Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heating and Energy Use

Last year we had housemates running electric heaters in 4 and 5 rooms. The electric bill was $800 per month. And still no-one felt very warm.

"This house is so cold!"

"Wear a hat. That's the number one thing you can do for the environment to keep from heating your house too much."

"We have to have heat!"

There is a forced air furnace, here; unfortunately it was installed to heat 3, southwest facing, upper story rooms. And that's all. Those three rooms got plenty warm from sunlight alone, while bottom floor, northern rooms stayed cold.

I'm changing that.

Liz asked me this morning, "Did you make holes into the inside of the house? Am I breathing stuff from inside the walls?"

"Yes, I did. No, you're not," I told her.

"It's just that last night I heard some crazy stuff like right through the walls and that big duct you put in."

"Oh, that was me working."

"In the middle of the night?"

"Yeah, I sorta lost track of time. I knew it was late, but I didn't know it was midnight." I had cut holes in walls for ducts until possibly 11 pm with a battery-powered saws-all. It was really noisy. Then I pulled ducts through walls, taped them up, and finally fired up the system and set off a smoke detector, probably because I'd dropped sawdust down into the fire chamber. I owe everybody an apology for making so much racket past bedtime.

"Geez," She said. "Well, are you done?"

"No, I still have to go through two more walls and a floor to get heat into your room."

"Is that hard? Will it damage the value of the house?

"It's hard, but it won't damage the house."

"I have some of that plastic film to go over windows, too. That would help my room stay warm, wouldn't it?"


Once again I find myself at the intersection of using the existing infrastructure while also trying to minimize consumption of non-renewable resources. Natural gas is a way better choice for heating than electricity, and in this north-south oriented home I can't retrofit a passive solar heating system into it. But I can certainly eliminate 15 to 20 kWh of electricity used for running heaters!

I'm aiming to have a household of 11 people using about 18kWh per day. Or less.

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