Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's the Temperature?

New York Times
There is an interesting article in today's New York Times: "Soaking Up the Sun to Squeeze Bills to Zero." There's a new building in Boulder, Colorado, and the goal is to have the building be energy-neutral -- that is, draw nothing from the power grid.

Natural lighting. Using the heat from computer servers. Concrete basement heat sink.

Our current house has an electric heat pump, not a device I would choose to install this far north. The alternative in this immediate area is propane furnaces, unless of course a person chooses something like outdoor wood furnaces, geo-thermal heat pumps, or wood pellet stoves.

An electric heat pump is not efficient, especially if you're the sort of family that normally sets the thermostat in the mid-seventies during the winter. Our first winter trained us to keep the heat pump central heating at sixty-nine degrees, and then where we must keep warm, to use quartz electric heaters.

One place I like the temperature in the upper seventies is the little room where I normally write and read. That means a space heater. And in doing that, I've learned that one particular element we get from the "save energy" experts is true. Running a ceiling fan in the winter will save energy.

I know that because I have a tiny digital thermometer resting on a bookcase. The other day the wind was blowing, it was cloudy and cold outside, and I felt chilled in my room. Then I noticed the ceiling fan wasn't turning. I wonder how much difference it does make, I thought.

I turned the fan on, and over a period of two hours the room (perhaps 12 feet by 10 feet) grew six degrees warmer.

Now we're leaving fans on twenty-four hours a day.

And changing out the rest of the bulbs to the CFI-type.

And adding $2,000 worth of insulation.

1 comment:

Glynis Jolly said...

Ceiling fan are wonderful gadgets, aren't they?

Although Colorado has plenty of sunshine that is warm, sometimes hot (I was raised there), and natural heat is the way to go, in Colorado you need gas heat as backup for those bitter cold nights.