Did you know that the sun is hot? Indeed it is! But what about those cold winter days when the temps drop to below 30? Is the sun still hot? Yes! So if there was a way to capture the heat from the sun and not have to use fossil fuels or electricity from the grid (coal mostly in this area), wouldn’t it be a fantastic idea to do that? Well, I’ve found some designs online that do just that. We’re currently working on building a version of one of them to install on the basement of the house. Hopefully within the next few weeks we’ll be able to post here some preliminary results!

For those of you who follow me (David) on Facebook, you might also know that I’m working on a compost based water heater. You see, as a small horse facility, our horses produce manure. That manure has to get cleaned out of their stalls from the small amount of time that they spend in there. However, what many people see as waste, we see as opportunity. Did you know that in just a 500 pound mound of compost – manure, leaves, grass clippings, table scraps, etc. – there are over 4,000,000 BTUs of energy?

So how do we get that energy into a usable form? Well, with the right carbon to nitrogen mixture (different materials are high in carbon while others are high in nitrogen) and some water, compost piles can heat up to 170 degrees in the middle. The average home water heater is set somewhere between 115 and 140 degrees and the average hot shower is 107 degrees.

So what if we took this heat and extracted it somehow? Well, that’s exactly what we’re working on doing. After quite a bit of research, I’m working on building a prototype of the system to heat up around 110 gallons of water to act as a heat exchanger. At first we’ll primarily be providing hot water for the wash racks for the barn. Since it appears that we’ll have plenty of excess heat available to us, we might run a couple of hoses in a loop to the house and back with a radiator to let that heat migrate into the house for when the sun isn’t heating up our solar heater.

So stay tuned. I’ll get some pictures up here in the next week or so as our eco friendly projects progress.