Heating & Cooling Systems
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I have a 1200 sq ft house, built in 1922, with no current
heating system in place so I have to start from scratch. I
have looked into getting forced air heat installed, with
vents, gas furnace & thermostat, but the estimates I've
gotten are really high, and I'm feeling like it's not the
most efficient system. What other options are there?
I used a space heater in the baby's room last winter, but it
was still freezing in the rest of the house, and my pge
bills were quadruple what they are in the summer.
I have also looked into radiant heat, but the cost of that
was even higher than the forced air system. What else is
Fireplace insert? Looking for recommendations on an
economical, energy efficient, environmentally conscious
heating system. (Don't tell me wool sweaters! )
We put in a hydeonic air handler in our house. We used a
high efficiency water heater with a daikin fan coil
'furnace' . This system is more efficient, quieter and
cleaner than a regular furnace but not as expensive a full
radiant heating system. We worked with Big Blue plumbingand
were very pleased with the whole process. Ask Paul to show
you the client testimonial video. Big Blue plumbing
We?re having a remodel done in Oakland and trying to figure
out where to put our heating vents on the 2nd floor.
Ideally, we would put them in the floor since heat rises,
but due to the structural issues of the floor, this is
somewhat difficult because of various beams. So, the other
choice is to run the ducting up to the attic in one
location, and then distribute it through the ceiling (some
rooms have lofted ceilings up to 11 feet tall).
The upstairs will be very well insulated since it?s new.
Anyone have experience with ceiling vents in their home?
Does it make a big difference in terms of temperature,
noise, or feeling the blowing air? Because if it does, we
might push harder to have floor vents.
Thanks for your help!
To reply to your question about vent locations.....I have
them on my ceiling and I really don't like them. the
house never seems to get warm that way and the air seems
to blow in my face.
If I could change them I would but we have a wood stove
that works wonderfully.....
We are buying a new house, well old house (1904) but new to us,
smaller 3 bedroom, about 1000 sq. ft. We would like to consider
replacing the scary floor furnace with central heating.
Does anyone have any recent recommendations for people to do it
and how? I have read about the eheat but with a 2 year old, we
may be moving quickly from room to room and would prefer that the
house is balanced in heat if that makes sense.
We replaced our floor furnace years ago. They are notoriously inefficient, so we
replaced it with central heating (ducts and furnace) with a furnace with 90%
efficiency. The main cost is ducting. If you don't want to do ducts, I would
recommend a high efficiency wall heater like a Rinnai model. You can find info
Does anyone have any recommendations for gas fireplace inserts?
Did you recently install one? What model did you buy? Did you
buy the unit on-line, or did you go to a store in the Bay Area?
Are you happy with it? Is it worth the money? I have a
fireplace in my living room, but I don't want to burn wood in it.
(My daughter has asthma, and I don't want to add to the air
pollution in the Bay Area.) My living room is always cold. The
forced air furnace that I have heats the bedrooms, but can't heat
the living room without making the bedrooms uncomfortably hot.
As a result, I rarely sit in my living room in cool/cold weather.
I went to a store today and looked at gas fireplace inserts, and
it looks like I could have a warm living room if I invested in
one, but the cost of the unit, plus the installation, will be
thousands of dollars. I'd appreciate any advice or
If your bedrooms are getting too hot, the simplest thing may be
to close down the louvers in the registers in those rooms,
although that may be create too much noise.
Another possiblity is to balance the system by putting baffles in
the ducts to the bedrooms. A heating contractor can do this, and
I suspect that it will be much cheaper than a fireplace insert
and more effective. A baffle is just a flat piece of metal,
shaped to fit the duct, which can be rotated to reduce air flow.
The third choice is to put in a fan in the heating duct to the
living room to pull air in. Depending on your system, this may
actually be easier than baffles.
We recently bought a fixer in Albany and in addition to
remodeling the kitchen and bath, and replacing the roof, the
home's heating system is kaput. Unfortunately, our savings is
also kaput after the roof, bath, and kitchen. We are
considering postponing the new heating system until 2006. Our
question is whether the Albany winter will be bearable without
forced heat. We have a pretty good DeLonghi oil heater that
heats up the living room and we would also buy one for the
bedroom. Our home is only 1000 sq ft. I'd love to hear your
comments and advice as to whether we can bear the winter with
just the two oil heaters in our cozy Albany abode. TIA.
We also live in about a 1000 sq foot place with only a wall heater
between the two bedrooms. We have gone several winters without using
it. It's very possible around here. You use your space heaters
judiciously and then wear sweaters and slippers and keep afghans on both
ends of the couch. Getting up in the morning is the hardest part! I'm
sure the experience will make you really appreciate your new system when
you get it installed!
But it's very doable.
I've lived in my big, drafty Berkeley house for 5 years now and every
year we think ''we should look into getting heating'' and every year we
realize we can't afford it. We have space heaters in every room, which
in the long run are probably more expensive, but it's definitely been
A few years ago I lived in Berkeley in a small house with no heater - I
spent three winters there (because the place was in the hills with a
deck and affordable), and the
last one was pretty horrible. We used the same heaters you're talking
the problem was that they take a little while to get going....so we'd
always have to come home from work to a freezing cold house, and then
wait at least an hour to
warm up. When we couldn't handle it anymore, we started just leaving
on all day while we were at work, but our electric bill was through the
roof, and we were always concerned about the safety of leaving it on all
There are two main things to think about when considering this: 1) How
well insulated your house is -- the house we were in was not well
insulated, so the heat did not stay in very well once the heater was
turned off. 2) How cold a winter we will
have: I know nobody knows for sure how cold the winter will be, but
that last winter we spent w/o a proper heating system was very cold - I
think it was 2001 - it was in the 20s and 30s most nights - getting out
of bed in the morning was hard.
Anyway, not trying to freak you out, but I definitely didn't realize how
much a good heater made a difference to my experience of winter until I
didn't have one during a
very cold (for the bay area) winter. I was renting, and chose to move
than taking legal action against my landlord, but if I'd owned the place
I definitely would've found the money somehow for a heater.
I live in Berkeley and haven't had heating for 8 years. I have children
and live in a drafty house. I now believe that we don't need central
heating and that it is wasteful to heat empty rooms/houses. We wear warm
sweaters and slippers. We warm up the living room which has been
wonderful and cozy as the family gathers in one place every day instead
of being dispersed. We have warm comforters on the beds. I have cloth
bags with beans which I put in the microwave for 3 minutes and stick in
our beds. Oh, felt sheets are essential-no more cold sheet feeling.
On very cold days we use our bags of warm beans on our laps when sitting
at the computer or watching a movie. We have a couple of afghans near
the couch for extra warmth when we are sitting there and the stove is
not on. We cozy up and sit together on the couch when we read or watch
movies. For kid's baths we warm up the bathroom (oil heater). For
babies, we warm up one room (diaper changes). When I work in the back
room on the computer I wear gloves with the fingers cut off so I can
type. I drink hot tea. The children generally walk around in long sleeve
tees (because we make them). I used to have an exercise bike in the
living room and when I got too cold (I'm really the only one who gets
cold) I would ride it for 5 minutes and warm right up. Now I do jumping
jacks, squats or dance. I am used to it now. When the kids were little
I'd stick one of them in my bed. They're like little furnaces. They were
always pleasantly surprised to wake up there.
Warm and cozy.
We used to live in a small about 1000 SQF split level house in Berkeley
that had a very old heating system with only one heating vent in the
living room. It was cold but definitely bearable in the rest of the
house. We bundled up at night and used a lot of blankets. I don't know
how old your kids are (or if you have
kids) but if they are little, I'd recommend buying two blanket sleepers
of different sizes, one the correct size and the other one size up and
put them in double sleepers at night. On winter mornings I used to get
dressed next to the one vent we had. We live in an area that rarely
gets below freezing. If you have some heat source, while you may not be
toasty, you should be fine.
we have a brand new central heating system and I'm planning on doing the
same thing (natural gas prices to triple this winter!) My plan is a few
decent space heaters, warm slippers and our fleece jackets as house
robes. wish I had spent the money on our kitchen, or better windows!
ready for the freeze
A follow-up to the heating question - we have lived in our 100 year old,
2400 sf house with one floor furnace for 16 years. Like others we have
used those fluid-filled electric space heaters for specfic rooms -
nursery, etc. What we did was buy a timer (around $10) with two timing
settings on it.
So we can set it to go on about 1/2 hour before we get up and then off
about an hour later and then a similar setting in the evening. It works
great. We also do the slippers, fleece, scarves routine. We have
flannel sheets and down comforters on all the beds and the kids
sometimes complain of being too hot!
I also weather stripped all of our windows to help stop the ''breezes''.
"Home Climate" Consultant
I am looking for someone who can advise us now on how to make the interior
of our home as cool as possible on warm summer days (without air
conditioning). I don't know what sort of contractor would do this, and, at
this point, are essentially looking for an expert to give advice, not to do
construction work. We imagine this would involve knowledge re the following
possibilities: air flow patterns, exhaust and/or regular fans, extra
venting under the roof, extra insulation under roof and some walls (i.e.,
would more that we already have really make a difference?), an awning on
the back deck, selecting and positioning a tree in the back yard to shade
the back of the house, etc. In other words, not just someone who, for
example, sells and installs installation, fans, awnings, or insulated
shades, but someone can look at our overall situation and prioritize what
we can do for a reasonable sum of money. Thanks!
What you're looking for is called a Home Performance Contractor. This
is someone with both practical experience in energy efficient design
and construction (such as passive solar and passive ventilation
techniques) as well as an understanding of building science (such as
how to achieve consistent whole wall R-value in insulation and air
balancing issues). Call Home Energy magazine at 524-5405, or go to
their Web site at www.homeenergy.org. They may be able to refer you
to a local Home Performance Contractor. Colleen
Anybody can recommend a company/contractor who can install an exhaust system
to take out the hot air and cool down a house? My house can get unbearably
hot and we need SOMETHING. Thanks.
I highly recommend Jeff Brown at Ceridono Engineered Heating in Berkeley (although
I believe he works throughout the East Bay). Ceridono's telephone number is 528-1622
and ask for Jeff. He is quite knowledgeable and very low key and easy to talk to. We
live in Berkeley and found no need for air conditioning, but Jeff arranged for the heating
system to have a fan only option that provides relief on those unbearably hot days.
We've got a pretty exposed house that can really heat up on hot days too.
The biggest problem is the overheated attic space/roof. Is your ceiling
insulated to at least R-19 level? If not, do that (if you can) before
buying any kind of exhaust system -- it will make all the difference in the
world. Drapes, insulated shades, venetian or mini blinds help tremendously
as well -- a good part of the trick in the Bay Area is keeping the house
livable during the day until the cool comes back in the evening (*almost*
all the time). When I was a kid in Southern California, with no A/C, my
father installed an attic blower that sucked hot air out of the attic to
keep the heat level down to ambient; it sounded like the house was about to
take off when it was on, but it was relatively effective. Around here, I've
found that strategically placing a standard floor fan (~36" square) in an
open window or two achieves much the same effect. I point them in or out
depending on what I'm trying to accomplish. Works for me.
Uneven Heating in the House
I need someone to do some repair work on our heating system. The
heat does not reach the baby's room effectively. Any recommendations?
Before you hire an expensive heating company to fix things, check that the
vent in the room is open all the way. Also check that the "valve" (?) is
open. It is a "door" inside the duct, usually near the furnace, that allows
you to close or open (or partially do that) an individual duct. It may be
identified by a wing nut.
I have used Walter Mork for air conditioning and would
absolutely try them for heating. My husband has also
used them commercially. They are in Berkeley at (510)
We had a room built for our new baby last year, and
it would have been great--except she was born in winter
and the room was so cold only a reptile could have lived
there comfortably. After opening the duct wider, enlarging
the thing (whatever it is) behind the duct that ferries heat
to the room, and having the heating guys say that houses
almost always have heat imbalances, I asked them to cut
another vent in this little room. They thought it was
a crazy idea (the room is teeny) but I pushed for it,
and now the room is comfortable enough for the baby.
The heat is still uneven throughout the house--every
room is it's own little microclimate, but after the Harry
Clark folks (nice enough guys) tried three times to do
"heat balancing," we figured we had spent enough money on
this little project and besides that, the winter had ended.
My advice: get a couple of opinions. And also: learn what
you can about how heat travels (or doesn't) through a house
so you can know whether the heating folks you hire are working
under the correct assumptions.
this page was last updated: Feb 2, 2013
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