Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Basement Heating Hack

Today we had our furnace/heating system inspected for the first time since the house was built about 6 years ago. To Shira's credit, she arranged this before there was any kind of emergency - it just seemed like a sane thing to do (and probably overdue). Luckily, the guy found no issues. We had been wondering if something was amiss because our basement was feeling especially chilly and we wanted to make sure something wasn't off.

While asking the tech about options for warming the basement he suggested an idea, which in hindsight was obvious:

If you close vents on the first floor, then heat will take longer to reach upstairs thereby causing it to stay on longer, thereby heating the basement. Additionally, with the vents closed, the heat will escape that much slower.

On the other hand, if you want to save money, keep the vents open so that the upstairs can get to the right temperature faster, and turn off sooner.

Like I said, this was obvious - though my first instinct was to make sure vents were open, rather than closed.

Besides getting a good heating tip I was reminded of an exceedingly important lesson: just because a system is big-and-unknown (say: your car or heating system in your house), doesn't mean you can't apply logic to the problem. I so totally should have been able to figure out the above strategy. Instead, I wrote the problem off as some mysterious issue that a trained tech would need to fix.

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