermal mass I can open my windows and blow all the heat back out.

Plan 2: This is wear the stone age part comes in, I could store a reserve of 200 or so milk jugs in the basement on the concrete floor where they would release their heat into the concrete and hopefully equalize around ground temp. I could manually make 100 trips or maybe 50 if I could devise a way to easily carry 2 in each hand. I would then rotate my thermal mass slowly and take 200 warm jugs down and bring 200 cool jugs back up.

Plan 3: I signed up for a program with my power company called power smart pricing where I will pay market price for power which changes by the hour. Last year on July 25th the cost of one KWH between 3 and 4 PM was over 11 cents however the cost of one KWH between 3 and 4 AM was at 2.5 cents. This means that I could pre-cool my thermal mass for around 25 percent of the price I might pay during the more demanding parts of the day.

Where are any large flaws anyone sees with this idea. In some ways it relies on me being single and young and especially cheap.

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Old 04-23-13, 11:53 PM   #2
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At least here it really is the humidity and not so much the heat, that is why we bought a window A/C unit, to dehumidify the house so it feels cooler, hauling milk jugs up from the basement will warm you up and working harder to go up and down the stairs will release humidity and heat in to the house, I'd sooner opt for sleeping in the basement.
I do like the thermal mass idea, but placing them in the shade in the house makes it sound like you have window shades open in the summer, limit the amount of direct light coming in the house and it will stay much cooler!

Personally I don't think you have the surface area nor the heat differential for the milk jugs to make a huge difference.
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Old 04-24-13, 12:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottorious View Post
...I could store a reserve of 200 or so milk jugs in the basement on the concrete floor where they would release their heat into the concrete and hopefully equalize around ground temp. I could manually make 100 trips or maybe 50 if I could devise a way to easily carry 2 in each hand. I would then rotate my thermal mass slowly and take 200 warm jugs down and bring 200 cool jugs back up....
I am quoting from the First Book of Renovations, Chapter 1, Verse 8:

Quote:
And on the 8th day, God looked down and saw scottorious carrying jugs of water up and down stairs, and he took pity on scottorious, and God spake, saying, "Let there be fluid pumps"... and there were fluid pumps, and they were good... and God was well pleased, and scottorious was also pleased.
-AC
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Old 04-24-13, 01:15 AM   #4
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That really made me laugh. I agree pumps would make life much easier but I could certainly use the excercise! Making 50 trips up and down the stairs with 32 pounds would certainly help my fitness level which in term helps my body regulate temp on its own. Pumps also add significant cost and increase complexity a lot. With many small jugs I can quite easily manipulate where I put the mass to determine what might be the best location.

I also considered the single room air conditioner and may try that out but considering how small my house really is I have to think my central air is a bit more efficient with a few added benefits and added comfort for my labrador.

Everyones suggestions would clearly seem like the better idea but I am hoping to use this experiment to actually find which locations I could benefit from adding thermal mass when I do remodel. Passively heating and cooling would be ideal and I only suggested carrying jugs around just to put another dimension to my experiment.
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Old 04-24-13, 04:35 AM   #5
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Humans are about 20% efficient. If your trip down to the cellar is 3 meters and say you weigh 90 kg with your water, just the trips up are going to add
3*90*10*5 = 13,55 joules of heat to your home every trip.

That does not sound too bad, but remember that the heat load is added to your home in a short time. Well... first to YOU, and then to the home

----
Your comment in the OP that you would place the water away from direct sunlight suggests a better place to start for passive cooling: Shade those windows from the outside.
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Old 04-24-13, 05:30 AM   #6
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Scottorious,

Find a used waterbed. Don't use the heater. They do exactly what you are thinking of while providing another purpose also.
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Old 04-24-13, 07:08 AM   #7
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There are limitations to how much heat you can exchange with the basement. I tried this in July 2010 by running a ducted blower upstairs and gave up when my basement hit 75 degrees and the upstairs was still mid 80's and the house was muggy since the A/C wasn't running to remove the humidity, even the basement was uncomfortable. Eventually the concrete warms up and you lose the battle. I later decided to let the upstairs get to mid-80s on its own and sleep in the lower level of the house without using power to even out the temperatures. I then ran the A/C for 2 hours on my thermostat schedule at the coldest point of the night(but not colder than 60 degrees outdoors for the A/C's sake) and that took the humidity out of the air nicely and added just enough comfort to the house to where I had no complaints.

Your mileage may vary, I don't want to discourage your experiment but 1000 milk jugs would be tedious.
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Old 04-24-13, 08:07 AM   #8
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I think 50-100 trips up and down the stairs will have you wanting to stand in front of an air conditioner... Instead of all that consider this... use the jugs as stationary heat storage devices. Leave them down in the basement then use your furnace blower to move the heat down to the basement. In theory your AC won't have to work as hard and your heat sinks can "recharge" (release their heat) at night when it cools down.

Although 50-100 trips up and down stairs is great exercise. If that is one of the reasons then I say go for it. Just have some water in the tub or pool so you don't get overheated.
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Old 04-24-13, 10:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottorious View Post
That really made me laugh...
Glad you saw the intended humor...

But seriously, I think that what you are doing will be very useful to you, because you will come to deeply understand energy in a way that most people only think about.

No matter what the outcome of your efforts may be, your understanding will be priceless.

Keep going...

Best,

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Old 04-24-13, 03:11 PM   #10
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So, collectively everyone thinks manually moving water is a bad idea. So I'll just scratch that from my planning. Consider just leaving the jugs where they are and just using cheap electricity during the early morning hours to "recharge" my mass to at least slow down heat gain throughout the year. Saying I was going to put them in a shaded area was the wrong way to write that. I was just implying that they would not be in an area where they would be subject to heat gain via direct sunlight. The current shading of my house and windows is also being dealt with as well as insulation. If I was spending money on this project I would agree with others that maybe I should spend it elsewhere first but I hope that my large amount of containers required will be donated free from friends and family. Which means if it produces any beneficial results it's well worth it.

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