Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Question...

Here's some background info:

1. It's cold outside today, at least by Chattanooga standards. The National Weather Service is currently pinging us at 38°F.

2. This is a solid brick house, and so far, I haven't detected any real drafts to speak of. In the past, we've lived in some drafty homes, but this one seems fairly weatherproof.

Now, we keep the downstairs thermostat set at 68° all the time (at least for heat -- in the summer, we move it up into the 70s for the AC). So as long as it's cold enough to have the heat on, the house should stay at a fairly consistent 68°, right?

But here's the problem: it feels chilly now, whereas last week, when it was, say, 60° outside -- warmer, but still cool enough to trigger the heat to go on -- 68° didn't feel chilly. The heat's not currently pumping, which means that the thermostat must be measuring 68°. So why does 68° feel chilly now, when it's cold outside, but it didn't last week, when it was warmer outside?

68° is still 68° -- or is it?

6 comments:

fletch said...

I'm nowhere close to an expert on this subject, but you say "not currently pumping" so I'm guessing you have a heat pump. When it's very cold outside, there's not enough heat in the air outside or inside for the heat pump to do what it's supposed to do. When this situation occurs there's usually some kind of auxiliary heat that kicks in, sometimes labeled "emergency heat", which by the way is usually very expensive when it does kick in. So, with that brilliant and highly technical background, I'm wondering if your auxiliary heat thingy is working correctly. I've noticed this same phenomenon with my heat pump and it's not all in my head. The bottom line is, and I'm speaking as one who heats with a heat pump, is that heat pumps suck when it's really cold outside.

alice said...

I'm not sure what it is, just that it runs on gas. We have an electric heat pump for upstairs, but for downstairs, there's a thing in the basement.



Sorry if I'm being too technical. ;-D

Keera said...

When the temperature outside goes down, it "sucks" the heat out of a home (there's a name for this phenomenon, but I can't remember what it is; something to do with the walls and stuff). Takes a while (a day) for the heat inside the house to stabilize, as it were. Conversely, when it starts to warm up outside, for a while the house feels cooler than usual.

alice said...

Interesting. It's still cold today, but the house feels warmer than it did yesterday. Plus, it doesn't seem like the heat has been on as much today, even though the temp is about the same. Perhaps your explanation is why...

Keera said...

Some homes may be more sensitive to this phenomenon, depending on how they're built. The reigning theory is that it has something to do with relative humidity as the temperatures change and therefore with condensation on the walls. Increased humidity emphasizes both heat and cold; dry air makes cold feel less cold, and heat feel less hot.

alice said...

I would think that wood vs. brick homes would see a difference in this phenomenon.