COOL HEATING OPTIONS

Hydro heating ad.

Hydro heating ad.

The frigid temperatures we’ve been having here lately have me chilled to the bone. Living in a one hundred year old home brings with it some heating and cooling issues. Parts of the house we live in lack sufficient insulation so in the winter there are a few rooms that are much, much colder than the general living area. I am really looking forward to having a home with better heat. My husband and I have been looking into our heating and cooling options since we’ll be starting from scratch.

The 1965 house we are renovating was originally heated with electric heat that came from radiant ceiling cable that was installed in the ceilings of each room as well as some electric baseboard units and each room had it’s own thermostat. I had never heard of ceiling heat prior to this but it was apparently installed in many homes in the sixties and seventies (and likely before and after) but seems to be a thing of the past.

Thermostats throughout the house.

Types of thermostats that are located throughout the house.

According to a 1960 Hydro electric heating ad “electric heating units can be built in to the baseboards or the walls or ceilings and they take no useable floor space. Electric heating eliminates the furnace and the necessity for fuels of any sort. Separate thermostats in each room let you choose the exact heat you want for each room. No need to heat the whole house to increase the temperature in one or two rooms.” Sounds simple and smart to me.

Only in the fifties could a thermostat be this elegant looking…

1955 General Controls thermostat ad.

1955 General Controls thermostat ad.

 

General Controls thermostat ad, 1955.

General Controls thermostat ad, 1955.

The original home owners also used a wood stove to heat their basement which had a family room and play area along with a spare room and storage. This was the old Clare Jewel brand cooking wood stove unit. It would have kept the basement nice and cozy and heated the house during power outages.

Vintage 1960s Clare wood stove.

Vintage 1960s Clare wood stove.

Another popular option back in the fifties and sixties was radiant baseboard heating using hot water to emit warmth into a room rather than heating the air directly.  A 1959 ad from Crane Limited about hydronic heat says “Only a hydronic system can give you the radiant warmth you want for family health and comfort. It’s just like indoor sunshine!”  Radiant heat using water is making a big comeback. It is quiet and provides an even temperature from the floor up and since there is no furnace or ductwork, no dust or dirt is circulated throughout the house. That is a big advantage, especially for those with asthma or dust allergies (which I unfortunately have dealt with the last  few years.)

Trimline baseboard heating ad, 1959.

Trimline baseboard heating ad, 1959.

Forced air furnaces seem to be the most popular form of heating homes today although radiant heat seems to be gaining popularity.

Royal Jet furnace ad, 1955.

Royal Jet furnace ad, 1955.

And to add some warmth to a bathroom why not add an infrared heat light or heat lamp. These instant heat recessed ceiling heaters from a 1955 Pryne product catalogue were quite stylish.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

They sure look happy.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

We are going to put radiant in-floor heating in our basement which should give off sufficient heat to keep the basement warm and will also help to heat our main floor. We are considering installing in-floor heating for the main floor as well but we need to look into the cost to install it. It may be more costly up front but is very energy efficient once in use and virtually maintenance free. One of the cons of radiant heat is that you still have to find a way to cool your house in the summer so you would still need window air conditioning units or ductless air conditioners…otherwise known as mini-splits. Going with a regular forced air furnace is probably the less expensive route and one unit can provide heat and air conditioning. Radiant in floor heating and ductless air conditioners are definitely appealing though, especially knowing that the air in the house would be cleaner and dust and dirt wouldn’t be circulated through the air as it is with a forced air furnace. We’ll see, a little more research and pricing is definitely needed to make a final decision on this.

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