Every once in a while during the last couple months, our furnace would decide that it didn't want to turn off.
After a session of toasty-warm air blowing, the thermostat would dutifully inform the furnace that our house had reached the desired temperature, and then the furnace would partially comply with the unwritten agreement by blowing cold air through the vents instead of warm air. Furnacey would continue to do this until it had chilled the house to the point where the dull-normal thermostat would waken from its slumber and demand warm air again. Then, the blowing of warm air would resume, completing the grand circle of energy wasting.
These games of Thermodynamics Catch would continue, back and forth, until I intervened by flipping the circuit breaker. Then Furnacey would lay low for a couple weeks, watching my guard visibly drop, until it was time to play again.
Last Friday, Furnacey became insatiable, playing this game almost every time he was asked to heat the house. On Saturday he finally rebelled against my killjoyish circuit-breaker flipping and completely refused to heat the house. "No heat for you!" he cried imaginarily.
So, I called some heating repair services and it looks like maybe I can get this baby fixed by Wednesday. That means that tomorrow will be Day 4 of The Great Heat Improvisation Experiment.
Phase One of the experiment was a no-brainer. For years the energy conservanistas have been telling us to turn off lights when we don't need them. Ostensibly this is because they waste energy through heat. So, using the finest reverse engineering algorithms known to man, I determined that I should turn on all the lights in the house. Freakin' brilliant. I cursed the stupid compact fluorescent in my office, but I basked in the glow of the mini halogens in our hallway.
Net effect? Pretty negligible except near the ceiling of the hallway.
Phase Two consisted of remembering that we have a wood burning stove sitting in our living room. We hardly ever use the thing, but now kind of seemed like the time. I purchased a few Duraflame logs and fired that baby up. It made the downstairs pretty roasty toasty, so it seemed like we had a temporary solution. That was the case until I actually read the directions on the Duraflame packing informing me that these logs were NOT for usage in a wood burning stove. Apparently they burn too hot, and they cause chimney fires, and blah blah blah. Super.
Phase Three began today when I had this Instant Messenger conversation with my boss:
Boss: Your heater still broken?
Me: Yeah, and I found out that I can't use Duraflames in our wood burning stove.
Boss: Why don't you use regular wood?
Me: Nah, there's no metal grate to prop up the wood, and the stove is pretty small. There's no way to build a fire in it.
Boss: You'd be amazed. They're designed to burn wood. It's a WOOD BURNING stove.
Boss: They have controls that make it burn like crazy, or a catalytic type fire that provides lots of heat.
Me: Controls? Dude, it's just a metal box. Are you thinking of our oven?
Boss: No! Jesus! Your wood burning stove has controls, trust me.
Me: Is there a control to make fire?
Boss: Yes, that's called a match. I'm really good at fire.
Me: You should go on Survivor! Oh, that reminds me. Dude, you should TOTALLY go on Survivor! I've been meaning to tell you that for weeks!
The conversation deteriorated from there, but as it turns out, he was right. There are controls on my wood burning stove to modulate the air flow. Flux capacitors and deflector arrays and whatnot.
So, we bought a box of wood, and some starter log thingees, and now it's burning the crap out of some dead oak trees. The downstairs is warm like a sauna and the whole house smells like a campfire.
It's a very strange way to live in the middle of a city in 2007.