We’re plumb in the middle of fall here in Maine. The leaves are turning and falling and it’s getting cold – not cool – COLD.
We even have a Fall Foliage website for leaf peepers who want to know where they can find the best color. Can you stand it??????? http://www.MaineFoliage.com
With this happening, we come to the season where I need to make decisions about heating “this old house.” I have struggled with this monster of a problem for YEARS.
First, the house is 100 years old. It was built at a time when coal fired the boiler. And that coal-fired boiler is still here but converted to an oil burner. It burns a crap load of oil in the winter if I use it as central heating. It is my hot water heater too and I use it all summer for that – but it doesn’t burn much when it’s only water.
Getting heat all over the house evenly is a challenge because the house is drafty. If I felt like dealing with possible dead birds, etc. I could block the flue to the fireplace with a balloon and I might yet do that – except for the dead bird issue. I remember being downstairs and hearing something in the chimney. I have been through lots of dead bird happenings and now my husband is gone, I’m not doing it. DS is as bad as me. We have been known to call his father home from work because of a dead mouse on the stairs. Ahem.
So how to heat the house? Well the heat pump does a great job in the main part of the downstairs. It resides in the front foyer and spreads heat into the living room. The house is pretty much open concept with the double doors to the living room from the foyer and to the dining room from the living room having been removed at some point. They’re in my basement. The doorway between the kitchen and the dining room has never had a door but there is still one between the kitchen and the foyer. The flow of the downstairs floor plan is one of the things I loved about this house.
Then we have the “addition”. I’m not sure when or how it became the addition. There is a sunroom and a study behind that. The sunroom isn’t heated and the door into the study has a slate threshold which leads me to believe it was originally a front door. The study is not adequately, if at all, insulated. When we bought the house, there was a propane heater in the study. It died. When we tried to get it fixed we were told that the part we needed was no longer available. My level of not believing repair men is so high that I think he may have been incorrect. Anyway, the heater is gone.
The study is the room I’m going to use for the dye studio. There isn’t any water, but it’s a straight shot through the dining room to the kitchen and dyeing in the kitchen is fine. I just put the colors together and do my thing and let it set for 24 hours. At least with the studio I could let the dyes sit on the first floor and not on the landing or in the basement. I just need heat in there.
My choice for now is electric heat. I would love a pellet stove but pellets are heavy – a bag weighs 250 lbs. I guess you could get smaller bags but still you’d be schlepping them into the house, filling the stove, etc. This could happen.
A wood-burning stove is out for me. I can’t stand the smell of wood burning. It gets in my nose and I get all plugged up. Which is why the fireplace lays idle. I could get a propane fireplace insert which would take care of a lot of the heating issue. But the heat needs to be coming from the study to the dining room to the kitchen.
So an electric heater is going to be it. My electric bill is high compared to other locations, but it is still much cheaper than burning the equivalent amount of oil. I have a distaste for spending money on things you burn. Truly.
I’ve toyed with the idea of a “fireplace” like heater. I’m going to get one that will heat 1000 square feet. That is more than what I will need, but if it gets down to -15 or so like it did last winter, the extra power will be lovely.
All of this heat on the first floor is wonderful, but there are bedrooms, a sunporch and my sewing room on the second floor, not to mention the bathroom. I need supplemental heat there too. I do believe another 1000 square foot heater will do the trick especially if strategically placed. This won’t be a fireplace (would that not look stupid, a fireplace in the hallway?) but instead a nice cheaper infrared heater. That way all the bedrooms, the bath and the sewing room can be heated. If I leave the door open to the sunporch – which is actually a room and heated with a radiator – I will get enough heat in there too. Which will thrill Maggie since it was her little room when she first came home. She loved being in her “safe” place where no big bad humans could get to her until she got comfortable with us and the house.
So there’s the dilemma solved! And the did I see it? Well it snowed yesterday. I saw it.