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My Better Way To Heat My House

April 6th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Winter costs me money to heat my house. Over the last 14 years and at 3 different houses, I have heated my home using electric space heaters, a central electric heat pump, a whole house propane furnace, a wood fireplace, a whole house oil furnace and a fireplace propane gas log. The cost for these heat sources has varied widely. So has the hassle each entails. And here is what I have learned works best for me, in a 2-person house.

The first thing I have learned is not to heat the whole house all the time. I am talking about a 3-bedroom-plus-extra-room house where only 2 people live. Most of the time we are in the same room; at worst, we are in 2 separate rooms. Why be heating the rest of the house? We do not.

So I therefore learned early on that whole-house central heating systems are not for me, regardless of what fuel they burn. No electric heat pump, no oil furnace, no propane furnace. Zone heating is the way to go for me. In my last house, that meant space heaters available for use in each room. In my present house, it means the individually controlled baseboard heaters found in each room.

We still need a background heat source, though, for the main core of the house (living room, kitchen, dining room). For this purpose, I found the choice of electricity, propane or wood as a fuel source to matter quite a bit in terms of cost.

Least expensive, of course, is wood; but I have found the required constant tending of a wood fire (and mess) to be unacceptable to me. Electricity as a heat source is flat-out wasteful: the power company is burning a fuel to generate heat that is used to produce electricity, which then arrives at one's house so that it can be converted back to heat to warm the place up. Wasteful, wasteful! So I cut out the middleman by burning a fuel -- propane -- to directly heat the core of my house without any energy loss from conversion (electricity) or transmission from outside (electricity) or transfer from inside the house (all types of central heating).

That means that I had a gas log installed in my fireplace and had it connected to the exterior propane tanks already there to fuel my back-up generator. The gas log cost me $200 to buy and $200 to install. And it is AMAZING how much warmer the house core feels with the gas log set on "low" compared to what it felt like when we were using the central heat pump.

Finally, when it is time to go to bed, I turn off the gas log and keep the bedroom warm with one of those baseboard heaters I mentioned earlier. And I sleep great. It all gives me a contented feeling. As does the money I save by heating my house this way.

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7 Responses to “My Better Way To Heat My House”

  1. Looking Forward Says:

    We have forced air with a zone system. One thermostat controls the living area of the house and the second controls the bedroom area. They operate the furnace independently of each other.
    Heating with electricity here is much more expensive than using natural gas.

  2. Carol Says:

    Do you have the fan that sends the gas log heat out into the room? We have the gas log but I haven't used it for heat 'cuz I was told it was a propane suck (and we don't have the fan.)(Maybe I was told wrong?) Thanks.

  3. Retired To Win Says:

    Carol Says:
    Do you have the fan that sends the gas log heat out into the room? We have the gas log but I haven't used it for heat 'cuz I was told it was a propane suck (and we don't have the fan.)(Maybe I was told wrong?) Thanks.


    Hey, Carol...

    We do not have the fan though we plan to get one. What we do have is a heat reflector plate at the rear of the fireplace.

    My experience has been that gas logs give you a goodly amount of heat output for the amount of fuel they burn. Definitely much more efficient than a gas furnace, I'll tell you that.

    You can always test how effective your gas log is by keeping track of the pressure level on your gas tank so you can arrive at an idea of how much gas you are using up on a periodic basis.

    Good luck.

  4. Retired To Win Says:

    Looking Forward Says:
    We have forced air with a zone system. One thermostat controls the living area of the house and the second controls the bedroom area. They operate the furnace independently of each other. Heating with electricity here is much more expensive than using natural gas.


    Hi, Looking Forward...

    That system sounds pretty good. It sounds like you could effectively keep the furnace from cranking up where you don't want it to. But is a two-zone thermostat system enough? No other bedrooms or spare rooms to deal with?

  5. Carol Says:

    Thanks, will do.

  6. Looking Forward Says:

    Our house is 1144sf. single story with 3 bedrooms all being used (me, DH and two kids). If we had a larger house we'd want more zones. My DH does HVAC for a living and has done larger/two story houses with two (or more!) furnaces and 6 (or more!) zones. His boss has a 'stat in each bedroom of his house as well as the main living area.

  7. Retired To Win Says:

    Looking Forward Says:

    "Our house is 1144sf. single story with 3 bedrooms all being used (me, DH and two kids). If we had a larger house we'd want more zones. My DH does HVAC for a living and has done larger/two story houses with two (or more!) furnaces and 6 (or more!) zones. His boss has a 'stat in each bedroom of his house as well as the main living area."


    I see. The house we have now has electric baseboard heaters installed in every room, each with its own individual thermostat. This includes even the bathrooms! Technically, we have ten separate zones! :O

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