Our house has been a work in progress since before we even moved in. One of the things we replaced early on was the source of all our heat for the last two years despite an old decrepit wall heater, our fancy gas insert fireplace. Our fireplace not only looked good but has a fan (and remote control!) that blows the hot air out. Not really the most efficient heating method but there was no way I was going to try and turn on a super old, probably original to our 1947 house wall heater that survived 60 years of a smoker and more years than that of collecting dust. Basically, I didn’t even want to know if it worked because it wasn’t worth it to me. And he wasn’t much of a looker, either. I don’t think I ever really highlighted it (except to say I wouldn’t turn it on), but here he is:


And, as a special feature, it’s double sided!
This is now our third winter in the house and I’ve been a little more stingy with the fireplace. We’ve relied heavily on a heated blanket on our bed and a heated throw blanket while sitting on the couch. And I know what you people with colder climates are thinking: How cold does it really get in California!? Well, folks, in Northern California we do get frosts. Not hard frosts, but things can freeze outside and when you have no heat inside and an old house with little to no insulation, well it gets cold. So cold that while we were away for a week our house got down to 49-degrees inside. There were a few mornings that it was 55-degrees in our bedroom when we woke up (I have a temperature thingy).

I finally gave in, tired of wearing sweatshirts to bed with the heating blanket going all night and not wanting to move in the morning because it was warmer in bed. Plus, the heater issue has been on my house to-do list for quite some time so the husband and I were ready to suck it up and get the old heater replaced with a newer, more efficient (and cleaner) heater and digital thermostat.

HVAC people are fun to deal with– most will charge to come out and diagnose a problem (about $125 in our area) but since this was a replacement, estimates are free. However, this is the first time I’ve made calls to contractors where they will give me a figure up front of what this should cost. It was awesome! “Oh, you say it’ll be $750 more than the next guy? Great, thanks!” Made it pretty easy to not waste my time waiting for people to come and give us specific quote in writing when I already had numbers.

The owner of the company came out with his installer guy and had estimated that it would be four hours of work. I believe that four hours is usually the minimum for plumbers and HVAC guys so regardless of how quick they are, they still charge you for that whole time. He and his guy got it done in almost exactly two hours. The downside was that our original heater that was flush with the wall isn’t really up to standards and was probably custom built for our home so the new one sticks out more. Is it worth having heat? Does a bear do his “business” in the woods?

Sure, it extends from the wall more, but it’s very quiet and has all kinds of fancy settings to control weekdays versus weekends. So far we’ve been turning it on as needed which means I’ve mostly been turning it on and the husband has been turning it off. This definitely seems more efficient than the gas and electricity used by the fireplace.

There you have it. Our last interior “big” project is officially done, two years and three months of owning this house, later. There are a few ones we will probably be thinking about that are outdoors (roof, foundation) but I can say that I’m very happy we did this. While it was significantly less costly and time consuming than our kitchen, I’m just as happy with the results!

Have you been working on any home improvement projects lately? How cold does your home get during the winter?

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