Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Winter is upon us - again

Been a while since you lot got some sort of update, so here it is...

We're... living in our house. The last significant step was the fencing and armco, but they've long become background features. We're now in that nice business-as-usual period of simply living in our beautiful Huf Haus, and wondering if we should buy this or that stick o' furniture for this or that nook or cranny. Not that yer Huf Haus has any nooks and crannies. As stated before, finding a wall to put a cupboard against is no mean task when the majority of yer walls are windows.

The wooden flooring is bearing up - parquet floors are surprisingly durable if yer stick to the rock 'ard woods, and therefore inevitably the most expensive ones. Only major ding was done by yours truly last weekend, when he dropped a whopping thick glass jar on the kitchen floor - missed my foot (thankfully), jar survived, notch in the floor.

The other thing that's bearing up very well is the central heating system. Oo! Oo! Meant to tell yer all about that. Mr Banking and IT here had absolutely no idea as to the significance of the heating system we ended up buying. Nuff said that it was supposed to save money (makes me happy) and generate copious amounts of heat on demand (makes Claudia happy) and all's well with the world. Turns out that the air/air heat pump system is actually fairly greenie. Not as green as a ground/air heat pump, mind, but then the local geology was against us on that. I'll say to anyone that it's a crime against nature that some form of heat pump isn't a mandatory requirement for any domestic new installation or replacement throughout the western world - which would reduce the rather pricy acquisition price still further. They're cheap to run, efficient, greenie and just bloody marvellous.

One just hopes that one day it becomes so.

I'll continue to day-dream about some form of solar power for the hot water (currently running 100% off the electricity) but will await developments before I commit. Surely there's a market for roof tile-shaped solar panels? And surely someone can design one that's snow-friendly enough for use half-way up a mountain? Current mountain area planning regulations take a dim view on solar panels 'cos snow readily slips off 'em thereby putting any visiting vicar at risk of a decapitation.

What else?

Good thing the pickies below are snow-bound because although we've found a local gardener to take care of the borders and grass and stuff, the uphill side of the garden is still a massive weed patch. We have a local landscape garden firm submitting a 'concept' very soon - although one mistrusts 'concepts'. 'Concepts' usually need copious amounts of money to 'realise'. Still, we'll have a butchers at whatever they come up with.

And I've left the best and coolest thing for last. We've bought ourselves what's known as a snow-thrower - one of those lawn-mower looking machines that yer see on the telly sucking up snow at the front and then spraying it out of a nozzle on the top. Really bloody cool. Cleared our entire driveway with it in just a few minutes - a job that would have taken me an hour or more by hand and spade. Cost me about CHF 1,500 or, what's that, six hundred quid. Eek! Anyways, I'm made up with it. Four-stroke petrol powered, for those that understand such things, and light enough for Claudia to use it when I've succumbed to frostbite.

Anyways, here're the long overdue pickies...


Pete, Jersey said...

Hi Ric,

A welcome return! I've got your blog on my list of feeds and had been looking forward to the next instalment.

As regards your comment about solar panels in the shape of a roof tile, I can't offer you that, but thought you might be interested in reading about - imagine a big newspaper press, printing off rolls of solar film. I believe they have it in their business plan to produce building cladding that uses this technology. Fascinating stuff. The google lads, amongst others, have piled some of their billions into this.

Keep up the blogging, always a good read. Enjoy the snow blower!

Pete, Jersey said...

Just re-read your post. I had missed the "snow slides off solar panels" mountain planning conundrum when I posted my original comment.

Blimey - Health and Safety nutters get everywhere. Having said that, I wouldn't fancy a big slab of snow falling on me from a 4 storey I understand why you mountain dwellers have bloody great telegraph poles strapped horizontally across the roof!

Ric Capucho said...

Not only the telegraph poles, but steel finger thingies on every other tile. Supposed to bind snow to the roof until it melts. Shall take a pickie sometime to show yer. Not very relevant for the UK, but essential around here.

Snow's all melted again, by the way, but should return soon enough and likely stay for the duration of the winter.

Ric Capucho said...

Forgot to say about nanosolar - I've already been reading about them lately with great interest.

These panels're designed to generate electrical power, so they're photovoltaics, rather than heat water. Very very interesting, 'cos if they really can reduce the per metre cost enough, then just about every south-facing structure in the western world can be draped in the stuff. And they're a damn lot more sightly and neighbourhood-friendly than some wind turbine.

As ever with these greenie technologies, the main problem isn't generating the electricity, but storing it for later when yer want to use it. No good watching the blazing sunshine out of yer office window only for yer fridge to be all dark and yer beer all warm when yer get home in the evening.

Pete, Jersey said...

Solar power - tell me about it mate!

Where I live, the government is the majority shareholder in the monopoly electricity supplier, making a very nice annual profit, ta very much. However, for "technical reasons" it is not yet possible to sell back any excess electicity you generate at the "net tariff" (i.e. you sell it back to them at the same price they sell it to you). Yet, on the other hand, like most European governments, they are trying to clobber the ordinary taxpayer with new green taxes. Complicated, these green issues!

I believe many power companies in the UK are beginning to offer the "net tariff" option nowadays. What's the Swiss attitude to that sort of thing?

Ric Capucho said...

Dunno, to be honest. Shall find out though.

Soon enough I'm gonna run out of things to post about on this blog - "We're thinking of getting a cat, but are having difficulties to cut a cat-flap blah blah blah". That's when I'm going to relaunch myself as a visionary of the future - erm, yet another daft sod who reckons he can read the tea leaves.

Have much to say about what's to come, and schemes such as tariff-netting feature prominently.

Z said...

While this won't work with your type of roof tiles, Eternit has the following integated options for water heating (Quicksol) and electricity production (Photovoltaik Module Integral Plan). Maybe this information will be useful for one of your readers.

Eternit Solar Force: