Better living through system failure?

An SPT space heater, purchased hurriedly at Fry's when the furnace failedSo, yesterday evening’s furnace failure sent us scrambling to Fry’s for a couple of electric space heaters. We bought two models: a tower unit with a thermostat and lotsa features for $80, and and a smaller, dumber machine that just blows hot air for all it’s worth, on a 4-hour timer, for $60. Both models are rated at 12 amps and 1500 watts.

This morning we went back and bought 2 more of the same, and now have set up warm zones in the house where we can get through these 24- to 50- degree Bay Area days.

Both machines basically turn 1500 watts into heat, more or less efficiently. The two towers are heating our family room and kitchen, roughly 800 sqare feet, very nicely… indeed both rooms got into the mid 70s before I did a bit of remedial programming (this thing has a remote control).

The small dumb machine will heat a small bathroom to take-a-shower comfort in about 10 minutes. No need to keep it running all the time. Our newer, remodelled rooms, with high-R insultaion warm up and stay warm quickly. The guest bedroom where we are temporarily sleeping while we await the arrival of our new bedroom furniture et al., is original 1954 equipment, with insulation (or lack thereof) that takes a bit more effort from the little blower, but it gets there, eventually.

Wired has an article this month (goes public January 17) about how even relatively affluent Japanese families are very frugal with home energy compared to Americans. I feel like my current circumstances are making me a better energy citizen


About Chris Gulker

Chris Gulker, a self-described Infuential Blogger, lived in Menlo Park, California with spouse Linda. He passed away in late October 2010.
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3 Responses to Better living through system failure?

  1. Roger says:

    You soft Californians – put on a woolly jumper for pete’s sake! Here in Blighty, where the price of natural gas has gone through the roof, we keep our central heating off during the day when we’re working at home (current outside temp 46). I have to keep dipping my fingers into a cup of tea to unthaw them enough to type this…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Space heaters are the most inefficient solution available. If you want to be a good energy citizen, why not get rid of the 50 year old furnace completely and use a modern energy efficient one?

  3. cg says:

    Good idea… the quote is $30K…. trying to figure out how to budget that…

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