March 23, 2014
Winter has not yet released it’s firm grip on Manitoba, but the sun is powerful. It has warmed up enough that we can start doing a bit of work inside the house. The next job on the list -INSULATING.
We had hoped to insulate our home with straw bales. Three years ago we had a local farmer bale wheat straw into traditional small rectangle bales which we then stored in a shed. As neither Ken nor I loved the look of a traditional bale home, our hope was to build double 2×4 walls, sandwiching the bales between the two walls. As a test run, we insulated the room above the garage using this method. We also insulated the floor between the garage and the room above with tight packed loose straw (We put up a plywood ceiling in the garage first, then added the straw from above, and then a plywood floor.) The ceiling in the second floor room is fiber glass batts topped with blown cellulose insulation. We think the technique worked well. The room is wonderfully quiet, holds heat well in the winter and stays relatively cool in the summer.
However, there is some debate on whether or not water will condense on the outside wall as the vinyl siding is not breathable. So while the second story of the garage seems to have worked out well, we decided not to use the technique on the house. Instead we have planned for a double insulated wall.
This week Ken insulated the exterior walls of the sunroom, putting Roxul in the 6 inch exterior wall. Then he built an identical wall with 2×4’s.
We then stapled poly to the inside of the 2×4 wall and put one horizontal layer of 4 inch Roxul on the floor against the insulated 2×6 wall.
We hoisted the inner wall up to within 6 inches of the outer wall and moved it into place, sandwiching the layer of 4 inch Roxul in the middle.
We then cut the plastic out of the windows to give us room to slide the remaining 4 inch roxul batts in place between the two walls. The batts easily slid into place as we could tilt the top of the second wall out a bit and there are plenty of windows in this room so you had easy access to every space.
Once the wall was completed it was tacked into the joists above. (This inner wall is not load bearing as per structural engineer’s instructions.) We were quite happy with results of our efforts. The wall has a continuous layer of insulation and poly, uninterrupted by studs or electrical receptacles. This method also allowed us to insulate now and put the plumbing and electrical in later.
This week Ken will put up the remaining two walls in the sunroom and insulate them. Then insulate the inside sunroom wall and put up the garden doors. This will give us one closed in, insulated space in the house. We started our transplants this weekend so we hope that once they are up we can keep them in the sunroom until it is warm enough to transplant into the garden.
Feeling the warmth of the sun through the sunroom windows has given us hope that spring is around the corner and soon little green shoots will start emerging – both in our pots and outside!
To celebrate, I tried a couple new recipes this weekend. A chipolte spiced Chimichanga adaptation from Dreena Burton’s Gimme Chimmis recipe in her Eat, Drink and Be Vegan cookbook. They are basically burritos. You coat the outside of the burrito shell with a bit of oil then crisp them up in a frying pan then warm in an oven. With the sun shining we have plenty of power during the day (the batteries were happily on float stage) so I toasted/heated the chimmis in our George Foreman grill – not bad for off grid living! The extra banks of solar panels we added last fall has really made a difference. The Chimmis were delicious served with guachamole.
The second recipe I tried was an Empowered Noodle Bowl with Peanut Thai Sauce from the Oh She Glows cookbook. This was so good I absconded with the left-overs for lunch later in the week.