Home heating options

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by longshadowfarms, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. longshadowfarms

    longshadowfarms Well-Known Member

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    Looking for some ideas for a friend as to pros and cons of different heating options. They have someone in the house on oxygen who can't handle smoke from a traditional woodstove. Any recommendations? He'd like some ideas of efficiency, cleanliness, ease of use, etc. I'll send this thread along for him to follow and maybe he'll jump in with some other questions once the discussion gets going. Thanks in advance! BTW, he's in CT so some sources would also be helpful if anyone knows of any.
     
  2. If you want to stick with wood, you can run an outdoor wood furnace. If you don’t mind spending money, electric heat is very clean, cheep to install and almost 100% efficient. Gas and oil furnaces have come along way and are now very efficient, clean and easy to use. Steam with radiators is still considered to be the Cadillac of heating systems but it is expensive to install and radiators take up floor space. Radiant floor heat is also supposed to be very good. Forced hot air works well and you can run AC through the same ductwork. Without more information, (new building, retrofit etc.) it is very difficult to determine what heating system might be appropriate. I run wood with oil back up using force hot air. Keeps the house nice and warm but the hot air furnace is a little noisy. If I were going to do it over, I would probably give radiant floor heat a try.
     

  3. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

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    We have the outdoor wood heat.

    Whenever the air is "heavy", like when there is fog, the smoke seems to hang in the tree tops. It will still bother me even inside our brand new, well built house.

    DH loves the outdoor wood furnace------including all the work involved with logging and getting the wood------and so I must fire up the air filters on those few troublesome days----'cause, by golly, we'll have wood heat---allergies or not!
     
  4. Jo73

    Jo73 Active Member

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    Hot water radiators don't have to take up floor space - they can take up wall space instead :) Seriously though, there are some really good modern designs of hot water radiators that are very efficient. I have a natural gas boiler that heats the radiators and the hot water tank for baths/showers/hot water taps. They are not cheap to install, but once installed by a competant plumber/gasfitter, they're generally trouble-free for at least 10 years. I've got an electronic timer on my boiler so I don't heat the house during the day when I'm not in it. I would definately call it an efficient, clean, and easy to use system - but I suspect it wouldn't be cheap to install...

    Jo
     
  5. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    I have a natural gas UNVENTED logs fireplace. I love it! It is rated at 39K BTU and heats most of the house. I have a second one in the family room. ALL of the heat goes right into the room. My house is large enough that I don't worry about oxygen depletion, although the one in the family room has shut itself off before because of that (small, enclosed room).

    Mine has a thermostat and goes on and off by itself. It was spooky the first time, however, to be watching a dead fireplace all-of-a-sudden poof to life! :)
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Geothermal heat pump.....provides good economical heat and cheap cold air. System is hardly noticeable with sound, air is well filtered and the unit takes almost no space. Installation should run only slightly higher than a conventional heat pump system.
     
  7. I appreciate my friend posting here for some expert opinions. What I need is supplemental heat for the older part of the house. We recently built onto the back and top of our existing home. The old heating system was a one pipe steam (oil burner) which I replaced with radiant (Nat. Gas) in the first floor and hot water radiators on the second level. The problem is that there is no insulation in the old section of the house and the radiant can't compete with the cold walls and drafty windows. Read $$$$$ in the winter months.

    I'm leaning towards running a pellet stove in the front fireplace. I'd really like to hear from someone who has gone through the process of setting up a fireplace in a home with a person who is on 24hr oxygen. what are the alternatives and pros/cons, etc. Smoke is the biggest threat to him, fire safety obviously comes second and can be dealt with in terms of changing how we store the tanks and position the 02 machine. There isn't much online about this situation and what I have found is inconsistent.

    --geof
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I have a rental 1889 two story frame house and the best self contained thing to date to heat it is a vented heater such as the monitor. The monitor is easy to install and the unit is programmable and very efficient. I paid $1300 for the unit and $100 to get it installed. I had the fuel tank. Since this is a large house, the single unit will not heat the entire house but in your situation it should heat the addition. There are no fumes, pilots, glowing elements, exposed sparks, or smoke to hinder your oxygen use. Go to google and punch in monitor heaters and you will get a better idea of this heaters merits.
     
  9. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    I would insulate with some type of blown in insulation. Perhaps you could add an exta radiator. If not add an electric heater in the room you need a little extra heat. Nice blanket on the walls and plastic on windows to get by.
     
  10. Dawndra

    Dawndra I'm back

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    we use a ventless gas heater that is a wall mount jobby... we love it! it heats like about 700 Sq. feet...

    We also use an electric oil filled radiator.
     
  11. Belle

    Belle Active Member

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  12. Thanks Ed, I 'shoulda woulda' put insulation in the walls while I was at it, that's really the end game isn't it. I finally found a source for the insulation and the tool but the home construction makes it difficult. The old section of the house is balloon framed so technically the studs go from the foundation all the way up to rafter plates with blocking interspersed along the way so it'll be hard to fill the pockets up perfectly.

    On the monitor heater, I had never heard of it before, it sounds very interesting though. comparable btu ratings, slightly cheaper up front costs and running expenses and no open flame. On the down side, I saw in the literature that CT doesn't allow the internal tanks so I'd have to pipe to an outside fuel oil tank. That makes it less attractive.

    Thanks for the feedback,
    --geoff
     
  13. farmerscotty

    farmerscotty Well-Known Member

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    www.outsidewoodheater.com


    yes it is my site, I have sold them for 16 years.

    enough said look at it and see if it is of interest.
    Scott
     
  14. greenacres

    greenacres Well-Known Member

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    Some friends of mine have a wood pellet stove. It is the only heat in their house besides an electric heater in the bathroom. I believe they go through a pallet of pellets a year. Their stove is in the wall where their fireplace used to be. And you can adjust the temperature. You might also check into corn stoves that burn shelled corn (deer corn). I saw them in a catalog and they looked good since 50 lbs. of corn around here runs for about $4.00.
     
  15. Hi Geof,
    You have quite an unusual problem, so I doubt you'll find specific information about it. You could perhaps discuss it with a doctor?

    Anyway, I don't want to sound rude towards the people who suggested them, but unvented gas heaters are well known for causing a large build up of moisture and eventually mould spores in the house. As someone who has no known breathing problems, I still had trouble with one of those... Defiantly an option I'd avoid with someone who has trouble with air polution. Sealed heaters that take in combustion air from outside and then vent back outside are the best for air quality, and they tend to be safer and more efficient anway.

    The most effective and safe/clean way I know of to stay warm is heated mats (you may know them as foot warmers). Unlike the impression they give as supplimental, they do actually keep your entire body warm and seem to boost circulation too. They're also cheap to use as they consume about as much as a light bulb (70-100watts). Of course you will need to heat the rest of the house another way, but these minimise how much you must use it and allow you to keep different people at different temperatures. This might not sound so important, but I've discovered the ill/elderly who don't move around a lot suffer low circulation and feel cold, so it's handy being able to provide them with more heat without turning up the heat in the whole house.
     
  16. but unvented gas heaters are well known for causing a large build up of moisture and eventually mould spores in the house. As someone who has no known breathing problems, I still had trouble with one of those...

    Hmm, we had one in a basement, with ceiling heat vents ( absolutely useless concept). I noticed the baby developing a rattle and feared asthma. Shortly we moved to our new house, specifically designed to be allergy freindly and just assumed it had been sleeping in the basement.


    The most effective and safe/clean way I know of to stay warm is heated mats (you may know them as foot warmers). .....This might not sound so important, but I've discovered the ill/elderly who don't move around a lot suffer low circulation and feel cold, so it's handy being able to provide them with more heat without turning up the heat in the whole house.
    Good idea! Having cared for several elderly folks that might rank right up there with getting them a bidet. (A worthwhile investment for independance and dignity.)
    Empress
     
  17. Radiant as in Pex pipe run under the floor? We have that too. If that is not enough, since you have radiators upstairs,is there anyway you could add a couple downstairs?

    Adding insulation in the walls is going to be tough, we added some insulation outside and then re-sided in vinyl in order to improve the energy loss in the house I grew up in which was built in the 1920's. Still $$$ to heat. You might try overinsulatinf the attic, you would be surprised at how much that might help.
    Storm windows, foam covers under all switch and outlet plates on the exterior walls, plug covers... I could hold my hand in front of an outlet and feel the cold air blow in. Caulk the windows shut with clear silicon which you can peel off in the spring.

    Empress
     
  18. fellini123

    fellini123 Well-Known Member

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    We have had a pellet stove for about 4 years. I LOVE it. No one here on Oxygen, but I have terrible allerigies and it doesnt affect it at all. When you frist light it off there maybe some some getting into the room until it fires off and the smoke goes up the chimney. It isnt real bad and only lasts about 2 minutes max.
    We go though about a pallet load of pellets a winter. There are different grades of pellets so you have to watch what you buy. Some will put off a lot of ash. Which is a pain in the neck to clean out. Others hardly put out any ash, so it just depends.
    All in all I love it. Now it can sometimes be a bit noisey. With the motor running to put the pellets in. And you have to have power to run the stove. So if you have frequent power outages you might want to think of something different.
    Hope this is some help
    Alice in Virginia
     
  19. earthship

    earthship Well-Known Member

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    With such a breathing problem - I would go with the hot water radiators. I don't think you will have success with anything that blows, burns wood or pellets or that might have traces of fuel odors. A self contained electric oil heater located close by might work as a supplemental small area heater - but they aren't cheap to run. Good luck.
     
  20. swamptiger

    swamptiger Active Member

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    Since you are already set up with a boiler system, I would recommend an efficient gas boiler, such as the MZ boiler: http://www.mzboiler.com/

    Look around for a couple of old cast iron radiators, and install them in the rooms where the heat is needed.

    Or, if you are satisfied with the performance of your existing boiler, just install the cast iron radiators in the needed space, and concentrate on insulation and winterization measures. Even covering the windows with plastic can make a big difference in an old drafty house. Insulation is the best money you can spend when it comes to heating options.