Hot water in the home

Hot water in the home is entirely possible for those wanting to be reslient and not reliant on utilities for power.

A hot shower is one of the non-negotiable in our family and I suspect in most, though there are suggestions that unless you are involved in really dirty work, we actually bathe too much for a healthy skin.

Hot water uses around half the electricity in the average home, so this is obviously an important subject, especially for those trying to do their bit for king and country, not to mention the planet and use less or no utility-power.

And of course with load shedding we all are missing out on that regular hot shower periodically anyway. I would hasten to add we too at our green-home; when there is inclement weather for three consecutive days.

Solar vacuum tubes attached to the geyser on the roof.

I have no experience of donkey boilers but I gather they work well, but there’s some schlep; no instant hot-water. We did toy with the idea of propane for a while but I’m glad we decided against it; it just adds to greenhouse gases.

Quite a lot of people use heat-exchangers and they perhaps should be considered, but they also use electricity and are noisy; not everyone is happy.

That leaves one with vacuum-tubes and photovoltaic panels for heating our water. We have both and they too have their pluses and minuses.

It’s now eleven years since we had our first vacuum-tubes installed; they have worked well, still do and the water may boil on a hot day. I think they are king of the road, but they are expensive, can break in a severe hailstorm, though we have not had a problem, and very little infrared light gets through in the thick mist of Hilton. That geyser holds enough for two days for a small family, but after that it’s a cold shower.

West-facing solar panels to power the hot water geyser.

There is another possibility. We now have the option of supplementing our geyser with electricity either from mains in wet-weather, or from our photovoltaic panels when it’s sunny.

That geyser absolutely must not be in the ceiling; flooding has been experienced by most of us at least once at great expense. It should be placed on the roof above the vacuum tubes for the thermo-syphen to work. Those little solar pumps are in theory workable but our experience is they are horrible; noisy, expensive and prone to leaking. We have that T-shirt; a flooded ceiling.

Put your geyser on the roof and not in the ceiling. 

We remain connected to the grid, on prepaid, but with the main breaker switched firmly off; that surge, courtesy of the incompetents sent by City Hall to install a new transformer is not readily forgotten, causing massive damage down our street. Only once in the last eight-months have we used mains power, when guests came to stay, and were very glad to have had it.

For the rest, once the batteries are charged, and Onze Leafy, our magnificent but old E-car, we now can use any surplus power to heat water; that means at least an extra kilowatt of PV panels. If installing a new geyser, do consider an induction element.

And then there are wood stoves that are becoming increasingly popular. They are turboed, extremely efficient and clean-burning. Fallen and sawn trees abound for fuel that usually is just dumped. We store the hot water in thermos-flasks overnight for coffee in the morning.

With new technology, huge wind-turbines, photovoltaic panels and E-cars, we really can beat this monster called Global Warming, so that our grandchildren will have a habitable planet to live on. It will mean accepting the skyline and our rooves may be dotted with clutter that is less than pleasing to our eyes.

If your neighbours and corporate body will not accept that, then it’s time to start raising merry-hell. Otherwise our offspring are truly faced with the grim prospect of the Late, Great Planet Earth. They will stomp on our graves.

Woodstove to provide hot water in the home.

Many years ago my in-laws had a magnificent window look out onto Champagne Castle. Initially we ogled the mountain daily, but within a month or two it had become blasé and we only rarely gave it a second-glance. If that is true of something truly stunningly beautiful, then within a month we will hardly notice those solar panels and the geyser on the neighbour’s roof.

From a religious perspective it’s time we started to contemplate the sacred trust that is laid upon our shoulders to care for the world. As told in the Creation story, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was good.” 

It is no longer good, and rapidly becoming worse; it behooves us to take stock. Innovative ways of heating water are important.

Cooking at our green home

Most of the cooking at our green home is done via electricity produced gratis by our solar generator; when the sun is shining and lesser amounts at night after a bright day. The large inverter will easily provide power for the oven, bread-machine and induction stove. 

When the weather is cold, and dull then our woodstove comes into its own; slow to bring water to the boil it will sustain a soup or stew that we started on gas.

Gas is rarely used but it provides a very important backup during inclement weather; the other option is a very large bank of lithium batteries.

Hot water in the home

Hot water in the home is one of the non-negotiables. It is provided courtesy of Mr Golden Sun for most of the year but gas and the electric utility are needed occasionally as a backup.


Newsletter

Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, your family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home


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  1. Showers vs hot baths

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