These guys make me feel a little like a wuss for insisting on the woodstove, but they are proof as to what I've been saying for a while now, and also what I've been reading of other people's adventures around the blogosphere for a long time:
1. The ambient temperature inside a building does not need to be summer-time warm for survival purposes. People have survived and even thrived with rooms where the temperature in the morning was cold enough to freeze water.
2. It is possible to live without an oil furnace.
Hey, honey ... ;).
When I was at the mall this weekend (another story I'm working on ;), there was a vendor for this heater (and the salesman dropped Bob Vila's name, as Vila apparently likes his EdenPure heater).
The heaters are electric and use about 1500w of power, which I think is a lot of electricity, which I said, and to which the salesman replied, "Well, that depends." And I said, it's a lot of power if one is off-the-grid and using solar panels, which we're not (yet), but strive to be.
While I think electric heaters are a better option (especially ones that are as efficient as these) than an oil or natural gas furnace, if the goal is to be off-the-grid, electric heat is definitely NOT the way to go.
Our woodstove is plenty, right now, and mostly, we don't need the furnace. If we make sure that the woodstove has a couple of pieces of hardwood in it before we go to bed, it will keep the house warm enough all night long.
Sometimes, though, if we're not home for a long time and it's really cold out, the furnace kicks on, which is good, because without the house kept above freezing, our pipes would freeze, and really, that would be a serious disaster in my house, where we don't have access to the pipes under the house.
I think an electric heater in the bathroom that was on a thermostat and set at 55° would be a better than trying to heat the whole house with the oil furnace when we're not here or when we're sleeping and the temperature in the house falls too low.
Both the furnace and the electric heater use electricity, but the furnace also uses oil, and my bet is that it doesn't use much less electricity than one of those electric heaters.
The best option, of course, is for us to just stay home so that we can feed the fire ... or to put in a second woodstove, back in the back bedroom, near the bathroom ... but then, I'd need to build a root cellar to store my potatoes.
What? You don't have potatoes in your bedroom?