Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heating the house

Two nights ago was the first night I had a fire in the wood stove.  It's an insert into the fire place, and a top of the line Earthstove at that...from the 1980s, which means it's really inefficient.  It sure would be nice to pull it out, block up the hole, and have a wood stove that would actually radiate heat all around it rather than just out the front with the blower.  It's still better than heating the house with propane except the heat goes into all the rooms but my bedroom. 
My room is usually 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house during the winter and 10 degrees hotter during the summer.  It's a great room but a really lousy design unless I have unlimited money to spend on heating and air conditioning.  I don't.  Instead, I just throw on another wool blanket during winter. 
I remember growing up in Southern California during the energy crisis of the 70s the saying was 55 at night 65 during the day.  This was the temperature in your house not just the speed limit.  The speed limit was reduced to 55, remember?  Anyway, if we were cold we'd put on a sweater or sweatshirt. Maybe even a knit cap. How about now?  I remember this past year.  Army daughter kept this house at 78 during the winter and 72 during the summer.  I could never understand that.  
I admit, keeping the house in the 50s in really chilly.  But the house will stay in the mid 60s without really trying.  If I do any baking, when I'm done I'll leave the oven door propped open.  I may as well let the heat into the house rather than let it stay in the oven to slowly cool down.  I also open up the curtains to let the sun shine in.  We close them up at night.  
We all have sweats to sleep in.  Boy would rather wear shorts and a tank top now.  Later in the winter he will put on two pairs of sweats at a time since it's cold out.  He will sweat all night.  It's sort of funny the ideas they get into their heads.   
Properties that have their own woodlots or are near the forest have an advantage over those who either have to heat by gas/propane/kerosene or electricity.  Bug-out place has plenty of trees.  The adjacent properties have downed trees.  It's only 500 feet off the national forest.  Too bad my wood stove is old. 
Around here the only time it's unbearably cold is when it's fog season.  Then it's not just the cold but the moisture.  I will run the wood stove each day then.
I've read about pellet stoves.  The wood pellets are cheap (and can be used as super cheap cat litter) and you can also use dried corn if you have a bumper crop that you aren't eating or selling for ethanol.  The problem is that they run on electricity but it's supposed to be very little electricity as compared to the heat output of burning the pellets.  I've always wondered if it could be hooked up to a solar panel and run that way?  Then it would be something that could heat the house be self sustainable if you have a garden and can grow corn.
So how do we get through winter without running out of propane like last year when Army daughter ran us dry in February?  If TSHTF I'd rather use the propane for cooking than heating the house.  It would last a very long time and would be very helpful in conserving our time and energy in having to cook with other methods. 
We can shut off rooms to conserve the heat, which I used to do before they were filled with grand kids. Heat with wood.  Cook lots of soup. And put on a sweater. 


  1. I am doing a experiment this year with small space heaters. I'm all electric for heating/cooking so my goal is to reduce the electric bill. I have no advice for idiot children. I'm not blaming you, I was Army for 13+ years, as many in the Army saw power cost paid by someonelse they never turned off a light or turned down the heat.
    I would recommend electric blankets and quilts/comforters in a no electricity enviroment. Robes slippers and flannel jammies will help. Plus make great Xmas gifts.

  2. Sounds like our house, except it's 80-85 in the summer. We have a fireplace that is used on burn days, remember the Air Pollution Board. It's not efficient, but is warming for the living room and one bedroom. One winter the heater died and the boys and I cut firewood most days. They all hate fires now because they remember the firewood work days. We have farmer friends that allow us to cut and haul off their orchard trimmings. One friend has me do the olive trimming sometimes. Lots of good wood there.

    We have thought of the pellet system. but money will be spent elsewhere for now.