Monday, July 24, 2006
My New Place -- With A Hot Shower
I´ve finally found an apartment with a large bedroom, a spacious dining room and a tiny kitchen, with a spiral staircase giving me access to the roof. Like most houses in Lima, it has no water heater. The property has a large yard where I can work on developing efficient stoves, ovens and other things that I´m interested in teaching people to produce and to use. And there´s even a large vacant room where I can hold classes.
The owner, Miguel, is seventy years old and a firm believer in lifelong learning. He´s been helping me to find components like recycled barrels for making ovens, and last week we put together a solar hot water shower and installed it on my roof. It consists of a 28-meter coil of 3/4 inch garden hose, painted flat black, beneath a sheet of glass, all encased in a plywood box. The innermost end of the coil is connected to the pipe where the faucet head used to be attached, and the outermost end of the coil is attached to the faucet head. When I open the shower valve, cold water is sent up to the heater, pushing the already heated water down into the shower.
We almost never have a clear day in Lima, especially during the winter (which is right now -- we´re in the southern hemisphere here). On a typical day when it´s about 60 degrees outside and you can´t make out where the sun is, the heater puts out water at about 90 degrees -- just adequate for a shower. On a day when you can see some shadows, the water gets up to 125 degrees. The coil holds only 7 liters of water, but it´s sufficient if you shut off the water while you´re lathering up and then turn it on again to rinse off. It cost about $30 to make using all new materials, but it could probably be made for $10 using recycled stuff.