Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chimney flue blues

We finally received the estimate for the chimney repairs. The sellers got two different estimates with the first at $3000 and the second looking to be $2200. The second guy also did an estimate for a new clay chimney flue liner for $2100. To my surprise, I found out that this liner is only for one flue - that of the furnace. We have a second flue for the fireplace which may cost up to $1000 for an additional liner. I am certainly learning a lot about structural issues in houses.

On the note of fireplaces, I was kind of hoping the liner issue would take care of our repairs for the fireplace especially due to the high cost of oil for our heating. I think I'm going to seriously pass out. I talked to the people the homeowners have used for their furnace and oil and they said that the home has used an average of 970 gallons of fuel per year to heat the house. When I happily then asked about getting on the budget plan (i.e., spreading out payment for oil over entire year), I was informed that it was too late to join the budget plan at this point in the year. At this point, yes, I almost cried. This means that we may very well be coughing up $500 per month to heat this house. $500! No, let me say it again: $500! Per month! $500?!?!?!

Sigh, sigh, sigh. It makes me seriously wonder how low-income families can afford to heat a house here. They must have to use woodburning stoves - but even wood is expensive. I have made a call into a local HVAC guy to see about getting an estimate for installing one of the new cold climate heat pumps. They're actually made here in Bangor - very new technology that will heat efficiently up to -30 degrees. This may be expensive up front but is supposed to be one third of the cost to heat compared to oil. On top of all of that, it's environmentally friendly as it uses external air to heat instead of a fossil fuel. I guess we'll see...I would hate to ever say that I'm happy we are experiencing global warming but for the people in Maine this winter, I hope it is a bit warmer.

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