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Heat for dummies:

If you’re thinking about any serious renovations, I want to urge you to think about redoing your heat at the same time. If you’re going to bother tearing up the floorboards or redoing a wall, you don’t want to have to fix them all over again in a few months when it gets cold and you decide you need a change. Here’s my super quick guide to heat.

Why re-do heat?
-You can make it more efficient, which is gonna save you money, and keep things warmer with less fuel
-You can switch your fuel source
-You can have your ideal climate, not just settle for what someone else left you.

The first thing you should decide is where you’re getting the heat from.

One option is a fuel source. You can burn a number of things, whether it’s wood chips in an outdoor furnace, or oil in your basement. These are the cheapest to install, but you have to factor in paying for fuel over time.
The other option is a renewable source-either solar or geothermal. They’re expensive, and they only work well in certain areas, but they don’t leave you with a fuel bill. I prefer solar for DIY, since geothermal is an undertaking and I’ve never felt comfortable planning that alone.

You should also figure out whether you want one system for both heating and hot water, or separate systems. If you’re looking at radiant heat or baseboards, you should get a combo heater, since your heating will run on hot water anyway. If you’re looking at a blower or air heating syetm, or a woodstove, it makes sense to get a separate water heater. It’ll be smaller, more efficient, and easier to install. Just check out tankless water heater reviews to see what I'm talking about.

My own thoughts are that baseboards are pretty worthless. They’re not a comforting source of heat, and they’re pretty inefficient, since they’re always in drafty corners on the edges of the house. Radiant floors are qay more comforting, and they spread heat more evenly. If you’re gonna do water-based heat, I’d say go for radiant.

Anyway, those are your basic options. Personally, I have a solar water heater and I run a woodstove during the winter. It’s probably not the most efficient choice, but I’ve got a friend who gets me good firewood, and it’s super cozy on cold days. If you have any questions or want advice on any of these systems, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to go into more detail.

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