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Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

Posted December 31, 2006 5:01 PM

The question as it appears in the 01/02/07 edition of Specs & Techs from GlobalSpec:

A house has central heating and the temperature is set to 68 F. It's winter in the Northeast; heating oil is expensive and the family living there is worried a space heater may start a fire. What can they do to feel more comfortable?

Update (01/09/07 8:32 AM): And the Answer is....

Buy humidifiers for the rooms the family uses most.

Humidifiers increase the relative humidity of the air. This is especially useful in winter when there is little moisture in the air. Winter air can be very dry and make 68 F feel more like 65 F. A humidifier can make the room feel like it's 70 F. When there is little relative humidity, sweat can evaporate easily, making it feel cooler than it really is. When there is high relative humidity, sweat cannot evaporate as easily, making it feel warmer than it really is.

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#1

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

12/31/2006 8:18 PM

Increase Humidity!

Even small 2 Gallon can make a real difference in a room.

and, it should run most of a 24 hour period after proper regulation is determined.

Cheap, and readily available.

No messy furnace retrofitting needed.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:05 AM

Slow running ceiling fans, help pull the warmer air from the upper part of the room.

Generally the airflow should be up, so the warm air is being pushed down along the walls.

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#11
In reply to #4

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:34 AM

Good quality ceiling fans will allow you to reverse the direction of rotation. The reason is so that can be used exactly as Garthh has suggested to move the warm air that collects near the ceiling back down towards the floor. If the fan is set so that the air is moved upwards by the fan it circulates the air better and minimizes the cooling effect caused by the motion of the air.

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Anonymous Poster
#31
In reply to #4

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:43 PM

If warm air is pulled down from the upper part of the room, the thermostat will turn off the heat until all air in the room is 68 degrees so it would seem to me the primary effect of a fan would be to cool the air located above the thermostat meaning your head and face would be colder than they would be with no air movement. (assuming that your head is higher than the thermostat). On the other hand, the air at floor level would be warmer, but I suspect this effect is noticed less since it is typical to wear socks and shoes which insulate your feet while your face and head are ususally not covered when you are inside.....newbie

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#5
In reply to #1

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:00 AM

Raising the humidity of the air will not work the way you think it will. While humid air will feel warmer that dry air at the same temperature it doesn't quite work that way if you start with dry air and add moisture. To evaporate water requires energy, the latent heat of vaporization, and this comes from the air that the water evaporates into. As a result the air cools off. Look at the following diagram.

The red line represents what would happen if we started of with air at 68ºF with a relative humidity of 0% and then added water till it was saturated or had relative humidity of 100%. As you can see the temperature when the air saturated would be 43ºF, considerably colder than the 68ºF we started with.

We can also work out how much water it would take to saturate the air from this graph. The vertical scale on the left shows the ratio of the water mass to air mass and with saturated air that we started with at 68ºF the ratio is 0.006 and given that the density of air is roughly 0.075lbft-3 then

WaterMass = DensityAir x RatioWater-Air

WaterMass = 0.075lbft-3 x 0.006 = 0.0045lbft-3

Which means for an average room that has a volume of around 1,000ft3 you will need 4.5lb of water to saturate it.

Lets look at what happens if we do the opposite. This chart show what would happen if we precipitated the moisture from the air.

The red line show what the temperature would be if we started of with air at 68ºF and a relative humidity of 75%. It clearly shows that if you can force the water in the air to condense out you can get a considerable rise in the temperatures and that if all the moisture were to condense out the temperature would be 117ºF.

So the answer is not to add moisture to the air but rather to get the existing moisture in the air to condense out thus raising the temperature.

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#9
In reply to #5

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:41 AM

But that is exactly how you humidify the air, by adding moisture. In your example, the furnace thermostat would energize the furnace, replacing the heat used to evaporate the water. Most of the time the moisture is added in the supply air duct after the air leaves the furnace, and it is controlled by a humidistat, either wall mounted or duct mounted in the return air duct.

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:50 AM

The problem is that no matter what humid air contains more energy than dry air at the same temperature. There is no way around this and if you humidify the air you need to add that extra energy. This will either come from the furnace in the form of extra fuel consumption or from the air by cooling it down. By adding moisture you will be going backwards. The question states

"It's winter in the Northeast; heating oil is expensive"

which implies that they are concerned about the consumption of oil and adding a humidifier would increase the consumption of oil.

Evaporative coolers work by taking warm dry air and humidifying it. If you look at the chart is shows that if you had dry air at 117ºF and you passed it over evaporators so that the humidity was raised to 75% you would end up with air at 68ºF.

If on the other hand the air in the enclosed space was humid and cause this moisture to precipitate out then the reverse would happen and the air would warm.

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Anonymous Poster
#17
In reply to #5

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 9:30 AM

It doesn't take a great amount of energy to get the moisture level up and I think it is well worth it. I feel much better when the humidity is raised. Less dry and cracked skin, noise bleeds, and sinus trouble. Besides don't we lose body heat through vaporization? If I raise the humidity to 50% I feel comfortable with the t-stat 4 degrees lower than when humidity is at 20%.

The glue joints in my old furniture stays tighter when the humidity is above 40%.

Your mileage may vary...


jh

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Anonymous Poster
#93
In reply to #5

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/06/2007 3:03 PM

seems that what needs to be done is to dehumidify the air without reducing the temp to dewpoint, condensing the water. I am wondering how much dessicant would be required to remove the humidity. how much energy will be required to move the air across the dessicant. would the latent heat of condensation be greater than that required to move the air. Finally, we are after all talking about human inhabited spaces. If it is not felt, it is no use. technically, most people do not comprehend latent heat as a change of state, if they dont feel it, it is not there. and a psychometric chart is as informative as a rhorshoch...but your explanation makes perfect sense to me.

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/07/2007 7:07 AM

Ah I see you have a good understanding of the problem. Would I be correct in assuming that you have a background in HVAC?

I was thinking exactly the same about using a desiccant in an attempt the lower the moisture content but I have only had minimal experience with them so I have no idea about their use. I can't think of a practical way to reduce the relative humidity so it's not really an answer to the question.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the official answer will be to raise the humidity and that it will ignore the fact that this will require additional energy and that the additional energy will either mean cooler air or increased fuel consumption. What do you think?

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#95
In reply to #94

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/08/2007 2:54 AM

Ultra low humidity isn't a good thing. Dry skin, increased levels of particulate matter [the moisture helps remove it from suspension], which is bad for your lungs.

You would really like something in the range of 15%-25% RH

A commercial dessicant dryers sometimes use a rotating drum, filled w/dessicant. 1 side has a electrically heated airstream blowing through the dessicant, while the other side has working air blowing through to lower the humidity of say a silo full of dry product.

There is also the more convential dehumidifacation scheme, of a refrigerator or air conditioner.

Masu that is a very good ? How do you lower the humidity, using the least amount of energy?

I could use something like that to increase the effectiveness of my evaporative cooler when it's 1150f around here!

I've been following the various solar fridge threads, hoping to find a method that could be applied to climate control [indoor], in a economic fashion.

Thanks for the physcrometric chart links, most educational.

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Anonymous Poster
#128
In reply to #93

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 12:58 AM

If I remember correctly it is psychrometric not psychometric chart, something I studies 40 years ago.

I guess a typo. It is published by a major air conditioner company in US - forget the name.

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Anonymous Poster
#132
In reply to #128

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 1:20 AM

I believe they are called Trane charts.

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#133
In reply to #128

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 12:38 PM

Good point the correct term is psychrometric chart. Psychometrics is the measure of ability, knowledge, attitude and personality traits.

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#97
In reply to #5

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 2:43 PM

No the energy to evaporate the water comes from the electric supplying the heater in the humidifier, not the air. so no energy will be lost from the air, thereby creating a cooling effect.

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#122
In reply to #5

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/11/2007 8:54 PM

That all sounds great in theory, but how do you propose to force the water in the air to condense out? The only way it will condense out is by reducing the temperature of the room to less than the dewpoint of the air which, in the Northeast in winter is in the single digits, deg F. The real answer is to install a room heater and only heat the room you spend most of your time in. Keeping the rest of the house a little cooler. Even a programmable thermostat would help. Most people who use wood stoves or gas stoves tend to put a "steamer" filled with water on top of their stove to evaporate water into the air. Increasing the humidity will have a beneficial effect, regardless of whether it will affect the temperature in the room. It will minimize dry skin. Vent free gas heaters will put approx. one gallon of water vapor in to the air for each gallon of propane burned. Now that's how to increase the humidity without wasting energy--------> use the water vapor that is formed from combustion.

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Anonymous Poster
#38
In reply to #1

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:12 PM

I definitely agree... Humidity is the key to comfort.

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Anonymous Poster
#48
In reply to #1

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 6:24 PM

Condensation forming on cold surfaces [glass in particular] is going to be a likely problem using a humidifier at sufficiently high settings to have a noticeable effect.

An electronic thermostat that will maintain the temperatire selected within +\- 1 degree will allow occupants to adapt to a single heat level rather than the +\- 3 degree spread electromechanical anticipator thermostats allow.

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Anonymous Poster
#129
In reply to #48

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 1:02 AM

You are absolutely right. I remember my student days when I had to use humidifier to keep my nose from bleeding. But then I would feel really in early morning as also the window panes would get frosted on the inside.

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Anonymous Poster
#130
In reply to #129

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 1:04 AM

Correction to the above post. Missed out a word

"I would feel really chilly in the early morning...."

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#2

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/01/2007 9:12 PM

More clothing is the easiest.

My plan was to move to Florida. It was 80° yesterday and a cool 75° today. Apparently, my plan has worked.

The previous post about humidity is probably spot on and a whole lot healthier, too!

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#3

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/01/2007 11:34 PM

I grew up with a coal stove to heat the house. There is nothing like that radiant heat to warm you up. There are ceramic heaters that may not get hot enough to start a fire, but I have not tried them. The ones with red-hot wires have a switch that turns them off if they tip over. One or the other close by could keep you warm if you're in one place for a while.

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Anonymous Poster
#99
In reply to #3

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 5:10 PM

I agree that radiant heat works. My thought was that in combination with raising the humidity, they could add an infrared space heater instead of the standard coil heaters. They are supposed to be safer and run on about the same amount of electricity that a Mr. Coffee uses in one day.

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Anonymous Poster
#112
In reply to #99

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/10/2007 9:38 AM

Heating a home with electric heat of any kind uses the same amount of energy whether the heating system is radiant or not. If you think a radiant heater that uses the same amount of energy that a coffe pot uses will heat a house you will find the house is quite cold.
Electric heating of a home will usually require 10 to 20 kilowatts of heat or more, depending on the square footage, outside temperature, insulation and infiltration leakage of the house. The average Mr. Coffee is about 1 kilowatt or less.

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Anonymous Poster
#6

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:18 AM

Increase the thickness of the insulation in the loft space above the ceilings to 250mm. Increase the thickness of the insulation between the floor joists in the under-floor space above the cellar to 150mm. Double-glaze throughout.

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Anonymous Poster
#7

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:19 AM

I live in the northerns. marry a big woman and call it a day. there even might be some moisture addet th the air.Cheers

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#29
In reply to #7

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:39 PM

The "perfect" woman Heat in the winter, Shade in the summer.

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#106
In reply to #29

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 10:08 PM

....Hey where you found this "PERFECT" alien?

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Anonymous Poster
#36
In reply to #7

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:38 PM

I DID THIS. SHE IS ALWAYS WARM TO COZY UP AGAINST.

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#8

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:27 AM

What do you do to feel more comfortable? Wear a sweater - as suggested in Post #2. 68 F is really a little on the cool side. The body produces heat - about 500 BTU/HR at rest in an ambient temperature of 75 F. If you lose more than 500 BTUH, you will feel cool or cold, if you lose less than 500 BTUH you will feel warm. So, if 68 F is the magic number, your best bet would be more clothing - sweater - as the British do. If the house is relatively new (built in the last 10 years), chances are it has insulated windows, storm doors, lots of insulation, etc. There would be a tendency for the humidity to build up in the house because it is so "tight". Obtain a thermometer that you can read in 1 degree increments, and estimating to 1/2 deg. Placing it at the return air grille, read the (dry bulb) temperature. Next wrap a piece of cotton cloth around the bulb and soak it using tap water. Wave it back and forth in the air until the thermometer reads its lowest temperature; that will be the Wet Bulb Temperature. With a 68 deg dry bulb temp; a 57 deg wet bulb temp equals 50% relative humidty. Wet bulb temp of 54 deg @ 68 deg dry buld equals 40% rel hum, and 59 deg wet bulb @ 68 deg equals 60 % rel hum. This is not a precise method but it will get you in the "ball park". If relative humidity is below 40% you might want to add humidity, as suggested in Post #1. You might try the ceiling fan, but it could create an uncomfortable draft. GOOD LUCK....

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Anonymous Poster
#131
In reply to #8

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

04/22/2007 1:14 AM

You get ready made device called a "swing psychrometer" consisting of 2 thermometers one of which has provision for keeping the bulb wet, a woven fabric tube covering the bulb at one end & dipped in a mini "sump" holding water at the other. You swing it in circular motion by the twine attached to it.

You use the accompanying chart to read out the RH from temp difference.

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#10

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:14 AM

I just put in a Wood Pellets Stove, it floods the house with lovely warm air and the heat produced costs about half that of using oil or gas according to several web sites that I have looked at. (Ignoring the cost of the stove of course!)

It will also burn corn or sweet corn without any changes I am told, though I have not tried that out yet!

The glass door allows the flames to be observed which everyone likes. The stove gives off no visible fumes at any time whatsoever. The smoke temperature is much, much lower than a wood burning stove and if it ever got above 270°C, it would shut the stove down.

It has a clock to allow programming of start and stop times (it fires up using a sort of hot air blower!) and runs for about 24 hours on 15Kg of wood pellets....

It even has a remote control for the really lazy folks!!

You can buy complete central heating systems using the same technology if needed.....

Ash (depending upon the quality of the pellets, is generally between 0.5 and 1% by weight of the wood chips consumed! After a week, we had about two or three big double handfulls, but we only use it around 15 hours a day.

We like it immensely!!

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#15
In reply to #10

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 7:48 AM

For a bio-fueled stove with a flat top surface you can add a "Heat Wave" (Stirling engine) Fan to circulate the air in the room. Run by heat it provides air circulation at no cost for electrical power. <http://www.thermalengines.com/>

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#82
In reply to #10

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 2:36 PM

Pellet stoves are nice (and warm), BUT they run off electricity!! They use fans to compress the air used for combustion, and an electric motor to run the auger to feed the pellets. If you lose power, you have lost your heat. They don't mention this in all the advertising. Luckilly when we had one, we also had a fireplace we could use for secondary heating. I will not call this "A word from the wise" but I will call it "A word from the experienced".

Bill

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#85
In reply to #82

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 5:25 PM

Lets not forget all oil fired central heating systems require electricity to run. And all electric space heaters and electric blankets are electric. if you want to be warm with out electric power that is a separate issue.

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#121
In reply to #82

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/11/2007 1:23 PM

my friend just got one that has a battery backup incase of power outage.

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#83
In reply to #10

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 2:38 PM

PS I wonder if you could burn popcorn in a pellet stove??

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#13

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:36 AM

Have the local Fire Chief "Assure" them the space heater won't start a fire. That could make them "feel" more comfortable. I guess it would depend on how you read it.

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#14

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 6:32 AM

A house in the Northeast implies a house with an age of anywhere from one to hundreds of years old; the newer the house, the more likely there is adequate insulation, good seals, etc. By not knowing the age of the house, I think we need to start with all of the easy stuff - check the caulk around the windows, make sure there are good seals around the entry doors, make sure the electrical outlets are adquately insulated if necessary, etc. Of course we need to make sure there is enough insulation up top and below - batts of insulation are pretty cheap and usually an easy homeowner project. Then we may need to move on to the not so obvious stuff like searching out drafts, keeping the garage door closed when possible.

I agree with the ceiling fans - use them if they are in the house, consider installing them if they aren't. You have to do the math, but the fans will really help in the summer, especially if the house doesn't have AC. Inexpensive, good quality fans are not so hard to find, especially the ones that switch direction for winter/summer.

As was also stated earlier, short of moving to Florida, more clothes is the easiest. Put on a sweater! It's a pain to learn, but you get used to it soon enough. Consider getting an electric blanket to pre-warm the bed before retiring, and consider timing fuel purchases - I seem to remember hearing about topping-off the fuel tank at the end of the season when the demand for oil is less.

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#78
In reply to #14

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 3:35 AM

"AC" - is that Alternating Current?

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#126
In reply to #78

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/13/2007 6:37 AM

Air Conditioning.

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#16

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 8:16 AM

Has everyone forgot the obvious? This system has kept the home warm for probably years, and yes heating fuel is now expensive. But when has this furnace been serviced? The oil burner cleaned and adjusted properly, is the filter clean? when was the last time the combustion chamber been cleaned and the air passaged? Does it have a air conditioning coil and is it dirty.....Most home owners will spend on average 12 bucks to clean thier car twice a month making for alsmost a $300 expense but rarely think of annual service on the furnace! I suggest to consider the effiency of what you got before adding new appliances. It may be in the best interest to all.

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 11:05 AM

I remember my father shovelling snow around the house, banking it up against the walls. We all had long johns, sweaters, slippers and hot water bottles for our beds. Mom's cooking and laundry produced so much humidity that we often had ice on the windows. The clothes dryer didn't vent outside but used one of mom's silk stockings as a lint trap. Really weird seeing that leg rise up behind the dryer when you started it up. We had no reversing fans; the warm air went up through grates in the ceiling to heat the upper floor. We once tried a space heater in our living room but it warmed up the central heating thermostat and cooled down the rest of the house. It got thrown into the garage and we got couple of comforters to snuggle under while watching TV. Anyways, global warming will solve all your problems.

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#18

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 10:34 AM

Having much personal experience with the Northeast and winter there is volumes that have been said. Here is one list:

Insulate with as much as possible R50 is not too much and the last time I checked sand was still cheaper than oil (fiber glass is made from sand). Adding more to the attic and basement ceiling are the two easiest.

Add inside storm windows every where possible. They eliminate lots of cold drafts and cut in half (approx.) the energy loss through the windows.

Add carpets / rugs to hard surface floors.

Add automatic thermostat to all zones until then turn down the thermostats when unoccupied.

If your shower is in a tub stop the drain and let the warm water sit until it is at room temp, why throw the extra heat away. Do the same for other large volumes of hot water.

Adding layers of clothes.

turn down thermostats at night to 58 and add a blanket or and electric blanket and 55.

do something active, go for a walk, sitting around lowers the rate your burn calories and therefore you need heat not a producer.

Cook more meals and buy less fast food the money saved will more than cover the cost of cooking and that is heat. Cook instead of prepared foods even bread.

But and electric blanket on the sofa if you are going to watch a movie and turn the thermostat down.

Heat with wood remember if you cut and split and haul your own wood you get heated several times. There is lots and lots of free wood available and lots of inexpensive small wood stoves.

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#44
In reply to #18

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:21 PM

1 good one I forgot is get a couple of large friendly animals the bigger the more heat. Labs come to mine but cows are even better for heat you actually have to cool / ventilate a barn full of cows even on the coldest of winter days. so the real question is can you house break a cow?

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#20

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 11:40 AM

My solution would involve a heat exchanger system where water is pumped into the ground to warm up and then run coiled tubing in the floors for the water to run through and transfer the heat to the house that way. Up front cost may be high, but warm floors can make a big difference.

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#21

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 12:43 PM

The above ideas are great, but I would like to add one that I came across while helping my girlfriend study for her interior design state certification exam.

Increase the Average Radiant Temperature (ART) this was a term I hadn't heard in thermodynamics, not sure it is mathematically correct, (maybe I was sleeping) but I always associated "radiant" with energy not temperature. But the theory seems sound.

Basically the idea is to reduce all radiant heat sinks visible from the space, cement walls should be covered by tapestry (this is why mid-evil castles hung tapestries all over apparently), cover hard wood floors with rugs (as mentioned above), close window drapes etc etc.

Anyway, not something I thought of a lot with my engineering degree but an new perspective to think through while trying to make a space feel more comfortable.

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#22

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 12:59 PM

Spend a winter in Labrador and I guarantee you will never feel cold anywhere else again...

Canadian Curmudgeon

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#26
In reply to #22

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:25 PM

Or North Dakota (State Motto: 40 below keeps the riff-raff out!)

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#102
In reply to #26

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 7:45 PM

We've said pretty much about the combination of -20deg & mosquitos (our unofficial "state bird") + blackflies!

Then El-Nenio 'tweaked' the weather distribution; now the only protection we've got are our parasites!

That said: the delta-T of comfortable air should be less than that of comfortable dry air = less radiational LOSS.

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#109
In reply to #102

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/10/2007 12:34 AM

Sidevalveguru has pointed out something interesting The relative comfort level of the air is proportional to the enthalpy or energy content of the air. This is primarily a function of the temperature and humidity and not just temperature. In other words if you have two rooms at the same temperature but with different relative humidity the one with the higher relative humidity will feel warmer.

Lets now explore how we can keep the comfort of the air or enthalpy constant by varying the temperature and relative humidity. The red line in the following psychrometric chart represents air that has the same amount of energy and therefore feels similar to 68°F with a relative humidity of 55%.

If we now drop the temperature to 65°F and increase the relative humidity to 65% the air would have the same enthalpy so it would feel pretty much the same. Since the enthalpy has remained constant there is not net energy gain or loss.

The amount of fuel that the furnace consumes however is proportional to the temperature differential between the inside and outside temperature according to the following formula where K is a constant that is inversely proportional to the amount of insulation.

EnergyLoss = K x (TempInside – TempOutside)

WE can see that the EnergyLoss would clearly be reduced in the situation above where we altered both the temperature and humidity and since the energy loss is what controls the amount of fuel that is consumed we would have reduced the overall fuel consumption.

Conversely however if removed all the moisture from the air we could increase the temperature of the air from 68°F to 104°F without adding any additional energy. This increase in temperature would however require more fuel to maintain.

Basically it means there is no free lunch and what you gain on the swings you loose on the roundabouts. If you can cope with 65°F and an RH of 65% then that's the way to go, personally however I would prefer to go the other way and have a temperature of 72°F with a RH of 42% which incidentally has the same enthalpy as the 68°F and RH 55% air.

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#23

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 1:17 PM

The family could run the blower in the furnace constantly. This would recirculate the existing warm air that is already in the house.

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Anonymous Poster
#24

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:02 PM

Fortunately the NE hasn't been too cold yet.
Think of all the money saved on heating!

Ever hear of Three Dog Night?

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#25

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:09 PM

Move to Florida.

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Anonymous Poster
#40
In reply to #25

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:30 PM

NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are WAAYY to many of you foreigners here now, clogging the roads.

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Anonymous Poster
#101
In reply to #40

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 6:54 PM

I live in California, which is why I suggested that other people from another state move to yet another state, not HERE.

And if you like humidity, Florida has puh-lenty.

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#27

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:25 PM

Well, as an HVACR type of guy, I learned some interesting things.

Growing up here in W. Pennsylvania in an old farm house lots of the basic ideas were tops, but I agree the best bet is to move south, at least to Alabama, where I spent a lot of my fulltime working career.

Of interest was the name giving to covering walls, windows, and the like; never heard it used.

Guess them Real Estate types put a twist to it to help sell; I like it.

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#28

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:38 PM

Increase the insulation by removing the inside walls and putting in insulation with a higher R Factor. - also you didn't indicated what the house is like - do they have an attic and if so, what is the insulation like? If the house is old, they would likely benefit from more insulation being blown into that space.

Finally if the ceilings are high, the installation of a ceiling fan is suggested with the setting enabled to drwa up air (as opposed to blowing it down in the summer) so that the heated air (which rises) gets circulated in the room.

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#30

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:39 PM

I grew up not far from Mt. Washington NH, where the wind breezes by at 236 mph and school was cancelled because diesel powered busses and snowplows would gel up and not run. We also heated with oil, and there were a number of tricks we'd use to keep warm.

1) While adding humidity will initially decrese the temperature according to to the above charts, water retains heat longer then air (ever notice how it can be below zero outside and the lake still isnt frozen?) which could potentially mean your furnace will cycle less.

2) close doors to rooms not used frequently. Large parlors, dining rooms, spare bedrooms, etc. No sense heating a room you arent going to use.

3) Chances are if you're heating with oil, you're proably cooking with gas too. Use the stove, you'd be suprised how much heat is wasted into the room (especially if you leave it cracked a little..also good if you run out of oil.

4) If you dont have storm windows, put clear plastic over your windows. If you have a screened in porch, cha-CHING!...put plastic over the screens and turn your porch into a greenhouse...the energy savings you'll see from a good sunny day are astonishing.

5) In the fall, bag up your leaves and place them around the outside of your house, they will help insulate it.

6) Electric blankets sound good, but remember, you're still paying for that electricity. A good wool blanket and some flannel pyjamas are a heck of alot cheaper, both up front and in the long run.

7) make your wife sleep on the couch...they're always freezing cold!

8) Hardwood floors? Invest in heavy socks..or better yet, put your shoes on.

9) Get a cold weather dog. I perfer Siberian Huskys (I have 2). If they sleep on the bed, you'll be sweating bullets with the room around 50 degrees F.

10) Recycle heat from ceilings...fans, ductwork, whatever. I work nights at a college ice rink in upstate NY and after a varsity game (6000 seats) the recycled air from the top of the rink hits nearly 80 degrees, which is blown back down into to concession stands in foyer. Mind you, the ice itself is at about 8-12 degrees F.

11) Chances are, if you're worried about a few hundred dollars over the course of the winter in oil costs, you're not going to drop a few hundred more to reinsulate everything in your house. What you cant cover in cheap plastic, get a can of expanding foam and go to town on all those holes.

12) Open curtains during the day on southernly exposed windows, close all curtains at night.

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#56
In reply to #30

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 10:59 PM

No wonder your wife sleeps on the couch with 2 dogs in bed with you. Get her back in bed and you could have a 3-dog night!

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#32

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 2:43 PM

Make some Biodiesel http://www.biodiesel.org/markets/hom/faqs.asp & turn up the thermo stat.

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Anonymous Poster
#86
In reply to #32

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 8:48 PM

Thanx for link on bio-diesel and all the applications.....It is quite detailed and informative.....I would think it would cost less though.....I guess its like anything else and price might go down after a couple years ???

The 100 percent mix reminds me of the difference between conventional engine oil and fully synthetic....The full synthetic acts as a cleaning solvent and dislodges material....especially the false sealing surface of the wax paraffin based conventional engine oils

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#33

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:20 PM

The question is "What can they do to feel more comfortable?"

The root cause of their discomfort is the climate they're living in. If they moved to a warmer location they would feel more comfortable.

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#34

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:23 PM

Increase the relative humidity.

B.E.

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Anonymous Poster
#35

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:28 PM

Convert the oil furnace to gas, or install a high efficinty gas furnace with a built in humity system. Insulate the windows with clear plastic. Insulate electrical plugs and outlets. Heavy throw carpet in at the door thesh-hold. Purchase a portable oil filled radiator space heater

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Anonymous Poster
#37

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 3:55 PM

1. Lower thermostat setting.

2. Adjust humidity in the house.

3. Circulate air continuously.

4. Install setback thermostat.

5. Dress warmer.

6. Close drapes on shaded side of house, open shades on sunlit side during day.

7. Forget the space heater, or maybe wake up dead.

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#39

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:21 PM

By listening carefully to the customer I learned that 'comfortable' is combination of: (a) improving their comfort by controlling the temperature, (b) saving them fuel cost by not making them heat an entire house with a central heating system, and (c) creating a feeling of security when using a space heater to heat part of the house.

To control the temperature they must have some time of heating. Insulation will slow the heat loss, but not prevent it

To save fuel costs, they could try to close off un-used rooms. However, this might cause nuisance safety trips of the heater because the decreased airflow creates higher air temperature which could trip a high temperature limit switch. An HVAC contractor could make adjustments, but these are limited.

To prevent fires when using a space heater, I would advise them to purchase an electric powered hydronic space heater. These heat a fluid, so the temperature never gets anywhere near a combustion point.

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Anonymous Poster
#41

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 4:40 PM

You can wear another sweater.

Ben

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Anonymous Poster
#42
In reply to #41

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:07 PM

You can also plan oven baked meals. After the meal is cooked and the oven is turned off, open the door to let the heat out. A nice slow cooked roast beef will warm the home and the stomach...

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Anonymous Poster
#43

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:19 PM

One word - ACCLIMATE!

We have our thermostat set to a high of 62 F (lower at night), and since we are used to it, we feel no discomfort.

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#103
In reply to #43

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 7:58 PM

From here: that can't happen!

I'll bet you turn on AC @ (thereby negating heating gains!) a low value.

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#45

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:21 PM

Here is another thought - procreate!!..make babies!!!..have some fun!!!..it'll keep the heart pumping and you'll be warmer. With all of the kids running around you will have loads of heat being generated plus the heat from the stove and oven needed to feed all those kids will add to your warmth!!!

Enjoy!!!!

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#71
In reply to #45

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 4:04 PM

Better move those dogs off the bed first...

- AstroNut

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#84
In reply to #71

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 2:56 PM

It wouldn't pay to get confused in the dark!!

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#46

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 5:41 PM

Sealing the windows with plastic (unless they're high performance windows) is easily one of the most cost effective things you can do. After that, programmable thermostats are around $30-$100 (get a 5-2 or 7 day programmable one).

Programmable thermostats turn the heat down when A) You're not there and B) When you should be under a pile of blankets and between a warm spouse and/or dog. Canine body temperature tends to be higher.

Ask your fire marshall how to properly install and site a space heater. If it is sited on a ceramic tile away from flammable carpets, tapestries, furniture, trash cans etc. the hazard should be greatly reduced.

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#47

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 6:05 PM

An oil filled electric radiator can be plugged in like a space heater. Radiant heat allows greater comfort at lower thermostat levels and cools slowly so doesn't have the extremes of operating temperature differences. It still moderates the temperature of the room even when in the "off" cycle when the preset temperature is reached.

This device operates at a much lower temperature so eliminates the issue of an accidental fire.

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Anonymous Poster
#49

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 6:45 PM

68 deg F is the temperature set point. Conventional HVAC will swing temperature about the set point plus or minus 5 deg F or more. Avoid Portable heaters. NFPA stats show more deaths per year from portable space heaters than any other type heat. Electrical heaters result in more deaths than all other fuels combined. What is the safest, most economical, and most comfortable heating fuel?

Comfort - Maintain relative humidity between 30-60% and temperature between 68 and 76 deg F for comfort. At 68 deg F, the comfortable RH is 50-60% RH. If the temp swings up 5 deg F, the comfort zone at 72 deg F is 30-60% RH. Temperatures below 68 deg F are below the comfort zone so the RH should be kept between 50-60% RH for minimum discomfort.

Economy, Comfort, Safety, Health - A corn stove maintains temperature at precisely the set point with no temperatutre swing and thus no swing in RH. A corn stove is the only known heater that can mainatin temperature at precisely 68 deg F and simultaneously maintain the RH between 50-60%. See www.groups.yahoo.com/groups/cornstoves or www.msnusers.com/cornstoves for detailed operating instructions. The economy of the corn stove will heat a whole house all season for the cost of one to two months' heating bill. Recirculating the room air continuously through the hot heat of the corn flame helps neuter and/or kill germs and viruses. Corn fuel is the only heating fuel with an unblemished safety record for the past 5 years continuously according to NFPA stats.

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#123
In reply to #49

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/11/2007 9:24 PM

In the northeast usa, feed corn (same as fuel corn) is not available any cheaper than wood pellets. I just removed my Vermont Castings wood stove and installed a wood pellet stove. I paid $270 for my first ton of pellets. I also have a direct vent gas stove which is my heat source if power goes out. I can also run the pellet stove with an inverter from 12 VDC battery until power is restored. If you can buy corn at $150 per ton, than corn would be a great way to heat. Eventually, farmers can make more money selling their corn for fuel than for feed.

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#124
In reply to #123

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/12/2007 2:10 AM

Hi frank-nh-usa, welcome to CR4. Have you ever done a comparison of the cost of corn fuel or wood pellets on a per unit of energy basis and compared it to gas and electricity? In Australia we are paying about AU3.6¢ (US3¢) per Mj for electricity and (US1.6¢) per Mj for gas, how dose that compare to wood and corn?

Given the above costs it also means that, not counting capital outlay on equipment, reverse cycle air conditioners (heat pumps) are by far the cheapest form of heating. Another couple of pluses for air-conditioning is that the mainland capital cities never get cold enough for them not to work in the reverse cycle heating mode and you can use it to cool in summer, +40°C is becoming more common. Sydney copped a 45°C scorcher on 1-Jan-2006 and that was the official temperature near the coast, inland it was even worse.

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#125
In reply to #123

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/12/2007 9:04 AM

At this moment in N. America, there are over 100 ethanol plants under construction and they all use corn as a feedstock. This is putting considerable upward pressure on the price per ton of corn. Combine this with massive government subsidies and yes, farmers are very happy. But, you better start looking for another fuel source.

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#50

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 6:55 PM

Wear a sweat suit, woollen, keeps you warm and supports a farmer.

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Anonymous Poster
#51

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 7:11 PM

Sell the house and move to the Southwest.

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Anonymous Poster
#52

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 7:32 PM

Satisfying a thermostat is different from satisfying a human being. To feel good in a living space, a human needs to have something hotter than and something cooler than his body in the space with him, so his body's systems can keep a balance. 68 degrees is colder than one's body; without a spot heat source available, the body has nothing to work with and the human will feel chilly.

With a spot heat source, such as a small but hot radiator in the room, the thermostat can be set much lower and the human can feel satisfied.

This is why people love woodstoves and fireplaces.

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Anonymous Poster
#53

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 7:38 PM

The question didn't ask how to reduce heating costs; it asked how to be more comfortable at 68 degrees F. As a native Wisconsinite, I came up with a list of six answers before looking at the discussion - but our clever readers have already responded with most of them:

1) Humidity
2) Ceiling fan
3) Sweaters
4) Snuggling up
5) Furry pets

Therefore, my only original contribution to this list is: hot alcoholic beverages! Mulled wine, hot toddy, spiked cocoa, Irish coffee, whiskey-laced tea, etc. And then snuggle up with the spouse, get the dogs to lie across your feet, and call it a night.

:)

- AstroNut

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#54

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 8:52 PM

What a GREAT question!! Deceptively simple and chuck full of interpretation. What excellent responses!

The thing that stands out to me after reading through all of them was the preponderance of empirical, experience-derived solutions and the comparative lack of hard-core, analytical, scientific discussion. Relative humidity, R factor, and space losses were mentioned but no one attempted to scientifically dissect every possible energy input and output, and to arrive at a well-defined "comfort level" for the family of inhabitants.

I suspect that this is so because the respondents almost subliminally perceived the real complexity of the question, and turned to empirical, substantive, experiential solutions, rather than turning to Thermodynamics or various applicable disciplines of Physics for a comprehensive answer.

I suppose a definition of engineering might be simply, "Find a way to make it work". I can't help but wonder about the blend/balance between the theoretical and the experimental that yields the most efficient answers to problems like putting a man on the moon, or achieving atomic fusion/fission, or global warming, or...etc.

Thank you all for an enjoyable read.

Lonnie

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#55

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/02/2007 10:12 PM

I have another suggestion. I saw it several years ago on a craft show. I have wanted to do it myself on my house but never have.

Take a pull down window shade slighty larger than the window. Get some of that quilted cloth and sew or glew it to the shade. where the cloth edges are put either a velcro or some kind of sticking material that when you pull the shade down you push against the window frames so it closes up agains the frame. If you have heavy curtains it will work just like the carpet idea but I liked this idea because I could select the patern for the shade that looked like something I wanted. ( a fish tank, a summer window shot etc...) This way you can open the shade for light or not. Also remember that this will cause the roll to be thicker so when mounting it the mounting brackets will need to compensate for this.

Also it becomes a conversation peice. Remember also to think about how you handle the top of the window. As I stated it was several years ago and I do not remember all the details but the concept should work. This at least helps toward the Zero disipation of heat through cold heat transfering materials.

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#105
In reply to #55

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/09/2007 8:06 PM

would really quell convection off the glass!

Should conserve some BTU; even better- will feel warmer.

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#57

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 12:06 AM

There have bee some good answers but there have been a lot or really bad ones as well. With this many old wives tales floating about it's no wonder we have an energy crisis. All I can say it that you need to learn how to use a psychrometric chart. A psychrometric chart allows you to calculate the behavior of air when you alter various parameters. Here are a couple of links that explain how the chart works and how to use it.

. http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0120.html

http://www.arch.hku.hk/~cmhui/teach/65156-7e.htm

http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~mdarre/NE-127/NewFiles/psychrometric_inset.html

I suggest you read at least one of the sites above, get yourself a psychrometric chart and see how many of the suggestions that have been made are actually myths and will end up costing you money and using more energy.

I would also suggest doing a proper fuel cost analysis. Look up on the interned the energy or calorific content of the various fuels that are available to you and then compare the cost on a per calorie or joule basis. You may find the results surprising.

Finally look at the most energy efficient way to control the environment, it may seem surprising but in many cases the most energy efficient method of heating is reverse cycle air conditioning. This is because you are not actually creating the thermal energy but rather moving it from a cold environment to a warm one. This dose not however mean it is the most economic or environmentally friendly form of heating,

You need to look at the whole picture and understand the physics behind HVAC to be able to answer a question like this. Don't believe all those myths and old wives tales, read up on it and do the calculations yourself. It's not that hard and it can save you money and the environment from unnecessary damage.

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An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.
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Power-User

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 146
Good Answers: 1
#58

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 12:39 AM

If you have cold feet, put on a hat.

Make spaghetti. Steam doesn't cool off the air and if it's a gas stove then it should be cheaper than oil.

Gordie

__________________
Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence. -- Morris Kline
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Anonymous Poster
#70
In reply to #58

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 3:56 PM

GordieGii -

I read your answer and smacked myself in the forehead. A hat! Of course! Anybody who owns a telescope knows the mantra: "If your feet are cold, put on a hat." Hoodies are good, too.

- AstroNut

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Anonymous Poster
#79
In reply to #70

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/04/2007 3:43 AM

Hoodies. The Grim Reaper's autumn collection?

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Anonymous Poster
#59

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 12:40 AM

It is much simpler and cheaper to wear more body warmers and thermal clothing than burning more oil. This way that family might infact save on some oil.

Kaushik Gelli.

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Anonymous Poster
#60

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 4:18 AM

Switch on the lights! A 300W halogen lamp will produce enough heat to keep you warm watching TV

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Anonymous Poster
#61

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 9:23 AM

I primarily heat my home with an airtight wood stove. There is enough fallen trees in the area to heat my home for the winter, and it also keeps the woods free from dead dry wood which reduces accidental fires. I am living in Eastern Ontario, and we normally get cold winters here. It would not be unexpected to have a temperature difference of 100 degrees F from inside to out.

The stove is located in the basement rec room, and by keeping a window open a crack, it keeps the air "fresh", and circulates throughout the house.

As mentioned earlier, we also use an electric matress cover to preheat the bed, as the master bedroom is at the opposite corner of the house.

There is something to be said about heating with wood. Getting up at 4:00 in the morning and going into the basement to chop some wood for the fire really gets the blood flowing, and certainly makes me feel more energetic than just waking up and waiting for the programmable thermostat to run the "wake" program to heat up the house.

Also a wood stove is very handy when the trees knock out the power lines. Other than not having any lights, there is no change to the comfort that we are used to.

My house has an electric forced air furnace, but unless we are away for the weekend, it is not used. The benefit of an electric furnace is that if we are away, we know that the furnace will work without fail, unlike an oil furnace which if isn't used regularly, may not start up due to gumming of the oil.

As far as a response to the question:

1. I have central heating

2. Electricity is not getting any cheper, as is oil

Therefore, a wood burning stove is used to feel more comfortable

without costing more to run.

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Commentator

Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 71
Good Answers: 2
#62

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 9:57 AM

1. Since they use oil rather than natural gas for the furnace, they probably use electricity for their oven. So, bake some bread. This will add heat as well as some humidity to the house.

2. Close the vents in unused rooms.

2. Empty the refrigerator and roll it over to the front door. Turn the fridge temperature waaay down, open it, then open the front door and shove the fridge into the opening, with the 'cooling coils' left inside the house. Let the heat-pump action of the refrigerator heat up the house. This might be cheaper than oil, electricity, or gas, for heating the house. (Note, in some upscale subdivisions the neighbors may object; but if they lived in an upscale neighborhood they'd be able to afford a few more bucks for home heating oil.)

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Participant

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Southern New England
Posts: 3
#63

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 10:20 AM

If you increase the humidity in the house, you will feel more comfortable. You will need a psychrometric chart to follow the reasoning. During the winter in the north land, the colder air holds less grains of moisture per pound of air. Warm air can hold a significant amount more grains of moisture per pound of air. So with the heat on, the already low humidity will get even lower. By raising the humidity level, you will not dry out your wood floors, furniture, sinus cavity, etc. You will feel more comfortable. This is the reason for having a humidifier on a hot air heating system. On other heating systems like radiant floor or hot water baseboard, a seperate humidifier will be needed. On a steam system, it may not be necessary, due to the air vent on the radiators. Usually during operation, the air vent will release some moisture to the space, helping to raise the humidity level. With a wood burning stove, most people will put a pot of water on it. This will help raise the humidity level as the water boils off.

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May your trailing wheel stay forever on the ground, so you don't pitch over and kiss the bosom of Mother Earth
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Anonymous Poster
#64

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 10:54 AM

Move.

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Anonymous Poster
#65

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 11:07 AM

Then don't use the space heater. "Comfortable" can have more than one connotation. They will all feel more comfortable with that decision made.

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Anonymous Poster
#66

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 11:26 AM

Wear wool!

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Active Contributor

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17
#67

Re: Home Heating: Newsletter Challenge (01/02/07)

01/03/2007 11:34 AM

I am going to assume the space heater is electric. With the price of heating oil up, it may be a little cheaper than the oil furnace, but not much.

Nothing warms the buns like a fire! Install a wood burning stove. Buy a chainsaw.

If those ideas are not appealing, then I have to agree with the guys who said "move south". But only if your a conservative. Lord knows we don't need more northern liberals coming down here.

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