Preparing for winter 2022 - Help + Health

cheers… I’m obviously going to have to check various makes (whatever) for the best insulation (minimum heatloss) and, by the time I get organized, I’m hoping folk know better than to be showering daily just for the sake of it :roll_eyes:

Hi Stella, we have settled on an Ariston wall mounted electric water heater. With only two of us we decided on 65 litres. Twin chambers, heat settings from 40° to 90°.The heater has a memory and learns your water consumption over time. It’s factory set to heat to70° once a week to keep the tank safe. It’s more than we need and even if you run out of hot water it’s 30 minutes and shower ready. The water stays hot for up to three days.

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@geoffrey_Croshaw as luck would have it, this one popped up in my inbox this morning from Amazon France - considerably cheaper than the one I first posted…

I have been used to wood burning stoves in France for the past 30 odd years coupled up with electric convector heaters so this winter coming it will be interesting to see how my new build compares with the reversible clim, air source heat pump and a fair bit of insulation in the roof along with being 1.5m off ground level (compulsory in case of flooding) and electric heating in all rooms as a back up. I have a 3m sliding window facing SW so hopefully any sun will also come through there and help keep the place warm but being used to one metre thick sold granite walls and thick hand cut slate roof for so long and always being warm I am a little nervous. At least the heat pump will be cheaper than the old chauffe-eau to run. My son has installed a log burner in his house, a very small one and burns those compressed logs, his house is like an oven during the winter without any other heating on so folks might be interested in going down that route if wood is in short supply or has gotten too expensive.

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what is the construction of your new build?
Ours is 200cm wood panels on the exterior packed with rockwool insulation, 200cm rockwool rolls in the roof space and 200cm insulation embedded in the concrete floor over which is laid modern parquet insulated board formed as light oak flooring board with a sandwich of light fibre insulation rolled out between the concrete floor and the parquet. All the internal walls are 100cm wood panel stuffed with rockwool insulation.
Even in the worst of winter, we walk around the house bare foot and a single Godin room heater in the lounge heats the whole house.
From what you say, I think you should be fine based on our experience provided there is good insulation at floor level. Ensure there is a good external air supply to feed your wood burner though…

Its the standard terre-cuite blocks with crépi finish, solid insulated concrete floor (its a pleine-pied),plasterboard walls inside, thick tiled floor throughout and the roof space lined with rockwool that was obviously sprayed in because when we did the lights ourselves, there were many little bits that came throughthe holes, pushed it all back in. I don’t have a wood burner, just the reversable clim and electric radiators that work on pre-set temp so if it gets toohot, they shut down etc. My OH was a master builder in the UK for many years and here in France we had a building business until he died and all my family are in the building trades apart from my own children. I watched this house being constructed from the basic clearing of the land right upto moving in and still having the artisans working on various bits to finish off so saw what went into it.

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I was really interested in the bit you mentioned about the 1½m raised (concrete) floor. Is there a “skirt” around the outside or just plain open?

Sorry, I misunderstood that point.

As did we. The design was my mine as were the specifications and the purchase of materials - we employed a mix of artisans to perform the various tasks and we project managed the whole ensemble. We were fortunate in that we rented only a couple of Km away so were able to be on site every day to manage progress (an boy, did we kick some arses!)
Like us, I’m sure you are justifiably delighted with the finished (or finishing) project which you have uniquely made your own.
I hope you will enjoy it for many years to come (as indeed we have so far and will for the foreseeable future).

Thanks for the wishes. Yes the house has a "skirt down to ground level with an access hole around the rear so you can get underneath to check on plumbing pipes etc. This particular commune has not flooded for 20years according to the legal documents in my notaire dossier but never say never and getting insurance locally was not easy with the insurance company I have been with for many years and who now refuse to do it here, but my original Breton bank offered to do it and at a reasonable cost so went with them for piece of mind.

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Don’t forget that you can always check with @fabien SF’s resident insurance expert the policy terms for any hidden aspects you may be uncertai /unaware of and for alternatives to consider in difficult cases :wink:

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We have the same sort of construction, built in 2011 with a 1m high skirt raising the whole house off the ground. I was told it hadn’t flooded here in many years. My next door but one neighbour has a house of the same age, but not raised. He’s been flooded twice in the last three years. I’m really glad we have the house off he ground as this sort of thing will be more common in the future.

They also built a huge flood basin behind this row of houses and back in march after days of torrential rain it was full but drained off very well down to the river about 1km away - I could have had a row boat out on it but it came now where near the top and the back gardens of the houses I am glad to say.Currently it is a nice green area where people can walk along a concrete path and the big old trees on the other side will also drink from it as will all the bamboo planted everywhere.

I’ve been impressed here in rural 16 with the way the ditches are cleared out by the local farmers which I’m sure helps clear any flooding in this area.
We live quite high above above the sometimes raging Bonnieure’s flood plain and can see it encroaching on the farm land used in the summer for cattle grazing. I believe building on flood plains as they do in the UK is just plain crazy and asking for trouble.
I’m not say France is always perfect in this respect, just that, for me, the different approach to land management is helpful and more kind to the enviroment

I reckon that the best way to prepare for winter is to thoroughly review every aspect of the insulation of the house. Stopping draughts around doors and windows is easy and cheap to do with the adhesive foam or rubber strips. Beefing up loft and attic insulation is a dusty and sweaty job but is well worth the money. Insulation on heating pipe runs can often be improved by doubling up on the thickness of the insulation. Thermostatic valves on radiators are a must, as the temperature can then be turned right down in rooms that are not in frequent use.
One really simple thing is to make sure that all window shutters and curtains are closed by dusk. In winter, many of our shutters stay closed 24/7.
If you have ‘lean to’ outbuildings connected to the house, then insulate the wall that divides the building from the house. Gluing polystyrene panels onto the ‘lean-to’ side of the wall is a cheap way of achieving the objective.
If you are doing any interior remodelling, or extensive redecoration, then consider lining any outside walls with the plasterboard that comes with a layer of polystyrene already bonded onto the back of it. This is also an excellent way of substantially reducing condensation forming on the walls in a kitchen or bathroom.
The cheapest heat is that which is never used in the first place, and increasing insulation will pay you back the cost of it time and time again.

I like that, good use of otherwise wasted resource! :grinning:

Do you need a conventional water tank?
A Sunamp heat battery has many advantages over a water tank, one being it can store heat for up to 2 weeks, not 3 days. Another is around 1/3rd of the size.

Jees 2metre thick walls, thats some insulation. :relaxed:

At 55c legionella is unable to multiply so will die off but slower than at 60c where it dies in around 30 seconds.

Back in the 1980’s my company built a health centre designed by an eco friendly husband/wife architect team from Nottingham. They both looked like aging hippies so fitted the ground breaking ideas of the time.
The building was constructed with diaphragm walls creating a 1000mm cavity that was them jam packed with fibreglass insulation. The windows were triple glazed and floors and roof had same thickness insulation as the walls. No heating system was installed as the architect claimed that his design coupled with body heat and a system that kept control of open and closed doors would suffice.
It was certainly ground breaking at the time and proved to be a success. My sister in law lives in the area that the building serves which it continues to do very economically.

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Sadly Max died this year.
https://www.maxfordham.com/projects/max-fordham-house

re Sunamp heatpumps etc… In areas where winter temps regularly sit around -15c , surely ordinary electricity is more reliable to provide hotwater (and radiators for that matter) …???

Oooops :face_with_hand_over_mouth:
Too handy with the 000’s there - I really should have said 20 and 10 for the internals… or 200mm :wink:
Thanks for correcting… :+1: