With a bit of a heavy heart, I must announce here some changes to the Cold House infrastructure, and, probably, way of life.  For reasons that defy simple logic, but have something to do with a natural gas line being put on our street, and also something to do with a sense on some people’s part that “seven years of this is enough”, we have recently installed at the Cold House one Viessmann Vitodens 200 modulating-condensing gas boiler, 3 zone pumps, 3 thermostats, 7 Runtal flat-panel radiators, and the piece de resistance, a hydronic “towel warmer” in the bathroom.


WHY?  Why me, God?

I ask this myself, but so far have not gotten an answer.  Perhaps, to quote Thoreau, it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.  Or maybe I was pushed.

In any case, there it is.  It has many moving parts and a manual of computer codes and fault messages that resembles ones I’ve seen from the Apollo navigation system.  It is not simple, and it was not cheap– two strikes against it already, in my view.  Indeed, under our prior habits, I could’ve bought enough firewood to last the rest of my life expectancy for the same cost as just installing this thing (really, almost exactly).

But, it is magical.  And the idea– my idea, at least– is that this will not supplant the wood stove.  It will just take the edge off (edges such as those mornings or returns-from-work where the house is at 45º).  We can still heat only the downstairs, and we can still heat that only minimally.  But in reality, I can already see it may be a slippery slope.

I am still tinkering with the boiler set-up in an attempt to actually make it stay in condensing mode as much as possible, which requires that its return-water temp stay below 130º as much as possible.  Allegedly, it can achieve 95% efficiency that way.  Interestingly, it will be most efficient in the “shoulder seasons” when it doesn’t need to produce very hot water.  Meanwhile the wood stove, of course, is most efficient burning full-bore, as in mid-winter.  So theoretically they could be good partners.  We’ll see how theory matches up with practice.

In the meantime, after resolving never to deal with last year’s wood supplier again, I put in an order mid-winter for this year’s cord, with a more reliable source– only to have that source completely disappear mid-summer (phone number disconnected, website gone, etc.)  As the kids say, she “ghosted” me.  So in July I tracked down yet another supplier, who promised a delivery for this week.  I have my fingers crossed.  Then, just as I was wondering “Why IS it so hard to get firewood here in a state full of trees??”, a friend sent this horrifying Onion-esque news story about hardwood logs being used literally in support of the fracking industry.  Which, now, I am a freaking customer of.  Unless I go all apeshit and tear the Viessmann out…

3 Responses to “Changes”

  1. alifesgayventure Says:

    rather sad to see you have joined those who heat their homes. i guess it is inevitable, if wood is getting harder to buy, and gas lines are now running into your area. your area is really very cold, so it is admirable that u have done it for 7yrs. now you may have to change the title to warm house. haha.

  2. Patrick Says:

    Please keep the temp meter running and update us periodically!

  3. carolyn Says:

    It is good to keep all “residents” content with your conversion to central heat. Think of it as an investment at resale! I have opted to use more electric in our “cold house” here in Waterville. I envy your gas line…. our town came within half a mile of our house in each direction with no plans to put one for us. It is nice to have the “option” of not stoking the fire. For us it would have meant “set it and forget it” and head for Florida in December. But now we have to stay behind to plow the drive to let the oil delivery truck in as we use about 600 gal over the heating season (and that is with the thermostat 50-55 and supplementing with wood).

    If it makes you feel more honest, don’t use the heated towel bar in the bathroom!

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