Friday, July 11, 2008

Budget Survival - Window Box Room Heater

When I think of cottage commerce for the post collapse society I see items like passive solar heaters manufactured from the shelled out remains of McMansions and insulated shutters built from the gutted remnants of the defunct strip malls that surrounding every city center as the new regional industries.

With the lumber from one backyard privacy fence and the duct work pulled from a couple of 4000 square foot tributes to illusionary affluence you could build several hundred of these simple yet elegant free heating systems. Salvage the nails, pull a few windows, assemble and you are set. You will just need a recipe for some flat black paint to coat the collectors.

They could easily be installed in small existing homes with a nicely exposed southern windows or hung from cut holes in the side of your survival trailer. The small, well insulated homes with good southern sun will be the mansions for post peak world.

Insulating those new compact homes is another cottage industry. Think of the billions of square feet of fiberglass insulation that will be rotting in those huge strip malls and uninhabitable suburban homes. A wonderful trade item would be custom made insulated shutter for windows. They would be closed at night to retain daytime heat and provide an additional layer of protection for the family snuggled inside.

For the post collapse society money will be of a much lesser value if not completely worthless. If you cannot grow your own food you will need to provide meaningful items for trade. Without fuel oil or natural gas supply structures people absolutely must have an alternative method for heating. They will die with out it.

Speaking of growing food. Those millions of square feet of plate glass currently sitting in the offices building and malls of this country could be easily retasked into tough greenhouse coverings. They would make good quality well insulated greenhouses...unless of course the zombie hordes break all the windows.


Mayberry said...

Excellent ideas! I think most folks will realize their dreams: turning their hobbies into careers! Though not quite in the way they imagined.... But once again, wood working will become a very necessary skill, and high in demand too! As will sewing, home brewing, back yard tinkering, candle making, soap making, basket weaving, pottery..... And the "recycling" you mentioned. Damn good post!

judyofthewoods said...

Great idea. I might give it a go soon. For a flat black absorber surface which is not exposed to wear or damp one could hold the metal over the kind of fire which gives off black soot. Candles would do it, held close, but would take too long and waste a lot of candles. Maybe a waste oil fire (vegetable oil or animal fat).Burning bones also produce a black, so there may be some use of all those bodies lying around. I tried a simple recipe a while back for staining oak black. I am fairly certain it was done with steeping old iron nails (or other iron bits, maybe filings) in vinegar for a while, then brushing it onto the oak which turned almost black - I think the reaction was with the tannin in the oak. It does not work on pine, for example. So maybe mixing tannin into the brew might create a black stain. Worth an experiment.

Link to some black pigment info.
Whilst checking links also came across an interesting use of charred bone as a substitute for activated charcoal - Link.

sth_txs said...

Here is a good site with some solar energy ideas.

Some are more expensive than others.

Anonymous said...

Burning old vinyl siding, plastic bags, or similar petroleum-based materials will also quickly produce a carbon-heavy soot. Unfortunately, the smoke is also toxic and carcinogenic.

Judy of the Woods is on to something regarding the rusty nails and vinegar. In fact, any steel product soaked in any mild acid for a couple of days will then produce a black smut which can be applied to many things (a kind of black oxide).

Final choice is crushed and powdered acorns soaked in solution....produces a dark brown stain strong enough to stain concrete and most any other semi-porous material (a common dye for cloth and leather in the middle ages).

Solid ideas for urban salvage and recycling, this is my planned career post TEOTWAWKI (engineer turned salvager/tinkerer).

Cindy said...

You funny ...thanks for the tip!