We have one and intend to be warm this Winter!
Last year when we moved in, we anticipated that heating and cooling costs here would be more than we wanted to pay, but we wanted to get some perspective before we decided what changes we wanted to make. Summer hit and our first cooling bill came in to the tune of $600-plus and the AC wasn’t even on that whole month! That was twice what we had planned on and more than our budget could handle, so we turned the thermostat up to 80, got used to being sweaty and I started researching evaporative cooling options. We’d had one in our first house and I’d really liked it and the resulting Summer bills that were lower than our Winter bills. Anyhow, it ended up that the cheapest option was to buy a giant (4’x4’x3′) sidedraft unit (intended to connect into existing ductwork), build a platform for it rest on and channel the air through a window on the side of the house. It drips water onto the deck a bit and I still have no grille over the window so we a have a baby gate up there instead, but, oh my, it is lovely! Even on HOT days we didn’t get much above 75F and our bill dropped more than $300. We also hung outdoor blinds all around the deck and porch overhang (that helped considerably with solar heat gain in our masonry house–I used to go outside at night and could feel the heat radiating off the house for hours after the sun had gone down) and added indoor blinds to the high windows in the great room and the greenhouse window in the kitchen. I was especially grateful once I was sick and pregnant not to be having to deal with awful heat at the same time.
Winter last year was much the same story, except that instead of being first hit in the gut with a monster bill, we woke up to no heat or hot water. We called the propane company, they refilled the tank, gave us the bill (!) and we turned the thermostat down to 60. We also no longer ran the very high-end propane-guzzling fake fireplace (despite how nice it was to have a warm spot in the house), as it seemed that every time we switched it on our tank was instantly empty. We did a lot of looking at it and asking eachother why, why, why they would go to the trouble and expense of a propane fireplace when there are five acres of oak trees at the back of the property? And we began looking into wood stove options. It turned out that our least room-disruptive option was to cut an alcove into the existing fake chimney. It was also expensive, but at the current cost of propane, it will likely pay for itself within five years, not to mention that this will provide us an indoor emergency cooking option or that the cost of propane is highly unlikely to remain where it is. So, as of Tuesday night, it is in! It was tested Wednesday morning and found warming and thrilling. The boys are excited to start the splitting, hauling and starting fires. I am betting they will be even more excited to stop doing these things once the weather begins to warm in the Spring.
I am realizing that what this blog is missing is photos. My camera is getting a little flakey and scary and I’m a little…sedentary, for now. I may start researching cameras. Perhaps that would be a good request for Christmas? By Christmas I should also be feeling slightly humanoid as well. I look forward to that. I really want to be able to go into the kitchen (without my stomach churning!) and do Christmas baking!