Some perspective

There has been a lot of talk/criticism/snickering from various quarters along this basic theme:  “Those guys aren’t doing anything special at all.  Sure, they don’t have a furnace– but they’re using space heaters and an electric blanket, which is not “no heat”.  In fact, they’re probably using even more energy than if they just ran a furnace.  They are moroons [sic].  They should shut up and not force me to read about their lives anymore.”

In response, I’d first like to clarify that we never said we have “no heat”– we say we have no furnace, which is true, and we say we keep a cold house (by any usual standard), which is also true.  But to have NO heat would mean not only no space heaters, but also no light bulbs, no cooking, no listening to the radio, no computer (!), no vacuum cleaner– basically, no appliance use at all, because they all produce heat.  Also the cats would have to wear some sort of feline astronaut suits to ensure that they didn’t heat up the house with their body warmth.  All of this is a bit silly.

So, we do have heat, and some of it we make intentionally for no other purpose other than getting warmth.  But how much is that, in comparison to “normal people”?  Well, here’s some perspective:  Using information found here, I calculated that a house like ours would normally have a furnace capable of putting out somewhere between 88,000 – 96,000 BTU per hour (at the Old Cold House, the furnace could pump out about 105,000 BTU/hour.)  In comparison, our electric blanket on “high” puts out 614 BTU/hr, and on low, 122.  Our space heaters, if running full-tilt, can each put out 1,690 BTU/hr.  The most intense heat we’ve ever produced in the house, thus far, has been running two space heaters on “high” simultaneously– this is a rare maneuver, but even so, it only totals 10,240 BTU/hr.  Lastly, the (small) wood stove we’re putting in, a Jotul F3, has a capability of running (full blast) at 42,000 BTU/hr, or about half that of the usual furnace– which now seems like an enormous excess of heat to me, but you really can’t get stoves much smaller.  In case this is all hard to grasp, here’s a chart of the different heat-producing abilities:

Hopefully, this clarifies that we haven’t just traded one source of heat for a different equivalent one…


5 Responses to “Some perspective”

  1. brushfire Says:

    Don’t try to confuse the subject with facts! You’re still a commie pinko hippie fready-deaky obama-lovin’ yo-yo!

  2. coldhousejournal Says:

    Geez– no one’s ever called me a HIPPIE before!

  3. brushfire Says:

    I aim to please!

  4. livingcold Says:

    Thank you for these calculations!

  5. JB Says:

    Trouble with your graph is your showing max output. I don’t think that your furnace would be on close to the full hour while your stove/heater/ etc might.
    What I’d like to see is more of a actual use … although since you don’t have a furnace I don’t know how’d you figure out that. 🙂

    We’ve done a few things to lower our oil consumption since the 4 dollar days.

    More attic insulation
    Soap stone wood stove (much easier to regulate temp and holds heat a long time)
    Solar Hot water.
    An out door temp reset so the furnace doesn’t go at max output unless its really cold out.

    That said the solar/soap stone wasn’t cheep but with the fine gov’s credits not nearly as bad as another year or two at 4 buck a gallon oil.

    The issue i see with anything manual such as turning the water on dripping to keep the pipes from freezing is with my luck I’d be away the week of the arctic freeze.

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