Ceiling fan – and the forthcoming heat apocalypse

I’ve got a new ceiling fan in the kitchen. The bloke at the lighting shop said that in a kitchen, a metal fan is good because it can be easily cleaned — whereas in a bedroom, quieter wooden fans are more often used.

He also reckoned for the size of the room, the larger 52 inch blades would work well. So here it is in all its glory.

Ceiling fan in kitchen

I’m still getting used to it being there up. Sometimes I catch it out of the corner of my eye and think it looks like a gigantic spider up on the ceiling.

At full speed it certainly produces quite a breeze, and helps cool the room down a lot. Wish I’d got it done when I got the livingroom ceiling fan put in, but better late than never.

(I’m hoping the installation cost isn’t too bad… it’s been almost a fortnight since it was installed, but I still haven’t received the bill from the electrician.)

Which brings us to the weather. Here’s the forecast.

7-day weather forecast, Melbourne, 13/1/2014

I’ve previously graphed how the temperature rises in the house, but that was before I had the good insulation put in the roof (might do an update this week). The insulation means the house doesn’t heat up very quickly… so a single hot day is usually quite manageable.

The run of long days we’re expecting this week (worst since Black Saturday in 2009) will be a challenge though, as the house won’t get a good chance to cool down overnight. Having tried the ceiling fans (now in three rooms) on previous hot days, they do help, as do portable fans.

But no doubt I’ll be pondering my stubborn refusal to get air-conditioning… though there are other less energy-hungry approaches, such as outside blinds over the windows, window treatments, and wall insulation.

A record 9 days above 30 degrees

Thank goodness that scientists aren’t warning of any kind of permanent warming of the climate that might prove, y’know, dangerous — otherwise a record-breaking run of hot days might be a tad alarming.

Thank goodness scientists aren't warning the climate might get so hot it'd be dangerous.... oh, wait.

One shouldn’t jump to conclusions of course. As Jon Stewart quipped:

“Global warming is a total hoax. And I’ll tell you how I know. Because it’s cold, today, where I live. That’s jus’ science.”

…and the opposite applies.

I don’t know if this record run of hot days is some freak weather event caused by something else, or a demonstration of how climate change manifests itself. But at the very least this record being broken should be a warning of what’s likely to keep happening into the future as temperatures rise.

Insulation is back in my roof (just in time for winter, it seems)

Well, I’m getting there.

Last week I had a ceiling fan installed in the livingroom. It’ll help on hot days, and because I have ceiling ducted heating, also helps distribute heat better on cold days as well.

Old light fittingNew light fitting/fan

To do this, the old light fitting was removed. I’m hoping it might be worth something — I was never that keen on it, but it does appear to be an original, making it about eighty years old. There appears to be a reasonable market for such things.

In contrast, I really like all the other (antique) lights in the house — except for the kitchen. Of course, now I’m realising that I should have arranged for the kitchen to have a ceiling fan installed as well. And while I was at it, I could have got them to install the heat guards for the down lights in there. They were switched from halogen to LEDs, so not as warm, but still worthwhile to assist with the insulation.

Speaking of insulation, that got done yesterday morning. The old loose stuff had been removed last year. The very hot day or two last week was unbearable. Winter last year wasn’t much fun either. My estimate is that in a weatherboard house with no roof insulation, the temperature would drop by at least a degree per hour if it was cold outside, which made a big difference to the gas heating bill.

So I finally got around to booking insulation back. This document from the Victorian Department of Sustainability reckons the recommended level of insulation for ceilings in Melbourne is R2.5, but I decided to go for R4. (Confusingly, I subsequently found this Federal government web page which recommends R4.1. Hmmm.

The material they used was something called “earthwool” — which unlike conventional glasswool doesn’t cause irritation if handled without gloves.

Roof without insulation
Roof with insulation

The installers appear to have done a good quick job, but it was a tad irritating that they’d booked in for 7:30am (necessitating everybody being awake and dressed early) but didn’t show until 10am. Not to worry; I think it’s already made a difference… after they’d finished, I turned the heat on (damn it was cold yesterday).

Gaps were left around the down lights, with spare earthwool to fill in the gaps once I’ve had the electricians back in to install the heat guards.

So, hopefully having insulation back in the roof will make a big difference, and it means the various housey things I’ve been meaning to get done are progressing.

Other projects in progress:

  • Sort out the spare room for Jeremy’s use, once the drainage issue at the back of the house is solved (water leaks in the window during very heavy downfall)
  • Solar panels on the roof (I already have solar water… hopefully there’s enough north-facing roof space for PV panels as well)
  • Fix the rattling laundry window
  • A nicer, heavier rug for the livingroom
  • Consider external blinds for some north/west-facing rooms to further reduce heat
  • The constant tidying and reduction in clutter… have made good progress over the break, but there’s still a lot to do

Memo to self:

  • Light globe for ceiling fan: GE Tiny Spiral, 15 watt CFL (75 watt equivalent) x 2, E27 screw

At Brighton beach last night

We were trying to escape the heat, which really wasn’t successful — apart from right next to the water, it was as warm by the beach as it was at home. (For you out of towners, it reached about 40 degrees yesterday, with a low of 24 overnight.)

But we did meet this critter. Very cute.

Seal at Brighton Beach

#vicrains

Flooded railway near ToorakTrip home last night in the pouring rain was interesting. Train was very slow going between Hawksburn and Malvern, as much of the rail line in the cutting was underwater.

As the train departed Ormond, we saw the subway was flooded. On arriving at Bentleigh we waited about 20 minutes for the rain to subside. The exit itself had a minor flood (a couple of inches) but thankfully the rain had virtually stopped for the walk home, so all that got wet was my shoes and feet.

A short time later the whole Frankston line was suspended, so we may have caught one of the last trains out of the city. At one stage 9 out of 16 lines were suspended, and there were widespread disruptions to the tram network (yet almost no information about which lines were affected… grrr).

Getting home, the neighbours said they had a blocked gutter causing drips in the livingroom. Then we discovered a similar story at my place in the small back (spare for now) room — looked like the gutter above the back porch had overflowed. I got up on the roof this morning to check… the gunk in there may have contributed, along with the drains.

Gully trap almost fullIt appears that the heavy rain the drains backed-up. The gully trap is certainly close to full, and another neighbour says it used to occasionally happen 20ish years ago, so she reckons if it doesn’t rain heavily again today it’ll clear.

Given the disruptions, I’m waiting for someone to proclaim this is another one of those “once in 100 years” storms we’ve been having recently.

Lovely summer weather

Isaac and Jeremy have gone to Hawaii for Christmas with their mum and her family.

The Hawaii weather forecast appears to say that today it’s 28 degrees (C) and mostly sunny.

Given the weather today in Melbourne, I’m beginning to get quite envious.

Oh, is that thunder I hear now? Even better!

I know we’ve had a drought, but at what point can we stop saying “oh well, we need the rain” and start actively moaning about it again?