you can give yourself more room for these comments and definitions, if you like, by dragging the border up!

Welcome to an experiment in hypertext. This frame is dedicated to defining terms and proclaiming prejudices. Seems to me, if you have a wonderful palette (and HTML is certainly that!) why not use it as well and intricately as possible before resorting to Java, graphics that take hours to load, yada yada yada (as the president says.) After all
  1. we are a literate mob, and
  2. the intricacies of the medium are more intriguing, say, than a one-way medium like television.
So, I'm glad you scrolled your way up here. Don't be bashful about telling me what you think.

battle of the sexes, thermal theater : Mini-skirted She says "I'm cold" and turns up the heat. Then coat-and-tied He rejoins "Well, I'm hot" and turns it back down. . . In a patriarchal world, the dresscode requires skirts for women, the thermostat will be set low, and locked in a little plastic box. Guess the sex of the keyholder...

Stephen Heckeroth theorizes that this age-old struggle can be turned into a boon through wide adoption of radiant floors.
Surprisingly small adjustments in air management can have an amazing effect on personal wellbeing. If our feet are warm, our heads are happy in ten-degree-cooler air. In hot weather, we will cheerfully endure higher temperatures if the air is moving. Real measurements (as distinct from 'conventional standards') of comfort and health should be required in any honest examination of Right Housing. Why have we trained ourselves to ignore the roar and dust of forced air heating and cooling which holds us within a narrow 'comfort zone' of temperature and humidity? This is an inquiry beyond my scope here. But I earnestly hope you will re-attend to the true measures of your own health and comfort.
Skin is good clothes. I certainly don't mean to offend -- you'll know when I do -- but in my patriarchically-nurtured view, spring's flowering is especially welcome in clothes we and our female colleagues wear ...or, to be precise, wear less of. There is little doubt that our skin and piliature are designed to function at their best nude. My house heats quickly with woodstove or under the kindly glare of a westering sun, inducing an increasingly tropical environment and a corresponding holiday mood. This mood could be extended indefinitely and cheaply with adequate thermal mass, ideally in the floor ...had I only known what is in this article when I was abuilding...
...but there's always a retrofit, as you will read when you come to the section on Chernobylization!

eutectic salts : Salts which melt at room temperature. Since a phase change is involved, the energy (heat) stored in the molten salts is much higher than a similar volume of solid material. When the salt changes back to a solid, this heat is released.

hypocaust : A Roman invention; in this architectural technique, much used in colder climes like Great Britain, the smoke from a fire chamber is directed underneath a stone floor. I am told that hypocausts near Bath are still in service.

hydronic floor : a made-up word which, I am told, is a contraction of hydro (water) and electronic. This kind of technobabble sounds impressive, and is 'industry standard' so you better know it, but in my view 'heated floor' would do nicely.

magnetic pump : Water, especially when hot, is chemically aggressive. A magnetic pump isolates the wet side (impeller and chamber) from the delicate electrical parts on the dry side by spinning the impeller using a moving magnet on the dry side.

thermal mass : A large weight of material with a high heat content, acting as the dwelling's 'thermal flywheel' to keep temperatures from fluctuating as wildly as the outdoor ambient. Water is best, storing 62.5 Btus per cubic foot per degree (Don't you just love those British units?); stone (at 36) and concrete (at 32) are good; adobe (22), gypsum board and plaster (13), and wood (9 to 12 depending on species and density) range from fair to dismal; by definition, air is 1.

transfer fluid : Water is best. In hot water systems for colder climates, antifreeze is added; it reduces the transfer efficiency but keeps the system from failing spectacularly in a freeze. In hydronic floors, the water is often buffered so it doesn't attack any delicate plumbing parts.

thermocouple : An electrical sensor for measuring temperature. The conductance of the surface between two dissimilar metals changes predictably with temperature. Control circuitry tracks the temperature by measuring the conductance.

Dr Doug : my successor as technical editor of the Solar Living Sourcebook and an encyclopedic source of information about what's hot and what's not in the world of rational energy. His work can be found at Real Goods's website.

setback thermostat : An electronic device, a timer, memory, and thermocouple which allow programming of different ambient household and zone temperatures for different times of day. Typically, the bedroom will be set cooler at night, warmed just before awakening, and so forth...

Chernobyl : an object lesson in nuclear power, but an even better argument for energy sanity. We really don't need to be wasting 50% of the energy we use, simply to validate or enrich lazy manufacturers of '50s technology.

6-6-10 : The local builder's term for net made of 10-gauge wire welded at 6 inch intervals. It holds the cement together, surely, but it's more useful to the hydronic tubing layer as a grid for tying down the tube. Anticipating usage patterns is an art form.

This page of definitions and opinions last updated 25 January 2000 18:21 Pacific time
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updated 29 August 1999 : 16:28 Caspar (Pacific) time
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