Is there a little heater that is more efficient and least expensive (in terms of electricity use) than others in heating a room? I have problems with my heat pump–it takes several hours to warm the house from 43 degrees to 50 degrees, and so I don't want to use it. I'm wondering what the alternatives are.
Also, does anyone know a solution to the problems of using a fireplace? I understand that unless there is a direct source of oxygen near the fireplace, that the fire in the fireplace will use up all existing oxygen in the room it is heating, and this creates a vacuum, which results in cold air being sucked into the house from outside through every crack and cranny in doors and windows to replace that oxygen. This therefore results in colder rooms in the rest of the house that are not being heated by the fire in the fireplace, since they now have cold air streaming in from outside in response to that vacuum created by the fire in the fireplace. So is the solution to remove a brick from the back of the fireplace everytime you want a fire, so that it gets oxygen continuously? Or some other way, like leaving a window open in that room–which seems to me to contradict the purpose of the fire, which is to heat that room. A bit hard to do with cold air blowing in to sustain the fire.
thanks for your responses.
Well, that first response made me laugh, certainly original. Thanks to the second responder, you sound like my younger brother, who has a science background. He also touted the idea of a wood-burning stove, although he wanted to cut a hole in the ceiling and roof to vent the smoke.
thanks for your help!!
I've always heard that theory about the fire using up the air in the room and having to draw in air from the cracks, but I've not noticed that in actuality. My brother and I both heat with a back up wood stove with no outside air input and it has no problem heating the house by itself (1500 sf) . I use ceiling fans and keep the doors open to distribute the heat from the centrically located wood stove.
My brother uses the wood heat exclusively. My sister uses a fireplace almost 100 days out of the year, with also no complaints of cold spots in the house.
I think when they use the argument of the fire consuming more oxygen and pulling in air from the vacuum that they haven't considered the other things occurring. First of all there is an amazing amount of radiant heat coming from the fire that warms up dark surfaces all over the room regardless of distance from the fire. Also the fire heats the air which makes it expand. Warm air takes up more space than cold air, So whatever air is needed to be pulled in by the "vacuum" of burning oxygen in the room is replaced by warm air that takes up more space than the cold air it is sucking in from outside. Since the fire expands the air by quite a bit, especially at the flame source, it might be safe to assume that the fire actually generates a positive pressure inside of the house rather than a negative one from the oxygen consumption.
Remember the formula for gases is P1V1 / T1 = P2V2 / T2 , which basically says if you double the temperature of a gas, you also double the volume of that gas. So scientifically it appears that a fire in a room with no outside air source will double the volume of air that it comes in contact with especially close to the fire.
So the real net effect is the two probably just cancel each other out causing no net positive or negative draft in the house.
My house is heated to a great amount by solar heat during the day and since my wife is a smoker, I will notice smoky air migrating toward the open window during the day. For the air to go from inside to the outside could only mean there is less pressure outside than in. The times I have run the woodburner during the day and have opened the window, I have not noticed the air coming in either. If you stand outside you can see the slightly smoky air (from my wife, not the fire) exiting thru the open gap in the window.
The ultimate solution is to drill a hole from your fireplace bottom and pipe to a exit point outside. Put a flap so you can close it when not needed and screen it so varmints don't enter. But like I said , I really am not convinced of the argument to use an outside air supply, though I agree it couldn't hurt to have one.
Have you ever seen window sill solar heaters? They are small solar heaters that mount outside your south windows and when the sun shines the heat moves into your room and at nighttime the sloped panels just shut down. Real simple and cheap designs . Check out "Mother Earth News" magazine and alternative energy area and look for windowsill solar panels.
In regards to your heat pump, something doesn't sound right. At a temp of 43F that should be a great range for your heat pump to work very efficiently. Perhaps your evaporator outside is clogged with debris or is low on refrigerant.
Then lastly, check your insulation, especially windows. Walk in front of a window and see if you feel a draft. I bought an infra red thermometer from Harbor freight tools for about 40 bucks and I walk all over the house measuring the temperature of walls, ceilings, glass ,skylights etc. It is always the glass with the coldest temperatures. If it is 25F outside, the inside of a thermopane window is around 50F. So that means a have a cooler operating at 50F cooling my room toward its temp. So even on my thermopanes I put a piece of that tight shrink plastic on them. The tremometer immediately picked up from 50F at the glass to about 65F on the film surface. Amazing and cheap and stops drafts you didn't know existed. I leave it up all year around because you can't hardly see it and it works great in summer to keep air conditioning bills down