Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Winter of our Discontent

As is common in Florida, our house has a heat pump. Actually, we have two: one on the roof for the upstairs, and one for downstairs. The concept is pretty simple--air from our house is circulated through the heat pumps and back into the house. In the summer, it works like a refrigerator to pull the heat out of the air. In the winter, however, the process pulls heat from the outside and uses it to heat the air inside.

Most of the time this works fine. But as you might imagine, the colder it gets outside, the less efficient is the heat pump. After all, when it is 29 degrees outside, there is not much heat energy available for us inside, just in case, for example, we might like to take off our leather coats and relax.

To make things interesting, there's a sweet spot, at around 40 degrees, when the coils of the heat pump freeze over with a thick layer of ice and the air quits moving altogether. As logic would dictate, to thaw out the coils, I have to put the heat pump into cooling mode, which is what I just did, cooling off the house just as I was finally getting warm. Sigh.

The bright side is that we are warming up a little. The downside is that the past 3 days of cold have really punished some of our plants, a few of which, like our papaya tree in this picture, probably are gone for good. The monk's cap above also took a beating, and we were told that this plant has been in the yard continuously since 1924. I still see some green leaves on it so I'm hoping for the best.


  1. Looks like an extreme way to get rid of the evil bugs!! I'll bet they are hit in the ass come spring, and no food!!!!

  2. I forgot about those bastards! I knew there was a silver lining somewhere...