I’ve been in Salt Lake City since Monday, and will be here through Saturday. People have come in for Alt Summit from all over the country (and internationally, too), and it’s funny to hear people talk about how warm/cold it is. Back home in Chicago, it’s about 30° colder, so the weather here feels great! Speaking of home though, I thought I’d give a quick update on our house. It’s funny — a few people I’ve run into here have asked about the house and how we’re settling in and enjoying it, and then their voice lowers a bit. In a hushed tone, they ask… How is it doing in the cold?
After our pipes burst, we scheduled a service call to make sure we were getting the most efficient use out of our heating system. The technician confirmed what our house inspector said, which is that the boiler is in great shape and probably has another good 10-15 years left. The aquastat was increased 10 degrees, up to 190°F, and the house warms more quickly now. We also learned how to release excess air released from the hot-water radiators (see: how to bleed a radiator). That helps with efficiency, and it brought the PSI on our boiler down from 30 to 15, so it was a safety issue too.
Our first gas bill in the new house was enormous, and it was all the antique stove’s fault. The pilot light is on constantly, but the bigger issue was that the oven was not closing properly and letting the heat escape. I tightened up the closing mechanism soon after that first bill arrived, and running our stove only costs about $15/month now. The home has two gas meters — one residential (just the stove) and one commercial (boiler, hot water heater, gas dryer) — that were leftover from its days as an apartment conversion. Dealing with the gas company to switch everything over to a single residential meter has been a slow process to say the least, but commercial rates are significantly higher and there’s no reason we should have that meter. Once we’re down to a single residential account, the gas bills will be no higher than they were at the old house. Hey now, that was a pleasant surprise!
While I’m here in SLC, Brandon and his stepfather are putting window film up (which we should have done sooner). They need to be addressed but we don’t want to replace the house’s original windows because they’re important to its architectural integrity, and there are ways to make old windows more efficient. We’ll be working on that over time, but for now, the film should be a good temporary winter fix. Brandon said that the kitchen (the biggest problem area) feels noticeably better already.
I’d like to schedule an energy audit and look into better insulation and weather sealing, but this goes back to the issue we’re having with our multiple energy accounts. There are rebates and other incentives available, but we need to consolidate everything first before we can take advantage of them.
It will all happen in time.