Sunday, January 17, 2016

Heated floors and another seating solution

Lots of people have asked me if I'm staying warm in my little house.  The answer is YES!  A couple of weeks ago I plugged in the radiant heat floor and that has helped quite a bit.  Here's an example. This morning I got up and my thermostat said that the ambient air was 56 degrees F.  Now that might seem a bit cold, but my bare feet were standing on a floor that was 71 degrees F.  I was wearing fuzzy pajama pants and a short-sleeved t-shirt and I didn't feel all that cold, maybe just chilly enough to put on a sweater.  That warm floor makes ALL the difference.  My suggestion to anyone building a house, no matter what size, put in a heated floor.  Even if it is just in your bathroom or kitchen.  It is lovely to have warm feet, and when your feet are warm, the rest of you feels a little warmer.  

I purchased a "kill-a-watt" electricity monitor.  It measures a lot of electrical things, but the reason I bought it was for the kilowatt-hour measuring capability.   I wanted to see how much electricity I truly use so I can actually have an appropriately sized solar system.  The first 24 hours it was plugged in I used about 2 kilowatt hours of electricity. Which means I actually need another panel and 6 more batteries.  Solar goals!  When I was originally sizing my solar system, I had difficulty imagining how much power I would actually use because I lived in a 1200 sq ft home with big appliances, different heating solutions, more lighting requirements.  I couldn't estimate how many hours my ceiling fan/light would need to be on.  I realized the other day that I only turn on lights in the house after sunset.  Even on the cloudiest days I don't need lights on in the house, just the right amount of windows, I guess.  Since I have never had radiant heat floors before I didn't know how they would cycle on and off.  My thermostat actually tells me if the floor is using 100%, 75%, 50% or 25% of the rated electricity to maintain the set temperature of the floor.  Sounds fancy, but it really isn't...well, maybe it is just a little.  So while I could estimate the full capacity use of the floor and everything else electric, it is nice to have an actual measurement.   

I went to IKEA aka The Danger Zone and got a cabinet to put above the trunk.  I think it will be really nice to have a little extra storage space.  The size I got also allows for a 5-6 inch closet rod between the cabinet and the wall so I can still hang my coat in basically the same place. I'll post a picture when the cabinet is hung, as it is currently still in the box.  As I was eating breakfast this morning contemplating putting the cabinet together, I realized that I didn't buy the cabinet door.  I got the hinges, but the door comes separately.  I guess I'll just have to go back...such a travesty!  Sigh! 

Then, I'm finding that I'm still not 100% pleased with my seating arrangement.  Yes, Nellie is 150% pleased because she LOVES the big green pillow and has adopted it as her own, which leaves me curling up on her dog bed to read.  Well, maybe not quite that extreme, but almost.  So while at The Danger Zone I looked at benches with underneath storage, couches, futons,... Then I came across TV stands. The one I got is the right height, the right width, storage underneath and all I need to do is make a cushion.  Shucks, that means I'll have to go to the fabric store...what a pity. I think when the weather gets warmer it will get a coat of paint or two though, the dark color just doesn't quite work, but it didn't come in any other color.
Then again maybe I'll make a cover for the whole thing and incorporate a cushion...instant transformation. Hmmm, the wheels are turning.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

House structure report

Some of you may be wondering about how the structure of my house is holding up since it travelled about 1600 miles last year. Now that we're settled, the house has had a chance to do the same. Also last April in San Diego there was some discussion about using laminate flooring for wall covering, which is what I did, and whether or not it was a good idea. 

The ceiling covering looks just like it did when it was first put up. Nothing has shifted and the junctions between the laminate pieces are tight. The walls haven't fared quite as well, though I can't say I'm at all disappointed with them. There are a couple of places where the laminate junctions aren't as tight as they used to be and only two places are really noticeable in the unpainted part of the wall. 
In the kitchen where the walls are painted the settling is more noticeable, though with a little sanding and another coat of paint won't be noticeable at all. I'm not sure how much the cold weather is contributing to this or if it is from rolling down the road. Nevertheless, if I was going to build another tiny house, I would use laminate flooring again for the walls.   I must say that I would probably try using flexible adhesive on the studs as opposed to nailing it like I did. That would at least provide a little more wiggle room for settling.

The kitchen floor has probably fared the worst but it really doesn't look bad. The floor is floating, meaning it isn't actually connected to the subfloor, and has expansion room on the edges.  The kitchen floor gets the most IS the kitchen. The laminate pieces just aren't as tight as they used to be.  Again this may be due to the cold weather or traveling down the road, but I would vote weather because the slight separation has only occurred since the weather got really cold. 

I haven't done much close inspecting outside, but there isn't anything noticeable on the outside of the house that has changed.  I have to admit that I still have some painting to do in the spring.  The trim really needs another coat and the blue could use another coat as well, but that is a warmer weather project.

Looking back on this post's pics I realize you are now probably thinking that my inside walls are falling apart.  But actually this is what they look like.  The separations aren't all that noticeable.

In other news...
I'm making progress on the picture scanning project and brought my third box home from my cousin's house where all of that stuff is stored.  It is quite the emotional rollercoaster for me to be looking through all these pics and reading so many letters from people I love who aren't available for one more hug or one more conversation.  There is a lesson there, but I'll leave that for you.  

Another item...I knew when I changed the layout of my original plans to the layout I actually built, that I was eliminating a lot of storage space.  I've almost decided to put in a wall cabinet above the trunk (closet), which is behind the front door.  We'll see.

PS. I really love my radiant heat floor.  My feet haven't been cold since I turned it on.  Now to see how much electricity the floor really uses...  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome to 2016 tiny living!

Okay, I know I'm delinquent with the blog posts.  December was a little difficult for me...first Christmas without my mom.  So thankful for family and friends who have adopted me.  Onward to a new year and new adventures!

Seating update...the beanbag arrived and I am loving is Nellie.

The great thing about it is that I can change the way is sits on the floor so I'm lounging low or sitting high up like a dining chair.  Nellie and I can easily snuggle and share the seat.  Overall, a good choice.  The cover is quite sturdy and seems to shed Nellie hair well.  I bought some super-fuzzy material to make a cover for it that I can take off and wash.

I'm making more progress on the scanning project.  I have scanned almost another whole box of pictures and letters, and moved all the photos and family history stuff from my ancient Mac mini to my newer PC and saved it all on a thumb drive and also on an external hard drive.  So now everything is all in one place.  I feel like I can see the end of the tunnel for this project.  I've also gotten to the point where there is no "should I scan this or not," only options are now "scan" or "circular file."  The end of the most extensive project I've ever started is close.  Whew!!  I'll be very happy to no longer be the only one with all the pictures and letters.

I still haven't called an electrician...don't know what my reticence is about.  I have done a little work on the electrical though.  I plugged in the radiant floor and the ceiling fan.  I am in LOVE!  Having warm floors is a little bit addicting.  The other morning, I woke up to the heater being out...ran out of propane sometime before sun-up.  The thermostat said it was 65 in the house.  The floor though was 68.  I stood barefoot on the warm floor and didn't care that the air in the house was a little chilly.  Lovely!  Went out and changed the propane to the full tank and the house warmed up quite quickly despite the outside temp being about 24 degrees F. 

Some observations about keeping the house warm.  I feel like the straw skirt has done a lot to insulate the floors.  Then the radiant heat is amazing!  When the low temps are in the single digits or teens, I leave the heater running all the time, even through the night, to maintain about 70-ish degrees.  If the outside temps are in the 20's, I leave the heater on at night, but usually sometime between 1am and 3am it gets too hot for sleeping in the loft so I turn off the heater.  In that case, when I get up in the morning it is usually in the low 60's in the house.  Good opportunity to snuggle Nellie while the house warms a little.  When night-time temps are in the 30's or above, I turn the heater off when I go to bed, makes for good sleeping.  Nellie wears a sweatshirt to bed when I turn the heater off and that seems to keep her warm enough.  Propane...I use about $30 of propane about every two weeks, so $60/month for heating.  Haven't had the floor on long enough to say how much electricity it uses.  I have it set for 70 degrees for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, then maintaining 60 degrees otherwise.  

This past weekend was quite cold here in the desert.  Highs in the teens and low 20's, lows in the single digits.  My water has worked very well thus far.  My heated water hose has been amazing! The spigot in the shop is insulated and has a heat lamp on it.  But you guessed it.  Turned on the water on Friday morning and voila! no water.  Yes, I had soap all over my hands.  And yes, I had a few gallons of water stored under the sink, thank heaven.  So the investigation began with making sure the hose was still plugged in and working. Yes.  Then to the spigot, seemed to be ok.   It dripped a bit when I unhooked the hose and the knob turned easily.  Figured it must be frozen down in the pipe between the spigot and floor, or in the cement of the shop floor which is 9 inches thick.  Bummer!  Ran to the store and got a heat tape.  Put it on the pipe between the spigot and floor and waited for a little while to give it time to work.  No luck after a couple of hours. So, not the pipe, must be frozen in the floor.  Got out the hair dryer and tried warming up the cement, which is more action than my hair dryer sees in a year. (hehe)  Worked on that for about an hour and a half.  No luck.  The cement was warming up, the heat lamp was directed at the floor too, so I figured it either just needed a bit of time, or it was really solid and I would be hauling water until spring thaw.  I made a little tent out of a tarp to hold the heat from the lamp in a little bit and left it so I could come in and warm up a little.  I had left the kitchen faucet open so I would know when the water was flowing again and lo and behold a little while after I came in to warm up we had water!!  It was quite exciting!  Just super glad the pipes weren't broken.
Note to self: Don't procrastinate doing the dishes. 

Fun stuff!!!...Last year when Ticklebelly Bungalow and I were in San Diego I had a lot of people ask where my TV was.  I generally use my computer to watch stuff, but I splurged a little and bought a mini projector for $62.  At that price my expectations weren't very high.  I got out an old sheet that I'd been saving for testing embroidery patterns and hung it from the storage loft as a screen.  Empire Strikes Back was FANTASTIC on my big screen!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!