Three days of new heat…

After the better part of three days living with a new heat machine in the basement, it feels like I should say a few words. This is one of those rare occasions when an experiences actually exceeds expectations and therefore deserves special notice.

Being the creature of habit that I am and how much time I spend at home avoiding other people, I’m particularly well attuned to the sounds and rhythms of the house. I’ve gotten to know it’s noises and quirks. The new furnace has thrown a bit of a twist into what I’ve come to expect.

First and maybe foremost, the two stage blower appears to have fixed one of my biggest gripes about forced air heat. With the old furnace, the fan kicked on full bore before the air warmed and forced the cold air in the ducts out into the conditioned space with a noticeable “puff.” the cold air blown right up your back if you happened to be sitting near a register was an annoyance. With the two stage, the blower starts off slowly and displaces the cold duct air at an even, effectively unnoticeable pace before ramping up the speed. it’s a nice touch. I noticed and am appreciative of it.

This particular model also makes considerably less noise in operation – so much less noise that my normal television volume levels are noticeably more loud. (See, I told you I notice things). People seem to think I’m resistant to change, but the reality is that I generally welcome changes that make life more comfortable and peaceful. Why someone wouldn’t actively resist things that made their lives less pleasant or more of a pain in the ass eludes me completely, though that’s probably the topic for another night.

So, with the exception of the un-budgeted procurement costs, I am well pleased with the new bit of household mechanical equipment that we laid on here. It’s allegedly 6% more efficient than the unit it’s replacing so I’ll be curious to see how that works out now that we’ve replaced the two largest consumers of propane fuel in the house. Even if there’s no net savings, the improvements to comfort and safety are probably a win overall.

Striking it rich…

There’s an unfortunate assumption that if you have rental property you must, by some unwritten rule, be rolling in cash. It’s been my experience that there are really only two ways to strike it rich through rental property; either you have 100 of them to smooth out the cash flow from month to month or you operate more as a slum lord than a landlord. Those two possibilities, of course, are not mutually exclusive as it is entirely possible to do both at once.

Where you’re never going to strike it rich is in owning just one. The good years are the ones where you break even after expenses. The great years are the ones where you get enough of a tax deduction to maybe show a tiny slice of profit. For the most part, what comes in goes right back out in maintenance expenses, management fees, taxes, mortgage, insurance, and home owner’s association dues.

Owing a rental is like owning a bulldog in a way – both are things I wouldn’t recommend anyone try for themselves. Avoiding them both will save you a whole lot of heartache… and I’m not just saying that because my property manager called tonight to tell me the heating system is shot and needs to be replaced the same week I’m planning on financing knee surgery for a dog and two weeks after paying off a contractor to make sure a river doesn’t flow through the garage and cause my basement to become an indoor swimming pool.

Enough all ready. Fate, chance, or whatever gods control such things are really starting to get on my last nerve. Sigh. I’m never going to get my new bathroom at this rate. Sadly, I’m not a slum lord. Heat is important. And winter is coming.

Nested…

After sitting on the kitchen counter for a week (as most small home improvement projects do when I bring them home), I got the Nest thermostat plugged in this morning. All I can say at this point is that it successfully turns the furnace and air conditioning on when requested – but like most other people who buy a “smart” appliance, I’m really more interested in how it’s going to perform without direct human intervention.I can’t give you a review of how well that part works just yet, but will once we’ve passed the 30 day mark.

Installation was just about as simple as you could hope to make it. Two screws, four wires, and then snapping the “brain” into place is all there is. All-in, the process, including setting up bells, whistles, and cleaning up the packaging took about 40 minutes. That included drinking a cup of coffee and spending five minutes in the basement (where I had to go to kill power at the electric panel) looking for something unrelated in the boxes that still live down there.

Based on where my thermostat is located in the house, I have some lingering doubts about how well it will “learn” my living patterns over the next few days. That’s easy enough to remedy by manually setting a schedule for the system, but that does take away at least some small virtue of this type of automation. Still, being the creature of habit I am, a set schedule may prove to be more effective.

Regardless of how it gets to learn my preferences – either by observation or from me just telling it what to do – Nest surely has to do a better job than the old school mercury switch it’s replacing. Once you’re past the idea that you’re giving up another little slice of your privacy to a wholly owned subsidiary of Google (and the price), I think it’s going to be a hard device not to like.

If nothing else, it does look awfully nice hanging there on the wall.