Ecological dilemma

Anything to do with environmental building projects.
User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4894
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Ecological dilemma

Post: #192347 Odsox
Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:04 am

Here's a question for you cleverer people than me. :scratch:
Exactly a month ago we had cavity wall insulation installed along with another foot of loft insulation.
The cavity wall insulation was polystyrene beads which of course are made from oil ... so not very environmentally friendly.
Our sitting room has a multifuel stove and when it's cold we burn Ecobrite processed coal .... also not very environmentally friendly.
Before the insulation we had a fire every day, since it was fitted we have had a wood fire on two days and only then to cheer us up on a dull miserable day. The room temperature hasn't dropped below 20c for the last month and that includes the chilly spell we have just had.
So, my question is ... which is the lesser of the two evils, polystyrene (which we HAD to have to get the grant) or wood and processed coal on the fire ?
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

User avatar
Millymollymandy
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 17637
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 6:09 am
Location: Brittany, France

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192366 Millymollymandy
Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:17 pm

I would have thought the polystyrene was the lesser of the evils as it's only being used the once, whereas the coal was being burnt every day. Wood is OK as long as it comes from a renewable source. Anyway you are saving loads of money - quite amazing what your insulation has done to your house temps. :cheers:
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)


http://chateaumoorhen.blogspot.com/

User avatar
Green Aura
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 8389
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:16 pm
latitude: 58.569279
longitude: -4.762620
Location: North West Highlands

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192368 Green Aura
Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:21 pm

Sounds to me like a good move. While polystyrene isn't eco-friendly, at least it's a one off thing. Continuing to burn coal isn't so it has to be an improvement.

And poly beads sound a lot better than the stuff they put in cavity walls where we used to live. I can't remember what it was but, after a neighbour had it done (it stank) and after some research we decided not to go ahead. The suggestion was it rotted the wall ties quite quickly. The other point that worried me was that it apparently increased damp inside the house because it gummed up the air bricks and stopped air/ moisture flow between the two layers of brick. Again I think poly beads would be less of a problem because there will still be air spaces.

Of course, we've shot ourselves in the foot because now the house is up for sale, everybody wants insulation. Heyho :lol:
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

sortanormalish
Barbara Good
Barbara Good
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:54 am
latitude: 85.0
longitude: 35.0
Location: Tennessee

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192399 sortanormalish
Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:21 pm

Even the poly beads are a mixed bag. They are not a primary product. That is the key I believe to this whole debacle. Polystyrene is a secondary product or if you prefer, it is made from the waste of primary products. So...in a sense, polystyrene is recycling. They can either make something out of the sludge or dump it somewhere.

If you were using polystyrene cups and plates every day I would say you need to evaluate your behavior because; where do they go when you are finished? We don't have any polystyrene recycling in my area, you may.

But you aren't throwing it away after a single use, you are using your polystyrene for the potential life of your house. There is no other insulation, except fiberglass bates, that you will never have to replace and I'm not sure fiberglass can go more than 75 years. Though your beads may settle and need to be topped off. I am not including earthen ar stone thermal mass as insulation.

So sit back have a cup of tea, and think of all the wood you will not be burning due to your poly beads. I presume you aren't burning ny endangered species or rainforest wood?

The real question here is should you burn wood or coal and you already know wood is better.
"You are a strange little mouse."
"Thank you." -Tale of Despereaux

User avatar
Thomzo
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 4277
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:42 pm
Location: Swindon, South West England

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192431 Thomzo
Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:46 pm

I had the polystyrene beads installed about three years ago. They do make a fantastic difference. My central heating hasn't worked at all this year and, to be honest, I'm in no hurry to replace the boiler. A small wood fire every evening and a small electric heater to keep the chill off is all I've needed.

Mine have certainly paid for themselves several times over by now.

Zoe
Think globally, shop locally
Check out my blog at http://designedbyzoe.blogspot.com/
http://www.thomzo.co.uk

sortanormalish
Barbara Good
Barbara Good
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:54 am
latitude: 85.0
longitude: 35.0
Location: Tennessee

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192484 sortanormalish
Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:11 pm

You demonstrate the point perfectly Zoe, polybeads may seem the spittle of satan viewed independently, but when you weigh all the other factors they can be a very responsible alternative.
"You are a strange little mouse."
"Thank you." -Tale of Despereaux

User avatar
KathyLauren
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 396
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:57 pm
latitude: 44.5
longitude: -66
Location: East Coast of Canada

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192522 KathyLauren
Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:37 pm

The insulation is a one-time thing. One-time anything is sustainable, because once it's done, it's done - there's nothing more to sustain.

What is has done for you is reduce your ongoing fuel consumption. Ongoing consumption is only sustainable if you consume slower than the resource is regenerated. Okay, for coal, that's still a problem, but now it's a smaller problem. For wood, you might have reduced your consumption to the point where it's sustainable, both for regenerating the wood and for CO2 emissions.

So, for a one-time investment in a not-so-great product, you have created an ongoing benefit that will last for years. I'd say ya done good! :salute:

sortanormalish
Barbara Good
Barbara Good
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:54 am
latitude: 85.0
longitude: 35.0
Location: Tennessee

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192536 sortanormalish
Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:37 pm

KeithBC, you probably know this but just in case others don't, wood is CO2 neutral. Well, actually only burned wood. If it is left to rot the fungi, bacteria, etc. produce excess CO2 as they consume the wood. And with the exception of solar heated thermal-mass, I think wood is the only sustainble fuel except for electricity generated from wind, solar, etc. (don't know what etc. is but that keeps me out of trouble with the more knowledgable :lol: ) and they are in such limited supply currently it would be difficult for everyone to use it. Until then, all we can do is our best with what we have.

Fill us in, Odsox, is your wood consumption sustainable now?
"You are a strange little mouse."
"Thank you." -Tale of Despereaux

User avatar
KathyLauren
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 396
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:57 pm
latitude: 44.5
longitude: -66
Location: East Coast of Canada

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192540 KathyLauren
Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:31 am

sortanormalish wrote:KeithBC, you probably know this but just in case others don't, wood is CO2 neutral.

Absolutely, provided that it is harvested sustainably - that you aren't cutting it faster than it grows. We use it as our main source of heat for that reason.

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4894
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192565 Odsox
Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:55 am

sortanormalish wrote:Fill us in, Odsox, is your wood consumption sustainable now?

Yes probably.
All the wood I burn is from my own coppiced willow and griselinia.
Before when it got really cold I burned smokeless coal mainly so that I could keep the fire in all night making it a more pleasant temperature in the morning.
I think that is probably unnecessary now as on the limited experience I have had so far, it takes many hours for the house to cool after even a small fire, barely dropping 1 or 2 degrees in 8 hours.
Needless to say, I'm very pleased and wish I had done it years ago.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

dave45
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 683
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Lancashire

Re: Ecological dilemma

Post: #192946 dave45
Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:47 pm

How do you rate the usefulness of cavity-wall and loft insulation?
I had mine done 2 years ago... I don't think it has made a lot of difference. Maybe its a green con. There is no savings guarantee with it. My bills haven't gone down.

I noted that the installers left the chimney-breast areas uninsulated - health and safety reasons if the flues are in use. Mine is an old victorian house. They also ignored the stone blocks under my bay windows until I told them to "just do it". Still wondering if it has made a enough difference to be worth even the subsidised outlay.

Still want aerogel super-insulation.

As to eco dilemmas... if wood is burned it produces CO2... renewable not fossil, so its "income not capital". If you let the wood rot it can produce methane. Methane has 22 times more greenhouse effect than CO2. Not sure of the %ages here (1kg wood burnt vs 1kg wood rotted) but burning seems the lesser of 2 evils.

As to oil products (polystyrene etc) my view is to use them if you have to, then burn them rather than landfill them. Dual use. I did see on the net an experimental process to turn plastic waste back into oil, but I've lost the URL.. that may or may not be a better option.

I'm sure in the days of coal fires (pre-60's) most trash was just chucked on the fire and bin-volume was a lot less.


Return to “Green Building”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests