Secondary Heating Sources, What To Do?

    Secondary Heating Sources, What To Do?

    Jan 04, 2018

    Every year I work with a fair amount of Buyers coming from southern States moving north to Maine, and also First-Time Home Buyers. Every year I answer questions about heating systems. More importantly what happens if the power goes out? What better time to talk about this while Maine is experiencing record below zero days and about to get slammed with a Nor'easter. What to think about when purchasing a home and the secondary heating system it may have?

    You are first going to have a primary heating source in your home and if you are lucky a secondary heat source. Your primary maybe a system that traditionally you will have in your basement and that heats your complete home. You may have multiple thermostats to control temperatures in areas of your home. Most Maine homes are heated with either a boiler or furnace.

    Your secondary system maybe a wood stove, fireplace, pellet stove, a heat pump, propane heater or maybe some type of baseboard electricity. You may use a secondary heating system in many different ways. Maybe you want to keep your living room warmer and you use a pellet stove. Its not uncommon to see a kitchen wood stove being use to keep a section of the house warm or maybe you have a heat pump in your bedroom. A heat pump can keep the bedroom warmer in the Winter and cooler in the Summertime. We have a heat pump on the third floor of our home. There was no heat on that floor and in the Summertime it gets hot, so the best choice was a heat pump.

    Propane Heater

    Pellet Stove

    Heat Pump

    Here are some key points to think about,

    1) What happens if the electric goes out in the winter? All of the heating appliances I just spoke about require electricity.

    2) How will you stay warm? If your primary and secondary heating systems use electricity to run when the power goes out, bye bye heat.

    3) How will you prevent the water pipes from freezing? Not fun to think about but if the power goes out for a couple of days, can you prevent water pipes from freezing?

    4) Do you live in the country or city? If power goes out during a snow storm it is likely, that based on your location you could be days or weeks without electricity. If you do not want to play Grizzly Adams then you may think about purchasing a home that has better reliability on electricity. A city environment most likely will have a better "chance" of getting electricity back on sooner.

    Of course all can be solved with a home generator! A portable generator or an inverter generator (normally on wheels) run on gas, propane or diesel. These generators are increasingly fuel efficient, and some let you know how much power they have left on before the tank runs dry. Portable generators tend to be less expenses. Inverter generators are more expensive due to the engines are more complex. They are quieter because they throttle up and down to match demand rather than running at full power all the time. Home standby generators which normally start automatically when the power goes out are capable of running parts or all of your home based on their size. Normally running on propane or natural gas. A Home standby generator tends to be an expensive investment, but we live in Maine and if you are on a back country or private road this could be your best choice. Which is best for you? For a good source of information and terminology on generators go to Consumer Report Buying Guide.

    The next best thing to a generator is a wood stove! There is nothing like the heat wood gives off. For me it is the best kind of heat! It does require a lot of handling and is messy. In some older homes it is not uncommon to see a wood stove in the basement. Keeping a wood stove in the basement helps keeps the pipes warm, keeps the floors nice and warm under your feet and based on how big your home is can keep your home nice and warm. Many Maine homes are heated with wood. Some homes have mulitiple stoves located within the house. Living room and Kitchen are very common. As always with wood and any heating appliance follow the manufacturer guidelines.

    Wood Stove

    In Maine you can go to The Office of the State Fire Marshall's and find out information on heating safety recommendations.

    Gary Jordan Jr. is a REALTOR® located in Bangor, Maine. He provides real estate solutions for Buyers and Sellers. His clients are provided with unparalleled services. You can learn more about Gary and real estate in Maine at his website. You can also directly email Gary .

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