Once, as a first grader, my youngest son asked me, “Did you have to take a piece of firewood to school during the winter?” I explained that I did not attend the Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie.
My ‘grade’ school had a boiler deep in the basement of the building where only the boys in class were sent to fetch the janitor. (Fine by me!) That boiler, fueled by I-don’t-know-what, provided heat to radiators in each classroom very efficiently and reliably.
At home our house was warmed with gas space heaters with clay covers over the open flames. These did a very good job of keeping a room toasty.
Later came the floor furnace, a burn hazard for toddlers. And eventually it became financially possible for most homes to have central heat, a furnace that put warm air evenly throughout the whole house.
Thermostats had always been available for furnaces. Early on, people needed to control the temperature in mills and factories so the mercury thermostat was invented way back in the 1600s.
Somewhere along the way it was discovered that electricity worked well and was safer so that is what is used now. The temperature in our houses are even throughout each room. We can program changes into our thermostat so the heat (or air) adjusts itself without our giving it another thought.
And this is nice, but when there is a power outage it isn’t just the total electric homes affected, virtually everyone is without heat. Because with no electric power to the thermostat, there is no way to turn on a gas furnace.
And I guess I’m here to ask, Why Not? Why is there not a mechanical starter on a gas furnace? If there were, then during a power outage the emergencies would be lessened because those with gas furnaces would have heat in their houses. Fewer people would be in a crisis situation.
Wouldn’t that be a good thing?