Last evening I was with a small group of neighbors working on a group project when our conversation turned to heating our homes this winter- the cost of doing that, what each of us are doing to achieve that, and alternative ways to do it without a large dependence on natural gas.
Our hostess had apologized for the coolness of her home, and since we had finished our original task we turned our attention to heating our homes. She said that she had turned the heat on when she arrived home from work but the furnace was still catching up. She then said she was looking for alternative ways to heat her home. Three stories is a lot of square footage to heat. Of course, she said her third floor bedroom was quite toasty. It was the public area on the first floor that was more problematic.
Interestly enough, none of us had turned on their heat yet. We all said that we had been wearing bulky sweaters and vests, wool socks, and heating our homes with electric heaters. We have had some pretty chilly nights, but all of us were stretching the time line to its limit. We were all aware that this weekend might be the turning point.
We all agreed that our relationship with normal gas suppliers was deteriorating daily. The news that the PUCO had agreed to allow them to increase delivery charges, when conservation is at its highest point ever, does not bode well for natural gas prices this winter. Additionally, the international news that Russia, Iran, and Qatar are exploring the formation of a cartel much like OPEC for natural gas should concern us all. Given the fact that the United States has a 3.5% reserve of the natural resource compared to the 60% the cartel would own means that this commodity will only rise on the world markets just as oil did. We will definitely not be controlling our destiny if we continue our dependency on natural gas.
One of our group mentioned Mr. Slim heat pumps good to 0 degrees Farenheit. He said that the electricity is negligible to run the unit. Right now, he personally uses two $120 electric heaters to heat his 900 square foot home. He is looking for alternative sources for heating and cooling for his rental properties. He believes that low energy bills will be a marketing point for getting and retaining good tenants. We all agreed.
One of our friends installed a geothermal unit. He said that it did his heart good when he finally received that first gas bill where they owed him. So my questions are how do we leverage this discomfort with the old models of heating, how do we cut our dependence on natural gas, how do we continue to conserve energy, and how do we eventually get off the grid and form a new paradigm? We need more instruction than layering of clothes. HELP!!