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4 replies
  1. Stefania
    Stefania says:

    Hi Robin, thanks for this website- there is a lot of great info here!
    I have wanted a cold room at home for quite a while now, mainly to store veggies over the winter. Our wood stove is in the basement, which makes a cold room there an unlikely prospect, not to mention I have read about mold problems in basement cold rooms in modern, well-insulated homes. So I have been considering building a cold room in the garage, and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts or experience in this area. I read your article about putting a freezer in an enclosed slightly warmer section of the garage – could you combine a cold storage room with that idea, using the waste heat from the freezer to keep the rest of the sectioned off area a bit warmer? The goal would be to have an area that keeps veggies just above freezing for long storage. Thanks!

    • Robin
      Robin says:

      Is there a way to separate the woodstove area of the basement from the coldroom area?
      My parents have a fully insulated (and very large) cottage with a woodstove in the main area of the basement. One room is separated – the workroom – and they routinely store excess food in that room in insulated picnic coolers, including lettuce, other vegetables and fruits, milk and eggs, and so on. The room has a thermostat set to 5C (41F) so it’s just marginally warmer than a refrigerator, as long as the outdoor temperature stays below that.
      The problem with combining a freezer with a cold room in the garage, using the waste heat from the freezer, is that when it is hot the freezer works hard to pump heat out, which will warm your cold room, but when it’s really cold the freezer has little or no work to do, which means your cold room will get colder. I don’t know of a way to jig things up so that you get the right temperature in both the freezer and the coldroom regardless of outdoor temperature, using that kind of setup.

  2. Dave Nims
    Dave Nims says:

    Good stuff. I’m doing a evaluation of everything that uses power in my house, measuring the typical power use. Then I plan on taking reasonable steps to reduce it. Also looking at solar/batteries, with generator backup, for sourcing the power needed to be able to live in the house during an extended power outage. (We heat the house and water with natural gas, but power is needed for controls, fans, etc.)

    My electrical power usage for the last 12 months was 10,060 kWh. Only my wife and me live in the house. What would you consider achievable for normal living, taking reasonable steps to reduce power usage? Thanks, Dave

    • Robin
      Robin says:

      It really depends whether you are heating your house with electricity as that will be your biggest electrical expenditure if you do.
      It is possible to get your consumption as low as 6 kwh a day with a family of four – I know because I managed to do this. That would translate into 2190 kwh/year or about 20% of what you’ve consumed. Your approach of doing an evaluation of everything that uses power makes sense. When you make a list, note how many watts each item consumes, and then how many minutes/hours a day each item is likely to be on. If you’re going to install a solar/battery system for backup you might as well install solar to provide enough power for the whole house (excluding heating). If the house is super well insulated (e.g. a zero energy home), it’s possible to even heat or cool it just with the power from solar panels.


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