Consider the story of 16-year-old Shane McCarthy from Blackwater Community School, Co Waterford.He was talking to his grandad, a farmer from Lismore, about pigs getting cold in the winter.
His granddad didn’t have the money to heat the piggery during the winter, but his father had come up with an ingenious plan to keep the pigs warm.The old man would find bottles of stout in the local bar and bring them home.
He then buried them in the ground where the pigs slept, and covered them with a thick casing of muck.The body heat of the pigs descended into the muck, heating up the bottles.
Then, because glass retains heat, the bottles remained hot, keeping the pigs warm in the long winter nights. McCarthy listened to his grandfather at the kitchen table last year explaining the pigs’ central heating.Aware of the current drive to preserve energy in houses, he wondered if this idea could be applied to buildings.
After a chat with local lads in the building industry, he realised that it could. You could build houses with a layer of bottles between the house and the foundations, insulated by cardboard, and the same effect would manifest itself in huge cost savings on the average house heating bill.The only constraint, he said, laughing, was the availability of bottles, which is why he and his friends planned to go around their older brothers and sisters’ 18th birthday parties collecting empties.
McCarthy and his fellow students have calculated how much such a measure saves.
A layer of bottles under the average new house produces, on average, 4.77 degrees more heat than a house without the bottles, saving 2.3373 tons of CO2 per year and cutting heating bills by €477.
Innovation is born of such things.
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