LESLIE: Loretta in Massachusetts is obviously scarred from such a cold and snowy winter in Massachusetts and needs some help with a heating question. What can we do for you, Loretta?
LORETTA: Well, I would like to know if it’s going to be cost-effective for me to change a heating system that I have, which is now oil. I do not have heat – gas in my street. And I’d like to make an apartment out of my basement where the boiler and all that – the tank and all of that stuff is.
LORETTA: So I was wondering, you know, if – can I – is this something that I can do? I have two floors. The basement would be a third, really. And I don’t know if you can have more than one pellet stove or how this would work. Is it clean?
TOM: So, first of all, you want to add heat to the basement space. Is that what you’re asking us?
LORETTA: Right. I want to get rid of the mess down there: the burner and the oil (inaudible at 0:03:18).
TOM: Well, how are you going to heat the rest of the house?
LORETTA: Well, this is what I was – my big question. Can I heat the whole house with pellet stoves?
TOM: Not unless you’ve got a little cabin in the woods. You need your central heating system. It would be foolish to remove that. Your house would lose dramatic amounts of value.
If you want to improve the energy-efficiency of it, you may be able to replace the oil burner or replace the boiler itself and pick up a lot of efficiency.
Now, in terms of this apartment, if it is a boiler, therefore a hot-water heating system, it’s easy to add an additional zone and have that zone only heat the basement. That would be the most cost-effective way to do that and that is one big advantage of having a hot-water heating system. Because with a zone valve and with the plumbing being right there, you could easily add an additional zone and heat the basement on its own zone. So this way, it will only heat when that particular thermostat calls for it. But keep the boiler. You’re going to need it for the rest of the house.
Loretta, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.