Ted’s essays

heat’s on

Once upon a time I had a house built to my specifications… on 7 acres, south facing hill, creek optional. Taking advantage of the southern side with plenty of glass, I heated it with the only choice I had built into it – a wood stove. On cold nights (Sonoma County cold where it actually gets TO freezing) I would drink extra water before retiring for the night and refill the woodstove when I got up to relieve myself in the middle of the night… somewhat a semi-auto thermostat.

In every house since then, heat has been electric or gas. In every case, I removed the old thermostat and replaced them with programmable ones. In most cases there were other problems that co-inspired the change – Like this one I just did today. The range on this clunker was 8-12 degrees between on and off. It could kick on at 68 sometimes not turning off the heater until 80. Aaauuuugh!

The new one has four periods programmed in to run warmer and cooler in a pattern we like. I think. It hasn’t kicked on yet in this cozy, snug cabin of ours.

Anyway, today’s installation inspired a review of my thermostat installation record… in each case, leaving them behind, working perfectly when we moved out.

Nampa farmhouse from horribly inefficient ceiling electric on funky dielectric to natural gas on programmable.

Kuna trailer rental from funky dielectric to programmable.

The Grangeville century-old farmhouse was super tricky as the wiring insulation crumbled to the touch, they came through a metal duct, then dimensional 1″ lumber, then plaster AND were too short to work with. I managed to save a rewiring job by gingerly sleeving each wire with small, soft plastic tubing and connecting to new, limber stuff wire … ending up with a perfectly working programmable.

Kuna farmhouse rental from funky dielectric to programmable.

Kuna subdivision home from malfunctioning programmable to somewhat better functioning programmable.

fireplaceAnd back to today at the cabin. Maybe we will stay with this one more than our frighteningly consistent two-year-each pattern.

PLUS, yesterday I got us kind-of back into the fireplace heat mode when I completed the installation and firing up of our propane gas-log fireplace. It isn’t quite wood heat, but does provide a backup heat source when the electricity fails to arrive. Given my experience with rural electricity, that must be planned and compensated for. I can now relax on that count.

More happy news, even though the bat-and-board is not yet caulked, the insulation was incorrectly installed and the sheetrock has yet to be afforded, that little propane flame took the room from 42 to 75 in a bit over an hour.