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Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Cold House // Replacing Our Baseboards With Envi Convection Heaters

Old houses - what they offer in charm, they lack in warmth.  Or at least ours does.  This little 1900 cabin is a drafty bugger.  It just might have something to do with it's lack of insulation on the walls and floors.  So when it's cold it is darn cold.

Last spring, when we opened up the kitchen nook to the mudroom, we pulled out our baseboard heater that was mounted along that wall - and the three others that were in the living room, kids bedroom and our bedroom.  Our choice to pull them out weighed on the fact that they take up so much wall space.  With the living room baseboard removed we could move our couch to be placed along that wall and we had already run into issues of Luke sticking toys into them - something sure to repeat with Cal.  So the decision was pretty easy - potential house fire and increased usable space meant they had to go.

Rather than live 1900s style and just rely on our wood stove (that isn't even functioning at the moment) we had to find replacements.  Size, safety and high-efficiency were all things we hoped to find in our new heaters.  I had seen the Envi Wall Mounted Convection Heaters advertised in the back of my home magazines and was intrigued.  After reading a few reviews, like this one, we decided to pull the trigger and ordered 4.  The price wasn't too bad about $120 each (check those home magazines - sometimes there are 15% off coupons in the advertisements section.)

The Envi was designed to improve on the function and form of the flat panel Econo-Heater / Eco-Heater solution, utilizing a protective case around the panel heating unit, maximizing the fanless performance with a dual-stack convection setup within which lets the natural flow of cold-to-warm air rising do the work, all the while improving energy efficiency while maximizing the warmth factor. After less than a minute on, users can feel a current of warm air emanating up from top, drawing from the colder air from your floor at the bottom of the unit, creating a circulation effect which helps warm a room without the need of loud fans.
Installation was pretty painless - just place the template (included in packaging) against the wall, mark where the mounts will be installed.  Screw the mounts into the wall and attach the wall unit to the mounts.  Then plug in.

So how are these working out for us?

As for safety, the unit's exterior shell remains cool to the touch.  Perfect for little ones and for placing behind furniture - although the units are pretty large.  The unit sits behind this small table in the kitchen and is pretty noticeable.  It reminds me of my three year old trying to play hide and seek.  Since it's the coldest room in the house and we spend so much time in there we placed two in the living room - one sits behind the sofa and can't be seen and another on the opposite side of the room behind the green recliner.

As for the heating output - The Envi Heaters take a bit of time to warm up so if you're looking for a heating unit that makes a dramatic change in temperature once you turn them on then the Envis probably aren't for you since they offer a more gradual, even temperature - which pretty much means they need to be on all the time. The Envi heaters work great for mid-temps but on days when the temperature drops dramatically (which we've seen plenty of this winter) the Envis can't keep up.  We've had to pull our space heaters out to compensate for the Envis so in terms of cost savings...I'm not quite sure where we stand.  If our home was better insulated I think the Envis would be enough but they just can't keep up with this drafty home in winter.  I'm curious to know what our savings (if any) will be this year.

Today it's around 20 degrees - not those -20 temps some of you are experiencing - but pretty darn cold if you ask me.  Right about now I'm thinking these Envis aren't working out and I'm wishing our wood stove was functioning so I could shed my four layers.

Any of you have experience with the Envi Convection Heaters?  If not, what similar type heating options do you use in your home?


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