Sunday, October 11, 2009

New England Heating Oddities

The process of heating your house is definitely different between New England and Virginia. This of course is not too surprising, given the colder climate up here. But what I really find interesting is the varied types of heating. In Virginia, almost everyone I knew either used electric heat or a wood stove. Up here in Massachusetts I've had electric heat, oil heat, and now gas heat.

Supposedly gas heat is really cheap, so I'm a bit excited to see if our energy bills go down now that we aren't on oil heat. Apparently it was very expensive a year or two ago though, so I have to cross my fingers that prices won't go up again. The gas heater is really weird though; there's a heater in our living room that is permanently attached, but still is essentially a piece of furniture on one wall. It's supposed to heat the entire house, but it seems like it will just make the living room too hot to bear, and the rest of the house not hot enough. We also have electric heating in the floors that we can turn on (a separate thermostat for each room!!), which is supposed to supplement the gas heat. It will probably take a few weeks of actual use to really find the right process for making this combination work well without a lot of wasted energy. So far the house seems to keep rather warm (thank you, south facing windows and brick exterior!), so I'm hopeful that we won't need to use as much heat as we needed to keep the old rickety house warm. But the idea of having this big heater running while we're not home is not so appealing.

The other confusing part of the gas heat is that there is no real thermostat on it. we can't, say, set the temperature to "60" and then just let it decide to run. You set it on a scale of "low" to "high" and as far as I can tell it continuously runs at whatever point it's put at. The electric heat has actual thermostats, but would require setting them in every room, and is supposedly more expensive to use than the gas heat. I hope we are able to figure out the right algorithm for making this all work out correctly!

This is all on my mind because tonight is our first night it will be below freezing, so I will probably have to turn the heat on. I'm hoping to figure out a way to just keep it around 60 to 65 though!

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