At the risk of public ridicule and frier-dom, I am letting you all know that the Husband and I are going to be guinea pigs in the realm of home heating.
We know what Junkers are. We LOVE Junkers. (Pronounced YOON-kers). We don't love that the bill for the Junkers for a tiny two-bedroom, well-insulated condo runs about 800 NIS per month. We've didn't pay this amount, because our apartment is brand new, and so of course, the Junkers didn't work and the kablan (B. Yair) didn't get a fix-it crew to us until summer....and who needs Junkers in the summer? That's when the air conditioning bill needs to be kept on a tight leash....
But we have friends who have Junkers. Junkers are basically gas heating systems that are clean, quiet and radiate heat from these white radiators attached to the wall. Unlike old-fashioned radiators, these are quiet, clean, don't belch and rattle and the higher-end ones even look sort of nice. On the three days that ours worked, the condo was toasty and comfortable.
However, our friends who have Junkers also have budgets (just like us). They turn on the Junkers once a day, usually in the late afternoon, for two to three hours, allowing the home to warm up. That's it. They don't run all day, even on the coldest of days. On the really cold days, one friend will turn them on for an hour in the morning "to take the chill off" and the other one simply bundles his family up in blankets, jackets, stocking caps and mittens--indoors. 800 NIS is a good month for him--with kids to keep warm, his bill has run as high as 1,000 NIS in a cold month.
It can get REALLY cold in Jerusalem. It IS the Judean Mountains, on the rim of the Judean desert, and it can be a very intense, bitter cold in the depths of winter.
The Husband was reading the Jerusalem Post and came across a radiant heating system on sale. The advertisement claimed it would reduce heating costs by 70%. (70% of what, I wondered, already skeptical). The sale promised 10% off and free installation. The company is located in Shilat, right across Highway One from Modi'in.
"Next time you're in Modi'in," he said (since I seem to spend a lot of time there lately on cottage-sale-business), "why don't you stop by this place and see what the product is like. Maybe it's just BS, but this might be worth looking into."
So there I was last week, strolling through the showroom of Advanced Heating Solutions (the white building next to Home Center, side entrance and upstairs--they need a better sign). What I WANTED was one of the Farber fireplaces but since our goal here is to save money instead of needlessly throw it away, I determinedly ignored the beautiful gas fireplaces that would all look absolutely lovely in the new condo and checked out their heat panels instead.
It's new, the rep told me. We had to use Yossi as the interpreter, because the only thing she could really tell me, humorously, in English, was "My English sucks."
"Gam Ivrit sheli lo tov, " I assured her, but pointed to Yossi and said, "But his Hebrew is perfect."
Poor Yossi. He was fine with the basics of color and price and the claim that each heat panel will heat up 15 square meters of room but when I asked, "How does it work, anyway?" the rep launched into a spiel about the inner workings of the product and Yossi just looked at me helplessly.
"Sarah, I don't think I have the English to explain this," he said, unhappily.
I was flummoxed. How can I purchase, or even think of purchasing, a system whose inner workings I don't understand? How do I explain it to the Husband?
The sales rep lit up suddenly and ran over to a box in the corner. "Here," she said, pleased. She handed me a small brochure IN ENGLISH with a sample of the inner workings of the panel.
You are no doubt familiar with the under-floor heating systems for sale in the States and here? It's basically the same system, only mounted onto panels and covered with a hard material and in our case, then covered with a mirror-like material. It comes (cheaply) with a cord and a switch or (more expensively) wired directly into the wall with a wall switch to turn it on or off. There is also a thermostat option but I didn't want a thermostat....no point in (1) having it turn on when I'm not home and (2) having arguments about what temperature the thermostat should be set at.......been there, done that.
The panels come in only one size--but you can put photos on them so they look like a picture, or mirrors on them so they look like mirrors on the wall, or abstract designs--they even offered to match my bathroom tile.
They come with a two-year guarantee and when I asked "what happens in ten years?" the rep very honestly said she didn't know--it's a new technology and none of them have been installed for that long a period.
But the selling point is the alleged savings in heating costs. The company claims that each panel costs ONE shekel to run for four hours. So if I turn on the three panels in the living room at 0600 and leave them on until 10:00 PM, thats 3 NIS for four hours/ x 5 (for the 5 four-hour groups up to 10PM) for a total of 15 NIS for that entire day??! 15 NIS x 30 days = 450 NIS for the month.......and we NEVER run the heat all day like this!!
This could conceivably be more expensive because we're putting one panel in each bedroom and bathroom as well, but we live in the living room and rarely put on the heat in the other rooms except for perhaps an hour before bed.
This is either the greatest heating discovery to hit Israel since Junkers OR we're the biggest friers in the world.....we're installing them. We'll let you know how it turns out, and if they live up to their claims. You'll be the first to know if they eat more than a shekel/hour of energy and if they really heat up the rooms the way they claim to.....
...but we're also putting in the plumbing for the Junkers, just in case.......
*photo courtesy of Advance Heating Solutions http://www.heat-ahs.co.il