The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the category “energy”

Stocking Firewood for the Winter

Arborist, Steve Zumalt of North Attleboro, Massachusetts fills us in on what we need to know to stock up on firewood for the winter: How to season wood and how to know when the wood is well seasoned/dry, which woods to stock (in New England), BTUs, fireplace vs. wood stove and so on…

Steve’s business is Zumalt Tree Experts.


DIY “Air Conditioner” for Cheap

This “air conditioner” design uses a fan to force cold air out of a cooler stocked with ice. elliotdeg says it only cost him about $11 to make.

Chamois and Fan Swamp Cooler

Pepemapache writes:

“This video isn’t great but it shows in a very simple and cheap way how to make a swamp cooler at home. Get a shammie or its famous equivalent: a shamwow. Get it wet and place it in the back of a regular 20” fan that you probably already own or can be bought for cheap at any store.

The wet shammie will cool down the flowing air about 15° F to 25° F but ONLY if you live in a dry environment, like Arizona or some parts of California. It doesn’t work well in high humidity places like Florida or Georgia.

This is perfect when you have 100+° F outside temperature and your room or apartment is rapidly heating up, even with all those fans in the windows running at a 100%.

Now, remember, this is not an air conditioner. Do not expect air conditioner temperatures. It only cools down the air so your place isn’t burning hot when it is time to go to bed. Keep the shammie constantly wet so it keeps cooling down the flowing air.

This is a very cheap, energy efficient trick to cool down your room or apartment when it’s really hot outside. If you need more cooling power for a bigger place, just do the same in several rooms and remember to keep the shammie moist. Hope it works for you just as well it worked for me.

High-Efficiency Wood Stoves

“The latest next generation wood burning stoves are over 90% efficient and look good too. If you are thinking of installing a wood burning stove then find out more. They come in a variety of designs with some being more efficient than others. Some wood burning stoves can revolve and would look good in the most modern of homes. Anglia Fireplaces demonstrate their use.”

Lorena Stove Info

Here is some information about the Lorena woodburning stove design.

Pros: It uses very little firewood and burns very efficiently and when the exhaust pipes are clean with little smoke near the person cooking.

Cons: Can be difficult to start a fire in these stoves as the stove’s opening is small. If you blow into the stove a wave of heat can come back at you and burn your face. Apparently it also takes more work to construct than the simple rocket stove, as well.

Here is the Lorena stove being lit:

I’m conflicted about this design because of this — it seems materials matter.

Cinder Block Rocket Stove

Quick and easy construction by hightechredneck

Straw Bale, Adobe and Post and Beam House in New Mexico

The following videos feature a small (800 sq ft) “hybrid” house built by designer Ted Owens in Corallis, New Mexico, near Albuquerque. His house uses post and beam construction (he got the lumber from salvage yards and home renos), straw bale and adobe with mud used as plaster. The house draws its electricity from photovoltaic solar panels.

The house also uses sunlight, heavy materials (adobe walls and concrete floors) and shifts in temperature (passive solar concepts) to keep the inside temperatures comfortable. Windows are also carefully placed to maximize comfort in the house.

Cooking with the Sun on the Navajo Reservation in Utah

This was a really interesting entry. Here several Navajo students from Paul McCarl’s class at the Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek, Utah present their solar cooker projects.

Especially interesting is a Fresnel lens cooker the students built in order to be able to fry the popular Southwest fry bread.

As one of the student notes, you don’t see too many solar cookers that will fry.

The students introduce themselves in Navajo and then go on and explain their projects.

How to Make A 16-Brick Rocket Stove

Here, “Dr. Larry Winiarski makes a clean burning rocket stove using 16 adobe bricks at the Rotary International-sponsored Integrated Cooking Workshop in Tlautla, Mexico.”

Important points: The advantages of this kind of stove – rocket stoves are easy to construct, burn wood extremely efficiently, so a little wood goes a long way, generate very little smoke, and burn hot.

The stove he demonstrates is made with unfired adobe brick that was made with plant material (straw) as a binder. This makes for light but very well insulating bricks.

solarwindmama who posted this video to YouTube says that she made a similar stove with fired red brick from Home Depot and it worked but that she thinks that the heat would have been more concentrated with unfired adobe brick.

Point 2: Rocket stoves have to be used outside or carefully and properly vented, otherwise you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Making Fire with A Bowdrill

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