I (Big Beating Heart) Maine!

kittysmith(z9Houston)October 28, 2007

(If there's a better forum for this topic, just boot me on over to it.) My husband & I are in our 50ies and want to move to midcoast Maine in five years or so. We're from Texas, and can't cope with the endless paralyzing heat and pollution and red-state-edness any longer...dripping with sweat from 80 degree weather at 6am is just so, so wrong. Yep, we know that winter has its own unique problems, but are willing to stay snug in house, reading, working, knitting and baking bread. We're ready to trade chilaquilles for chowder. We will be "snowbirds" in reverse...

I have some kinda dumb questions, really trying to do our homework. Can anyone tell me what an average yearly heating bill is? Our AC & very minor heating bills come to a little over 2k a year here in Houston. Is natural gas going to be an option in midcoast Maine in the near future? I hate the idea of burning oil, but understand that 98% of heating is by that method. Maybe radiant heat and or space heat would suffice? What is the average temp people keep their houses in winter? 50ies, 60ies, 70?

Many of my environmental/gardening gurus come from or were based in Maine; the Nearings, Eliot & Barbara Coleman, Rachael Carson. I would love hearing from you either on or off the Boards as we slowly try to make our dream into a reality. Got lots o'time and want to do it right!

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maineman(z5a ME)


"I hate the idea of burning oil, but understand that 98% of heating is by that method. Maybe radiant heat and or space heat would suffice? What is the average temp people keep their houses in winter? 50ies, 60ies, 70?"

In the winter we keep our temperature at what feels comfortable to us, which is about 70 on the lower floor (where my wife and I live) and about 72 on the upper floor (where my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter live) They like it warmer than we do.

Before we came here, we lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri, in that order. The utilities in all of those places were based on natural gas (and sometimes butane or propane and occasionally even kerosene) and electricity. I always supposed that oil heating was smelly and dirty.

Our experience here is to the contrary. Modern oil-burning furnaces are clean burning, efficient, and odorless. I much prefer oil over natural gas, because you don't have to worry about a gas leak with oil and oil is relatively odorless. Incidentally, our furnace heats water and the hot water heats the individual rooms through baseboard radiant heaters. No ductwork is required. That's much quieter and healthier than a central air system, and avoids a noisy blower and the dust and mold problems that central air systems develop in their ductwork.

We live in the Augusta area (the capital), and there is no natural gas service in this area. Ironically, a big natural gas pipeline passes near here, but it would be very expensive to bury all the distribution pipes to provide natural gas service and since everyone already has oil and electricity, there would be no demand. People who prefer to cook on gas have propane tanks. A lot of people in this area, including us, have supplemental wood-burning stoves and/or fireplaces that we burn for pleasure. Maine is very wooded and firewood is plentiful.

The houses in this climate are built with good insulation and double-paned windows. When it snows, snow plows appear from everywhere to keep the streets open. Ironically, we've had far less inconvenience from snow here than we did in Fort Worth.

Do continue your research on the situation here. I won't attempt any dollar figures, since that depends on so many factors. Since it looks like oil is headed for $100 a barrel, I think we can expect higher oil prices this winter. But heating is inherently cheaper than refrigerative air conditioning, and probably will remain so.

I very much enjoy the Maine climate, the Maine people, and the whole uncrowded Maine environment. And I enjoy gardening here. The people here can't seem to pronounce their Rs, but I forgive them on that. (grin)


    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 4:50AM
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My husband and I have a 4br two story house that is heated by oil, which also provides our hot water. Last year we used 1225 gallons of oil. It is currently about $2.50 a gallon. We could be more efficient and reduce that. Our electric bill runs about $100.00 a month.

My father is from Victoria, and I still have scads of relatives all over Texas. You'll love hearing the Mainers talk, they have an accent!

Barbara in Portland area

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 7:49AM
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Thank you, thank you. This is exactly the type of info and advice I need, rather than the "Now...you DO know they have winter up there and there will be snow and ice?" variety. Ha, ha. Houston is absolutely paralyzed in the rare occasions that we get snow and / ice. The city stops and everyone pours outside to make teeny tiny snowmen and have snowball fights. Pretty cute. I myself had a tiny snowman in my freezer for a year...
I'm glad to hear the positives about heating with oil, and that allieviates some of my concerns. I do want a wood-burning stove, how exciting!
Thanks for the helpful, practical advice.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 8:00AM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

We paid about $2800 for oil last year, but we have a large house (3800 sf). We keep it at about 64 when we are home, 50-55 when sleeping and we turn it up when guests come over. Our electric bill runs from $80-150, depending on whether the AC is going. There is no natural gas where I am. I don't think there are too many locations with natural gas in Maine, maybe in the cities? We have a Viessman boiler which is very efficient. They just cleaned it and said there was no soot at all.

I don't think there is an "average" re: temp people keep their houses. We keep ours cool, obviously. People who heat with wood tend to keep the house very warm (too warm for me). If I had to guess on an average, I'd say most keep it at 68.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 4:57PM
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Cindy_T(z4-5 ME)

Hi Kitty,

Congratulations of your decision to move to Maine - and on having the good sense to do your homework! I'm a life-long Mainer and I'd like to point out a couple of things. First of all, we *don't* have accents - it's the rest of you that "talk funny"! :-) Ayuh, that's right! Second, I live in a house with wood as the primary heat source and, having lived through the "Ice Storm of '98", when the power was out for a week (and longer for some folks), I'll never live without it. My children may have trouble finding me a nursing home with wood stoves, but that's *their* problem! LOL!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Even though I don't have much of a drawl (unless I want one...), I'm sure the fact that I say "y'all" will be a dead giveaway as to my state of origin! A-yep! My son and his wife, both 26, have their eye on Portland since we have talked up Maine so much, that would be too great!
And, hey, I do have some actual gardening questions: Do cherries grow in midcoast Maine? What type of apples do well there? (This is time of year down here for citrus to ripen; I have a few Satsuma oranges (planted it in March) and about 20 Meyer lemons.)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 5:52PM
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Eastport is a real nice area. There are only 2 traffic lights in the whole county. Quiet and beautiful. We just got a frost the a few days ago. The temp is moderated by the fact that we are on an island so it is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than the mainland.
http://www.borderhistoricalsociety.com/index.html this is the historical society website at the bottom of the page are several links to the area.

Here's some pix

Here is a link that might be useful: here's our cottage

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 10:22AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Those Eastport pictures in your "here's our cottage" link are interesting, but they would look even better if they were much bigger. Many of them appear on my screen not a whole lot larger than thumbnails. You have some very interesting scenery there in our easternmost city, and it deserves a much larger presentation.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 8:58PM
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Maine is a wonderful place to live and garden, as for cherries , sour cherries do fine in the midcoast, but sweet cherries are a bit more tricky. For all your woody plants, bulbs, seeds and supplies you can turn to fedco (one of maine's greatest gardening assets), their catalogs are a wealth of information and their prices are great, not to mention you can feel good about supporting a local company with excellent business practices. http://www.fedcoseeds.com

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 7:24AM
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