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Heating your home

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What is the norm for heating homes where you are? We've had threads where people have complained that things are too hot or too cold when they visit someone, and it also seems that completely different systems and cultures operate.

I am in the UK, and I would say that the most common form of heating is a gas boiler that moves hot water to radiators in each room. This is controlled by a thermostat, which is usually set to a timer that turns the heat on or off at specific times of the day. Mine is a digital control that I can programme for different temperatures during the day , with different programmes for weekdays and weekends. Most people (that I know) let the heat go off at night (very hard to sleep in a warm bedroom), with daytime room temperature set to between 17 and 20C (63 to 68F).

My house is old and hard to heat, so my thermostat is usually set at 16-17C during the day. We also have a woodburning stove in the sitting room which gets lovely and toasty in the evening. Since we don't need the rest of the house warm after dinner, the central heating goes off by about 7 pm.

Some older homes might still not have any central heating system, just using a gas fire in the main room. Other options, particularly in areas that are not connected to the mains gas system,  are oil furnaces, or electric storage heaters, which absorb electricity to heat up during the off-peak night hours, and give off heat during the day.

Air conditioning (ie cooling for summer), incidentally, is extremely uncommon.

My house is a typical older New England house, built in 1900. We have an oil furnace that sends hot water to baseboard radiators. The house used to have the big old cast iron radiators, but an earlier owner removed those. We have a programable thermostat, so we can turn the heat down to 55 degrees at night (13 C) and then have the house warm up before we get up, to about 65 degrees (18 C). The oil furnace also heats our hot water.

I'm sure there are a few houses without central heating, but for the most part it's safe to say that nearly every house in northern New England has some form of central heating. (The main exception being houses built as vacation homes.) The very oldest houses, built before central heating was invented, have usually had central heating installed at some point.

When no one's home during the day, the heat goes down to 60 degrees (15 C).  At night in the winter, the outside temperature drops to about 5-13 degrees (-15 to -10 C) so we need to keep the heat on at night or the water pipes could freeze. The daytime highs here during December, January and February hover right around the freezing point.

Oil heat is pretty standard for older homes in New England, but not as common in other parts of the US. Newer homes here might have gas or electric heat. Many have forced hot air heat, with duct work to send hot air throughout the house. The duct work can also be used for central air conditioning in the summer, which makes it a popular choice.

In my area, the summers can be a bit hot and very humid. We have two window air conditioners and frankly, we use them as much to reduce the humidity as to get cooler air. It usually cools off enough at night so that we can just run window fans. But day after day of temperatures between 80 and 90 (26-32 C) with 90% or higher humidity can start to take a toll. You're just hot and sticky with sweat all the time and it's not fun, and hard to do things around the house.

Wood fire here.  We're on a property, so have no problems with sourcing plenty of wood.  Wood fires seem to be relatively common in this part of Australia, but in city areas, reverse cycle airconditioning, or gas heating seems to be the norm.

I'm in a typical California 2-story tract home, so we have central air/heating from the mid 1990's.  What typically happens is, in spite of the "central" nature, it gets warm on the 2nd story and remains cold on the ground floor in winter.  In summer, it will cool down on the ground floor, but still remain beastly warm upstairs.  One has to continually adjust the thermostat to reach some sort of medium in comfort or stay in the part of the house that is warm/cool, depending on season.

We live in an old factory that was built in the 1860s. 

In the early 1980s, it was converted into apartments and we moved in.  One of the things we liked about the place was that each apartment has it's own furnace.  We can keep the place as cool or as warm as we like.

We like things cool and, in the winter, keep the house between 65 and 68 degrees fahrenheit. 

When we go away on vacation in the winter, we turn the furnace down very far.  We don't worry about frozen pipes because the apartments surrounding us provide enough insulation.


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