Bob's Links and Rants

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Furnace Troubles

Okay, this probably isn't why you read this blog. But my gas furnace conked out again yesterday, something it does at least once every winter. I'm thinking that maybe now's the time to look at alternatives. Natural gas is currently cheap and burns very cleanly, and is a much better alternative than electric heat. But I've been reading recently that natural gas, especially in North America, is well past its peak. And the damage being done to the environment out west, especially in extracting coal-bed methane (=natural gas) is horrendous. (Guess what? Halliburton developed the "fracing" technology which made this land-rape possilbe!)

Anyway, I'm thinking of looking at alternatives. Solar would be nice, but given the design and location of my house will likely be at best an auxiliary source for heating, and of little use on the coldest days. Ground-source heat pumps are intriguing, but I suspect that their claims of rapid payback are based on savings from both heating and cooling. Since I don't use air conditioning, and my fans are now solar powered, I'm guessing that the payback might be a lot longer for me. In addition, it is probably the most expensive option on initial cost.

One idea that intrigues me is external wood furnaces, like these. I've e-mailed the city to see if they're allowed here.

Anyway, the main reason for this post is I'm looking for advice. If anyone out there knows someone, preferably local to Ann Arbor, who can advise me on making a good selection (from a sustainable, environment point of view), I would appreciate it! E-mail me!