Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

October – time for updating documentation of the heat pump system again! Consolidated data are available in this PDF document.

In the last season there were no special experiments – like last year’s Ice Storage Challenge or using the wood stove. Winter was rather mild, so we needed only ~16.700kWh for space heating plus hot water heating. In the coldest season so far – 2012/13 – the equivalent energy value was ~19.700kWh. The house is located in Eastern Austria, has been built in the 1920s, and has 185m2 floor space since the last major renovation.

(More cross-cultural info:  I use thousands dots and decimal commas).

The seasonal performance factor was about 4,6 [kWh/kWh] – thus the electrical input energy was about 16.700kWh / 4,6 ~ 3.600kWh.

Note: Hot water heating is included and we use flat radiators requiring a higher water supply temperature than the floor heating loops in the new part of the house.

Heating season 2015/2016: Performance data for the 'ice-storage-/solar-powered' heat pump system

Red: Heating energy ‘produced’ by the heat pump – for space heating and hot water heating. Yellow: Electrical input energy. Green: Performance Factor = Ratio of these energies.

The difference of 16.700kWh – 3.600kWh = 13.100kWh was provided by ambient energy, extracted from our heat source – a combination of underground water/ice tank and an unglazed ribbed pipe solar/air collector.

The solar/air collector has delivered the greater part of the ambient energy, about 10.500kWh:

Heating season 2015/2016: Energy harvested from air by the collector versus heating-energy

Energy needed for heating per day (heat pump output) versus energy from the solar/air collector – the main part of the heat pump’s input energy. Negative collector energies indicate passive cooling periods in summer.

Peak Ice was 7 cubic meters, after one cold spell of weather in January:

Heating season 2015/2016: Temperature of ambient air, water tank (heat source) and volume of water frozen in the tank.

Ice is formed in the water tank when the energy from the collector is not sufficient to power the heat pump alone, when ambient air temperatures are close to 0°C.

Last autumn’s analysis on economics is still valid: Natural gas is three times as cheap as electricity but with a performance factor well above three heating costs with this system are lower than they would be with a gas boiler.

Is there anything that changed gradually during all these years and which does not primarily depend on climate? We reduced energy for hot tap water heating – having tweaked water heating schedule gradually: Water is heated up once per day and as late as possible, to avoid cooling off the hot storage tank during the night.

We have now started the fifth heating season. This marks also the fifth anniversary of the day we switched on the first ‘test’ version 1.0 of the system, one year before version 2.0.

It’s been about seven years since first numerical simulations, four years since I have been asked if I was serious in trading in IT security for heat pumps, and one year since I tweeted:

Anniversary 4 (4 Me): “Life Ends Despite Increasing Energy”

I published my first post on this blog on March 24, 2012. Back then its title and tagline were:

Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything
Physics versus engineering
off-the-wall geek humor versus existential questions
IT versus the real thing
corporate world’s strangeness versus small business entrepreneur’s microcosmos knowledge worker’s connectedness versus striving for independence

… which became

Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything
I mean it

… which became

elkemental Force
Research Notes on Energy, Software, Life, the Universe, and Everything

last November. It seems I have run out of philosophical ideas and said anything I had to say about Life and Work and Culture. Now it’s not Big Ideas that make me publish a new post but my small Big Data. Recent posts on measurement data analysis or on the differential equation of heat transport  are typical for my new editorial policy.

Cartoonist Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) encourages to look for patterns in one’s life, rather than to interpret and theorize – and to be fooled by biases and fallacies. Following this advice and my new policy, I celebrate my 4th blogging anniversary by crunching this blog’s numbers.

No, this does not mean I will show off the humbling statistics of views provided by WordPress 🙂 I am rather interested in my own evolution as a blogger. Having raked my virtual Zen garden two years ago I have manually maintained lists of posts in each main category – these are my menu pages. Now I have processed each page’s HTML code automatically to count posts published per month, quarter, or year in each category. All figures in this post are based on all posts excluding reblogs and the current post.

Since I assigned two categories to some posts, I had to pick one primary category to make the height of one column reflect the total posts per month:Statistics on blog postings: Posts per month in each main category

It seems I had too much time in May 2013. Perhaps I needed creative compensation – indulging in Poetry and pop culture (Web), and – as back then I was writing a master thesis.

I had never missed a single month, but there were two summer breaks in 2012 and 2013 with only 1 post per month. It seems Life and Web gradually have been replaced by Energy, and there was a flash of IT in 2014 which I correlate with both nostalgia but also a professional flashback owing to lots of cryptography-induced deadlines.

But I find it hard to see a trend, and I am not sure about the distortion I made by picking one category.

So I rather group by quarter:

Statistics on blog postings: Posts per quarter in each main category

… which shows that posts per quarter have reached a low right now in Q1 2016, even when I would add the current posting. Most posts now are based on original calculations or data analysis which take more time to create than search term poetry or my autobiographical vignettes. But maybe my anecdotes and opinionated posts had just been easy to write as I was drawing on ‘content’ I had in mind for years before 2012.

In order to spot my ‘paradigm shifts’ I include duplicates in the next diagram: Each post assigned to two categories is counted twice. Since then the total number does not make sense I just depict relative category counts per quarter:

Statistics on blog postings: Posts per quarter in each category, including the assignment of more than one category.

Ultimate wisdom: Life ends, although Energy is increasing. IT is increasing, too, and was just hidden in the other diagram: Recently it is  often the secondary category in posts about energy systems’ data logging. Physics follows an erratic pattern. Quantum Field Theory was accountable for the maximum at the end of 2013, but then replaced by thermodynamics.

Web is also somewhat constant, but the list of posts shows that the most recent Web posts are on average more technical and less about Web and Culture and Everything. There are exceptions.

Those trends are also visible in yearly overviews. The Decline Of Web seems to be more pronounced – so I tag this post with Web.

Statistics on blog postings: Posts per year in each main category

Statistics on blog postings: Posts per year in each category, including the assignment of more than one category.

But perhaps I was cheating. Each category was not as stable as the labels in the diagrams’ legends do imply.

Shortcut categories refer to
1) these category pages: EnergyITLifePhysicsPoetryWeb,
2) and these categories EnergyITLifePhysicsPoetryWeb, respectively, manually kept in sync.

So somehow…

public-key-infrastructure became control-and-it


on-writing-blogging-and-indulging-in-web-culture is now simply web

… and should maybe be called nerdy-web-stuff-and-software-development.

In summary, I like my statistics as it confirms my hunches but there is one exception: There was no Poetry in Q1 2016 and I have to do something about this!


The Making Of

  • Copy the HTML content of each page with a list to a text editor (I use Notepad2).
  • Find double line breaks (\r\n\r\n) and replace them by a single one (\r\n).
  • Copy the lines to an application that lets you manipulate strings (I use Excel).
  • Tweak strings with formulas / command to cut out date, url, title and comment. Use the HTML tags as markers.
  • Batch-add the page’s category in a new column.
  • Indicate if this is the primary or secondary category in a new column (Find duplicates automatically before so 1 can be assigned automatically to most posts.).
  • Group the list by month, quarter, and year respectively and add the counts to new data tables that will be used for diagrams (e.g. Excel function COUNTIFs, using only the category or category name  + indicator for the primary category as criteria).

It could be automated even better – without having to maintain category pages by simply using the category feeds (like this: or by filtering the full blog feed for categories. I have re-categorized all my posts so that categories matches menu page lists, but I chose to use my lists as

  1. I get not only date and headline, but also my own additional summary / comment that’s not part of the feed. For our German blog, I actually do this in reverse: I create the HTML code of a a sitemap-style overview page on from an Excel list of all posts plus custom comments and then copy the auto-generated code to the HTML view of the respective menu page on the blog.
  2. the feed provided by can have 150 items maximum no matter which higher number you try to configure. So you need to start analyzing before you have published 150 posts.
  3. I can never resist to create a tool that manipulates text files and automates something, however weird.

Blogging Anniversary with Post No. 63. Equal to: 42 Plus (42 Divided by 2)

Captain’s log: In my time zone, it is now March 24, 2013, 00:16.

This is the 63rd post on this blog, a truly random number.  But the title shows off that I can make sense of it and unveil its secret meaning (Thanks Dave, for the inspiration).

It was on March 24, 2012 …

… that this blog went public, and I did my best to work around best blogging and SEO practices:

The short name of this blog is ‘elkement’. Search for this on Google and you will be asked: Did you mean element? So I need to stick to my stretch goal: Making elkement a household name. Search engines should rather ask Did you mean ‘elkement’? when searchers ask for element.

But I am The Subversive El(k)ement and blogging is about authenticity and integrity – or about playing with identity a bit, maybe. So I am using my ‘real’ nickname.

This blog’s site title ‘Theory and <…>’ is incredibly looooooong. I thank anybody who ever added this to a blogroll or other list of blogs as my blog title usually introduces a pesky line break.

There are three explanations – pick your favorite one:

  • I needed to have the theme Garland, absolutely, positively. However, Garland does not display the blog’s tagline. So I needed to make the title an effective tagline. The real tagline, by the way, is: The Subversive El(k)ement’s Random Thoughts.
  • This blog covers a very peculiar variety of different topics – from experimental search term poetry to history of physics. The only intersection between all these topics is me, and I am really serious about combining anything.
  • Many of my posts are long-winded. Thus the site title should be in line with that (managing readers’ expectations).

Before this post becomes too weird and too self-referential, I am shamelessly stealing The Curtain Raiser’s idea: I will rather link to blogs I really enjoyed following in the past year and which have inspired my own blogging considerably. It is really hard to pick a subset of the – much larger – list of blog I actually do follow. I limit myself to 12 blogs which is not an easy task.

But I cannot avoid navel-gazing nonetheless: In parallel to this blog, I am resurrecting my non-blog websites and I have turned from social media denier to addict. The main thing I learned from this was that social media and the web in general is an experimental playground, and I am enjoying to make strange connections and cross-overs between different virtual universes.

So I will attempt to loosely connect my blogging experience and my favorite blogs. Blogs are ordered by the date I followed them (ascending).

This is my fist blog with ads so to speak – context-sensitive ads. Just in case this is not self-explanatory: The link to the other blogs are the ads, links to my own stuff are considered content. The two of them are entangled – as the photons in quantum cryptography – and I guess I am doing much better here than any other website that makes it too easy to ignore the ads and focus on the content – or vice versa.

I deny all SEO and blogging good practices again – there is too much text and there are too much links.


The Millennium Conjectures(tm) – A Blog of the Ridiculous and Sublime
by Mark Sackler

This blog of mine morphed from very serious and wall-of-text-y posts to downright weird ones. As a former member of the Cult of Corporate, I need metrics and benchmarks, also with respect to weirdness and sublime-ness. I can safely say Mark Sackler scores higher on both and I keep his quote that my resume reads like a character from The Big Bang Theory as a badge of honor (Seems I have launched a pingback DoS attack against this page).

Right now – when preparing this post, on March 23 and checking this paragraph again – the notification on Mark’s latest masterpiece is delivered to my inbox, about his dream of working in an infinite office building with an infinite number of floors – every floor representing an alternate universe. Dilbert meeting Hilbert, I would say.

Please let me know if some links are broken in this article. As Marc(*) Mark noted in a discerning comment, I am OCD, but getting all these links right is probably too much, even for me.
(*) Edit: Please see the comments for more enlightening explanations.


 Raising the Curtain – A look at life at the crossroads in preparation of the second act…because life does not come with signage
by Judy, The Curtain Raiser

Austria is very often mistaken for Australia. So I had actually expected that the first comment on this blog (other than my own pingbacking) would come from an Australian blogger. As mentioned above, I am stealing The Curtain Raiser’s award-winning blogging strategies.

On her blog she has raised the curtain in the past year which might have motivated me to do that as well in the middle of what I called a leap of faith.

Judy manages to let blogging appear easy, even if embarking on a daunting task as an A-Z blogging challenge. But I suspect she manages her bloggiverse like a forward-looking MBA and manager because Judy knows a lot about the intracacies of the corporate, strategic use of CC e-mails for example.


 Alexander Brown .infoScience & Communication, Fundraising, Being Bilingual and Floorball and
Do You Speak Science What science has to say, in words. Both blogs by Alex Brown

My hopes for inventing something groundbreaking or unlocking the secrets of the universe as a scientist and engineers have been shattered – until I started a global movement and founded the Cult of Search Term Poetry.

Though the illusionary bubble of having been the inventor of spam poetry had been punctured, the movement of ‘experimental art from the trash other people leave on the net’ (suggestions for better tags welcome!) has been professionalized and hashtagged by Alex. We should all answer our searchers’ questions.

Alex is pi-lingual and thus well-versed in finding worm-hole-like connections between, say, pies, math, stones, date writing conventions, and The Bloodhoud Gang.

(What will this post do to my search terms? Looking forward to my next Search Term Poem).


The Unemployed Philosopher’s Blog – Just because you’re unemployed, it doesn’t mean that you’re out of work
by Dan Mullin

Dan’s blog has been a true Time Machine for me. Thanks to his thoughtful posts on the Cult of Academia I felt the need to travel back in time and re-live (is this a word? Like re-tweet or re-blog?) my own leaving of academia. Above all, his posts probably motivated the Geeky Turn in my blogging despite or because Dan is a philosopher. My reply to his bestowing a blog award to me, marks this turn – as ground-breaking as the as the Linguistic Turn  in philosophy, triggered by Wittgenstein, I think.

If you are interesting in alternative careers in philosophy and/or ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ versus ‘The Economy’ / ‘The Job Market’, don’t miss his Podcast episodes.


carnotcycle – the classical blog on thermodynamics
by Peter M

I am reading (browsing, skimming) too many geek and science websites and I am guilty of getting carried away by the fascination of quantum / cyber / nano / bionic / cloud computing etc. Peter’s blog is what an excellent History of Science blog should be like: Focussed on a single topic that is not known too popular (in terms of inflationary re-sharing the same stories on social webs over and over), and it is well researched. It is fascinating how difficult it is to understand so-called simply basics written in the language of a previous scientific paradigm.

I sometimes dabbled in classical thermodynamics as well, but I cannot resist the geeky touch even here: My post on The First Heat Pump has become a honey pot for heat pump spam. I failed the Turing test by seriously starting to discuss with the first spammer.


who is bert – a dialogue on mind, consciousness and existence
by Bert0001

I am an avid outbound linker – I do not need (another) link to an older post of mine to prove this, just look at the current one. Bert manages to develop something like his natural philosophy without the need of outbound links, trying to understand who he is – in a way that involves a language that lingers on the edge of geekiness sometimes (using terms as interrupt, operator and connector).

But ‘natural philosophy’ is probably too much of a tag already, as well as ‘geek’, and Bert refuses being tagged.

I seem to enjoy being tagged or like tagging myself as a physicist, geek, engineer – to the extreme of becoming cliché or a living cartoon of the physicist-philosopher-engineer.


Many Worlds Theory – In one universe, this blog is about quantum mechanics. In another universe, it is not.
by Matthew Rave

In the universe the wave function is collapsing into right now (This is a sloppy statement – please read Matthew’s post on Many Worlds Theory) it is definitely a a first-class blog on explaining physics. Matthew proves that you can use metaphors to explain physics that make sense, such as the economics of children buying ice cream. Understanding physics is a pet topic of mine as well and I want to thank my readers again who really read my articles on gyroscopes and the Coriolis force.

In particular, I enjoyed Matthew’s posts on Pseudoscience – a another pet topic of mine, though I only wrote about fringe science once last year.

Recently he challenged his readers with his unbelievably low Google number. I am still trying to craft a two words Google search phrase that will hit my blog. Gone are the days when The Subversive Element used to have a Google number of 1 (actually: ‘Google-Zahl’ according to Matthew’s definition) in German speaking countries with


kellyhartland – Aphorist / Visual Artist
by Kelly Hartland

Did I mention my blogs are walls of texts and I need to force myself to 1) shorten them and 2) add images? Since this is my bloggiversary I don’t care.

But I do want to endorse Kelly’s blog and aphorisms – please stand in awe of the art of saying to much with a few words.

Elemental Wall of Text
Probably text is the canvas
and the wall is the message

— The Elkement

(This is a placeholder since I don’t want to copy one of Kelly’s aphorisms. A quote would be equivalent to copying the whole content.)


Play – stories and photos from the southern Saskatchewan prairie
by M. Hatzel

A blog about the interaction of virtual and real spaces and landscapes with yourself – probably better spelled as Your Self for that matter. This blog defines a class of its own, yet I would like to tag it with to-be-defined-tag that relates to to great pieces of ‘Web Philosophy’, such as David Weinberger’s Small Pieces Loosely Joined – despite or because the blog is mainly about the real space of Saskatchewan.

I can relate to her blog in so many ways, I am at a loss where to start. You put yourself into a context, an environment you have selected by applying some rationale. You believe you know your (rational) selection criteria. But probably you want to expose yourself to the challenge of interacting with this environment, and you want to learn about your own reactions.

If I needed to bestow a blogging award today, it would most likely go to Michelle.

I learned a lot about the history of the settlers who build their sod houses. It were the settlers’ stories and Michelle’s questions on the viability of the heat pump systems described in a surprisingly down-to-earth blog post of mine that triggered the very first cross-over between this blog and our German blog (Is there a name for such a cross-over? This is as like: Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice are exchanging staff). In this blog – which is actually a business blog though fortunately this is most likely not at all obvious – we call ourselves The Settlers who tell stories about energy and physics. In this post I tried to explain if the system could work in Canada and what the limitations are, very similar to my reply to the comment.


Duck? Starfish? but…23 – one rock at a time
by Maurice A. Barry

Recently I have realized that I have been a teacher and a student – at least part-time – for most of my life. It might be that obvious, but one of the main drivers for starting this blog was to ponder about formal learning and intuitive understanding. I call myself a dilettante science blogger and I have ambiguous feelings about popular science.

Maurice’s blog, and in particular his great series of blog posts on distance education in Newfoundland and Labrador provided me with new insights – not too mention those impressive images of NL’s coast line seen from a helicopter. I was stunned by the fact how ‘distance education’ had been done by Canadian pioneers long before ‘massive open online courses’ became a big hype. His stories of applying high-tech tools in a very down-to-earth fashion, serving local communities of people inhabiting a sparsely populated country … simply resonated with me.

Since Dan and Michelle are also from Canada, I tend to bestow my blogging country award to Canada!


postmoderndonkey – The carnival of instability in language, thought and audience
by postmoderndonkey

My blog might give proof of lots of inconsistencies and ambiguities; the site site should already indicate this. I am geeky nerd on the one hand, living in an interconnected world – very close to a mind uploaded to a global computer. On the other hand, I am striving for a sustainanable, down-to-earth live style.

postmoderndonkey’s narratives on farming, titled The Zenvironmental Journey, speak to me. I am quoting the last paragraph of his most recent post.

You in your labors are a perfect machine and it is not a moment to be missed that you are aware of the forces within you supporting each of your movements.  This is the human you need to be sometimes, the one so unified with nature, so organic.  Get wet with sweat, tears and fish water and let it remind you of the connection you and all things share.


Welcome to Pairodox Farm – sustainable living in rural Pennsylvania
by Pairodox Farm

I am not a photographer and I am happy that exists. The more I admire if somebody is able to capture the essence of a moment in an image AND is able to craft a story related to it, or provide some – entertaining – facts about agriculture. Isn’t this car just about coming to live?

I am particularly intrigued by the restoration of ancient technology, such as a water pump and a spinning wheel.

If I had to bestow an award for the best blog name, it would go to Pairodox Farm – check out the explanation!


Indulging in Wikimedia again, I add an image I consider appropriate…

Cupcake aliens

… stealing from my own site and encouraging you to have a cup of coffee and an alien cup cake now!

Re coffee: The coffee reduction initiative went fine for while – until I fell ill two weeks ago and tried to use coffee first (to keep up working) before falling back on pharmaceuticals. Now the alien creatures in my bronchial tubes have been defeated and I need to convince myself I do not require coffee any more.


Captain’s log: In my time zone, it is now March 24, 2013, 00:23.

I have launched a severe pingback DoS attack against my blog (and a mild one against your blogs), but still seems to run fine.