“A veritable dusting” as Time says of Friday’s snow in San Francisco (“the first snow in 35 years“), but that was at 900 feet (in the Twin Peaks neighborhood). Here’s a picture I just got from some friends on the western edge of the Santa Clara valley (“Silicon Valley”), fifty miles south of San Francisco:
Overall, we’ve had a balmy winter in California, balmy enough that when my furnace went out, I was able to get by for a month just by leaving all the “heat balls” on:
Heat ball central. 195 watts of up.
I have 15 bulbs I can turn on in my two most occupied rooms for about 1500 watts of warming. Remember, according to the British government, 95% of ot the electricity that powers an incandescent bulb is “wasted” on heat production, making them very efficient heat producers.
Leaving all my lights on yields as much heat as this 1500 watt space-heater, with the added benefits of a lot more light, and a lot less danger:
I didn’t even use the space heater except when company was over. Now I’m using this:
Ahhh. That’s better. New 2-stage furnace, of the standard non-condensing variety.
If warmth is “wasted” energy then so is life, which explains why the greens don’t account the cost of stripping every household of the equivalent of one or two emergency space heaters. “This wasted energy adds to your carbon footprint,” says the Downing Street gang, and if the occasional furnace failure reduces the occasional serf’s carbon footprint to zero, the accounting is even better!
Lunatics. If incandescent bulbs create too much heat in summer, people can turn them off. There is plenty of natural light during the long day and the psyche does not crave more than enough to see by. Those free people who can stomach the sallow dinge of the swirly-cone CFLs can decide for themselves if they want to switch bulbs for the season, but in winter, lots of light and lots of heat are the perfect combination.
Snow in Palo Alto?
Just for the record, I’ve been predicting snow in the flatlands of Palo Alto for the last two years (hence the picture of snow from my friends in Saratoga). My prediction got derailed last year by El Nino (though Texas, Las Vegas, D.C. and the rest of the country still made me look good).
I don’t WANT snow. Unlike warming, cooling is actually dangerous. But with the sun going quiet, history says that cooling is what we are in for.
Make your next furnace a 2-stage
My new 2-stage furnace is great. The old furnace was rated a modest 70,000 btu, but was still on the large side for my small 1300 sq. ft. house, especially since there isn’t a lot of call for heat around here. So the old furnace would blast hot for a couple of minutes, prompting clothing adjustments while failing to circulate warmth evenly before clicking the thermostat off.
The new furnace uses the same two-wire thermostat but has a timed delay before turning the heat on full blast. It comes on at about half-heat (40,000) and half fan-speed. If five or ten minutes of that are not enough to click the thermostat back off (you can set the delay) then the furnace goes into high heat mode (70,000 btu, same as the old furnace) until the job is done.
So far the only time the furnace gets to high heat mode is when I turn the thermostat up in the morning. From there the furnace just keeps topping off the household heat with the low-heat mode, creating much more even heating than the old furnace. Highly recommended. And just in time.
“It’s frickin freezing in here Mr. Bigglesworth”
Had to scrape frost off the windshield this morning, and when I got in the shower, the words just came out. More a matter of California construction than the temperature outside (no heat in the bathroom). Maybe I’ll install a few more heat balls!