Oven heat

I have the thermostats set ridiculously low in the house, dating back to the days when everyone was out of the house during the day. So I walk around in sweat shirts freezing most of the time. I got to thinking lately about leaving the oven on to heat the kitchen. This has many advantages:

1. The incremental cost of gas is less than oil (I estimate 12 vs. about 15 $/Mbtu)

2. It heats only the kitchen instead of the whole house (the registers are closed in living room, etc. but there is considerable heat “leakage” into other rooms).

3. It humidifies the air. For every molecule of CO2 produced, you get roughly two molecules of water. The water produced in the furnace goes up the stack.

4. You can stand by the stove and warm your hands directly, which feels mighty good.

5. The efficiency of heat transfer is essentially 100% vs. 80% or so in a “high efficiency” furnace.

Now don’t tell me it’s dangerous. What about when you cook a turkey for 5 hours? Or bake cookies all day? Ovens are designed for complete combustion so that they don’t pollute the indoor air. The amount of CO2 produced is small, and air leakage in from the outside easily offsets this. Let me know if I’m missing something in my analysis.

Right now my hands are cold. I need to go down and warm them up over the stove.

DadIdeas/Observations/Questions/Recommendations/Suggestions12/15/03 13 comments


David • 12/15/03 6:19 PM:

Once again, i’m lovin’ it! (the new Maddenation formating that is, not McDonalds)

Dan and I had the same idea over the weekend. You see, our apartment is having heating troube and thus the temperature has hovered around 62 F. Let me tellamon, it was COLD. We tried just about everything - even our stupid fake fire place didn’t work. The oven was our next idea, but we never got around to it.

I do believe that the solution for you Dad, is to leave the oven on all day long and stay in the kitchen so as to get the full benefits of the heat. Now, while you’re there, you can bake up some mean cookies for the kiddos who are on their way home. Remember, I can’t eat chocolate, so I prefer peanut butter and oatmeal raisen. Thanks Pops!

Dad • 12/15/03 6:32 PM:

Peanut butter contains trans fat, doesn’t it?

David • 12/15/03 6:34 PM:


I just posted the Trans Fat entry, and then read this. No Way! Did you read my entry first? I mean, I posted it about 30 seconds ago. Weird.

David • 12/15/03 6:35 PM:

And No, natural peanut butter does not have trans fats. Just peanuts.

Dan • 12/15/03 7:02 PM:

Um, I don’t care too much for peanut butter cookies, so make a ton of chocolate chip cookies. Also, could we try a different recipe than what we’ve been using the past 24 years? I also like brownies.

Joe • 02/01/04 3:44 PM:

This is the most retarted site in the world. Go stick your head in the oven.

Dad • 02/01/04 3:56 PM:

Joe: I’m not familiar with the word “retart.” Does this have something to do with adding lemon to tea?

Patrick • 02/01/04 4:10 PM:

Just so we’re clear: “Joe” is not Joe Ziolkowski. This Joe uses (Joe Z has slow dialup). I can’t get any other information on him. His comment does not link to any spam sites or anything. Shall we delete him?

Dad • 02/09/04 10:33 PM:

OK, so I’ve been heating the kitchen with the oven for a couple months now, and it’s working pretty well. But the other day, I got the gas bill and was shocked to see that they wanted $450 for January. I immediately wondered about a gas leak or a neighbor who found a way to tap into my gas line. Then I noticed the bill was “estimated.” They hadn’t actually read the meter, but had used their computerized extrapolation techniques to predict gas usage for the month. Now my question is this. Given that my normal bill is about $10 a month, and my gas usage has not increased much due to the increased use of the oven, what kind of algorithm can cause you to “estimate” that I used 45 times as much gas this month as ever before?

I went out later and read the gas meter to see what I really owed. My reading showed that, by 2/6 I had used about 18 cubic feet since they last read the meter on 12/31. This meant that my real bill for January should have been about $20. (Still outrageous, but whataya gonna do?) Somehow, the gas company’s sophisticated system had taken a string of $10 bills followed by one $17 bill (December) and decided to bill me $450. I still don’t know how you do that!

Dad • 03/01/04 12:57 PM:

Joe, if you’re still around, I’d like you to know that I have indeed been sticking my head in the oven recently. I’m trying to fix it.

As you might expect, all this extra oven usage has led to an inevitable break down. Last week, the oven stopped working. Everything else works fine, the clock, timer, burners, and even the broiler; but the oven no longer ignites. Not one to relish paying a repairman to come into my house and charge me exorbitant rates to change out a small part that I can replace myself, I decided to start removing screws and see what I could observe just by looking.

Underneath a few metal plates, I found what looked like the culprit, a part aptly named, “the igniter.” I found it on this site. But how could I be sure that another part wasn’t causing the problem? Basically, I couldn’t; not without an expensive ammeter to measure the electrical current passing through the part. However, a parts dealer in Denville told me that it’s the igniter 90% of the time. Also, the instructions on the website mentioned that an igniter costs a lot less than an ammeter, so it makes sense to replace the igniter and see if it works. As an added incentive, “Repair Clinic” allows you to return unneeded parts (excepting the delivery charges, which seems fair). So I ordered the part. Stay tuned.

Dad • 03/03/04 2:25 PM:

Hey! The part came today, I put it in, it worked! (Veni, vidi, vici, if you like.) I’m baking a pie right now to reward myself.

Dad • 02/05/05 9:24 PM:

It’s a year now since PSE&G wanted to charge me $450 for a month of gas. This month, I again got an estimated bill for $412. Guess they haven’t fixed their estimating algorithm!

Dad • 03/09/05 5:06 PM:

After last month’s huge gas bill, I wrote a letter to PSE&G telling them they had overestimated my usage and asking them to explain how they could possibly estimate a number so high, given my history. No response came, but my next bill was again an estimate in which they charged me and additional $334. This, plus the “balance” from last month put the current bill at $733, more than I’ve paid in all the years I’ve had gas delivered to the house. I called them about it, and they said the reason their estimates are so high is they have been assuming I use gas to heat the house. Without ever referring to my past bills, they estimate usage based on degree-days and the size of the house. How clever.

The next day, I received a letter from the “correspondence” dept. of PSE&G explaining the degree-day thing, and the nominal additional amount of 4000 cubic feet they add for cooking and hot water. Even that is over twice what I use in a given month. Besides, this has happened before. Wouldn’t it have made sense for the billing dept. to have contacted themselves about changing the estimate? Never mind. Go back to what you were doing.

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