Powered by Fairy Dust

We’re getting a heat pump installed to replace the gas wall heaters installed when our house was built in 1952.  While I’m sure they were the bee’s knees when they were installed (was ‘the bees knees’ something they said in 1952?  I’m trying to remember if I ever heard it on Happy Days, my sole source of 1950’s culture, as interpreted by 1970’s television)

What was I talking about?  Oh yes, 1950’s post war housing heating technology is insanely inefficient.  It took me years to finally track down how bad they were – only about 40% efficient.  They are so inefficient that all the web sites that give you the efficiency rating of various heating technologies didn’t bother to mention them, since clearly any sane person would have replaced them already.  A few decades ago.

So we are upgrading to this really cool heat pump, that lets you heat sections of the house rather than the whole thing.  Which seems like such a no brainer to me, I don’t know why all heating systems don’t have the same ability.  We don’t have a large house, less than 1,100 square feet, but even so there are rooms I don’t use on a daily basis.  Why should I heat them?  So now I don’t have to.  And the new system – 97% efficient.  So I’ll be saving energy and money.

So I’ve been happily babbling to friends about the new heat pump, and how I’m feeling like I’m quite the grown up, what with the ability to be warm in my home without having to practically hug the wall heater in the hallway (which was less comfortable than it sounds), and tonight a friend asked what the difference was between a regular furnace and a heat pump.

Now I know that a traditional furnace uses gas, typically, or sometimes electricity or propane, to generate heat, which is then distributed through ductwork.  Pretty simple to understand.

But heat pumps?  My true love has explained how they work.  A few times.  As far as I can tell it is powered by fairy dust and elves.

Apparently I am unclear on the concept.


About woodenmonkey

Just your average solar powered, hybrid driving, organic eating, happily married, pro-choice, feminist Christian artist and writer from San Francisco.

Posted on November 1, 2009, in Retro post (which is another way of saying I forgot to post it when I wrote it). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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