Long Red

Here’s another tribute to an under appreciated guitar monster from days gone by…

Master axeman Leslie West and his band Mountain wailing away at Woodstock back in ’69.  Try keeping that one out of your head the rest of the day.

And try keeping this out of your head, too, for I have a serious confession to make:

I have developed a strange and obsessive love for my heating system.  I wicked love this thing.  I mean, I love it a lot.

Never thought a man could love a piece of machinery like this, but there it is.

I do.

Two years ago I blogged about estimating annual fuel usage using a degree-day based formula (click here to review all the fun!).  For the winter of ‘09/’10 the Barba household spent approximately $506.00 for heat and hot water that year.   During the summer our gas bills have consistently averaged about $20.00/month for hot water, so if you deduct $140.00 (7 months of DHW – Oct. thru April), the heating portion of the bill totaled about $366.00

See why I love my heating system?

The following winter was about the same, with a total of $525.01 for stay warm and clean.  Take about the DHW and we wind up with a total of $385.00 for heat only.

And no, we didn’t keep the t-stat at 50 degrees all winter, thank you very much!

The house is a 2,500 SF split-level (scads of ‘em in Minnesota), built in 1978.  The windows were upgraded in the late 90’s (nothing special – simple double-pane, low E), 6” fiberglass insulation, attached garage and a finished lower level.

The old system was a vintage 1978-forced air furnace and a 40-gallon water heater.  Gas bills ranged from $700.00 to $1,000.00 in the 4 years we’d lived there.  The downstairs had electric baseboard (the lower-level forced air was next to useless – surprise, surprise), and it was fun going outside in the winter to watch the electric meter spin.  We were all very anxious to put the old system out of its – and our – misery.

The upgraded system has an NTI Matrix boiler/air-handler/instant water heater/heat recovery ventilator.  The forced air remains upstairs, but is powered by a variable speed blower motor, so it’s quieter and more comfortable.  We junked the electric baseboard downstairs, replacing it with panel radiators in the two bedrooms and family room.  The mechanical room/laundry room/my office has retrofitted radiant floor heat.

Comparatively speaking, the house is now crazy-comfy.  And last winter (if you can call it a winter), it was crazy-efficient, too.  Check out the charges for October through April for the past two winters:

The basic charges add up to $437.77 for heat and hot water.  Subtract 7 months worth of DHW and you get $297.77 to heat a 2,600 SF home.

In the winter.

In Minnesota.

If you really want to get crazy, that’s an average of $42.54 per month.

Now granted, last winter totaled out to only about 5,400 degree-days in the Twin Cities (average is over 8,000), but a sub $300.00 heating bill for the year?

I really, really, really love my heating system.

And I’m pretty fond of the way Leslie West plays guitar, too.  If Mountain isn’t ringing a bell, this one oughtta clear it up for you video game fans…

“Mississippi Queen” his the Top 20 in 1970, and a fave to crank out on Guitar Hero.

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