We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, November 19. 2020
I don't know what our readers have, but we have 4 zones. It would be better to have 6, but whatever. We didn't get into that.
A new high-efficiency gas furnace is not cheap. And it is tiny. 48 hours with just fireplaces was a good reminder about how people lived in the past. A reminder of how good we have it.
The wonderful installers asked me whether I wanted a new programmable thermostat for my work space. Nope. The antique one is great. Just turn the dial up, down, or off. I can do that.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:53 | Comments (26) | Trackbacks (0)
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Programmables are wonderful BUT annoying ... like most modern technology, more of a chore than anyone lets on! The real fun are the apps for the phone that turn on and off or modulate everything in your world. That's what you need so you can sit in a restaurant with your buddies and watch the door camera or flip on the furnace.
Far cry from those Saints from Scrooby who spent weeks on a leaky boat with rats and rancid meat to set down roots in the wilderness!
I prefer the "mother-in-law" microwaves as well. One temperature with a dial.
Our 93 year old boiler finally bit the dust this year! It started as a coal burner, was converted to oil at some point, and finally gas in the early 60s. You could still smell the fuel oil a bit when the radiators were bled (not sure what happened there). The heat exchanger's are going bad, so...
I'm with you; Gas is great for heating and cooking. I also don't care for programable anything in the house (except for my laptop). I'm not some anti-tech person I have a bachelors and masters in computer science. It is for that reason exactly that I don't like tech in my home. I don't do on-line banking and I'm careful with what I do with my cell phone. Tech, especially computers, is great, powerful, world changing but it is the biggest threat (maybe next to China and the Dems) that we face. There are people in Eastern Europe who became billionaires stealing American's money and assets. There is the communist party in China stealing our secrets and screwing with our elections by computer.
Then there is 'the cloud'. Seriously folks, we've seen this movie before. I'm sure everything you do and place on the cloud is safe; as safe as your bitcoin investments.
I might add that both our washer and dryer have between 10 to 20 settings. I only use one setting, don't know why the others are there, don't care. But I do know this; when your washer/dryer breaks down there is a 90% chance that it will be the extra smart stuff they put in it that will cost you the $1200 for a new one.
I've replaced heating elements and blowers and washer transmissions and broken belts and whatnot over the years, but the last half dozen failures have all been something in that "smart panel" on the microwave or stove or furnace or whatever. The appliance store guy told me that the panels for stoves came from only one or two manufacturers--Chinese, iirc.
Luckily the vacuum cleaner just has an on/off button. I think it has a seal problem--I can probably deal with that.
A warm place to evacuate my bowels is about all I worry about.
I have a forced air natural gas furnace. 25 or 30years old. Can't remember for sure. Previous owner put it in when they took the steam heat out. I wish I had that. Thermostat is LCD but otherwise is pretty simple to use.
There is no insulation in the house. I had planned to insulate the roof when I bought the house but why bother? I just switched to a natural gas supplier that will let me use all the gas I want for $90/month. Boy do I love frackers.
Disappointed with high efficiency gas heating. Too complex, unreliable, and expensive to repair. Averaged one failure every 2-3 years in the dead of winter. Parts always had to be shipped, never in stock. Glad to be in home with low tech, high reliability setup.
If there's one good thing about living in Southern California, it's the fact that you can get by without central heat. I spent 26 years living in a house without it. Drafty as hell too, but you could get by with a room heater for the relatively few times a year when it seemed necessary. The house I moved into a year ago has central heat, and I feel like I'm living in the lap of luxury when I hear the furnace come on.
That's not a bad lifespan for that kind of appliance. I have central heat but I never use it since I only ever use a wood-burning stove (central chimney, 44' tall) that is very efficient. Only downside is that I have to harvest a lot of firewood every winter.
Installed natural gas to accommodate a new dual fuel range. Until then original oil heat since 1927 build date. Updated to natural gas boiler when gas was installed. Replaced electric hot water with heater integrated with boiler. Now infinite hot water & house completely comfortable all day. Buderus system from Germany.
Energy bill is half what it was. Controls initially complicated but totally manageable with a little study.
Three zones. In most of Texas it makes sense to use heat pumps. Higher SEER ratings pay out after a few years. Freon flows one way, you get A/C. Reverse the flow, you get heat. With electricity at 11 cents / kWh, it only gets expensive during long cold spells, which are rare here, and of course high summer. Propane for cooking, and alas, the wife prefers gas logs to wood fires. I miss the wood fires and the old-cellar granite-block smells of coal-converted-to-heating oil and old timbers.
My house has a 25 year old gas furnace which we don't use a whole lot due to the fireplace insert and 4 cords of wood. Also, we put in 750 ft of tile of which 400ft of it is heated. So toasty atmosphere and floors. Only draw back is the sleeping quarters are on the other side of the house from insert and tile plus hardwood floors so a bit chilly making the dash to the bathroom.
Furnace or boiler? I've seen way to many people say "furnace" when they meant "boiler".
My recommendation for boilers is- DO NOT GO HIGH EFFICIENCY! They're high efficiency when you buy them, and a year or two, or if you're lucky, 3 years. After that, they can'
t be tuned to any greater efficiency than a sectional cast iron boiler- which will last 50 years or more. The Buderus in my basement is as old as the house- and says "Made in West Germany". The house was 20 years old when I bought it in 1997.
And heat your water with the boiler through a sidearm heater- another tank, as it's own zone.
Our old house had a 100-year old boiler that was originally coal-fired. At some point in the 30's somebody stuck a gas ring and pilot light in the ash scuttle. You could have boiled a pot of coffee on the pilot, and when the burner ring ignited you could hear the "whoosh" through the whole house. Probably 3/4's of the energy just went straight up out the exhaust. We had to replace it when the exhaust plenum rusted through; the asbestos abatement was durned near as much as the new boiler, but the new one had a circulating pump (old one was gravity) and warmed up the house twice as fast for less than half the money.
Where we are now we have a boiler with 4 zones, each of which has its own thermostat. They are programable, but date from the 90's and so are not "on-line". It's really nice not to have to go around to each one and turn it down for the night, and yet still be able to wake up to a warming house. I'd guess you'd call them "programmable but stupid". I want NOTHING connected via BlueTooth, the "cloud" or anything else 'net-based that can be hacked (or controlled by our oh-so-benevolent government).
If all you've got is a single circuit (one zone) the old-fashioned Honeywell round thermostats can't be beat. Note that they use a mercury capsule to do the switching inside them; be careful if you replace one. But they generally last forever.
The idiots who built the house didn't run a gas line to the kitchen and so we have to put up with an electric stove until we can figure out how to run a line to that part of the house. But I love a gas hot water heater, and a gas-fired boiler, and radiators (like the old cast-iron ones in our last house) and even baseboard radiators (like in our current house) are the cleanest most uniform heat possible.
We have a gas fireplace for heating the living area. The dial/temperature gauge is exactly 10ft away from the fireplace and never yet--not one time--has the temperature registered correctly! I prefer the turn on when needed and off when not needed. For many years we lived in a house with electric baseboard heaters and I never had to adjust the dial except when going out and turning it down, otherwise it stayed a perfect temp when we were home. When we left for out of town trips during winter we set it at 60 and came home to a home with no leaking water pipes, nothing frozen, etc. I prefer the electric baseboard heater to anything, but no computerized controls.
We had to replace our 15 year old gas furnace this past January. Luckily my husband works for an HVAC company , so the cost wasn't as much an issue as for some. It died on what ended up being the coldest week of the entire winter, so we did a lot of shuffling of space heaters and lots of baking to keep spaces with pipes warm. The electric bill!
And we got one of those !@#$ thermostats. My super-techy husband and son can't figure it out.
I won't even touch it.
I want my dial thermostat back...
Seems many are confusing "high efficiency" with the complex and often poor performance in hydronic and heat pump systems. In gas furnaces, "high efficiency" means condensing. They have secondary heat exchanger to condense the water vapor out of the exhaust and capture the latent heat. This also makes them have exhaust so cool it can be run through PVC piping instead of needing the space for running hot pipe.
Higher efficiency heat pumps using larger evap coils to run less and thus do less dehumidification and generally mess up comfort on retrofits. Also, the increased use of ECM motors, with or without, variable speed leads to more failures and expensive repairs which negate any efficiency savings. However, the ECM is on the blower motor so could be in the high efficiency gas furnace air handler. High efficiency hydronic (boiler) systems are designed to run longer at a lower temp so prove unsatisfactory when used with setbacks due to the slower heat up when turned up.
Huh. I thought the higher-efficiency, higher SEER rating meant that not only is there a bigger evap coil, but that the compressor and blower operate at varying speeds in response to load - as opposed to just high and low speeds. I know ours normally just ticks over quietly - the units only come on at high rates when we have extreme temperatures. When we added on, I went higher on SEER rating and hardly noticed the addition of the 3-ton unit on the electrical bill. Humidities are high here and controlled by the units when they run at low speed. We often get in excess of 97% here, outside, so you have to do something or you get serious mold problems. Inside our ACs keep it at about 60%.
I just went 17 days without any heat, electricity, or other services except water, thanks to the freak October Ice Storm which struck the Southern Central Plains.
One does adapt.
I was a HVAC contractor when everything started going digital. Everyone said the new therometers were precise. I noted that they were actually exact, but they could be exactly wrong.
After the big Ice storm, when power was out for a week, we replaced the old oil furnace with a natural gas furnace that had a millivolt system. In Canada, it gets cold in the winter and no heat in a water radiator system is a big problem.
Here, gas is cheaper than oil and the millivolt system means that the thermostat will still work if there is no power. We just need to redirect the electric water circulating pump...
Previous home had a forced-air bi-energy (oil and electric) system. Normally on electric (which is cheap in Quebec) but switched to oil when temps got really cold.
SWMBO just installed wall-mounted units in a bunch of rooms. Electric heating and cooling, individually controlled. Not cheap.
Happy wife... happy life ;-)
No matter in which sense your furnace person is speaking, if he says the words "high efficiency", run away.
The condensing types seem to last about one-quarter as long as predicted, and are then repaired or replaced at four times the price expected.
Just get an old-fashioned wasteful boiler or furnace. If you add in the resources used to build an entirely new unit long before design life is reached, the high efficiency ones aren't a good value.
You can heat the whole house with computers working on math problems, if you have enough computers. Math is a seasonal thing then.
Or you could mine bitcoins in the winter, if uninterested in math.
You might as well do something useful with the energy before it turns into heat.