Monday, November 28, 2022

I am plenty warm in a shared building as winter arrives in Bellingham

Colder weather has arrived in Bellingham and it's nice to be in my well heated little apartment where the heat is included in my rent.

As I bike around town, I wear layers with a warm jacket as top layer. I'm still comfortable.

Where I am now, the heat is quite good, but I remember another form of public housing, back in the 1970s when my dorm room at Fairhaven College wasn't quite as warm.

Back then, I was taking physics 101 where one of the topics was about heat flow. "The second law of thermal dynamics." I remember putting that learning to practical use when I pointed a small fan at the radiator in my room. The room quickly heated up to over 70 degrees. Moving air transfers heat.

This solution wouldn't work for all heating systems, but in the case of the dorms, there was a chokepoint at the radiator in our rooms. The radiator was pretty small so it didn't have much surface area to transfer heat from the hot water, flowing through the radiator, to the air in the room. The fan brought more heat out of the passing hot water.

Were I am now, the baseboard radiator is the full width of my apartment. Plenty of room for heat transfer so no fan needed. Both places use a centralized source for the hot water. Here it's from a gas boiler on the first floor. We also have some of our energy from electric solar panels on the roof and a heat pump system they call "geothermal."

New technologies provided from various government grants.

At Western's campus, which includes the Fairhaven College Dorms, the heat comes from a central boiler plant on campus. One of my interests has been heating systems so I remember touring the steam plant at WWU back in my college years. More recently someone in maintenance, for this building, showed me around the system here.

Several years ago, there was an open house on the roof of another Bellingham Housing Authority Building. A look at the solar systems on the three Bellingham high rises. Back then, one of the tour guides was Alex Ramel who is now a state legislator.

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