Sitting around with Roger Dodger and Phyllis the other day, playing with the design and deciding where to put posts and beams and what not, I got to thinking about my heating system. I had planned to use a dual-fuel furnace, which burns wood and/or propane. When the thermostat tells it to, the propane ignites the wood, which is fed into the furnace by means of a hopper. I liked it because burning wood is cheap, but messy and requires way too much attention, and this solves both those problems. The smallest furnace they make, however is really too big for my little, efficient house with the passive solar and passive geothermal inputs. The furnace would never turn on, except when its 40 below. An alternative would be just a little room-type propane furnace, but since I’m starting from scratch, why not be less dependent on fossil fuels?
I was complaining about this to my friend Sharon, and she said the magic words: solar thermal. Her neighbor has this system, which uses solar cells to heat water, which then circulates through the floor. Bingo! Just what I need. Fifteen minutes on the internet, and I found a company in Bozeman that specializes in just this thing. One phone call, one fax and I’m off and running! It will be more expensive than a furnace and a hot water heater, but not much. And I won’t have to pay for heat or hot water…. except when its 40 below and cloudy for a week. Then the small electric boiler kicks in, and I’m in the thrall of Evil NorthWest Energy, but, hey. No one’s perfect.
Now, just say a prayer to the Goddess of Contractors, so that things speed up a little around here. I’m soooo impatient. Oh, and the septic inspector comes out today to look at my test hole. Pray for a perfect soil profile.