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Old 10-27-2016, 08:46 PM
Location: Niceville, FL
7,282 posts, read 15,293,603 times
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Originally Posted by howard555 View Post
Our thermostat has a scheduler - timer. It is set to come on at 8am and go off at 8pm. The heat generated during the day easily controls the low at night. The inside temperature can get down in the low 60's or high 50's, but with the system on only 12 hours a day that is 50% of the time it is off and not using electricity.
The problem with that is a heat pump operates best in a somewhat steady temperature- let it get too cold, and the auxiliary heat starts up in order to get it back to set point in a timely manner, and running aux heat (ie. heating up electric coils) is a huge energy user.

If you're going to let the temperature float in a heat pump house, you need a thermostat that's specifically designed for heat pumps so that it will finesse the temperature upward in a way that minimizes how much aux heat kicks in.
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Old 10-28-2016, 03:58 PM
100 posts, read 164,641 times
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Thanks to all who replied, there's a lot of good advice there.

I'm certain I'll have to get some kind of space heater for the living room. I can't decide what's best. I was leaning towards the oil radiator type, but I keep hearing about the infrared heaters. I worry about the oil heaters leaking or spewing oil everywhere (I've read stories), but I've heard they're ultimately the safest. My cats shed like crazy and get fur and litter dust everywhere. So which heater would be better/safer because of the cat fur and dust? I have an air purifier and the outer pre-filter is supposed to last six months without being cleaned/replaced. It lasted three to four months because of the fur and litter dust. So that makes me worry about heaters, I don't know what might build up on the parts that heat up.
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Old 10-30-2016, 05:47 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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I had one of the oil filled radiators that was fine until it leaked a few drops of oil after ten years of use.
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Old 10-30-2016, 06:05 PM
3,205 posts, read 2,814,974 times
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I sometimes put dry towels or blankets in the dryer to take to bed with me to warm myself up. They would be washable. I think you could probably also find some warmers to put in the microwave.
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Old 10-31-2016, 12:40 PM
2,056 posts, read 2,265,979 times
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The cheapest way to go would be to be to bring back the 60's and have a Love In, or at least a Be In. People have normal body temperatures of nearly 100 degrees, so the more people in a space, the warmer it will be. Or, fill the place up w/ cats (who may have different ideas on the Love In aspect). They have body temperatures of well over 100 degrees, so a little bit of cat goes a long ways heat wise.

Plain old incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat too. In fact, they are so inefficient at lighting that they are more effective as a heat source than for illumination. If for practical purposes the Love In/Be In won't fly, and the cats do not give their approval for having more cats on the scene, anything you can do to make the space smaller will be easier to heat. Lots of furniture in a room will effectively reduce the sq footage of space that you would need to get and stay warm. You could always get some dogs too, although that brings up the cat problem again, in spades. This is where the expression "three dog night" originally came from. Back in the day, on a cold night people would fetch the pooch for warmth in the bed (they were probably already there anyway), so you had one dog nights, two dog nights, and for those January winters, three dog nights.

Remember that cold air flows downward (it is heavier) toward hotter air, meaning that in a hot room, the air will be less dense and lighter, and will flow out of a cold room to a hot room. This will help you when you plan venting, and any cracks and nooks that you have that can be sealed off will help w/ thermal heat losses. Here in Florida, what this means is that today (when it is high 80's), when I open my door from the un-airconditioned Florida room you can feel the refrigerated air from the home come rushing out onto my sandal clad feet but not my face. It just drops right down. So for you during your winters, the reverse will be true.

Last edited by smarino; 10-31-2016 at 12:54 PM..
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Old 10-31-2016, 01:20 PM
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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Funny. My cat likes to take a nap on my bed about a foot below my pillow. If she's there long enough, it's warm when I crawl under the covers.
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:25 PM
Location: Vermont
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Investing in a new energy efficient heat pump to replace the old one will probably pay for itself pretty quickly.
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:49 AM
28,384 posts, read 67,954,698 times
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Default Omg!

Originally Posted by mej1 View Post
I live in a two story house with a basement (some call this three story) and I think the whole house is around 3600 sq. ft. I have one 28 year old thermostat and heat pump to heat the entire house. There's some type of auxiliary heat that cycles on and off if the outdoor temp. is below 40. The auxiliary heat is more expensive because it uses some type of electric heaters.

Typically, during the winter, I have the thermostat set so the downstairs is around 64-66 with it dropping as low as 62 on a particularly cold night here on the east coast. Upstairs is anywhere from 66-70, depending on the room. The NE side is about 66-67 and the SW side varies from 67-70 depending on if the door is open to the room. I don't know what the basement is as I don't use it. These temps. are fine for me and I wouldn't mind if it were a little bit colder. My December electric bill is usually around 1750 kWH and January is the highest at around 3180 kWH ($315). I figure holiday baking and oven usage plays a part in that. It's also usually colder in January too. February is often in the middle at around 2300 kWH.

This year is totally different. My Grandma lives with me now and she freezes if it's 76 in the middle of summer. It was 38 outside this morning with the indoor temp. at 70 and she was cold with layered clothing plus a blanket.

Is there a way to keep the downstairs warm and keep the upstairs cold? I tried shutting most of the vents upstairs while opening nearly all of the vents downstairs. But I'm not sure this is wise. If cold air sinks, maybe I should open all the vents in the house. I don't know.

Then I think maybe I should open the downstairs vents, shut the upstairs vents and put up a curtain at the bottom of the steps to help keep the cold air upstairs. It would look silly, but if it works then maybe it's worth it.

Grandma is supposed to pay the difference in heating costs, but I'm still afraid of the bills. I'm 99.9% certain I'll have to buy two space heaters (one for Grandma's bedroom and one for the living room), but I'd like to figure out where my thermostat should be set first to keep the heating costs as low as possible.

Any suggestions?

I don't think I want Grandma to use electric blankets because she has incontinence, especially at night. She sometimes wets her bed and she wears those adult diapers all the time. So I don't feel comfortable with her using electric blankets. If I get space heaters, I'm leaning towards the oil kind as I heard they're the best (most efficient and economical). Even though Grandma wears layers, she still gets cold. She often complains of her fingers being cold. I don't want to have her wear gloves, that doesn't seem right.

I'll also point out that I don't think my heat pump and/or duct work is very efficient anymore. Most houses of this size are now being built with two or three heat pumps and thermostats.

First, let me offer my sympathies for the challenges of having an elderly relative move in with you. Not doubt you are trying to 'do the right thing' and I applaud your loyalty to your grandmother. You face a tough road ahead as her health will likely decline and the care she will need will eventually be too much for anyone to manage... You should have a contingency plan in place for that.

When it comes to trying to keep the place warm and not spending too much money you have not mentioned EITHER of the most important factors: #1 HOW well INSULATED is your home? THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE way to reduce both heating and cooling costs is to INCREASE the amount of insulation that you have. Blowing more insulation between your roof and upper floor's ceiling is CHEAP and EASY. In many cases the amount of money spent can be recouped in a very short time. Blowing Insulation: An Easy DIY Project With A Huge Payback - Green Building Elements

#2 What is the efficiency of your heat pump? Newer units are generally SO MUCH MORE EFFICIENT than those older than a decade or so that it makes sense to consider an upgrade. If your heat pump has not been inspected / serviced by a trustworthy HVAC firm that is a MUST.

The sad fact is that if your home is NOT WELL INSULATED and / or has poor weather sealing (especially around things like WINDOWS...) you will be throwing money away no matter how you try to heat the place and the WARMER you try to keep the home the WORSE the wasted money will be!

It is DANGEROUS to try to close off vents! Doing that can lead to condition that makes your HVAC's blower system work harder, push more air out of LEAKY DUCTWORK and will shorten the life of the whole system leading to COSTLY REPAIRS OR EARLY REPLACEMENT. Do NOT try this!!! https://www.angieslist.com/articles/...efficiency.htm

It is similarly FOOLISH IN THE EXTREME to try to use interior curtains to "corral" either warm or cold air -- that is not effective and could be a safety hazard. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS!

What you can do is get as simple "set back thermostat" that dials the heat down a few degrees OVERNIGHT and that can save quite a bit while everyone is sleeping -- If You Think Thermostat Setbacks Don't Save Energy, You're Wrong!

There is NO real difference in how much it costs to run ANY electric space heater, each style unit converts WATTS into BTU with the same efficiency. There are SOME minor differences in how much "comfort" each provides due to the fact that different styles are 'cooler to the touch' and/or rely on more "mass" to more slowly radiate heat over time. Folks that do not like "drafts" tend to prefer units without fans even whereas folks that like something to "take the chill off" when they come in from outdoors tend to prefer something that "blasts" the heat more quickly. In either case the issues of SAFETY ought to be your top concern. It cannot be emphasized enough the potential issues with grandma's health either -- if rooms like the bathroom are not warm enough she may actively avoid sitting on cold toilet seat, that will lead to more complications (like break down of her skin) that can ultimately be far more costly to deal with than simply ticking up the thermostat a degree or two so the WHOLE HOUSE is comfortable. My fire-fighter friends know that elderly folks are THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY to be hurt by a space heater than others -- Fire Safety for the Elderly | Official Website

Please do not be "penny wise and pound foolish". If you've ever been to a nice clean assisted living facility they tend to be kept on the WARM SIDE and that is to encourage the residents to NOT stay bundled up all day. It is important that elderly folks stay active and dress lightly so that they do not run into problems from reduced circulation. Such a temperature also encourages folks to drink enough water to stay hydrated which is a HUGE and very basic way to ensure that they sweat enough, keep their kidneys healthy and generally do not "waste away" as sadly often happens when older folks are left to themselves and they dial down the thermostat "to economize"...
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Old 11-02-2016, 09:49 PM
1,701 posts, read 1,710,827 times
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Cheapest way to heat your house is to lower thermostat in your house and go hang out at a neighbor or friends house. You never know you might even get a meal out the deal so you would save on food cost too
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Old 11-02-2016, 11:35 PM
Location: Phoenix-Valley of the Sun
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I have a problem too. MY PGE skyrockets during winter but most of that is due to water heating and heating my home. I will take you guys' advice.
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