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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fiery Furnaces

I'm not big on basements, especially ours which is small, dark, cobwebby, full of strange junk belonging to the previous owner and reminiscent of nothing so much as a scene from Silence of the Lambs. That's why I've been putting off implementing a top tip for energy efficiency I'd read about in a number of places: cleaning the filter on your heating furnace once a month. But it's getting awfully chilly up here so I figured today was the day to seize the basement by the horns.

Over breakfast I told the hubby my plan. "I'm going to clean the filter on the furnace," I said. "Right," he said, "And do you know what that means?" (In England we have electric central heating, so I've never come across a furnace before. Neither, evidently, had he). "No," I replied gamely, "But I'm about to find out."

As soon as Dot went down for her lunchtime nap I grabbed the torch. I approached the basement trapdoor. Then I went and got the hubby (let's call him T from now on) to hold my hand. He sighed and acquiesced.

After we'd hacked our way through the cobwebs (not really) we looked at the furnace. T started pulling bits of metal off it. None looked filter-ish. Then he found a bit of dark green meshy stuff which did. It was slightly dusty, so i took it outside and bashed it about a bit. And that was it.

I find it hard to believe that this will increase the efficiency of our furnace by up to 10% but there we go. At least I tried.

While I was replacing the filter, I also turned the hot water heater down a notch or two. Apparently this too is an easy way to save fuel. After six years in Manhattan apartments it's novel to be able to control your own heat and water. If it weren't for the basement, I might be tempted to twiddle my knobs more often. If you see what I mean...

I did notice though that although we're doing our little bit for the planet, certain other people are not doing theirs. Apparently the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, 'Smokey' Joe Barton (Republican from Texas - mm, surprise!), says he's going to continue to block any attempts by the Democrats to place mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions because he says the global warming science is 'shaky' (from thinkprogress.org). "Barton added, “But for us to try to step in and say we have got to do all these global things to prevent the Earth from getting any warmer in my opinion is absolute nonsense. It’s not going to happen.”" Gosh, he sounds lovely and also jolly clever.

You might say it makes banging a filter about in the back garden seem a bit futile, but he and his ilk will only encourage littlegreendot and me to redouble our efforts.

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