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making the best of electric heat

 
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One idea is to use infrared heat instead of heating the whole space.

But even more clever is to have the infrared heat follow you.

 
steward
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Super cool.

Imagine something like that on six light bulbs.  Less power, but just as much heat.   And it can heat you from all directions.  And light you from all directions.

 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, apartment building, landscaping, help!
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UPDATE--I made it.  Today is spring.  I did not need to turn on the radiator once al winter long. And we had a couple of really cold nights.

It may of course become winter again in five minutes, this being New England on global weirding steroids, but I think it's safe to say I don't need fossil fuel heat in my room.

I will admit I turned the heat on one really cold night for my partner, who was leaving next morning at 4 am for a flight, when we'd stayed up too late to really have time to heat with the laptop.  

It's not a fully scientific experiment, but it's an urban experiment, and it was comfortable.  I could sleep.  Usually I haven't even needed the dinosaur laptop, just my newish mac charger (supposedly 6 watts--though I would guess it's a bit more than that, let's say 15 to be really conservative).  

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  

ETA: I found bad news about the new replacment-for-the-R22-HCFC:

"Also consider that R-410A’s global-warming potential (GWP) is 2,088, and the refrigerant management program of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) defines any refrigerant with a GWP greater than or equal to 150 as a high-GWP refrigerant."

from www.archnews.com

If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.

I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

--anyone have any batter-heated slippers or clothes that worked well?

Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)

And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?

(A big challenge with this is that by the rental agreements and I think State law the heat has to be included with rent payment, we can't be billed for it separately--and so the heat can't be our responsibility, the feedback if we waste or don't waste heat doesn't come back to us, the tenants.  On the other hand, the landlord has no incentive to reimburse us for saving them money.  How do we incentivize that? "We were easy on your pocketbook this last winter, would you like to see us do that again?"

I guess my biggest hangup is the assumption that it is unlikely anyone is going to sit down with me and take the time to have a rational conversation with me--so it's a matter of selling them on having a conversation in the first seven seconds.

Sorry this is more of a politics game question than a heat question, but it follows along in the topic of making the most of electric heat--and if we manage to crack this here at my apartment building, others might follow suit.

Me: hello landlord/management company, I have question for you, why do you hate money?
landlord: what do you mean?
Me: well you're wasting about the rental cost of one unit in our 12-unit every month over the course of the winter, it's like you just want to pay Con-ed more than you want to pay yourself.  Since you're so altruistic, how'd you like to give me some of that money and put the rest toward a cleaner planet? oh, you're not altruistic? OK then, let's talk about a more efficient heating strategy.

 
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Mark Rose wrote:One idea is to use infrared heat instead of heating the whole space.

But even more clever is to have the infrared heat follow you.



Cool gadgetry, Mark and you are quite the whiz with these units. Maybe you should approach the manufacturer with a patent [yours] that would have the "follower" be part of the unit.

Can I ask, why is your basement only at 13C? Is the basement insulated?

Are there no heat ducts that empty there? Is the system a gas/forced air heating arrangement?
 
master pollinator
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Electric blankets are probably the most efficient use of electric heat to keep a person warm.

I had electricity at a job site, but did not have an electric blanket. I did have an incandescent light bulb on a cord and a small metal garbage can, made out of wire. I suspended the bulb in a manner that would prevent it from catching anyting aflame, and used it as a bed heater until I went to sleep, and again when I woke up. 60 watts for a couple hours, which is a bit less than you'd use an electric heated house.

Sometimes when I exhaust the battery from a cordless tool, rather quickly, it warms up. These can be placed under the blankets. I like to keep the charger close enough to the bed, that I can keep feeding it until all batteries are charged. Easy to find because they are the lumpy things beside me in bed. I'm sure somebody can have fun with that last statement. :-)

The charger gives off a minor amount of heat.
 
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When I lived on solar electric in passive solar heated houses that go down to 15C (50sF) on winter nights, a hot water bottle was my essential sleep tool. Without it, I could and often did lie awake in bed for 3 or 4 hours due to cold feet. Joining a dance party with my students was the only other effective alternative, but only about once a month.

Now that I'm in a passive solar heated house with grid power (and no dance parties), an electric mattress pad is even better. It says it's only 100W or so. I turn it on a half hour before bed on chilly nights, and turn it off when I get into bed, or in the coldest season might leave it on for a while.

I did try the hot rock mentioned by somebody on the previous page. I would put a stone on the gas burner for a while, then wrap it in some wool. However since I couldn't control the temperature of the rock, I did burn the wool a few times, and once it changed the color of a stone from a drab grey with a white stripe to a pretty sunset-pink with a white stripe. Years later in my garden it still has that color.
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  


The standard refrigerant is identical in both a modern AC unit and a heat pump unit.  The only difference is that the heat pump has valves and controls that allow the heat to be pumped in either direction.  But you don't own the building, so this isn't even an option for you.


If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.



Good idea.  If baseboard electric heat is paid for in the rent, is all electric?



I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

What about electric floor mats?  You can get long ones for hallways, and more squarish ones for special spots such as the floor in front of your couch.  They are pretty low wattage, and can be left on for hours.



Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)


Excessive utilities use is grounds for eviction.  Don't try this.



And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?


No, I don't. The regulations regarding shared utilities are so rigid, I don't think you have any chance at all of moving the landlord.  Probably best to work on your own comfort, while conditioning your other to the value of radiant heat. When I first got married, my wife had never used a gas stovetop, never lived in a home heated with wood, never had a heated bed, never owned a quality wool throw.  I introduced each of these luxuries to her one at a time, and she'd have a fit if I took them away now.  Now she asks me to start a fire in the woodstove when she's chilled, because the feel of radiant heat coming from the woodstove in winter cannot be compared.  The heated mattress pad alone let me drop the overnight setting on the programmable thermostat by 4 degrees; for the cost of less than one KWH per night.
 
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https://permies.com/t/96779/Wild-Homesteading-Work-nature-grow
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