The Natural Home Building Source
The Natural Home Building Source
The Natural Home Building Source

9 - Extreme testing of passive solar performance with an HTM design
click here for the main chapter of our free HTM Passive Solar Design eBook

Extreme testing of passive solar heating and passive solar cooling with sustainable high thermal mass design has been done in every climate. Block homes and businesses can be found in every town in the world. That's what makes an HTM so economical and functionally sensible, the common commercial style of block or poured-in-place concrete construction. Your local Quick Stop grocery store was block built for the sake of economy and strength. Add exterior insulation for heating and cooling retention and a coat of surface bonding cement structural stucco for waterproofing, strength and beauty and then throw in a little passive solar shade cloth and wing insultation to keep the foundation dry and you have an HTM. Any local contractor should be more than capable of working on the project since there is nothing really alternative about it other than the function. We're certain it'll work better than a conventional stick framed structure in your climate, any climate. The huge pocket of dry, stabilized temperature ground under and around an HTM allows the Earth to passively moderate your indoor environment.

Sloped glass is the only natural way to grow crops in the winter

Passive solar designs are geared more towards heating than cooling performance, but the principles are the same in a hot climate: moderate indoor air temperature by allowing the home's thermal mass to store energy. Cement block homes and commercial poured-in-place buildings are extremely common in hot climates. Their ability to discourage termites, survive hurricanes, and avoid rot and mold stands to reason, but their ability to store the cooling energy of night breezes is what makes concrete so attractive functionally. Changes to the basic HTM sustainable design are site specific for hot climates, involving properly sized roof eave overhangs, use of vertical glazing, shifting the orientation more towards the view or due north side in extremely hot climates and adapting the exterior with a shade cloth covered trellis. Shade alongside the outside of a home substantially lowers ambient outside temperature, what the home feels through the walls. The classic southern veranda is easily re-created seasonally, and on a larger scale, with shade netting.

The classic southern veranda is easily recreated seasonally, on a larger scale, with shade netting.

One thing you cannot control passively (without a mechanical device) is humidity. Shade fabric outside the home will lower temperature and that is a good start, but you might well end up with air conditioning or whole-house dehumidifier in an extreme climate. Keeping the air moving past high thermal mass walls with fans helps make the environment more comfortable, but the only way to safely lower humidity is with an air conditioner or dehumidifier. And that requires shutting the room up to lower humidity and/or air temperature. Indoor air quality is a controlling issue in sustainable healthy designs, so most hot climate clients choose to air condition only a few choice rooms they can air out later, like a bedroom, rather than air condition the entire structure.

Passive solar cooling is a bit of an oxymoron, but there is one sure fire method to cool in any climate with minimal energy. The same in-floor radiant heating tubes used in every other house on the block can also be used for cooling. Simply pump cold well, pond, or river water through your system of geothermal pipes embedded in the slab. The radiant cooling effect makes higher room air temperatures feel much, much cooler since your ankles are chilled by the cold water running through the concrete floor. Sustainable rural homes often feature large cisterns, orchards, gardens and ponds, so there is always a use for the water and it isn't wasted energy or natural resources. Lacking a purpose for the water you are pumping through the floor tubing, you can always send it back down into groundwater with a drywell leaching pit or pipe right back into the river. Free air conditioning! This passive radiant cooling very effective and energy-free when diverting a small stream or spring. Architects will hopefully discover this zero-energy secret - keep it simple folks. Low tech, passive solar heating and cooling techniques work, quite naturally.

The classic southern veranda is easily recreated seasonally, on a larger scale, with shade netting.

The following weather data was collected over sixty years by the local substation in Dillon, which is about 400 feet higher than the HTM pictured throughout this website. As you can see, this is an extremely cold climate for testing of passive solar heating sustainable design. Winter is six months long up here on the continental divide. Our HTM design has proven nearly 100% sustainable through many high country winters. We're certain it'll work just as well, if not better, in your climate, any climate. Keep in mind that you get some solar gain even on a cloudy winter day in Maine. Where there is light, there is solar energy. Catch what free energy you can and supplement the rest, just like any other home design. Reflecting sunlight off a white surface like snow or bleached sidewalk will get you even more solar gain. Excess radiant solar energy storage in thermal mass underneath the slab and in the walls and floor allows you to VENT an HTM much more aggressively, while maintaining the same personal comfort level. Passive solar radiant heating and cooling is a nice alternative to conventional stick frame, air tight, High-R construction where personal comfort level is maintained only by air temperature alone.

Weather data for Dillon Colorado showing extreme testing of passive solar heating sustainable design

As with any project, there are too many variables in construction, design, weather, sunlight, soil, and orientation to get specific, but I trust you can maintain whatever temperature you find comfortable. The largest variable is venting. Key to the HTM design is the ability to aggressively vent in all seasons. Conventional architecture builds air-tight and rarely vents indoor air to avoid 'losing heat'... and that is a perfect recipe for sick building syndrome. A well vented home is a healthy home, but it might also moderate at a lower temperature. Another factor is the huge difference between passive radiant heating and cooling and depending upon air temperature alone in a low-mass High-R home plan. That is not something that is easy to quantify if you have never lived in a thermal mass home. Just describing the difference is difficult, but save it to say that one does not really relate air temperature to personal comfort level in a radiant HTM home.




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Free 48 State Delivery

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Fed-Ex and UPS Ground

Most shopping cart items ship via Fed-Ex or UPS Ground package delivery service. Package delivery services, unlike a motor freight carrier (see next paragraph), will allow us to file a hidden damage in transit claim for insurance reimbursement, but We are given less than a week to report it. Regardless of how well the exterior of container box appears, you must ALWAYS have the driver note ANY damage to shipping boxes in writing before signing. Then immediately, always take Merchandise completely out of its packaging and inspect ALL of the Merchandise, notifying us immediately should there be ANY hidden damage to Merchandise. Mechanical problems are covered under the manufacturer warranty, but hidden aesthetic damages (cosmetic dings, dents, broken Welds, significant scratches, or popped rivets) you discover than a week after delivery are not reimbursed or replaced by Fed-EX, manufacturer, Kobe, or TheNaturalHome.com. Not saying that you or your Merchant caused the damage to the unit before or during installation, but that possibility exists when Merchandise is not properly inspected upon arrival. Additionally, any appearance (non-mechanical) flaws found after installation will not be reimbursed or replaced by freight carrier, Fed-EX, manufacturer, Kobe, or TheNaturalHome.com. Merchandise that has been installed is not eligible for return or replacement by TheNaturalHome.com.

Motor Freight Shipping

Servel refrigerators, Sun-Mar composters, larger custom shade panels and larger Kobe range hoods ship via motor freight 'common carrier', as noted on the website and receipt. Scheduled deliveries are not possible to arrange, but We automatically email tracking information after shipment, so you can anticipate delivery date.Common carrier motor freight is shipped on a pallet with boxes covered in clear plastic stretch-wrap and is defined as street-side motor freight drop, which differs from small package services like UPS and Fed-Ex, in that the truck driver does not bring Merchandise into your building or onto the porch. Street-side motor freight drop is a basic delivery service, often in a full-size tractor trailer, where driver parks in street while you unload and inspect the Merchandise. Kobe range hoods, shade panels, and Sun-Mar composters are not shipped with lift-gate service. You must unload boxes from the tractor trailer by hand. If you require lift gate service to lower the Kobe range hood down onto the roadway, with what they call a mechanical 'Tommy lift', it is available for an additional $65 to $100 fee. Please arrange and pay for this optional service at time of order. Always check the number of pieces (boxes) present against the stated waybill shipping receipt tally. As with any motor freight shipment from any distributor, be certain to carefully examine ALL of the Merchandise, not just the outside of shipping box(es), before signing and accepting delivery. It is imperative with motor freight shipments that ALL products be unboxed and fully inspected PRIOR to accepting delivery. Regardless of what the delivery driver may say, you MUST inspect fully before signing and accepting the delivery. It is the freight truck driver's job to wait while you open and inspect shipment for damages. Simply looking at the outside of the box(es) is NOT adequate. Damaged Merchandise (that particular box, not all the boxes) must be refused delivery. Once someone signs for shipment, it confirms Merchandise was received free of ANY damage and removes liability from the transportation carrier. We can only assume that damage reported later and not refused delivery, was caused by the Client, and not the freight carrier. Any subsequent attempt to file a claim for loss or damage will NOT be accepted by the transportation carrier, distributor, or Our company, TheNaturalHome.com.

Returns and Cancellation

All returns, cancellations and/or exchanges must first be authorized in writing by TheNaturalHome.com at service@thenaturalhome.com. Client may not ship any Merchandise back until We supply return Merchandise authorization RMA number and address for the shipment. Orders often do not ship back to the same warehouse they shipped from originally. Contact us with invoice number and reason for return or exchange to obtain an RMA number and instructions. No returns, refunds or exchanges will be authorized more than 30 days after original purchase payment date. Design consultation services, DVDs, knit shade material, water tubes, greywater and septic system parts are not returnable for refund or exchange for any reason. Once payment has been made, custom panel orders are cut and enter the production system and cannot be cancelled after payment is made. No return on any remnants or discontinued items. Any authorized returns of Merchandise must be in the original carton, in new unused condition, and returned freight prepaid to Our designated warehouse. Merchandise originally shipped via motor freight carrier on a pallet, may not be returned via package delivery service such as UPS or Fed-Ex. Original actual shipping cost will be deducted from any refund due along with up to 15% restocking fee on the Merchandise. This restocking fee includes the 3% credit card processing on original purchase, which is not refunded by MasterCard or VISA. Please understand that items on Our website are advertised as "Free Shipping", which is to be understood as "there is no extra charge for delivery of PURCHASED Merchandise". UPS, USPS, Fed-Ex and motor freight carriers charge us a fee for delivery of Merchandise, which We must recoup on returns. Kobe, for instance, bills a flat-fee of $40 and $45 for business and residential Fed-Ex shipments and $162 and $186 for motor freight carrier drops. Sun-Mar and Servel units ship via motor freight carrier for anywhere from $120 to $300+ per unit, depending upon zip code and drop site designation. Kobe, Sun-Mar, Clivus Multrum, Quanics, Dometic and Servel returns are manufacturer-direct, drop ship items and may be subject to an additional manufacturer's restocking fee. Discontinued, clearance items are not eligible for return or exchange. If an item is returned without original packaging intact, or is damaged, found to be used, or otherwise not ready for resale, it may be refused and returned to sender at their expense, so always insure shipment.

Lost and Stolen Shipments

Tracking information is emailed following shipment on all orders so client can anticipate delivery date. Custom size shade panels are made-to-order and can take up to ten business days to produce and ship. All other 'stock items' normally ship within three business days. Should you not receive email shipping information, please send a request for tracking number in writing to: service@thenaturalhome.com. Note it can take up to 48 hours for a given tracking number to appear on transportation company website. During this time, shipment status may be listed as "order processed and ready for pickup". Traditionally, this just means the shipment has not yet reached transportation company terminal and scanned after being unloaded from truck that picked those package(s) up. Overdue shipments must be reported to merchant in writing within one week after anticipated delivery date. Cardholder hereby agrees that only two possibilities exist for a shipment that did not arrive as anticipated. Possibility #1) Transportation company shows shipment as still being in-transit. In this case, merchant will file a 'tracer' request on behalf of cardholder with transportation company and they will search for box(es) at all company freight terminals. Cardholder is required to fully cooperate by filling out any forms requested, returning any voice messages left, and replying to any email messages sent by transportation company or merchant. Your patience and consideration is required and greatly appreciated while transportation company attempts to find the shipment. Replacement or refund is authorized solely at merchant discretion. Cardholder is not permitted to cancel order. Cardholder is not permitted to dictate choice of replacement or refund. And cardholder is not permitted to dictate time frame for settlement and ultimate delivery date for merchandise. Possibility #2) Transportation company shows shipment as being delivered. In this case, merchant will file a 'lost shipment' claim on behalf of cardholder with transportation company. A lost shipment claim can take up to two weeks to resolve and unfortunately, the transportation company rarely, if ever, pays the insurance claim. Ideally, we only ship to cardholder, personally, at their residence or business 'home' credit card billing address, but regardless of designated drop site and receiving person and whether or not a signature was required at time of delivery, cardholder is solely responsible for merchandise security after drop is confirmed by transportation company. After transportation company confirms delivery to shipping address, no signature required, there will be no refund or replacement for lost or stolen merchandise for any reason. Cardholder must immediately file a theft report with their local police department for item stolen from property or designated drop site. Cardholder hereby agrees to relinquish any and all right to file a credit card chargeback sales reversal for merchandise lost in transit by transportation company or merchandise reported lost or stolen after delivery is confirmed by transportation company. Should cardholder file a chargeback in violation of this terms of service agreement, cardholder will be held responsible for reimbursement of any and all merchant services processing fees incurred as a result of the frivolous chargeback, which can be anywhere from $35 up to several hundred dollars.

Shade Panel Production

Our commercial grade knitted shadecloth carries a one year manufacturer's replacement warranty against defects in material and workmanship. You can expect at least 5 years of service when installed properly and well over ten years when used seasonally in a temperate climate. Client must inspect shade panels within one week of delivery in order to be able to report any damages. Rips, tears, and aesthetic damage you find more than one week after delivery are not reimbursed or replaced by the freight carrier or TheNaturalHome.com. Additionally, merchandise that has been installed is not eligible for return or replacement for damage claims. Fabric is knitted polyolefin, primarily high density polyethylene HDPE, specially treated for durability and UV resistance. Wind damage from loose panel whipping, snagging, and abrading against the structure or cable framework is much more harmful in the long run than simple exposure to sunlight. Knit shade material should be installed hung underneath, not pulled across the top of cable or framework, to avoid abrasion and snagging damage. Chemical, fire, heat, abrasion, and snagging damage are not covered under manufacturer warranty. Shade panel warranty inspection returns must be authorized in advance and returned freight prepaid to designated location for visual inspection. TheNaturalHome.com will only pay the cost to ship warranty repaired or replaced merchandise back to client after inspection confirms damage was a material or workmanship defect. The following are trade-standard, non-valid reasons for requesting warranty inspection: First, there is no up-down, right-left, top-bottom or front-back reference point for any panel. Panel 'Width and Length' are measured from outside-edge to outside-edge of the sewn perimeter hem at the four corners only. Knit material has inherent tension and flex in the looming process that will resolve aesthetic issues when installed taut with rope lacing. Grommets on one side of panel are unlikely to line up with grommets on the opposite side or from one grommeted pinch pleat to the next. Exact one foot on-center grommet spacing, specific grommeted pinch pleat centering, and special placement on a particular side for grommets is not warranted. Any panel over 12 foot wide may have a noticeable factory knitted loom splice seam without notice in advance since the 20, 26, and 32 foot wide stock roll width fabrics are manufactured on side-by-side looms. We traditionally cover this seam with a grommeted pinch pleat, but it is possible to order plain cloth without a center GPP, per automated quoting form. Aesthetic issues are not warranted. For instance, the White 50% color knitted shade material can sometimes arrive with patches of orange discoloration and spotting as a result of the manufacturing process. This discoloration will dissipate after installation in the sunlight. Shade material may always be slightly wrinkled from rolling onto storage tube or shipping and knit appearance can vary from sample swatches presented and may also vary between various stock widths. Minor aesthetic flaws in knit appearance, stitching, and snags are not a structural panel failure problem and not warranted. Shade material is lockstitch knitted to prevent structural unraveling. Longevity is the same regardless of aesthetic appearance flaws in the fabric knit or perimeter webbing. If need be, one can use needle and thread to pull small flaws together and super-glue sealed. It is not considered a warranty-related defect unless it affects panel performance. Special fire resistant certified shade materials are not available. The finish 'Length' ordered is what we produce by cutting enough fabric to fold hem and GPP. The only time to anticipate deviation in finish dimension purchased is when 'Width' is a stock material width of 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, 26 and 32 foot. Then, finish 'Width' is likely going to be two to three inches less after folding and sewing perimeter hem and any length-wise grommeted pinch pleats. ALL other times, the size panel you request is the finish size we do our very best to produce. Knitted shade netting is inherently difficult to work with due to tension releasing when cut to custom sizes, so trade-standard warranty for free replacement is a four inch tolerance. As measured at four corners, any error of five inches, or more, is warranted for free remake, replacement, or refund at our sole discretion. This accuracy guarantee does not apply to shapes other than rectangles or any panel dimension over 32 foot. Errors of less than five inches are considered for remedy on a case-by-case basis only when the panel has not been installed and can be resold as a new-unused remnant. Special grommet placement requests are not warranted and grommet spacing at exactly one foot on center is not warranted. Click here for knit shade material engineering specifications and product MSDS sheet.

Warranty and Warnings

Merchandise purchased from TheNaturalHome.com is covered only under that product's manufacturer warranty. Client is solely responsible for presenting all claims under those warranties directly to the warrantor. TheNaturalHome.com makes no consultation, service work, or system design warranties, whether express or implied and shall not in any way be held responsible for any customer misuse of Our products or misunderstanding of any and all of Our designs, whether express or implied. All responsibility and liability for any and all damages caused by viruses contained within the electronic files of this site are disclaimed. All information contained within this site and supplied by any and all TheNaturalHome.com consultations, design work and service work is governed by the following information disclaimer. Be aware that septic tank effluent, composting toilet materials, and greywater alike contain bodily fluids and as such are regulated as Hazardous Materials by the Federal government. Such hazardous materials (raw sewage) should be handled only by licensed professionals trained in the proper safety procedures and using proper safety equipment. If you are unsure of the correct handling and safety procedures, please check with your local health department for more detailed information.

Installation and Liability

Merchandise purchased from or through TheNaturalHome.com must be installed by a licensed professional installer and in accordance with manufacturer's specifications and local/state/federal electrical, plumbing, health and building department regulations. Building department regulation requirements differ from one town to the next and it is the Client's sole responsibility to ensure compliance. This is particularly important with hard-wired electric kitchen appliances and hoods, gas refrigerators, septic systems, greywater projects, and composting toilets. Even shade panel installations can come under local regulatory scrutiny (pull permits) in some parts of the United States. Client understands that shade panels are not rated for any fire resistance and hereby confirms that no fire resistance has been expressed or implied by Seller for Merchandise. Client is solely responsible for purchasing (pulling), and coordinating all of the inspections for all of the necessary electrical, plumbing, grading, road, health and building permits for their project. Some of these services, as requested, can be provided to Our Summit County, Colorado Clients where TheNaturalHome.com is a licensed and insured general Contractor (license number 6) and septic system installer (license number 69). TheNaturalHome.com is not an architectural nor an engineering firm. We do Our best to consult on your project, but site specific engineering, load calculations, soil viability testing, and/or custom blueprinting are not included in any consultation service or system package We sell.

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Information Disclaimer

The information from or through this site and from or through Architerra Enterprises, Inc. (d.b.a. The Natural Home Building source and TheNaturalHome.com is provided 'as-is', 'as available', and any and all warranties, express or implied, are disclaimed (including but not limited to the disclaimer of any implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose). We are not an engineering or architectural design firm. We are not licensed electricians or plumbers. We do not accept any legal liability whatsoever for any 'errors and omissions' perceived or otherwise. Any and all consultation given, or website information provided, may contain typos, errors, omissions, problems, or other limitations. Merchandise specifications are subject to change at any time by manufacturer without any advance notice from Our company or the manufacturer. Product specifications and installation instructions are likewise subject to possible error and may change at any time without Our knowledge. Blueprints, sketches, and any written consultation are provided for informational educational purposes only and not intended for construction-ready application without approval first by locally licensed structural engineer and local building department regulations. Our sole and entire maximum liability for any inaccurate information, for any reason, and user's sole and exclusive remedy for any cause whatsoever, shall be limited to the amount paid by the customer for the information received (if any cost was involved). We are not liable for any indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages including but not limited to damages for loss of business, loss of profits, litigation, or the like, whether based on breach of contract, breach of warranty, tort (including negligence), product liability or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such damage. The limitations of damages set forth above are fundamental elements of this website, communications, and information provided without such limitations. No representations, warranties or guarantees whatsoever are made as to the accuracy, adequacy, integrity, reliability, currentness, completeness, suitability or applicability of the information to a particular situation. Complaints by Client to any rating agency, company review, or personal referral concerning Merchant or Merchandise in direct disregard of this terms of service agreement are to be considered libel and will be prosecuted as such, if need be.

Consultation and Service

Written and verbal consultation on the specifics of any project is governed by this terms of service agreement, with or without purchase of Merchandise. Technical assistance is different with us because Our staff members live with what We sell. Housing, septic, composting and greywater systems all include free on-going consultation, so We'll take the time to answer your questions and ensure your project is a success. At the very least, We strive to save you money by avoiding costly mistakes, both short and long term. If We don't have an answer to your question right on the spot, We'll take the time to research it further and get back to you. We can consult on the phone, if you wish, but email allows us to much more completely answer your questions with sketches and links to related articles. Keeping everything in writing is a sure way to avoid any confusion with "you said he said" situations later. Our sustainable housing products are low-tech in nature, but their design is typically complicated by the seemingly endless installation variables for unique locations and applications. Any and all consultation (blueprints, photos, written word and sketches) purchased from TheNaturalHome.com are the intellectual, copyrighted property of TheNaturalHome.com. HTM house plans, septic system packages and greywater kit components Were designed and priced for the typical home and based upon the average soil type. Whether or not your local building department requires stamped engineer approval, you are well advised to take sample blueprints, sketch plans, and system consultation suggestions to a local professional engineer (PE). Local PEs are familiar with your soil type and more aware of unique building codes and concerns in your area. Most importantly, a local PE is readily available for the necessary site visits. your PE is then responsible for preparing a folder of notes and details which confirm the structural integrity, viability and liability for your project. TheNaturalHome.com is not an architectural design nor an engineering firm. We do Our best to consult on your project, but site specific engineering, load calculations, soil viability testing and/or custom blueprinting are not included in any consultation service or system package We sell. Communication is intended only for the paid Client recipient(s) and may be confidential and/or legally privileged and must be treated as such in accordance with state and federal laws. Any disclosure, copying, distribution or action taken in reliance on the content is strictly prohibited.

Fiberglass Water Tubes

Water Tube and Cap ("Item") is manufactured for Client on special order basis by an independent company ("Manufacturer"). Manufacturer's warranty and guarantee, and special terms and conditions of sale and delivery apply to this Item. No warranty or guarantee is provided, expressed, or implied by Merchant, TheNaturalHome.com. Merchant and Manufacturer do not assume any liability or responsibility for damage in transit. Only the transportation company is responsible for damage in transit. Before signing and receiving Item from transportation company, Client should demand to see packing list from Item shipment. If shipment is short Item (for instance: three caps, not four) or damaged (any Item defects), refuse the goods until the transportation agent notes the shortage or damage in writing on the freight receipt waybill. Always require a copy of the annotated waybill with shortage or damage noted in writing and signed/initialed by driver.Watch for hidden damage and inspect all Items fully before signing and accepting the shipment from a freight carrier. Client signature is testament that Item arrived in the proper amount and in undamaged condition. Hidden damage or shortage (anything found after delivery) is Client's sole responsibility to file claim with transportation company. Merchant and Manufacturer do not assume any responsibility or liability for Item damage during/after installation. Manufacturer guarantees Item is up to its established standard of manufacture as to material and workmanship. In all claims, liability is limited to replacement of the invoice value of any Item claimed to be defective. Client assumes all risk and liability whatsoever resulting from the use of such Item, whether used singly or in combination with other substances. The materials purchased hereunder (Item) shall be examined and tested upon receipt thereof, and before the materials are used and within thirty days from such receipt, Client shall notify Merchant in writing of any claims on account of quality thereof. Failure to so notify Merchant shall constitute a waiver of all claims with respect to Item, and in any event the use of Item by Client shall be deemed to mean satisfactory performance on the Item and Merchant. No claim of any kind (whether as to Item delivered or for non-delivery of Item) shall be greater in amount than the purchase price of Item covered hereby with respect to which any damages are claimed. Merchant and Manufacturer will accept no returns unless previously authorized in writing with Return Merchandise Agreement. Item returned without RMA written permission is liable to non-acceptance and return at expense of Client. RMA will specify 25% restocking fee on Item, plus deduction for original cost of crating and shipping, plus Client is responsible for all return shipping arrangements and all related expenses. There are no promises, agreements, or understandings between Client and Merchant and Manufacturer not contained in this document. Should you use your own form to make a purchase based on a price quote from Merchant, the conditions contained herein shall be deemed to be incorporated in said order or contract or invoice.