Behind La Forge is the central heating room for all the houses. When our three gas heaters were no longer functional in 2005, we have installed a wood chip heating system of 55 kw. On the south-facing roof of the building are 15 m² solar panels that heat up 750 liters of water. If the sun does not show up for a while the wood heating takes the work over. The wood for heating comes from our fir forest. Once a year, a machine comes for two or three hours, “voring” about 100 firs and spitting out the chips directly into the drying barn. From there they are taken as needed into the storage room next to the wood heater.
The first step to make it warm in winter is to cut trees and get them out of the forest. In 2020, we had to hire a company for the first time because of Michel’s herniated disc. Since the bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans) arrived in Brittany about 12 years ago, many fir trees have been dying, and with every storm or gust of wind they fall to the ground or are only kept more or less upright by their less affected neighbors. We mainly remove these trees, which shortens the drying time for the wood chips. As soon as the trees, not just the trunks but the trees with all their branches, are stacked nicely, Michel orders the chopping machine, which then swallows up all the trees in an hour or two and spits them in the form of chips directly into the drying shed.
The heating room
The second step is to transport the dried wood chips from the drying shed to the boiler room. The tractor usually does that, but if it doesn’t want to start, we do it with the small electric transporter.
The heating system
And finally the heating system takes over the last step. It controls the supply of wood chips from the reserve automatically via an endless screw. If nothing is blocking – fortunately that is rare, but it does happen sometimes. At the end of 2020 we had to replace the endless screw after 15 years of loyal service: we had to do without heating and hot water for a week … until Michel remembered that whole logs can also be burned in the heating system. How nice to finally have a hot shower again!
The water for all the houses is heated by solar panels on the roof of the boiler room. When the sun doesn’t shine enough, the heating system takes over. The 750 liter tank is insulated with a thick blue coating so that the water stays warm.
The boiler room also serves as a dehydrator: the almost constant temperature between 30 and 35 ° allows us to dry mushrooms, fruits, crackers, etc. Michel also comes here to get the honey out of the frames, let it mature and then pour it into jars.