How to Use Solar Power to Keep You Warm

A local apartment building is losing the power since the Sunday morning eclipse. For days. My temperature-controlled apartment is heating with heaters and vents and has served me well. But my neighbors complain it’s…

How to Use Solar Power to Keep You Warm

A local apartment building is losing the power since the Sunday morning eclipse. For days.

My temperature-controlled apartment is heating with heaters and vents and has served me well. But my neighbors complain it’s too hot in the stairwells and then ask me why I don’t turn off the heaters.

Here’s what I do: I start up the fan, vent the hot air out and turn off the heating source — which it runs off of — and generally (but not always) leave the building. The last thing I need is to shut down other buildings I live in and have people run the fan and venting for them all week. That would only add to the chaos. But I do need to turn off the heater somewhere.

POWER’S THE BIGGEST IMPACT

In recent years, every time a blackout comes through the Twin Cities area, I have the same questions and worry: What if someone gets in and starts a fire? What if it’s truly a blackout and they don’t have the plan to give power back? What if a major tree fell on the power lines?

Of course, the answer is that the storm is not as big as it appears. But power is still the biggest impact to everyone. When we lose power, we don’t get much credit for opening a door to let us out. And we really don’t get credit for putting a thermostat that brings a little bit of warmth into the room where it’s needed. And now we have a blackout?

The right idea is to install a smart thermostat. I have a Nest Thermostat and a programmable breaker. Together they can keep me cool during cold months and warm during heat waves. I also have an air conditioner set at the level I like.

THE REASON.

All of the systems work together: A thermostat can make sure I always have the same temperature and don’t be surprised when the breaker kicks in.

NO WARM PLACE

I have taken down all the heaters and venting the hot air out of the stairwells, but without power — the heat isn’t really working. Although I have a programmable breaker, how can you turn the air conditioner off on the other side of the wall that’s not lit up by a dim bulb?

THE ANSWER IS HYBRID SYSTEMS.

I also have a backup heating system. Because it runs off the same pipes as the A/C, I have a hot or cold spot on the other side of the building when it’s cold. In a case of a blackout, all my neighbors have heat and air conditioning. If you also have a heat system, you can shut off your A/C and leave the heat running.

I am still adjusting my system, so I don’t have as much reliable info yet. But for now, these things seem to work, and it’s important that I have the right technology available to help me.

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