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making the best of electric heat

John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6652
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
137
This is a great thread.  Many great discussions/ideas have been posted...but, the original sentence was:

"First, let's limit this discussion to where you cannot modify the house."

Paul was trying to limit this to a renter who had to deal with the home as-is.
Within that original context, here are some of my ideas to reduce some of the heating energy use.

"Soup's on!"  Well, soup is not really on, rather it is under the kotatsu.  We all know that winter is soup time.  Why not do it in a Crock Pot?  My crock pot is Hi/Low 135/210 watts.  Instead of the waste heat spreading throughout the house, why not isolate it where I am?  In the summer, I use it on the deck to keep heat out of the house.

Another one is flannel sheets...I'll probably never buy another kind.  On the iciest winter night, they are neither cold, nor clammy to crawl into, and in the hot/humid nights of summer, they wick moisture away from you like nothing else.

I'm curious about the heated keyboard.  Can you turn off the heat in summer?  Or, do I need to have a winter AND a summer keyboard?

On the same note, a 9" x 20" heat mat (used for seed starting) uses 17 watts.  It would probably serve as a wrist & mouse pad until that critical time I need to get my peppers & tomatoes started.

Bookshelves.  Lots of thermal mass (and insulation!).  Put them against a north wall, and after spring cleaning, move (or if on rollers, ROLL) them to the south wall.  A large bookshelf is probably better than R19 insulation...and if you set it an inch or two away from the wall, you can probably create a few more "R's" of dead air space.

And Paul, you, quote "tend to stay barefoot".  A better, and easier approach to putting on socks is felt boot liners like these (google Sorell boot liners)(I've been using them for slippers& house shoes since the '70's):


[As a side note, I originally bought my crock-pot for $1 at a garage sale when I couldn't justify spending $30 for a heat mat to start a dozen seeds.  I half filled it with soil, and successfully germinated 6 tomato, and 6 pepper plants in it]
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Before anyone starts moving bookshelves around let's have a look at that for a moment. I believe bookcases full of books are going to act as a thermal mass much more than insulation. If the case was an actual part of the wall, then it could contribute some resistance to heat conduction. Free standing it is mass thermal mass.

If that air space space behind the bookcase was sealed well enough top, bottom and sides to prevent air from that space to mix with the air in the room the air space would provide at best approximately R-1. Most texts say something like 0.91 or thereabouts. If the air space is not sealed it will act as a plane for heat convection, in or out of the wall, from the warm side to the cold side.

The books and case themselves? Paper does not appear on any R-value lists I have, probably because it is not normally thought of an insulator. Wood is approximately R-1 one per inch; varying with softwoods being slightly better than R-1 and hardwoods less.

                                      


Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Posts: 30
The first podcast was good Paul.  I just read through this forum topic in conjunction with the podcast.  Thank you for posting the links to the products specifically you have been using and trying in this experiment.  I work from home and sit in front of the computer all day and I keep the temps very low in the house and frankly it is quite chilly and cold.  So while I have adapted and bundle up like crazy the idea that I could with minimal energy and effort make my work environment comfortable is appealing to me.  So after reading the results so far I ordered the keyboard, mouse and heating pad.  I will have to think through how I can setup the lamp for this purpose as my space is rather small.  I presently use LED lights in my bedroom/office.  First one I bought was a LED desk lamp which works well as a reading light/lamp on my desk.  For more light in the room I have a floor standing lamp with a reading lamp on a shorter arm that is flexible.  I did have CFL's in it, but have started my own experiment with LED light bulbs that are showing up in Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart etc.  So I am using some LED light bulbs from Lowes at the moment.  The light output is good, and the light seems natural in appearance and they come on instantly to full light levels.  I understand they are also dimmable if someone wanted to dim them.  The downside right now is just the cost of these bulbs.  They are still pretty pricey so I have only done a couple of them as an experiment in the house.  The rest of the bulbs in the house are the CFL's, but we also learned that trick a long time ago to turn off the lights.  Also don't forget to walk around with that kill-a-watt meter and check everything in the house to see how many things are consuming electricity even when they are not in use and put those on power strips and turn them off or just unplug them.  The power strips just make it more convenient.

In the context of this experiment with the various heat sources I can see myself possibly swapping the LED bulbs in my work lamps for the incandescent ones during the winter months so that I can minimize heat production during the summer months when I am looking for a way to stay cool.  So I think I may end up adapting my lighting sources as the seasons change just to keep my energy use down and tailor my environment based on the desired result(heat when I want heat, and no heat when I don't want heat).

I agree with the issues of the CFL's.  They have not lived up to promises.  I have been an early adopter of the CFL's and the reliability has not lived up to the claims for the bulbs for longevity.  So I am hoping that LED's might be a better long term type solution, but time will tell if they turn out to be reliable and cost effective.

I am trying to figure out how I will work around the fact that there are other people living in the house with me that find my "meat locker" heating tactics are tough enough now let alone me turning down the heat even further.  So I have decided based on our experiences this year that this summer I plan to either buy or build a solar air heater and install it on the house since we own the house.  I have seen people adapt the solar air heaters/furnace for use on rental properties buy making heat ducts that they run through windows.  With a small place one could most likely provide most of the heat needed for a apartment, condo, or small home with no supplemental heat source needed on sunny but cold days.  Just something to toss out there to think about if you have a good southern exposure with minimal shading.  I most certainly will be glad to share the data that we come up with as we conduct that experiment going into the heating season in the winter of 2011.  I live in a location where we get lots of sunshine all year around with minimal number of days where it is cloudy and overcast so I think something like this might just work out well and should reduce my need to heat by about 20-30% for the entire house.  Now combine that with these solutions that Paul has been testing and I think it could result in a lot of happy people with minimal costs and impacts on our planet.

Longsnowsm
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
Well, we're about to change up our house set up so we'll change the way we use the heat to fit our new thang. The kids end up in bed with me nearly every night, it makes for a warm sleep for sure! We rent a 2 bedroom right now, they each have a room and I sleep on a futon/couch in the living room. I am moving a bigger mattress into my daughter's room and we will all sleep in there together from now on. It's the smallest room in the house but also the most poorly heated so I keep a very small hot oil heater (looks like a radiator, you know the kind? Very efficient) in there already. We'll turn the heat way down at night and just keep that heater on in there. I won't shut the door completely so we get good air flow but even with it half-way closed it should still stay toasty in there. I am up early so can adjust the heat before all are up and about.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The new power bill arrived.  Still 80% savings.  Although my february appears to average 4 degrees colder and has three more days.  How do they figure february has 32 days?

So the bill says that the average temp for my february was 28.  The february for a year ago was 32.  The jan a year ago was 30. 

I used 438 kwh last month.  And they must have read the meter on a day that made it 32 days of use. 

If I prorate the number of days, I saved 84%.  I think that is fair to do. 

If I cheat and use the jan data from a year ago, 1153 kwh for heat on 30 days.  And if I prorate last month to 30 days i get 161 kwh for heat. That is an 86% reduction in heat.  Still not the 90% I was shooting for.  The january data was for 30 degrees average.  Since I gained two percentage points with two degrees, I might gain two more if it two degrees colder still to match up with my temp.  That brings me to 88%.  Still not 90%.  And that is doing a lot of stretching.

I suppose I could go with the baseline of 350 kwh on both sides (I was using 250 for my baseline, since my summer usage appeared to average around that.  And 350 for his baseline since that appeared to be his average).  That would mean that for feb, my heat usage was 47 kwh.  And his was 924.  Therefore I cut my heat usage by 95%.

Raw numbers (year previous / this year):

jun  468/279
jul  383/308
aug 304/247
sep 352/189
oct 714/314
nov 960/695
dec 1284/460
jan 1503/485
feb 1274/438

jun/jul/aug average:  385/278

438 adjusted from 32 days to 29 days:  397.

1274 - 385 = 889 kwh
397 - 278 = 119 kwh

I'm comfortable with that.  I cut 87% off of my heating bill for february even though it was four degrees, on average, colder.  And, at the same time, I cut 28% off of the rest of my power bill.


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Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
i applaude your efforts.  Did you have any problems with lingering colds/flu/etc.?

Thats good, I guess.  There are so many variables. 
I used a bit over 1600 kwhs.  but I  live in central WI and Jan-Feb is typically the coldest months of the year, and I have all electric heat.

When I first tried my experiments with heating pads and spot heating, I found that having it too cool wasn't good for my health.  The quick change of temperature wasn't good.  I ended up getting a very bad case of Bronchitis that lasted several months. 

I've decided its good to conserve, but I have to have my main room at 70 degrees.  So
I'm heating the main part of the home, about 400 s.f., to 70 degrees, and not providing any heat to the rest. 
Still my electric -heat/hotwater/water/general electric- bill was $146 last month.  That is like the least I have ever spent for that combination. 
T. Joy


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 438
I don't put the heat up over 68 usually, during the day when the sun is out it's set at 67 or 66 even, at night 67. It's only in the evenings that I set it at 68 (69 if it's very cold), we are home and not in bed and it's coldest then.

So far so good with the little heater in the bedroom. I set the heat at 66 for the rest of the house and it's quite cool overnight
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
No sickness all winter.  not even a cold (knock on wood).
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My first draft at an article on this is up:  http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp

I will probably need to polish it over the next fews days/weeks ...

What part(s) reads a little weird and could use some polish?


Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 5043
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
193
Those graphs threw me for a minute - I'm assuming that the black line is the ambient temperature and the red shows the amount of electricity used?  There's an open bracket (parenthesis, or whatever you guys call it) after 'yellow' in the last graph too

The chart for the raw data could be made a bit more user friendly.  Maybe get capital letters on the months, to match the rest of the text, and maybe split the two numbers up a bit so it doesn't look like a mega fraction, which is a bit offputting, and line them up in columns, possibly with a label on top of each one.

The average for June/July/August - I see you subtracted this from the February figures.  Does that mean you aren't using heat at all in those months and are treating this amount as your electricity consumption for everything other than heating?  Maybe it needs a quick note to explain the relevance of 'jun/jul/aug average: 385/278'

I have a vaguely uneasy feeling that '119 / 889 = 0.1339' might need a elaborating a little before announcing that you cut 87%.  It depends on your audience, but anyone who struggles with percentages might not connect those two figures. 

Perhaps say, ' 119 / 889 = 0.1339, which is only 13%', then it isn't such a mental leap to the 87% saving you mention in the next line.

You want capitals for new england and alaska?  You gave one to Iraq...


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Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1305
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
paul wheaton wrote:
My first draft at an article on this is up:  http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp

I will probably need to polish it over the next fews days/weeks ...

What part(s) reads a little weird and could use some polish?


Looks pretty good and reads clear. Since it hasn't been mentioned... I'll throw this in: I save the power used for the heated keyboard and mouse by using a "netbook". I will hasten to add, that while I like the touchpad, my wife does not and uses a mouse with her netbook. I understand that some people with bigger fingers than mine (i require XL nitryl gloves just so I can move my fingers) or who type a lot more than I do would not like the small keyboard.... however, there are netbooks available with a standard size keyboard and larger screen while still using the atom processor for low power use. However, I am thinking about how I use the computer and your needs may be different than mine, I don't do much programing any more and so use mine mostly for browsing or reading books (another form of browsing) so I use the keyboard less than some. I also don't play much in the way of games and so don't need a super computer. Linux takes a slow "Windoze" computer and makes it quite quick (the KDE desktop is a bit resource hungry and so I have stopped using it).

I have not had time to put a heated coffee table together to see if I can keep the living room heat down while keeping the toob watchers comfortable. I have bought the tiles for the top and need a steel sheet to mount them on then I would use wood trim and legs. The tiles are sort of rippled on top so that the radiation doesn't just go straight up. I will use a 1k baseboard element without the fins at 120v for 250w or so. My hope is to be able to have the thermostat in such a place that the table is warmer if the room air is lower. My thoughts so far....
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Burra,

I got most of your changes in.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Raw numbers (year previous / this year):

jun  468/279
jul  383/308
aug 304/247
sep 352/189
oct 714/314
nov 960/695
dec 1284/460
jan 1503/485
feb 1274/438
mar 1003/267

jun/jul/aug average:  385/278

So, for march, I used less power than the average in the summer. 

The average temp was 38 degrees.  The average temp for a year ago was 42.

This bill was for 30 days. 

I thought I let March slide a lot.  I kept the thermostat at 50, but left the dog bed heater and the keyboard on all night.  When I had company, I made sure they had ample access to the 300 watt radiant heater.  I didn't close the blinds at night because I like so see the moon out the windows - and have the dawn light come in.  I aired the house out regularly. 

Most of all - I worked from home all day with my computer and monitors on all day.  And cooking at home.  Whereas I think the guy from a year ago had a job somewhere else - so he wouldn't be leaving computers and monitors on all day or cooking at home during the day.

I don't understand how I might have used less power last month than in the summer.  I definitely used heat.  And I didn't use heat in the summer. 

Is it possible that the meter reader schedule is actually a bit different than the billing schedule?

I was sure I was gonna get the february heat bill cruising in at 92% to 96%.  And I was a lot more careful in february than in january. 

Just for giggles, the average of febraury and march is:  1138.5/352.5.  So, for heat, that works out to 753.5/74.5.  Almost exactly 90%.

If you add in september, my jun/jul/aug/sep average is 256.  So the amount I used for heat could have been 13kwh.  A savings of 98%. 

It makes sense that I would save more money on heat on a warmer month.  The baseboard heaters hardly ever came on.  And during the day, I usually turned my lightbulb off because I was getting too warm.

I think that saying that I cut 98% off of the march heating bill sound about right based entirely on guesses about how much power was probably used for heat last year and how little power was used for heat this year. 

and I think I probably cut 92% off of the february heating bill - even though the math says 87%.  But I'll leave the article at 87%. 



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think I figured it out. 

I was gone for about nine days at the beginning of march.  I left the thermostats at 50; set a fan to circulate the air near pipes I was worried could freeze; didn't run any personal heaters, do any cooking, open the fridge or run computers/monitors; and turned off the water heater.

So even though the baseboard heaters were coming on, there was a fair bit of savings with the stuff that was on during the summer, but off for those nine days. 

------------------

I think if I do this again, I need to pop out every few days and read the meter myself. 

Oh - and I should note that I keep my water heater set very hot.  140 degrees.  I don't want to incubate legionella bacteria.

nancy sutton
volunteer

Joined: Feb 22, 2010
Posts: 322
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
    
    9
I ditto wool sox, sweater, hat etc. to insulate the body which is heated up using using the electrically heated hot water in a hot water bottle.  In the lap for desk/tv, and at foot of the bed - two or more?  (Ditto above, a lap dog/cat is good - wonder about the feed vs the elecricity to heat the water, which is, of course, just sitting there).  Yeah, you may have to replace the water, but movement generates more heat than immobility, I think... ?


It's time to get positive about negative thinking    -Art Donnelly
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞

jun  468/279
jul  383/308
aug 304/247
sep 352/189
oct 714/314
nov 960/695
dec 1284/460
jan 1503/485
feb 1274/438
mar 1003/267


apr 889/379
may 804/240

That makes one year.

For the full year:  8245  /  3682

Overall, I cut 55% off the electricity bill.  And I work from home all day.  And, if I remember correctly, the previous guy did not do laundry from here.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I made an executive summary of all this here:

http://www.makeitmissoula.com/2011/10/save-money-on-heating-bills/


Fred Winsol


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
I find the whole concept of electric heat churning my stomach... is it a symptom of how out of touch we are with appropriate uses of energy?  next thing you know we'll be using non-renewable solar PV (see Paul Hawken's latest interviews) to make electric heaters for our Vente Starbucks Lattes

If one looks at the whole system of electric generation and the net BTUs yielded in useful BTUs of heat emitted to a body, compared to the amount of BTUs needed to generate that electricity at the source, I think one would find <5% efficiency!  How uncool is that?

Given that we all live within reach of the sun and the soil... are we that spoiled/clueless that we can't get some heat from current solar income, or at least from soil/earth stored (geothermal) heat?  Heck, even on cloudy, snowy days one can get a solar water heater warmed up.

When i see the wonderful discussions on RMHs and permaculture here, and then I see the oxymoron of 'electric heat'; I wonder if perhaps the net result is a bunch of steps taken backwards? 

just my opinion...


Life is too important to take seriously.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think of this as a "wheaton eco scale" sort of thing.  Some folks around a 4 or so are ready for a rocket mass heater .  Some folks around a 6 or so are ready for a wofati .  And folks at level 2 might be willing to try this stuff - but rmh or wofati seems crazy to them.  And people at level 4 have an inclination to bash people at levels 0 through 3.



Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
And there are the people that rent or lease, that have no choice but electric heat.

And also the people who own but can't afford to change heating tech until they
save money on their electric bill.
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1305
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
Shawn Bell wrote:
And there are the people that rent or lease, that have no choice but electric heat.

And also the people who own but can't afford to change heating tech until they
save money on their electric bill.


+1 (I agree), The house is the way it is... E heat. It is still better than nat. gas... at least in the being able to buy better tech sooner. The RMH is also on the way, but I only have so much time allotted me to play with it. Solar is behind that ... somewhere. The big news is that the ok to start "thinking" about moving to a better "off the grid" location has been granted if not the timeline. But for now E heat it is and I want to use as little as I can. This is purely financial at this location, so any projects have to have a fairly short payback time.... or be easy to take with me... or both   The RMH is designed to be portable for that reason... it will not use cob, but brick, damaged brick for cheap.
jacque greenleaf
volunteer

Joined: Jan 21, 2009
Posts: 464
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
Following bread crumbs around the intertubes,  I came across this article - http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/02/body-insulation-thermal-underwear.html#more

Who knew there was a way to quantify the effect of different clothing on winter warmth? Number nerds strike again. The comments are also informative.

Denise Lehtinen


Joined: Sep 10, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
    
    1
I'm ready for an Earthship, if only I could find a way to pay for the rest of it. 

You can see pictures of it, if you like, on Facebook at Earthship Florida.  Just ask to be added to the friends list.

On just skimming the page you linked to on wofati eco building, it seems generally in the same direction of that idea.  Earthships have the added feature of collecting water from the roof for internal use.  They also are costly (at least ours is) in part because contractors are experts at building standard construction projects, and know little about building one-of-a-kind homes (at least most of them are like that -- including the one who was adventurous enough to take on our project).

paul wheaton wrote:
I think of this as a "wheaton eco scale" sort of thing.   Some folks around a 4 or so are ready for a rocket mass heater .  Some folks around a 6 or so are ready for a wofati .   And folks at level 2 might be willing to try this stuff - but rmh or wofati seems crazy to them.  And people at level 4 have an inclination to bash people at levels 0 through 3.




                        


Joined: Nov 10, 2011
Posts: 1
I've been using CFL for over 13 years and didn't really notice any drop in electrical kw/H usage.  I just thought I was doing good over-all.  It pays to analyze! 

I'm going to wish for some LED A-19 and R-40 shapes this year for Christmas.  Or should I just stock up on some incandescent long life b4 they become extinct.

I'm interested in the idea of the serviceable bulbs, where you can replace the filament in rough water.  Very cool.

Cheers,
1st post

Ski
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I subject Camille Pearl to this



Pamela Kirsch


Joined: Nov 22, 2011
Posts: 10
Location: Yamhill, Oregon
Wonder how much heat is needed for one of these to spin? It's powered by heat. Description says 'fan quietly and efficiently circulates warm air from your wood stove, coal stove or other heat source, through your home or workshop dramatically increasing the effectiveness of your heating appliance and improving your comfort level.' I'm wondering if this would this work mounted on a ceiling to circulate heat from an ordinary ceiling light fixture / or heat from from our kitchen heater. This is the 5-blade model -spendy, but there are 2 and 3 blade cheaper models.
http://www.amazon.com/Vulcan-Stove-Stirling-Engine-Powered/dp/B002Y4UOYM/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1322027503&sr=8-5

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” Henry David Thoreau
Joe Higgs


Joined: Nov 23, 2011
Posts: 4
jacque greenleaf wrote:Following bread crumbs around the intertubes,  I came across this article - http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/02/body-insulation-thermal-underwear.html#more

Who knew there was a way to quantify the effect of different clothing on winter warmth? Number nerds strike again. The comments are also informative.



Interesting thread.

After a quick perusal, I'm in agreement with the article. Come the really cold weather I'll be wearing merino wool long-johns and top, a woollen jumper, a down gilet and topped off with a fleece hat. The only other appliance I use is a 400 watt halogen heater. Two hot water bottles takes care of the bed and keeps me toasty.
Max Kennedy


Joined: Feb 16, 2010
Posts: 462
Location: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
One thing I haven't seen here is a possible downside of keeping a home on the cooler side. Moisture! It tends to condense on windows and even when it is cool promotes mold and mildew growth. Keep it in mind.


It can be done!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
mekennedy1313 McCoy wrote:One thing I haven't seen here is a possible downside of keeping a home on the cooler side. Moisture! It tends to condense on windows and even when it is cool promotes mold and mildew growth. Keep it in mind.



I updated the article to answer that: http://www.richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
yukkuri kame wrote:In Japan most construction, both old and new is shoddy and hardly insulated at all.  Think about it, these people are famous for paper walls.   Older houses, in particularly, are very drafty.  Some of the older solutions are about heating people, not the space. 

There are lots of cold bathrooms in Japan, but heated toilet seats.  Makes all the difference in the world. 

The kotatsu is a delightful Japanese hybrid between a coffee table and a blanket. 


They may be electrically heated, or just a plain blanket heated with body heat.  Either way, it gets cozy under the kotatsu, keeping people warm, without needing to heat a room, nevermind a house.  Even better if there are others to play footsies with.  I don't think this idea is just for floor sitters, either.  Easily adaptable to western furniture, though the chairs will create more opportunities for drafts, and there will be more space under the table to heat.  Bottom line is throw a blanket over the table, and put a moderately heavy table-top on the blanket and you are good to go.  Biggest danger with the kotatsu, is not wanting to leave the table, keep pouring drinks and end up passed out under the kotatsu. 



Lastly, never underestimate the power of a hot water bottle. 


yukkuri,

Are these pictures that you took?



Sandra Ellane


Joined: Nov 08, 2011
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
Albuquerque is having a terrible cold spell, and we've been getting them about a year now (we didn't used to). Right now at 2:30 pm it's 19 degrees F, and tonight's low is supposed to be 4F. My house was built in the 60s and these old houses are not energy efficient. It's got single pane sliding windows and not much insulation . My thermostat is set at 65 but it’s pretty cold in here and the poor crappy CFA furnace is going quite a bit. I hate to see what my utility bill is going to be. I don’t want to turn lower though because I’m concerned that the hose bibs and pipes will burst. I had one burst a couple years ago. What a bad experience. Those little Styrofoam covers only do so much.

I did put up plastic on all the windows, and I caulked around all the windows and openings back in the fall.

The house has a conventional open fireplace, so I cut rigid insulation to fit the opening, and added a piece of Reflectix (that stuff that’s basically bubble wrap with foil on both sides) to help reflect heat back to the room.

The sunroom is 45 degrees right now, so of course I have it closed off.

As for me- I’m making use of a heating pad on my feet with a blankie draped over my it and my lap. Wearing many layers of clothing too.

I doubt this helps shed light on anything, but I think I feel warmer having been able to vent



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Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1305
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
I had some fun with cold rooms and a computer desk this past week. I have been using an open back chair (cheap dining set chair) in this room at 14C or so. My back felt cold so I put a blanket over the back of the chair... my back felt warmer instantly. The back of my legs felt cool... i put a piece of cardboard behind them and felt warmer... no loss to radiation.
jane inthemtns


Joined: Dec 12, 2011
Posts: 1
You're not kidding about Albuquerque. I'm way up near Chama on a ranch in a 100 year old adobe freezing. Our House of Perpetual 45F. I have a Jotul woodstove vented improperly up the 2 story adobe chimney. It clogs up and smokes about every 5 weeks. Happened last night so now I've got the radiator style oil filled heater running. It's an old one given to me by a fellow frozen person so it actually gets really hot, but doesn't burn out. I find this thread very funny. Laughing probably has warming properties. Blankets over all the doors. Insulation only over the living room, none over the kitchen. Not my house. I'm the ranch person. It's going to cost $150.00 per month to run the heater 24/7. And $130.00 for a cord of wood that lasts about a month. Usually cut my own wood, but had too much horse doctoring to do this summer. I like the heating pad ideas. I would love to turn off the electricity forever, but I am attached to my remote ranching FB friends. Later I will not be able to do dishes because they will be frozen. Plug in the diesel pickup - another $50 a month.

If I was going to buy a good electric heater, which would be best? There is a ceiling fan in the living room I can reverse. Any wind in the room is really freezing. Electric blanket - check. Or let the giant Karakachan shepard dog up on the bed to heat everything up.

One thing about letting a house get too cold: I had a friend years ago who let her house in Sacramento CA get cold. She was before her time. The winter weather there is very cold and humid - fog. The lovely oak floors in her bedroom buckled and warped.


Marcos Buenijo
pollinator

Joined: Dec 18, 2011
Posts: 583
Location: Southwest U.S.
    
  12
Spot heating is definitely the way to reduce space heating costs. Some things to do here include (1) wearing warm clothing to protect against the cold rather than turn up the thermostat, (2) using small space heaters to spot heat yourself rather than heating an entire room or home, and (3) use an electric blanket while sleeping rather than use a space heater or central heating. I've done these for years and I can say with certainty that it dramatically reduces electricity consumption. In fact, at the very moment that I type this I have place the thermostat on a space heater at 65F and I am wearing flanel pants, jacket, and socks plus slippers. I'm also using natural gas for heating (which is more efficient than electricity). I'm very comfortable right now.
Len Ovens
pollinator

Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1305
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  16
Marcos Buenijo wrote:I'm also using natural gas for heating (which is more efficient than electricity).


In a word ... no. Taking the gas/power from when they get to my house... hydro wins. The numbers for gas appliances are, like wood burning appliances, not entirely honest. Just as in a wood burner, where 100% is only 85%, 100% efficiency in a gas appliance is lower too. The heat needed to get the fumes out the flue is not included. While in a wood stove this may only require 15% of the energy, gas burns at a lower temperature, but the flue gas still needs to be at the same temperature to run the flue and so more than 15% of the energy input needs to go to this task. By law this number is not included in efficiency ratings. This does not include bringing in cold air for the fire to breath... either through our breathing space or it's own pipe which still takes warmth from the air surrounding the pipe (most gas furnaces I have seen still use air from my breathing space... that is I can see the flame while it burns) It also does not include heat lost while the furnace is off due to a flue that is open to the cold outside air. None of these things are even measured for a gas unit... This is leaving aside the problem of whole house heating as compared to used space heating, running ducts through unheated space, power for fans (which may be included in the efficiency number) and who knows what else. Is this going to change? no, where would we be if everyone decided to heat electrically? There wouldn't be enough to go around... best let people believe gas is better.

If a gas fired boiler is located in an unheated space and water is piped to radiators in the living space and those pipes are well insulated and there is individual control for each radiator... and the boiler is designed so that the surrounding air is not taking heat away and and heating area is designed so that flue air movement while the boiler is off does not bleed heat off the warmed water (look at the average water heater to see what I mean) Things could be a lot closer... maybe... The exit temperature still has to be hotter than the water even with a fan to move it... though I supposed the flue gas could be used to preheat the returning water, but I haven't seen such a system.

All this to say, maybe making the best of electric heating means using electric over gas. Though, where I live gas is about 60% the price of electric. So gas can be cheaper than electric without being more efficient. A gas system that is more than 60% seems more efficient than electric to the wallet. That does not figure in gov subsidies to either cost, or mining/transmission costs/efficiencies.
Nickie Irvine


Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2
I've been very interested in your "heat bubble" idea - a friend shared it with me, and I've been sharing it too. But when I try to reproduce your ~80W setup, I cannot find the pet warmer available in a 15W model. The link in your article is for a 40-60W heat pad. Can't find 15W anywhere. Do you have another link or more detail on what you bought?

Thanks, Nickie
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Nickie Irvine wrote:I've been very interested in your "heat bubble" idea - a friend shared it with me, and I've been sharing it too. But when I try to reproduce your ~80W setup, I cannot find the pet warmer available in a 15W model. The link in your article is for a 40-60W heat pad. Can't find 15W anywhere. Do you have another link or more detail on what you bought?

Thanks, Nickie


Mine is labeled for something higher - like 65 watts. It turns on and off throughout the day. When I put a killawatt on it, it shows 50 watts when it is on. And when I do the 24 hour thing on it, it averages out to less than 15 watts per hour.
Nickie Irvine


Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2
Thanks Paul. That helps me to figure out which one to get. Just to clarify how you are measuring the 15W heating pad - are you pro-rating it over a 24 hour period (and turning it off when you are not at your station), or is your 24-hr metering for leaving it on for 24 hours? I think the former, but wanted to make sure. Nickie

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15428
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Nickie Irvine wrote:Thanks Paul. That helps me to figure out which one to get. Just to clarify how you are measuring the 15W heating pad - are you pro-rating it over a 24 hour period (and turning it off when you are not at your station), or is your 24-hr metering for leaving it on for 24 hours? I think the former, but wanted to make sure. Nickie


In 24 hours, it used 0.35 kwh




 
 
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