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making the best of electric heat

 
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One idea is to use infrared heat instead of heating the whole space.

But even more clever is to have the infrared heat follow you.

 
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Super cool.

Imagine something like that on six light bulbs.  Less power, but just as much heat.   And it can heat you from all directions.  And light you from all directions.

 
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UPDATE--I made it.  Today is spring.  I did not need to turn on the radiator once al winter long. And we had a couple of really cold nights.

It may of course become winter again in five minutes, this being New England on global weirding steroids, but I think it's safe to say I don't need fossil fuel heat in my room.

I will admit I turned the heat on one really cold night for my partner, who was leaving next morning at 4 am for a flight, when we'd stayed up too late to really have time to heat with the laptop.  

It's not a fully scientific experiment, but it's an urban experiment, and it was comfortable.  I could sleep.  Usually I haven't even needed the dinosaur laptop, just my newish mac charger (supposedly 6 watts--though I would guess it's a bit more than that, let's say 15 to be really conservative).  

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  

ETA: I found bad news about the new replacment-for-the-R22-HCFC:

"Also consider that R-410A’s global-warming potential (GWP) is 2,088, and the refrigerant management program of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) defines any refrigerant with a GWP greater than or equal to 150 as a high-GWP refrigerant."

from www.archnews.com

If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.

I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

--anyone have any batter-heated slippers or clothes that worked well?

Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)

And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?

(A big challenge with this is that by the rental agreements and I think State law the heat has to be included with rent payment, we can't be billed for it separately--and so the heat can't be our responsibility, the feedback if we waste or don't waste heat doesn't come back to us, the tenants.  On the other hand, the landlord has no incentive to reimburse us for saving them money.  How do we incentivize that? "We were easy on your pocketbook this last winter, would you like to see us do that again?"

I guess my biggest hangup is the assumption that it is unlikely anyone is going to sit down with me and take the time to have a rational conversation with me--so it's a matter of selling them on having a conversation in the first seven seconds.

Sorry this is more of a politics game question than a heat question, but it follows along in the topic of making the most of electric heat--and if we manage to crack this here at my apartment building, others might follow suit.

Me: hello landlord/management company, I have question for you, why do you hate money?
landlord: what do you mean?
Me: well you're wasting about the rental cost of one unit in our 12-unit every month over the course of the winter, it's like you just want to pay Con-ed more than you want to pay yourself.  Since you're so altruistic, how'd you like to give me some of that money and put the rest toward a cleaner planet? oh, you're not altruistic? OK then, let's talk about a more efficient heating strategy.

 
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Mark Rose wrote:One idea is to use infrared heat instead of heating the whole space.

But even more clever is to have the infrared heat follow you.



Cool gadgetry, Mark and you are quite the whiz with these units. Maybe you should approach the manufacturer with a patent [yours] that would have the "follower" be part of the unit.

Can I ask, why is your basement only at 13C? Is the basement insulated?

Are there no heat ducts that empty there? Is the system a gas/forced air heating arrangement?
 
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Electric blankets are probably the most efficient use of electric heat to keep a person warm.

I had electricity at a job site, but did not have an electric blanket. I did have an incandescent light bulb on a cord and a small metal garbage can, made out of wire. I suspended the bulb in a manner that would prevent it from catching anyting aflame, and used it as a bed heater until I went to sleep, and again when I woke up. 60 watts for a couple hours, which is a bit less than you'd use an electric heated house.

Sometimes when I exhaust the battery from a cordless tool, rather quickly, it warms up. These can be placed under the blankets. I like to keep the charger close enough to the bed, that I can keep feeding it until all batteries are charged. Easy to find because they are the lumpy things beside me in bed. I'm sure somebody can have fun with that last statement. :-)

The charger gives off a minor amount of heat.
 
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When I lived on solar electric in passive solar heated houses that go down to 15C (50sF) on winter nights, a hot water bottle was my essential sleep tool. Without it, I could and often did lie awake in bed for 3 or 4 hours due to cold feet. Joining a dance party with my students was the only other effective alternative, but only about once a month.

Now that I'm in a passive solar heated house with grid power (and no dance parties), an electric mattress pad is even better. It says it's only 100W or so. I turn it on a half hour before bed on chilly nights, and turn it off when I get into bed, or in the coldest season might leave it on for a while.

I did try the hot rock mentioned by somebody on the previous page. I would put a stone on the gas burner for a while, then wrap it in some wool. However since I couldn't control the temperature of the rock, I did burn the wool a few times, and once it changed the color of a stone from a drab grey with a white stripe to a pretty sunset-pink with a white stripe. Years later in my garden it still has that color.
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  


The standard refrigerant is identical in both a modern AC unit and a heat pump unit.  The only difference is that the heat pump has valves and controls that allow the heat to be pumped in either direction.  But you don't own the building, so this isn't even an option for you.


If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.



Good idea.  If baseboard electric heat is paid for in the rent, is all electric?



I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

What about electric floor mats?  You can get long ones for hallways, and more squarish ones for special spots such as the floor in front of your couch.  They are pretty low wattage, and can be left on for hours.



Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)


Excessive utilities use is grounds for eviction.  Don't try this.



And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?


No, I don't. The regulations regarding shared utilities are so rigid, I don't think you have any chance at all of moving the landlord.  Probably best to work on your own comfort, while conditioning your other to the value of radiant heat. When I first got married, my wife had never used a gas stovetop, never lived in a home heated with wood, never had a heated bed, never owned a quality wool throw.  I introduced each of these luxuries to her one at a time, and she'd have a fit if I took them away now.  Now she asks me to start a fire in the woodstove when she's chilled, because the feel of radiant heat coming from the woodstove in winter cannot be compared.  The heated mattress pad alone let me drop the overnight setting on the programmable thermostat by 4 degrees; for the cost of less than one KWH per night.
 
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Thanks, this is brilliant!  Especially the heated mattress pad.  I need to look those up, hadn't heard of them.  I'm so glad she'd throw a fit if you removed these luxuries now, this is the jackpot!


Creighton Samuels wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  


The standard refrigerant is identical in both a modern AC unit and a heat pump unit.  The only difference is that the heat pump has valves and controls that allow the heat to be pumped in either direction.  But you don't own the building, so this isn't even an option for you.


If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.



Good idea.  If baseboard electric heat is paid for in the rent, is all electric?



I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

What about electric floor mats?  You can get long ones for hallways, and more squarish ones for special spots such as the floor in front of your couch.  They are pretty low wattage, and can be left on for hours.



Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)


Excessive utilities use is grounds for eviction.  Don't try this.



And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?


No, I don't. The regulations regarding shared utilities are so rigid, I don't think you have any chance at all of moving the landlord.  Probably best to work on your own comfort, while conditioning your other to the value of radiant heat. When I first got married, my wife had never used a gas stovetop, never lived in a home heated with wood, never had a heated bed, never owned a quality wool throw.  I introduced each of these luxuries to her one at a time, and she'd have a fit if I took them away now.  Now she asks me to start a fire in the woodstove when she's chilled, because the feel of radiant heat coming from the woodstove in winter cannot be compared.  The heated mattress pad alone let me drop the overnight setting on the programmable thermostat by 4 degrees; for the cost of less than one KWH per night.

 
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PS. our electricity is not included in rent, and we have wind power PPA, so I'm comfortable using our own electricity.  The heat is on a separate circuit.
 
I do want to do something about the rest of the building...in time.

 
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Another question--I've rather come to depend on my computer chargers for heat.  

1 they're warmer than an electric blanket.  Even after a half hour I can barely feel the electric blanket, on top setting.  Maybe it's partly broken?  with all those 100 watts going in, I'm getting very little out, compared to (it says) six watts on the mac charger and nice hand-warming potential out.

2 they're placeable and localized


But--once i move into my shiny old homesteady type situation, then the electricity will be limited and these will be not an option--unless i wnat to run our battery at night to charge the computer.

My question--isn't the charger really an inverter? so its only function is to go from AC to DC and lose a lot of energy as heat as its doing so?  In that case, if I'm on DC for all my appliances anyway (which is cell phone and computer and a few fans and lights only, maybe a few battery-powered power tools for occasional use, electric chainsaw etc.) then I don't need to invert.  So I'd just plug the 12 volt cell phone into the 12v battery, same with the computer.

What if I want to arrange a targeted heat source like the computer charger?

I'm going to assume there's no good electrical solution to this, but I'd love to hear if there is something I don't know about--for example, a place where there's already a lot of heat lost in the system of photovoltaic-battery-appliance.  The mac itself can heat up occasionally, but only in the summer.  (the dinosaur PC heats up pretty good, but that's a huge energy hog).

Best I can come up with, plug in the energy hog into the PV panel during the day, charge its battery full while the sun shines.  Then at night let that warm me up for a few minutes by sticking it under the blankets for the five minutes or so while I'm brushing my teeth and stuff.  It'll probably not last much longer than that, but it'll take the edge off.



 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another question--I've rather come to depend on my computer chargers for heat.  

1 they're warmer than an electric blanket.  Even after a half hour I can barely feel the electric blanket, on top setting.  Maybe it's partly broken?  with all those 100 watts going in, I'm getting very little out, compared to (it says) six watts on the mac charger and nice hand-warming potential out.

2 they're placeable and localized


Your electric blanket is broken, and doesn't consume that 100 watts.  The First Law of Thermodynamics (The conservation of energy) prohibts the idea that an electro-resistive heat device can consume power without producing heat.

Also, that's a label rating, which is required by law to be the maximum continuous power draw that's possible, not it's actual power draw.  There's no way that a 6 wattt laptop charger could produce more useful heat than a working 100 watt max electric blanket.  That's actually a lot for a blanket.


But--once i move into my shiny old homesteady type situation, then the electricity will be limited and these will be not an option--unless i wnat to run our battery at night to charge the computer.


When you move to an off-grid homestead, you will find that the "heat bubble" concept even more effective for your purposes.  For example, the heated mattress pad will allow you to let the woodstove die down overnight without either smoldering (and stinking up your valley) nor requiring you to get up every 4 hours to add new fuelwood.  You will need some degree of overnight power for your refrigerator anyway, unless you're going to be using a propane absorption fridge.



My question--isn't the charger really an inverter?


No, an inverter goes from DC to AC.



so its only function is to go from AC to DC and lose a lot of energy as heat as its doing so?



It doesn't lose a "lot" in the big scheme of things.  It wastes almost as much power while idling as while actively charging your laptop, which is why it's considered a 'parasitic load' most of the time, and should be unplugged.




In that case, if I'm on DC for all my appliances anyway (which is cell phone and computer and a few fans and lights only, maybe a few battery-powered power tools for occasional use, electric chainsaw etc.) then I don't need to invert.  So I'd just plug the 12 volt cell phone into the 12v battery, same with the computer.



The problem is that electronics are fussy.  What you will need is a regulated DC to DC power supply that delivers both 12 volts and 5 volts.  These are available, but they are usually sold as computer power supplies for cars/RVs.



What if I want to arrange a targeted heat source like the computer charger?



A 12 volt heated blanket can be found at any "Travel Center" in America that serves professional drivers.


I'm going to assume there's no good electrical solution to this, but I'd love to hear if there is something I don't know about--for example, a place where there's already a lot of heat lost in the system of photovoltaic-battery-appliance.  The mac itself can heat up occasionally, but only in the summer.  (the dinosaur PC heats up pretty good, but that's a huge energy hog).



Oh, there are certainly good electrical solutions to this kind of problem, but they are all very specific solutions.  Search for the term "kotatsu table" on google.



Best I can come up with, plug in the energy hog into the PV panel during the day, charge its battery full while the sun shines.  Then at night let that warm me up for a few minutes by sticking it under the blankets for the five minutes or so while I'm brushing my teeth and stuff.  It'll probably not last much longer than that, but it'll take the edge off.



The heated mattress pad would work far better for this purpose.  But if you're electrically poor when that day comes, then you should learn about a "happy rock".  The happy rock is just a piece of soapstone that lives on my woodstove, and when I need a bit of concentrated warming power (that won't burn the beneficiary, nor risk a fire) I will take a wool sock, stick my hand in it, grab the (hot) soapstone, pull my hand out so that the rock in now inside the sock, twist and then push back through.  Gotta do this quick; but you are left with a hot soapstone inside two layers of wool sock.  I used to do this for my kids as toddlers during cold nights, because I didn't trust a hot water bottle not to bust or leak with how much they move around while asleep.  It lasts about an hour and isn't too hot to the touch, so you put one or two of these into your bed under your blankets while you're getting ready for bed, then just push them away or put them on the floor once your in bed.  They won't leak onto the floor nor into your bed, nor will they catch anything on fire.
 
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Thanks, this is awesome Creighton!  

I guess the charger is not an inverter, but an anti-inverter (Ac-to DC), is its main function.  My experience is it clearly heats up only when the computer battery is drawing power (charging), and it's cold when the battery is full or not connected.

I do have a solution which is kind of risky, a metal lamp...with (sorry Paul) a CFL bulb.  It's protected from crunching by the lamp "shade" thing (metal), and it's worked for me.  Problem was it was actually a bit too hot--I forget how many watts but it was the lowest wattage we had lying around, I used this mainly just as a night light.  But even that was too hot.  I want to say 12 watts.  I looked for a smaller, lower-watt incandescent but for some reason I couldn't find what I was looking for.  It only burned a tiny hole in my sleeping bag one time, but still the metal "lampshade" would get too hot to be directly on my skin.  I would have to turn it off after a few minutes.  So I infinteily prefer the charger/anti-inverter (a "rectifier" is the technical term for this).

So, the DC-DC voltage adjuster thing won't be a heat source, I take it.  How does something change voltage in DC? i thought that was the whole point of AC, you can change voltages with a transformer...and I thought my computer and phone both ran on 12 volts.  I guess not.  Glad that there are heat blankets available to run on 12 volts already.

The soap stone trick I know, I heard of it with a brick, they teach that to kids in Vietnam that Ho Chi Minh used to take home a brick from his baking job for the night.  I look forward to getting to feel it with my own hands and put a physical experience with theory.  Thanks for the reminder.



 
Creighton Samuels
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Thanks, this is awesome Creighton!  

I guess the charger is not an inverter, but an anti-inverter (Ac-to DC), is its main function.  My experience is it clearly heats up only when the computer battery is drawing power (charging), and it's cold when the battery is full or not connected.


Are you sure that it's not a 60 watt charger? 6 watts seems low to me, closer to a phone charger.


I do have a solution which is kind of risky, a metal lamp...with (sorry Paul) a CFL bulb.  It's protected from crunching by the lamp "shade" thing (metal), and it's worked for me.  Problem was it was actually a bit too hot--I forget how many watts but it was the lowest wattage we had lying around, I used this mainly just as a night light.  But even that was too hot.  I want to say 12 watts.  I looked for a smaller, lower-watt incandescent but for some reason I couldn't find what I was looking for.



What you want is an appliance bulb.  They can be found as low as 7 watts incandescent with a normal socket (Type A15 screw socket) at Walmart. But if you're putting it next to your body like a conductive heater, you're using the incandescent lamp wrong.  This is supposed to be used like a radiant heater that produces light, which is why a 40 watt bulb works so well.  Put it into a lamp that is about a foot above your head while you are sitting down, pointed mostly where you'd want it to be able to read well.  The radiant heat will wash down over your head and shoulders, and warm you directly without contact.



So, the DC-DC voltage adjuster thing won't be a heat source, I take it.  How does something change voltage in DC? i thought that was the whole point of AC, you can change voltages with a transformer...and I thought my computer and phone both ran on 12 volts.  I guess not.  Glad that there are heat blankets available to run on 12 volts already.



DC to DC converters are solid state electronic devices, so the trick wasn't even possible in the early decades of public power; but even if it was it would have been too expensive for a DC grid to work.  That said, a DC2DC works by creating an internal AC signal by using an oscillator circuit to produce a square wave AC, then a "cascade multiplier" to increase voltage, then a rectifier circuit and a regulator circuit to output the exact voltage required.  That internal AC signal isn't correct for a 60 Hertz sine wave, so it wouldn't work as an invertor, but it's enough to allow the circuit to change the working voltage.



The soap stone trick I know, I heard of it with a brick, they teach that to kids in Vietnam that Ho Chi Minh used to take home a brick from his baking job for the night.  I look forward to getting to feel it with my own hands and put a physical experience with theory.  Thanks for the reminder.



Yes, well; soapstone is better than a brick, but you work with what you have available.
 
Creighton Samuels
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Joshua, I've just reviewed our conversation in this thread, and I have a couple recommendations...

1)  First of all, get that heated mattress pad.  Your warm cultured significant other will thank you for it, no matter how cold or warm your apartment may be.  Get one with two controllers, one for each side of the bed.  This one is not the model that I have, but it might work for you...

https://www.amazon.com/Giantex-Low-Voltage-Temperature-Detachable-Connector/dp/B07DJ1SW58/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1N94LYUO9Y4H1&keywords=electric+mattress+pad+full+size&qid=1575517356&sprefix=full+size+mattress+electri%2Caps%2C200&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzNE44MVY0WExHNDJRJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMTA4NzMzMTMzQkdRVVVHNEhKNyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMTc3NDA1Mk82RlVNMzhRRlhKMiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

2)  Next, you need a counter-top somavar, to make hot drinks on the fly.  Hot tea or hot coffee warms the body from the inside out.  This one is similar to the one that I own...

https://www.amazon.com/Costway-Electric-Spillage-stainless-Dispenser/dp/B079Z4MS5P/ref=sr_1_34?keywords=countertop+water+heater&qid=1575517531&sr=8-34

3)  Consider a kotasu table as your TV table, etc.  These are small, squarish tables that Japanese use as low desks, that have a heater underneath.  They work best with a blanket, and usually have a double top that allows the blanket to be installed under the hardtop surface.  There are low "chairs" that exist that allow you to have back support while sitting reclined with your legs under this table.  The heater only heats the airspace under the table, captured by the blanket, so your legs are very cozy; but a throw for your upper body while you watch TV, read a book or do desk work is how this system works best.

https://www.amazon.com/Yamazen-kotatsu-surface-reversible-SEU-752/dp/B07MZVD369/ref=dp_ob_title_home


But if you don't want to spend that kind of money for a table, a freestanding reading lamp would help a great deal.  This is the one that I bought for my wife, that lives behind our couch.  A 40 or 60 watt incandecent bulb works great as a radiant heater and reading light...


https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Designs-Home-LF2000-BLK-Mother-Daughter/dp/B01MFC2O83/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=free+standing+reading+lamp&qid=1575518163&sr=8-6

 
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I've used a bed-warmer for decades. I generally turn it on for about an hour before bed and then turn it off when I get in, as I find that if the bed starts out warm, I'll be fine, but if I have to use my own body heat to warm it up, it can take an hour or more. Our climate's not particularly cold, but it tends to be damp. If I wake up cold in the night, I can always turn it on again, but that's probably only 1 night in a week or two. I've taught a few of the locals the usefulness of them, so we can't all be wrong.

I've used the hot rock trick, but I find it doesn't distribute the warmth the way a bed-warmer does. I'd need a dozen small ones rather than the couple of large ones we keep on the wood stove for a little thermal mass.

Recently, hubby bought me an electric throw blanket which now lives by my computer. If I let my feet get cold in the evening, it takes a *long* time for them to warm up, so I'm finding I'm more likely to turn the power on either first thing in the morning for a bit, or for the last 1/2 hour that I'm up at night. I've suggested he put his special meter on it so we have some idea of how much electricity I'm using, but it hasn't happened.
 
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Heat pumps are 400 % more efficient than any induction or resistance heating .This efficiency drops if outdoor its minus 5 C but there are somme high efficient air conditioner units like Daikin wich defrost the the outdoor unit pipes periodically and these work until minus 20-25C.
One Kw of gas power( natural piped gas) its 10 times cheaper than electric where i live and even if the heat pumps( air conditioners working on heating) are soo much more efficient than electric heating,it cant still not beat the gas.
 
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Vulturul Ilie wrote:Heat pumps are 400 % more efficient than any induction or resistance heating .This efficiency drops if outdoor its minus 5 C but there are somme high efficient air conditioner units like Daikin wich defrost the the outdoor unit pipes periodically and these work until minus 20-25C.
One Kw of gas power( natural piped gas) its 10 times cheaper than electric where i live and even if the heat pumps( air conditioners working on heating) are soo much more efficient than electric heating,it cant still not beat the gas.



Well, that's true enough depending upon your area.  But natural gas is still a paleo-fuel, and Joshua has gone to the extra trouble and expense to contract with a wind power supplier.  So his stated environmental life-goals are achieved by using electric power while also subsidizing industrial grade renewable energy.  Natural gas heat wouldn't satisfy that requirement, and nor is it typically available "off the grid".

So while a heat pump would be better than baseboard electric resistive heating, he doesn't own  the building that he lives in, so that's not an option either.
 
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Anonymous wrote:Re: #184, replacing air with lots of solid goods. I don't know that would make any difference in the heating (or cooling) bill? The extra "stuff" would still have to have its temperature maintained, by absorbing or emitting heat from/into the air.   What more solid stuff would do though is moderate the temperature swings by providing thermal mass.
Having lights for summer (CFL) and lights for winter (incandescent) would make sense in an all electric home. Better stock up on the incandescents while you can.

.

Adding any kind of mass to the interior, can help. But why waste the space & crowd your life? What about hanging “quilts” or insulation panels to cover the interior walls, to add seasonal insulation?
What about using a ceiling fan or the like, on low, to help move the warm air down from ceiling? (Not on high/fast, because that chills the air). Or the small 6” fans, on low-speed, put up high on a shelf?

And..arcane electronics...
CFL & LED bulbs, probably everywhere except Dubai, are wired to use more energy than they need; some by almost double.
  (Dubai has a special, exclusive deal with Phillips co., to make VERY efficiently wired LED bulbs, cannot export anywhere else).
CFLs & Most LEDs worldwide, are also wired to opt for digital surveillance/data gathering.  
BUT...IF those deliberately wired inefficiencies are run off battery box/inverter, they seem to draw less energy when on (informally observed from our power bills); that also blocks utility companies “seeing” what’s running, because their system only sees a battery being recharged from one outlet. One battery box can run lots of lights.

I read an article by a gal in Montana who uses Point-of-use warmers, like heating pads, & small warmers on her desk, for instance.  Successfully saves on feeding the wood stove, & less effort. She has big windows for light, & insulates those well. Her house is a modest rural cabin.
But at some point, it becomes too much privation.
Alternatively, a homeless guy who lived in a derelict van on someone’s property, collected piles of old magazines to stack up the walls inside the van. It greatly reduced interior usable space though it really did improve insulation.  He only had an extension cord run from the property owner’s house to run a lightbulb.  He hung curtains across the windows which helped privacy & insulated some. But he always had to keep bundled-up in there, in winter.

IF one resorts to piling more stuff inside the house, perhaps a more compact form could do better, & not take up so much space:  recycled & stacked/glued multi-layer cardboard panels.  
Cardboard is ubiquitous, & freely gotten.  Must use a heavy borax water solution to pre-treat the cardboard (prevents bugs, is fire retardant & low toxicity).  
When treated cardboard is all dry (do it in summer!), assemble & glue about 4 or more layers together to make panels configured as you like.
Then mount on the indoors side of your exterior walls.  That makes great insulation.  Or buy R10 or better foam panels to mount.  The R13 foam panels @ Home Depot have foil facing..a bonus!   Panels can be decorated as you like.

Here’s what we have done for 20 years, with great success:
rented 100 year old, upgraded to Code, 850 s.f. House, in SW WA State; all-electric:
Bought one $40 “oil-filled” radiator heater. It gives radiant & convection heat.
Placed in central hallway that opened to all rooms, close to a wall, but shielded between heater & wall with simple layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.
That allows heat to move throughout the house, as long as doors to rooms are open, without damaging the wall it’s close to.
BTUs paid for, absorb into the interior mass of the house, creating an even heat with less run-time, and less fluctuation in overall interior temp when doors are opened.
The rheostat can be adjusted as needed (some user interaction is required in this arrangement—but that can be automated by plugging the heater to an external thermostat positioned several feet away—we’ve done this, too).
The controls are mechanical, not digital, to allow only drawing 600 watts when running.
We eventually got an external thermostat to plug it to, with a remote sensor—works better than the onboard thermostat. To do that, set it to only run on 600 watts, but turn the rheostat to high. Then set the external thermostat to the temp you want. Voila’!
The digital models will almost all revert to their higher wattage option when they kick-on.
This arrangement routinely saved about $50 off the worst winter heat bills...that is, our worst winter electric bill there was about $150; this arrangement cut that down to about $100.
We tend to keep indoor temps between high 50s to low 60s during winter here to save on power bills.

The windows get more insulation by mounting Twinwall polycarbonate greenhouse panels, well-sealed around edges, with as much airspace between the glass & the panels as you can make it (ours makes a 3” air gap btwn glass & panel)....can fasten inside or outside. That lets in light, & reduces heat loss in winter & heat gain in summer.  It’s removable, easily cleaned between. It can be done in rentals.   In rentals, I used a removable putty-type no VOC caulk strip to make a good air-seal and mounted them indoors.
The wall at the head of our bed is poorly insulated 2x4 frame, so I put a big sheet of Reflectix on that wall area, which radiates room warmth back at us, & helps block some of that cold. This material could be sandwiched between layers of decorative cloth to look nice, & is easily removed from rentals.

Alternatively, at other house we bought, we removed the big baseboard heaters (2500 watts apiece), and replaced them with 750 watt baseboard units.  Also replaced a couple of room thermostats with ones that at least temp numbers on them. Other rooms have a nice time/temp unit mounted near the room thermostats, to give a better user-feedback to adjust settings.
Then, stacked a row or two of bricks along the tops of those heaters (ours have flat tops).
That limits how much power can be sucked from the grid when on. The bricks retain BTU’s about as well as the oil-filled radiators, or better. If there’s more space, you could feasibly stack more bricks nearby (avoid suffocating the heater!).

I don’t think You can achieve, with equivalent wattage of lightbulbs, what a point-of-use concentrated source can; you are saving more by using the little heat pads, for instance.
The lightbulbs will definitely create a lot of light, but only warm the area in the vicinity of each bulb.  
Unless you live in an area with dark winter days, the cost:benefit ratio starts failing efficiency.
So, more factors need considered, to choose what arrangement works best for you.  
Must consider not only saving watts, but actual conditions of weather & house, & what experiments show on your power bills—what works countably well at one place, Might fizzle at another).  
Understand, fans blowing air will always cause loss of BTU’s...some, like in central HVACs, lose around 70% of the BTUs users pay to make, just blowing it through ducts.  
Radiated heat is the most desired, most highly sensed by humans, & happens immediately one is near a source.
Passive Convection is the next best sensed, but is lazier at convecting around a space—must be patient for warmth to reach optimal convection, or, keep it on a steady thermostat. .
BTUs stored an a masonry bench near a baseboard heater or an oil filled radiator, will also deliver some radiant & convected heat, longer than the heater is on, smoothing-out the highs & lows of indoor temp.   South-facing windows can help heat, too...whole ‘nuther project (we’ve benefitted from window-mounted, passive solar heaters made in various ways—ok in rentals, depending on housing rules for window treatments).

Gotta be passionate about saving energy, & enjoy experimenting! These kinds of systems require some user-interactions, some more than others. And patience & attention to details & some data gathering.
 
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Thank you to Paul, and everyone else who added ideas to this thread!!!

I have spent considerable time reading through this entire thread, and there is so much GOOD information and ideas I think it needs a bump, and perhaps something that collects most of the discussed products in one, updated place so they are easier to source.

Dog Bed Warmers/Heaters:  these are hard plastic or soft vinyl pads that come in multiple sizes from 9x11 inches to 30+ inches in length, and multiple widths.  The ones I have used for well over ten years are by K&H Manufacturing, and go by multiple 'names' from chick warmers to cat warmers to small animal warmers.  They are not cheap, but seem to last forever (ten years so far, and going strong - I have dozens of them for the animals and they run 24/7, 365), based on my experience.  The use minimal energy (some less than 4 watts, the highest/largest is 80 watts) and the vinyl ones can (we placed them on our easy chairs used at night) easily be adapted as a couch, chair, butt, or bed warmer, depending on size.  

Not sure if these are the same one Paul was using, but it looked very similar to the hard black ones this manufacturer makes, that I use, daily, and can attest to their longevity.
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=k%26h+heating+pad&rh=n%3A6205514011%2Cp_89%3AK%26H+PET+PRODUCTS&dc&crid=1L8BAXDDEAE4Y&qid=1641946700&rnid=7590290011&sprefix=K%26H%2Caps%2C396&ref=sr_nr_p_89_1

Heated Seed Mats:  used for germinating seeds, but....
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+seed+mat&crid=22OCIKZYOIRWD&sprefix=heated+seed+mat%2Caps%2C332&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_15

Heated blanket for bed:  I highly recommend getting one with two controllers (one for each side) if you share a bed, nothing worse than you 'baking' whilst your partner 'freezes'.  

I also recommend getting at least one size larger - get a king sized blanket if you have a queen or double bed - and do the same with all top sheets/blankets, this ensures there are no gaps letting cold air rush in making life uncomfortable or waking you up when someone rolls over or gets up.  Only keep a thin flat sheet between you and the electric blanket - this keeps the blanket from needing frequent washings, but does not restrict the heat transfer.  

The more insulated layers ON TOP of the electric blanket, the more efficient and toasty it will be; adding a down filled, wool or polar fleece blankets can easily turn a not quite warm enough bed to one that is toasty on a much lower setting as all the heat is directed into the bed.

Heated Mattress Pad:  Have one, not installed it...worried that laying on the wires would degrade them or they would 'feel' yucky...but the same theory of extra insulation via blankets would apply.

Heated Throws:  loved them, until the cord died in just a few months from being moved/twisted all the time.  Not happy with the lack of longevity - my electric blankets have lasted decades.  Next time I will see if there are rechargeable ones that do not need to be plugged in all the time, that actually have decent reviews.
*** I see no point posting links on the above heated blankets, pads or throws, as they are available everywhere.  

Reptile Heat Lamps: one must ensure these bulbs are be fitted to an appropriate wattage bulb base that is rated correctly for the size of bulb purchased, some are as low as 50 watts, others triple or more; most home sockets can only handle 40 to 60 watts, some 100, most cannot handle 150.  Some even have thermostats, many are non-light emitting, so Paul could warm his face without being blinded!

Bulbs: https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=reptile+ceramic+heat+lamps&crid=RGXMBBN94R7D&sprefix=reptile+ceramic+heat+lamps%2Caps%2C296&ref=bnav_search_go

Specialized Heat Lamp enclosures: appropriately designed for withstanding the heat/wattage these bulbs can put out.  https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=reptile+heat+lamp+dome&rh=n%3A6292566011&dc&crid=23NQD392J2VXH&qid=1641948171&rnid=5264023011&sprefix=reptile+heat+lamp+dome%2Caps%2C312&ref=sr_nr_n_1

Thermostatic controlled outlets/receptacles:  these can be super handy for ensuring items are only turned on when heat is required to prevent freezing.
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=thermostatic+controlled+outlets+and+receptacle+on+off&dc&crid=286PI7SFDIRHT&sprefix=thermostatic+controlled+outlets+and+receptacles%2Caps%2C266&ref=a9_sc_1

Heat Tape for pipes:  this can be far more effective and cheaper in the long run than heating pipes.
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+tape+for+pipes&crid=2EJOFNXPL98UA&sprefix=heated+tape%2Caps%2C264&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_2_11

Plug in, Oil Filled Radiator: these are my personal favorite "space heaters" as they are incredibly safe and efficient.  Most have the option of using them at 500, 1000, or 1,500 watts, come with timers and emergency settings that cause them to automatically turn on to prevent freezing.  I found them super safe to operate, and they double brilliantly as towel warmers, I used them in the bathroom when I lived with no heat for over ten years.  One thing I would not compromise on was cold showers/toilet trips, plus had to make sure the pipes did not freeze.  
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=oil+filled+radiator+heater&crid=3BSJO14ILPLF2&sprefix=oil+%2Caps%2C272&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_3_4

Kotatsu Table: Lots of references to this in the thread, likely one could "make" their own, but thought access to the actual items might make it easier to source materials and designs.
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+table&crid=15TVJHCSNBDWM&sprefix=heated+table%2Caps%2C254&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_12

https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=kotatsu+table+with+heater&crid=1RJFTK4KV6PB5&sprefix=kotatsu%2Caps%2C463&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_5_7

Heated Mouse: https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+mouse&crid=2JS3HJ98FJEEN&sprefix=heated+mouse%2Caps%2C374&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_3_12

https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+mouse&rh=n%3A680462011&dc&crid=2JS3HJ98FJEEN&qid=1641949205&rnid=5264023011&sprefix=heated+mouse%2Caps%2C374&ref=sr_nr_n_3

Heated keyboard:  I have not included a link as there seem to be very few around.  There is an actual heater for the keyboard: https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/ca/infrared-keyboard-hand-warmer/  but it seems most options are for an actual pad for the entire surface needed for the keyboard AND mouse.

Heated keyboard mat/mouse pad:  https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+keyboard+mat+for+desk&crid=3CF6DWUYF4U3C&sprefix=heated+keyboard+mat%2Caps%2C274&ref=nb_sb_ss_midas-iss-hred_2_19

Heated keyboard gloves: https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated+keyboard+gloves&crid=1L0DX7YZ2KHFA&sprefix=heated+keyboard%2Caps%2C278&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_3_15

Heated Clothing: https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=heated&ref=bnav_search_go

I would like to briefly address backups, as when the grid fails (Storms) those of us who rely on electricity, and without a generator can get cold awfully fast.  We should all have an alternative, emergency heat source, safe, certified for inside use, fuel heater.  

The Buddy line is well known https://www.amazon.ca/Mr-Heater-F274865-Portable-Massachusetts/dp/B005EEYBI4/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Buddy+heater&qid=1641949590&sr=8-3

I, personally, prefer and use the Heatmate that uses kerosene.  Yes, is certified and intended for indoor use, and we have a CO detector that has never registered anything (except when the door was left open to the deck and someone was running the 5hp generator for the fridge/freezers).  We relied on it for over 6 weeks (Nov/Dec) after we lost power due to a fire.  Easily kept our living room/kitchen toasty, where it was located, and the bedrooms and bathrooms farther down were easily kept above 50F - total house is 1500sq ft. It was quite economical, each fill of the 1.2 gallon tank is supposedly good for 14 hours, but on low, or only used for a bit, it would last for several days, easily.  We can raise or lower temperature, by adjusting flame height, and frankly, only ran it about 8 hours a day, or it got too hot in the house (we usually in the 50-65F range indoors), oh and the dogs LOVED it.  Outside temps would have been in the 30's F.
https://www.amazon.ca/HMN-110-Radiant-Kerosene-Heater-10000/dp/B002JPRKYI/ref=sr_1_2?crid=39X7XTX6RYLU3&keywords=heatmate&qid=1641949663&sprefix=heatmate%2Caps%2C299&sr=8-2

***I have used Amazon for convenience of displaying the products and the variety available, in no way am I promoting or suggesting you purchase from Amazon - only that it is handy for research purposes.
 
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Imagination is your best friend. For example:

If you live in a rental and cannot tamper with it, think about things like quilts and tapestries, which is how they improved the miserable conditions of castles.  Of course, that's how we keep warm in bed too, so it's a proven method.

You can make simple wood frames that either lean against or attach to the walls.  Using two pieces of wood to sandwich the covering would allow you to stretch it without puncturing it. Just invest in some screws, washers and wing nuts.

You could set your coverings up so they were a foot or so from the wall, to allow you to hide things behind it.

These coverings could be as mundane or fancy as you desired. The latter so they became part of the decor.

You could add vertical or horizontal wood strips to allow you to hang a picture on the quilt or tapestry.

If you liked the effect, you could pop down to the local fabric store and buy more batting to up the R value of your project. The batting could be held in place by double back tape or whatever means you find appropriate.

We bought the roll up canvas like blinds. They look nice and completely changed how much of a hit we take from the late afternoon sun, so that shading effect is as bitg a deal around the house as it is when a cloud rolls over.


SIDE NOTE:  I wrote this before reading Chi Monger's post, so this is just a second vote for that approach.
 
Kelly Craig
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Before I got insulation in my 1,800 square foot shop, winter dilly dallyings were not always comfortable to do.  I set up a four quartz tube infrared heater about four or five feet from where I was working.  The result was a magical as walking through a Costco, as winter was contemplating driving us all inside, and being warmed by the radiant heaters they sell.

The highly directional nature of infrared allows it to heat things and not just the air.
 
Chi Monger
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HEATPUMP MINISPLITS:
… can only save around 40%, maybe around 50%, a few a bit more, off the usual heating/cooling part of the energy bill… (unlike how many reps proclaim these “save around 50% off your energy bills!”—they can’t)
… ONLY those rich enough to itemize on taxes, can get the federal rebates (that might have been supposed to be incentive for landlords to install them).  
… They have ugly wall wart air handlers, about 4’ wide X 12” high & about 9” deep, depending on brand & model.  
… SOME offer ceiling cassettes, but very few of those can fit between 2’ o.c. rafters in most houses; ceiling cassettes sacrifice efficiencies.
Most systems flooding the market have poorer efficiencies than they should have; that's malfeasant marketing to millions of folks who can least afford that lower efficiency + cost to get, and, are environmentally irresponsible.  
But if you do choose to get a small system & set it up as “portable”…look for a DIY system, like 4th generation Mr. Cool.  Also..
LOOK FOR:  a SEER (cooling efficiency) of at least 21 or More, &  HFPS (heating efficiency) of at least 10.5 or more.
But for refrigerant?…
…Yes, they all (we entertained several contractors giving free estimates) …basically said it WILL leak (must have annual maintenance, incl. check refrigerant levels—of course that is another income-stream to the companies greedy for more profits).  

And, I think, after a long lifetime witnessing how things work…it will be found that even the new “safe” refrigerants will be found wanting in the safety department.
I’ve pretty well concluded, that complicated, high-tech engineering of gadgets, are NOT going to be what saves us & the planet.
….But, why be cold or too hot?  

We’ve gone to some extreme measures to do things we could get away with.  
Including hiding plumbing behind cupboards to drain gray-water to green a back yard space, & using the attic crawl door to install an apartment exhaust fan for summer, that drew cooler air from the North-facing windows.
The solar air heat panels worked well, but were bulky.
I’d love to trench-in air & fluid cooling about 6’ deep, down the center of a drive path, to help bring low-tech geothermal to this place.  Instead, we laid about 60’ of 6” ducting, on the crawlspace ground, covered it w/reflectix blanket, & use that to help temper indoors, & as an air filter easier to maintain.  This much s.f. house, needs about 2 to 3 times that much tubing though…but this bit helps.
I want to install exterior insulation & new siding, over the old.
We already have installed “storm windows”, by getting recycled duplicate windows, & framing-outside the old windows, 3.5”…works better than average dual pane windows.  
That alone, has dropped our worst winter power bills by almost $100.
That’s About on par with what a heatpump minisplit could do.  

OIL-FILLED RADIATORS:
We have used a single “oil filled radiator” to nicely warm an old, rented, 850 s.f. house (single story).  
It routinely saved around $50 off our worst winter heat bills, in SW WA State (about 35 miles SW of Olympia, about 100’ elevation). The house was over 100 years old, but had been brought up to about 1995 Codes, w/average dual pane windows & insulation.
HOW?…
1) ONLY use unit with mechanical controls, NOT digital (digital units don’t let you choose wattage!). Key is only running it on 700 watts.  
We only ever had to turn on both toggles, during a rare week with single-digit temps…I swear it did not work as well using the 900 watt toggle!
2) set on 700 watt toggle only, & either adjust the rheostat as needed,
Or…
3) get an external thermostat for heaters, to plug the heater into, then, plug the thermostat several feet away from the heater.  This automates the setting.  For this, set the rheostat about 3/4 up.  I bot a good one off amzn.
4) set the heater as close to the center of the living space as you can.  
We placed ours by a narrow wall in the central hallway, & used heavy duty aluminum foil to protect the wall.  If child safety is a concern, place a simple mesh fire screen around it.
The room-doors were mostly always open to some amount, so, all rooms kept decently warmed.  
We brought this along to the new place to use, too.  
The same unit has been used every winter, for almost 30 years now.  
We bot another one, because this tract house has a poor layout for air tempering.  One heater handles about half the house, here.  
But that is still less costly on energy bills, because we control the wattage draws, not the 2400watt baseboards (overkill).  

INSULATE!  
Windows & doors can be helped, even in rentals.  
And, using polycarbonate panels from lumber/hardware stores, can make panels that go over your existing windows, that are Code-compliant for ventilation & egress, and insulate nicely.  
KEY: the more airspace between window & poly panel, the better insulation factors.
In our experience, 3.5” is the minimum to gain zero window condensate, & best insulation.
Doors?…can have curtains hung over them.

BASEBOARDS?…
Resistance heaters are NOT the boogeyman!!  Blown heat, is!!
If resistance heaters are controlled/set via thermostat, & allowed to just work…NO fans…you get to use/feel ALL the BTUs you paid to heat.
But the second a fan is used to move the air around, it immediately cools-off those COSTLY BTUs.  
GOAL: let the BTUs soak-into the interior mass of the house, where it starts helping even-out the interior temp over time, & it better resists heat/cold loss if a door is opened.
Some stack bricks around their baseboard heaters, to help store some BTUs…just let the air circulate well around them.

LANDLORDS?
Most landlords/Mgrs do not care if you crank-up the heaters…that simply justifies raising the rents.  
Further, few landlords, across numerous States we lived in, over more than 60 years, cared about spending money to install efficient appliances.
They install cheap, easily replaced appliances, mostly.  If cheap used ones, even better.
Landlords usually think like corporations; many are.
Logic & optimizing tenant comforts & energy efficiency?…not so much.

I’ve learned, that using tricks like described, & more, to temper our living spaces, is best.
What we do in our space, is for us.  
Because, neighbors on either side are usually cranking-up their heat/cool units, figuring it doesn’t matter cuz they don’t see the bill…never connecting the dots, that if landlord pays it, they just raise rents to cover.  
If each unit is not on separate Meter, landlord is clueless which units spend more, or less, & so are tenants.  So, they are unlikely to reward tenants for saving their bacon, unless it shows up in their bottom line.  

We did go so far as to build a solar air heater (64 s.f.), & booted that into the tiny bathroom window (only location).  That did save us around $25 or more off heating bills, for the 8 years it was up.  Had to assure landlord that no changes to structure, & totally reversible.

We mounted 80% shades, outside the East windows, twice the width of each window to shade part of wall. Mounted to the outermost end of the eaves, formed almost 2’ or shade space between wall & shade, to optimize it.  That worked very well for reducing heat gain in summer.
Used similar trick to shade a balcony in a HUD apartment—& got away with it, because I knew how to talk to the Board member who questioned it in context w/the rules (safety for toddler, privacy/peaceable habitation laws, & apartment too hot to live in without it-& mentioned the Health Dept.). .

IF you want to convince any landlord to do something, they MUST be able to understand
1) how much it benefits their bottom line,
2) how it benefits safety of tenants & therefore, protects landlord from lawsuits.  
If they cannot see how the change will benefit them, it’s rare they’d allow, much less pay for the changes proposed.  
Landlords & manufacturers are not gonna pay to be environmentally correct, unless they HAVE to—& even then, they will largely try to fake it for less, as long as they can get away with it.

We’ve used shades outside windows, polycarbonate panels inside windows, wall quilts or Reflectix over cold or hot walls, solar air heater window boxes, & more.
All had to be totally revertable to original condition of the space. Designs varied per home.

We are, essentially, on our own to find clever ways to help ourselves, that respect the landlord’s property.  

Permies is a great site to find suggestions & descriptions of viable solutions.

Good luck!  

Chi
………..

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another update--now I have moved, and am looking for help with a whole new set of questions.

The building where I live is a 12-unit, brick building.  We don't "pay" for heat, the landlord does.  But it is resistance base-board heating, our old friend from chapter 1 of this thread.

The Town or maybe the State has a program that subsidizes air-source heat pumps, and the apartments' air conditioner units go right through the wall already, so it would be an easy matter to switch those out for hte air-source heat pumps.

Here are the questions in my mind:

1 --are air source heat pumps actually not going to leak yet another greenhouse or ozone-layer-depleting gas into the atmosphere that will once again be a big problem? is it a net improvement to switch?  First it was CFC's, then HCFC's were found to be problematic if I have the right labels, and now it's...is there a really solid reason to trust the current coolant substance?
1 a. --what's the energy- and toxin-footprint of creating the new coolant substance??  (links to threads or websites please).  

ETA: I found bad news about the new replacment-for-the-R22-HCFC:

"Also consider that R-410A’s global-warming potential (GWP) is 2,088, and the refrigerant management program of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) defines any refrigerant with a GWP greater than or equal to 150 as a high-GWP refrigerant."

from www.archnews.com

If there is considerable doubt about air pumps (as there is in my mind at the moment since I haven't found a relevant info source yet), I would like to try to switch to radiant heat.

I am willing to do what I did last winter, and my plants also survived, heat Joshua and not the air.  However, my partner is probably not so happy doing the leave-the-air-cold, heat-the-person thing.  I can try to get her more radiant heat sources (incandescent bulbs in places she likes to frequent), but I think I'm going to need more than that.  Like maybe conductive heated slippers?  (In her culture they say to keep your head cool and feet warm.)

--anyone have any batter-heated slippers or clothes that worked well?

Next, I don't have the extra money to pay much for these things myself.  I would like to sell the landlord on paying for them--since they (the landlord is really a management company here, I don't have a name or a face to reference) will be saving significant money with us not having our heat on.  But I don't know how much.  Under the rental agreement, the landlord must provide heat, but we don't see that bill...only the regular electric bill.  And I imagine it's probably a collective heat bill that the landlord sees rather than unit-by-unit...

--How would you go about talking to/seizing control of a landlord about this? what are the holes in my case I'm not seeing? what fears will they have (safety, cost, etc.) might I have allay?

(My tactic of last resort is going to be hardball--threaten to crank the resistance baseboard heating up to the maximum setting the thermostat will allow, open the window, and wait till they're interested in having a conversation about homesteading and permaculture...but I doubt I'll sleep better being combative than I would going with the herd-approved solution of doing the violence to the Earth and atmosphere...so I really don't want to get to this point.)

And then there's the rest of the building.  I have made some connection with the neighbors, though I wouldn't say we're on close terms yet.  I would like to get them on board with this. . .but they are all from much warmer climates than here, and my imagination is that a bunch of people from much warmer climates are going to be skeptical of a person from here telling them things about how to heat their homes...at least I would come across as insensitive.  And they are all very busy, working multiple jobs some of them to pay their rent.

3--what could make a really iron-clad request/proposal of the fellow tenants?

Do you think I could negotiate with the landlord to lower the rent if we manage to give them cooperation on the heat?

(A big challenge with this is that by the rental agreements and I think State law the heat has to be included with rent payment, we can't be billed for it separately--and so the heat can't be our responsibility, the feedback if we waste or don't waste heat doesn't come back to us, the tenants.  On the other hand, the landlord has no incentive to reimburse us for saving them money.  How do we incentivize that? "We were easy on your pocketbook this last winter, would you like to see us do that again?"

I guess my biggest hangup is the assumption that it is unlikely anyone is going to sit down with me and take the time to have a rational conversation with me--so it's a matter of selling them on having a conversation in the first seven seconds.

Sorry this is more of a politics game question than a heat question, but it follows along in the topic of making the most of electric heat--and if we manage to crack this here at my apartment building, others might follow suit.

Me: hello landlord/management company, I have question for you, why do you hate money?
landlord: what do you mean?
Me: well you're wasting about the rental cost of one unit in our 12-unit every month over the course of the winter, it's like you just want to pay Con-ed more than you want to pay yourself.  Since you're so altruistic, how'd you like to give me some of that money and put the rest toward a cleaner planet? oh, you're not altruistic? OK then, let's talk about a more efficient heating strategy.

 
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I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.

In the "good ole days",  heat lamps (screw into socket) seemed to often be 500W and deliberately filtered to put out only red light.   These days they are more often (almost exclusively?) 250W and can be had in unfiltered versions where the light is white-ish and therefore can replace an incandescent bulb in contexts where heat buildup in the fixture is not a problem.

My most effective use of these is to simply replace the (down-pointing) single-bulb ceiling fixture in my toilet/sink area with a 250W "white light" heatlamp bulb.  

I verified that there is no significant overheating at the fixture and the bulk of the radiant heat hits any occupant whether simply walking into the room (feel the heat instantly when you flip on the light) or standing at the sink or using the toilet.  

This room is the coldest in the house otherwise, being on the northwest corner of a solar-heated home...   I do run an oil-filled heater in the room on "low" to keep the chill off, but this lamp both increases the comfort level and allows me to lower the ambient temperature significantly.

While leaving the ceiling light on would be wasteful, most of the radiant energy would naturally just heat up the mass in the room, in particular the dark colored brick floor, probably almost exactly offsetting the heat that would otherwise be drawn from the electric-oil heater.

I have, in the past, used the same idea over my bed as a pre-warmer and/or reading light... an industrial clamp-light fixture (firmly for safety) clamped at an angle to direct the radiant energy directly onto the bed occupants for warmth and reading light.   A timer might also be good, but just having the switch for the light handy to turn it off when you are ready to sleep or done reading is good enough.  

Similarly, I have a couple of pendant fixtures in my living area which I use the same bulbs in.   By turning them on at-will, the chair/couch underneath that spot is suddenly a cone of warmth.   Placing the pendant well is key, so that the light doesn't blind you in the chair, as does selecting a good (heat-proof) shade to protect others in the room from the glare.   For people without good discipline of turning lights off, a timer might be good.  

I rigged an array of 4 of these in the top of shower/tub room so that they shine directly on clawfoot tub.   This room is equally cold (NW corner) as the sink/toilet room but turning these on even a few minutes before going in to shower can make a huge difference in comfort, and turning them on (1 hour max timer inline) while soaking in a hot tub is exquisite.   Of course, leaving the tub-water in until it cools and the doors open recovers some of the heat otherwise "wasted"... though a good hot soak on a cold day (or evening) can really prepare the body for comfort in an otherwise cold house.

Aside from physical damage, I've not had any of these bulbs burn out on me over the years, though I am careful to not jar them while hot.   I also use them somewhat sparingly... the sink/toilet room getting the most cycling (on/off several times a day for a few to many minutes at one time).  

Being solar/wood heated otherwise justifies (to me) using electricity this way.  I don't use the seat-lamp setup much because when I get cold I just get up and restoke the fire...  the extra comfort is mostly for when someone is feeling ill or the house has been allowed to cool below a certain comfort level.  

The perimeter of the house (by IR thermometer gun) can run as low as 50F in the winter, though depending on time of day and stoking level of woodstove(s) it is more likely to be close to 60F.  The core areas of the house are likely to be between 60F and 70F most of the time with significant direct-heat radiating out from the near-central located woodstove.   Warming up when cold usually just means moving closer to the woodstove (and/or stoking it a little).

Until a few years ago I let the main house area run between 50-60F most of the time... the additional warmth we've achieved has not increased the electric bill, but mostly comes coincidental with removing a large tree shading the passive and active solar and being more pro-active about managing the different woodburning heat sources.  

The spot heat provided (mostly) by various heatlamps mostly adds comfort but likely contributes to our otherwise low heating expense.  I usually buy one cord of cedar (for smell and hot-start/burning) each year and burn another cord of prunings and other collected wood from the property.   That used to be $250/winter, now it is closer to $500 (I tip generously for delivery and help stacking during/after COVID).  My electric bill varies from $60/$120 through the year with the bulk of summertime electricity being for my well, and at least half of the difference (I've metered it) being the fan that runs my active solar (rooftop collectors directed into the main space or the rockbed under the floor).  Current rate here is $.11/kWh <1000/month and $.13 for additional kWh over 1000.  This includes charging up to 10kWh/day into my electric car...  we have no air-conditioning but do use several small fans and ceiling fans intermittently as-needed.

The central woodstove is really two stoves, an airtightish large chambered one with a window facing the living area, and a large classic cookstove.  Together they probably mass over 500lbs of iron/steel.  The big stove sits on top of a stack of (painted black for aesthetics) concrete blocks on top of dark red brick (thermally coupled to an underground solar rock-bed).   On cold nights/weeks with the big stove going constantly, there is a "pool of heat" in the floor as warm as 80F and extending out as far as 8ft diameter.   The cookstove (rarely fired) tends to sit at 100F gently re-radiating what it's getting from the big stove.  A kettle sits on top at all times with a thermo-electric fan pushing the steam coming out the top into the room gently... as well as the hot air convecting off the top. I also use the fan as a visual/aural indicator for how hot the stove is...  a good reminder to either stoke it or damp it down, depending...
 
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Steven A Smith wrote:I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.



Actually, many before you have mentioned using incandescent (heat) lamps to both directly heat & illuminate a space or a person. I can understand if you overlooked those posts, since this thread is, indeed, 12 years in the running. What you seem to be describing in the rest of your post is commonly referred to as a "heat bubble" here, after the research & resulting article/video by Paul Wheaton that started this thread.  True incandescent bulbs have become hard to find in the US these days, unless they are of the red light kind, due to regulatory reasons.
 
Kelly Craig
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This brings up a good point (wiring capabilities aside)- it does not matter what the heat comes from, it's still heat.  The end effect would be the same whether it's one hundred bulbs running at fifty watts or a five thousand watt, ceiling suspended heater.

Steven A Smith wrote:I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.

In the "good ole days",  heat lamps (screw into socket) seemed to often be 500W and deliberately filtered to put out only red light.   These days they are more often (almost exclusively?) 250W and can be had in unfiltered versions where the light is white-ish and therefore can replace an incandescent bulb in contexts where heat buildup in the fixture is not a problem.

...

 
Kelly Craig
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Be cautious about the idea of just running over the top of everything (e.g., plywood and insulation) to crank up insulation.  Think of it like adding insulation to the attic - you add layers that do not have vapor barriers so moisture will not be trapped. You'd end up with a vapor barrier behind the rock / lathe and plaster and a wind stop layer under the siding.


Chi Monger wrote:HEATPUMP MINISPLITS:

I want to install exterior insulation & new siding, over the old.

 
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Steven A Smith wrote:I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.



Most of the threads about heat lamps is in the chicken or pigs forum.

There is not much about using them to heat a home or a person.

Here are some threads I found for others that might be interested in learning more about using heat lamps:

https://permies.com/t/62284/ways-save-winter-heating#1360992

https://permies.com/t/8388/cut-electric-heat-bill#520014
 
Chi Monger
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Kelly Craig wrote:Be cautious about the idea of just running over the top of everything (e.g., plywood and insulation) to crank up insulation.  Think of it like adding insulation to the attic - you add layers that do not have vapor barriers so moisture will not be trapped. You'd end up with a vapor barrier behind the rock / lathe and plaster and a wind stop layer under the siding.


Chi Monger wrote:HEATPUMP MINISPLITS:

I want to install exterior insulation & new siding, over the old.



You are very correct, about avoiding trapped condensation when putting on exterior insulation & new siding!  
It’s not a task taken lightly!   That’s one reason we’ve not done any of that…yet.
Research dug up some time back, from Alaska, found that leaving a drainage plane/small air space btwn old siding & new insulation, + putting about 75% of the total of existing & added R-value of insulation on the outside, with the existing old insulation = to about 25% of the new total wall R-value, prevented a dew point inside the old wall.  
That figuring was for Alaska.  
We’re in the PNW, & only about 200’ above current sea level.  So, similar, but not as extreme.
Our climate in SW WA State, the dew point can be amazing—the underside of our patio roof metal & plastic, drops random drops of condensate during medium temp/humidity transition-times during spring & summer.

Some retrofitters construct a drainage plane.
But I’ve seen commercial buildings gluing on 2” to 4” layers of foam boards on exterior walls in this area…surely they have been kissed-&-blessed by Code authorities?  And, those likely have the interior vapor barriers.
I’ve considered:
 Option 1:  with enough workers (& $$$$), we could rip off the old cladding (T111) & tarpaper, fur-out the old studs, remove old mingy insulation, & pack wall bays w/real, more meaningful amounts of insulation, & replace the old 70s tract house tar paper wrap, & put on new cementitious siding.  Tar paper’s kept out of landfill, & it “breathes” better than plastics for the wall assembly…& it’s 40+ years old, so has largely finished off-gassing VOCs.
 Option 2:  OR, we could rip off the cheap old 1/2” interior drywall inside, rip out the mingy 70s insulation, repack the bays w/more meaningful insulation at the existing bay-depth, & install a (currently missing) vapor barrier— & still get better insulation, though, vapor barriers can’t breathe.
 Option 3:  OR, leave walls alone, but build-out more roofage, then, add removable for maintenance “greenhouse walls”, at least 3”, up to 4’ from existing walls where able, making good vents at tops & bottoms, which definitely helps regulate temps.  
Can’t do that very well, in hot climates though….& if/when climate drives-up the usual temps in the PNW region, greenhouse-wrapping exterior walls won’t work here, either.  
But for our lifetime, doing a kind of greenhouse wall outside existing walls, might do the trick…especially if the siding used, is cementicious, to transfer temp slower, & automatic vents included top & bottom.
Dew points inside walls, encourage wall failures like mold, rot, bugs.  Bad mojo.

Key is keeping walls dry.  
Best ever for that, I’ve seen, are breathable wall assemblies + generous roof overhangs (3’ or more) .  
But current Codes are laser-focused on bldgs being tightly sealed.  
The “greenhouse house cover” might help reduce installation cost, prevent dewpoint in wall, & still help regulate indoor temps decently, esp. if the greenhouse materials can fully open in hot weather.
“Greenhouse” walls could be made to look same as existing walls, or can be polycarbonate or Twinwall panels.
They could be hung from the eaves on slider tracks, to retract to the bldg corners for summer, & deploy across the walls during cold weather.  Or if same as siding, left in place, & just use the top & bottom vents.  They could be built strong enough for Dade County requirements, to protect the bldg. from hurricanes.

The 10’ of patio roof across we added across most of the back of our house, has functioned better than I thot; it’s basically south-facing.  The years without that, the wall was exposed to harsh weathering, fenestrations leaked, the old T111 siding was suffering.   We had THOUGHT that wall was gonna get us great cold-weather passive solar gain, to help curb winter heat bills—but it was losing more than it gained.  
Since that roof was put out over the back though, it seems to have helped decrease both heating & cooling bills at bit, & it absolutely has helped preserve the wall & windows, plus giving us useful dry space.  
Most of the lumber was recycled.  The area is about 35’x10’.  That’s cost-containment!

So, Now, it’s really looking like option 3, adding more solid roof overhangs, might just do the best trick…save the siding, reduce weathering, greatly reduce repainting costs, & help temper the house year around…
& it can offer more roofage to put solar onto & get more roofage for water catchment.  
Adding greenhouse panels to buffer outdoor temps, & preserve indoor temps, makes good sense—& still be able to monitor the old walls.

Our utility costs are probly modest, compared w/many other States.  
But, paying $100 to $300 & up for summer & winter electric tempering, pinches modest budgets, & ruins low income budgets.  

From all learned from contractors, researching online, & sellers of them, the magic heat pump minisplits are a “quick fix” that look about like the gloriosky pushing of the old “central HVACs” promoted heavily back in the 1960s & 70s…
…those failed anywhere that had significant power outages, but sure were more convenient & less smelly than chopping wood, or burning gasses.  Central HVACs did great as long as fuels were cheap, & the population was much smaller.
But I fear, heatpump minisplits are a bandaid, failing to stop the bleeding.
There are “fails” built into most any complex engineered system that requires any kind of energy to run.  

ONE guy seems to have done his heatpump minisplit system up perfectly though.  Key, is he does his own maintenance. And…
He placed his heatpump into the middle of his south-faced solar array, encased in its own greenhouse…
…in winter, a fan draws warmed air to ventilate it, from the house crawlspace.  That prevents it icing-up, so, it runs more efficiently.  
…during summer, he uses the fan to blow the hot heatpump air outside via a vent, & can also shade its greenhouse, again, helping it run more efficiently.  
The heatpump runs off his solar array (big array, maybe about 10’x20’).  

Heat pumps emit cold air outside in winter, & hot air outside, in summer—you don’t want them placed near an entry door or a commonly opened window.  
It also makes me wonder, how much the heatpumps contribute, directly & indirectly, to yet more warming the area they are in?…cities already are warmer than rural areas around them, just from so many tempered bldgs., hard-scapes, & hot roofs.  
Heat emitted from using A/C, adds to warming.  Thin walls of millions of 2x4 constructed bldgs, bleed heat loss in winter.
What is that doing to global warming?

It makes much more sense, to me, to retrofit insulation as much as possible, because THAT directly helps reduce city-warming &  global warming.  & indirectly, it reduces how much solar or wind power one still needs.  
Wrapping a house in a greenhouse of some configuration, can also give residents an area to grow food plants, & ornamentals, without having to move those indoors.

If one only installs a heatpump minisplit, but does not insulate significantly more, it’s kinda like only wearing one shoe to trade off trying to protect both feet!  It fools folks into thinking they fixed the problem.
A sweater or light jacket IS better than nothing when it’s freezing out, but, you can still freeze to death; it’s not the protective coat that’s really needed!  
But, an exterior 2nd wall, might be.  
Just a 3” airspace between 2 old, single-pane aluminum frame old windows, insulates better than common dual-pane windows.  So, a 3” minimum airspace between house wall & added wall, fairly sealed, & w/ operable vents, should, too.  Humidity is then “breathed” to the earth, between them, or vented, & no rain or snow contacts the house wall.
 
Chi Monger
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Anne Miller wrote:

Steven A Smith wrote:I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.



Most of the threads about heat lamps is in the chicken or pigs forum.

There is not much about using them to heat a home or a person.

Here are some threads I found for others that might be interested in learning more about using heat lamps:

https://permies.com/t/62284/ways-save-winter-heating#1360992

https://permies.com/t/8388/cut-electric-heat-bill#520014



I read an article several years ago, by a gal living in rural Montana, using “hot spots” where she spends most time.  
The heaters used, included a heat lamp to light her desk area; a heated mat for under feet while sitting; a warm mouse pad (have never seen one advertised, but she said hers was).  
She also used electric blanket on bed, an electric lap-blanket for couch, a small collection of electric socks, gloves, & vest, And, a stock of disposable warmers to tuck into pockets, mitts, etc.
Rule #1 for keeping body warmer:  insulate the body thin-points:  neck, wrists, ankles. & head.
Rule #2 for retaining body warmth:  silk &/or wool under layers, because they retain temp but breathe, so, don’t retain sweat moisture.

 
Kelly Craig
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I, too, am from the Pacific Northwet. However, I've, now, crossed the Cascades, back near home (Eastern (Central) Washington) where moisture is much less a problem.

I, also, am thinking of bumping out existing insulation. Now that I'm in the desert, and the hottest part of Washington, those southern and western walls of this hastily built 2x4 framed house are looking, more and more, like they need help.

The plan you have sounds like a pain, and the exact thing I have planned. I am fortunate in that I have an 1,800 square foot wood shop with  at least nine saws, nailers (framing , siding, 16 gauge and so on), etc. and so on.  That collection includes worth-their-weight-in-gold antique nail pullers, AND simple pipes, to which I added rough teeth and which JUST fit over the nails holding the T-111 on (the small pipes install in a large drill and give the antiques purchase opportunity.

I just bought the first of several rolls of 10" insulation to lay out in my shop attic.

Next, the house.


SIDE NOTE: I worked an 80 year old farm house the customers gave me a $200,000.00 budge bring to life. ONE of the things I did was, seal every air gap I could. This was so effective that, even before I got the insulation in or the rock on, I sealed every gap I could find. There was little or no opportunity for air to move between inside and outside. Sound is air movement of air (rarefactions and compressions). Subsequently, you could not hear people talking outside the walls or windows.  Add the insulation and rock and . . . .



Chi Monger wrote:

Kelly Craig wrote:Be cautious about the idea of just running over the top of everything (e.g., plywood and insulation) to crank up insulation.  Think of it like adding insulation to the attic - you add layers that do not have vapor barriers so moisture will not be trapped. You'd end up with a vapor barrier behind the rock / lathe and plaster and a wind stop layer under the siding.


Chi Monger wrote:HEATPUMP MINISPLITS:

I want to install exterior insulation & new siding, over the old.



. . . .We’re in the PNW, & only about 200’ above current sea level.  So, similar, but not as extreme.
Our climate in SW WA State, the dew point can be amazing—the underside of our patio roof metal & plastic, drops random drops of condensate during medium temp/humidity transition-times during spring & summer.

S
 
Chi Monger
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Kelly Craig wrote:I, too, am from the Pacific Northwet. However, I've, now, crossed the Cascades, back near home (Eastern (Central) Washington) where moisture is much less a problem.

I, also, am thinking of bumping out existing insulation. Now that I'm in the desert, and the hottest part of Washington, those southern and western walls of this hastily built 2x4 framed house are looking, more and more, like they need help.
The plan you have sounds like a pain, …and the exact thing I have planned….
….
SIDE NOTE: ….ONE of the things I did was, seal every air gap I could. This was so effective that, even before I got the insulation in or the rock on,…
….
Meanwhile, back at the urban farmlette…ruminations on the theme of exterior insulation, are leaning heavily towards the “blanket” or “greenhouse” panels version, for ability to reach some of it.  
No matter which, though, our old walls will be drier & warmer for it!
You are lucky to have such a shop & tools!!

 
Steven A Smith
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Creighton Samuels wrote:

Steven A Smith wrote:I scanned through most of this (12 year old, very long) thread and didn't see much reference to the use of literal *heat lamps*.



Actually, many before you have mentioned using incandescent (heat) lamps to both directly heat & illuminate a space or a person. I can understand if you overlooked those posts, since this thread is, indeed, 12 years in the running. What you seem to be describing in the rest of your post is commonly referred to as a "heat bubble" here, after the research & resulting article/video by Paul Wheaton that started this thread.  True incandescent bulbs have become hard to find in the US these days, unless they are of the red light kind, due to regulatory reasons.



Yes, I did see the ubiquitous references to incandescent bulbs,  and I have taken advantage of those bits of "free" heat as well, but my point about *heat* lamps is that they are much higher wattage and designed to direct heat (reflective backs).    My flagship use is in my bathroom (as described in my long ramble) where the radiative heat is significant and immediate... and *yes* these are roughly the only type of incandescent bulb that can be purchased, but they are not *only* red-light... there are white light versions which are the ones I use.

And yes, the rest of my ramble was various anecdotal affirmations of "heat bubbles"
 
Steven A Smith
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ONE guy seems to have done his heatpump minisplit system up perfectly though.  Key, is he does his own maintenance. And…
He placed his heatpump into the middle of his south-faced solar array, encased in its own greenhouse…
…in winter, a fan draws warmed air to ventilate it, from the house crawlspace.  That prevents it icing-up, so, it runs more efficiently.  
…during summer, he uses the fan to blow the hot heatpump air outside via a vent, & can also shade its greenhouse, again, helping it run more efficiently.  
The heatpump runs off his solar array (big array, maybe about 10’x20’).  

Heat pumps emit cold air outside in winter, & hot air outside, in summer—you don’t want them placed near an entry door or a commonly opened window.  
It also makes me wonder, how much the heatpumps contribute, directly & indirectly, to yet more warming the area they are in?…cities already are warmer than rural areas around them, just from so many tempered bldgs., hard-scapes, & hot roofs.  
Heat emitted from using A/C, adds to warming.  



I really appreciate the anecdote about the passive context added to the active heat-pump driven by solar.   In heat-pump discussions, such ideas are usually dismissed  out of hand because in fact the amount of air that they must process to extract very low-grade heat or "coolth" does mean that it takes a lot more than just placing the outdoor unit in the shade or in the sun to make a difference.  This example sounds like a significantly credible attempt making those ideas work in the real world.

Regarding the "waste heat" heat-pumps add, since they are *moving* the heat from inside the home to outside, the only *added* heat is from the electricity "consumed" by the compressor.   Your point is very well taken, that this is "yet another" source for the heat-bubbles that our urban environments have become.   One can imagine an extreme example where each home on a street is sucking in the warmer exhaust air from their neighbor's A/C unit and working *that much harder* to dump the heat from their home into that...  

The tongue-in-cheek mantra of waste management professionals is :  "The solution to pollution is dilution".   In this case, heat.   Experience tells us that this always turns out badly... first for those "downstream" but eventually when we saturate the whole environment which we thought was an infinite waste sink.

On that theme, I have become re-enamored of studies of the emmisivity of surfaces (buildings) which in fact is "yet another" *dilution* ideation...  but (many orders of magnitude) a larger sink (the universe) than the home/city heat bubble.  

I found this very interesting collection of very good technical reference material presented in a fairly layman-accessible format:  Emissivity of buildings and sky temperature
 
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A PDC for cold climate homesteaders
http://permaculture-design-course.com
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