Sunday, June 12, 2011

Making small, simple energy saving steps

We are hosting our groups Energymark meeting this weekend.... with winter well and truly upon us and one very cold week just gone (I don't think we got above 4oC or so for about 5 days) it was timely that we starting making some more small energy saving steps.

We checked the windows and doors for draughts the other day - using an incense stick on a windy day.

We had sealed doors last year bit I just wanted to check the windows and recheck the door seals.  I did not find any big draught spots that need sealing - which was good.

We have been contemplating double glazing some of our south facing windows - to reduce both heat loss from our south facing bedrooms and to stop the condensation that builds up on the windows and creates a damp mouldy inside of the window.  But have not found the time to chase quotes etc at the moment and to be honest we are a bit nervous about the potential costs.  

So we decided to keep finding some small, simple energy saving steps to do around the house.  Yesterday we made simple pelmets for all the living room windows. This is the view of the top of our curtains before our simple pelmet installation - note the close to 10cm wide gap between the curtain and the window frame.  Air can circulate through this gap down past the window, resulting in the air being cooled by the cold air outside the window.  As you can imagine - this could develop into quite a cooling current or draught in the room.

To stop the air circulation down past the window we simply put a piece of timber over the top of the curtain - resting it on the curtain track supports.  You can see in the image below how the air can no longer travel down behind the curtain.

I think it cost about ten dollars for each window - and comparing the before and after of this simple solution there does seem to be a noticeable reduce in the draft or flow of air down past the window since putting on our pelmets.

You could not get much simpler or cheaper than that.  What is more you can barely see the pelmet we installed as it sits directly on top of the curtain track.

What simple energy saving things have you done around your house?  Have they made a difference?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Increasing perennial vegetables in our garden

Since studying Permaculture last year we have been trying to increase the number of perennial plants in our vegetable garden.  Over summer this year we trialled a new perennial root crop - Yacon.

Yacon or the Peruvian Ground apple is a close relative of the Jerusalem Artichoke - it is a member of the Asteraceae or the daisy family.
Jerusalem artichoke
Yacon produces two types of tubers - the purple - red bumpy tubers that are close to the surface - these are the tubers that we will be storing in a cool dark place in coir peat until spring planting time to produce more Yacon tubers to harvest next year.

Under the purple - red tubers are bigger more smooth tubers - these are the ones that you eat.  We planted only a single tuber this year and harvested all these edible tubers.

Our Yacon harvest - from a single tuber.

Tasting our first Yacons

Yacon passes the first taste test
...but not the second!

I must admit the taste is unusual - an apple flavoured potato  - is one of the best descriptions I have heard.  Truly unique when eaten fresh but as a roasted vegetable it is great.

Roasted vegetable - potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and Yacon.