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Baby, it’s cold inside!

November 24, 2009

Photo courtesy of Sierrra Club

This winter I’ve challenged myself to use as little energy as possible heating my home.  Not only am I trying to be eco-friendly, I’m also trying to avoid the situation that I was faced with last spring.  Here’s a quick recap:

To be perfectly blunt, last fall I ended a relationship.  During December and January I stayed with my boss.  When I moved back to the borrowed abode in February (after the ex had moved out) I was horrified to see the electric bills for Dec/Jan.  During most months electric cost $15-$30.  As I paid off the over $700 in electric charges for those two months (the bill was in my name, and he didn’t help with it) I promised myself I would absolutely be as efficient as possible in the coming winter. 

Here’s the scoop on my heating setup:

In my condo each room has its own heater / AC unit installed in the wall below the window.  You know how motels and hotels have those large rectangular units in the walls?  Just like that.   What’s it like, you ask?

Pros:

  • With a unit in each room, I have the ability to only heat or cool the room that I’m in.  That keeps costs low, and saves the  planet just a bit. 

Cons:

  • I have six rooms in my condo – two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen.  Only the living room and bedrooms have HVAC units. 
  • Bathroom – all tile walls and floors –  is FREEZING in winter.  No heat source.  I can not describe to you how miserable it is. 
  • The kitchen opens to dining room which opens to living room, so the living room is really the only room that gets warm when I turn the LR HVAC on. 
  • The unit in my bedroom and the living room are relatively new, so let’s assume they’re somewhat energy efficient.  Oh wait – my landlord  bought the ones that do NOT have thermostats. So they’re either on or off.  No energy-saving compromise.
  • The unit in the guest room is ancient.  I mean it may remember having FDR as a president.  I assume it’s incredibly inefficient.   And it too has no thermostat.

As you can see, this system doesn’t have much going for it.  Which is why tonight I am sitting here ice cold as I type this post.  Refusing to run a heating unit that won’t even heat the space I’m in, I’vd donned my fleece winter camping thermals, thick wool socks, slippers, and a kitten on my lap.  Oh wait – that last one is just a bonus.  

I may never live down the shame of admitting this, but:  I totally get why I grew up in an ice-cold home.  My parents were oh-so-smart to keep the thermostat low, telling us to wear more layers for warmth.  In our large old stone house there was no way to heat it efficiently.  Well, it would have helped if they’d shelled out the dough to replace all the original glass windows with new ones, but they’ll never agree with me.  And that’s fine, because while their new-construction home in the “active adult community” may have been built crappily and quickly, it’s warm.  So as of Tuesday night I’ll be typing toastily for the holiday week.

But I digress. . .  tonight, in my crazy getup, that I’ve decided something.  Over Thanksgiving I’m going to purchase two space heaters:  one bathroom-safe heater  and one small heater for my office (formerly dining room).  I don’t need to heat the whole house just to sit at my desk typing.  Now I just have to figure out what kind of unit to buy.  I know it needs to have a shut-off feature if it tips over.  I’m thinking I’ll go with a tiny ceramic one for the office.

So I ask you:  Do any of you have experience with space heaters?  Any units you’d recommend?  Any things you’d warn me about?  Any tips on the most efficient ones out there?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Amber permalink
    November 28, 2009 7:25 AM

    Jane,

    I have experience with quite a few space heaters (namely because of close to the same reasons). I use one in the alcove that leads off of my living room to the bathroom, 2 bedrooms & the laundry room. I turn it on hi about 2 hours before I go to bed & right before I go I turn it on either med or low. It will sufficiently keep that alcove & 4 rooms warm enough that we aren’t freezing but we aren’t hot either. As for brands… If you can find a black & decker you should be fine. Another feature to look for is the ceramic core (will stay warmer longer & put out heat better than a copper core). As for saving on your electric, what I did last winter is turn my heat down to 60 & run space heaters for the rooms I was in. Made my electric about $100 per month (and that was in Fl where the elec prices are sky high). You can look at the boxes they come in, it will give you basic specs that you will need to know.

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