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Our apartment is heated by a natural gas burner (the burner itself is inside the unit) that vents in two directions: one vent into the bedroom and a second (about 3x the area) into the rest of the unit. The bedroom vent can be partially closed but the other set of vents can't.

Question 1: It drives me nuts that if we want to keep the bedroom tolerably warm at night, we have to heat up the rest of the apartment too. Is there any safe, reasonable way to block off some of the vents? The gas is burned right in the apartment, so I'm concerned that partially blocking them off might encourage carbon monoxide production.

Question 2: I'd love to install a programmable thermostat, but the wiring is so archaic that standard models don't seem to be compatible (and the landlord really doesn't want us to mess with it). Does anyone have experience with those "thermostat setback" devices that sit underneath the thermostat and warm it up, tricking it into producing less heat while the device is on? Is there a model you'd recommend?

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Is the combustion chamber of the burner vented to the outside? –  bib Jan 5 at 17:12
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Renting means it's probably not worthwhile for you to invest much money in changing what's there, if you're even allowed to (probably not). Maybe you should consider alternative means, such as an electric oil-filled heater for the bedroom, and then just turning down the main thermostat at night. –  gregmac Jan 5 at 21:30
    
Thanks, gregmac. I have been thinking along those lines. The second part of my question would still hold, though -- I'd love to be able to program the thermostat to turn on before we get up. –  octern Jan 6 at 4:28
    
@bib: I can see the gas flames right inside the heater and the air is clearly blowing into the apartment. I don't know if there's any mechanism for either pulling air in or venting to outside. –  octern Jan 6 at 4:30
    
What country and region is this located in? –  wallyk Jan 16 at 7:27
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2 Answers

Get a carbon monoxide detector, and block of one or more of the non-bedroom vents. This will force more of the warm air to your bedroom. You can just tape cardboard over the vent or they make magnetic vent blockers that are pretty cheap.

I believe that you will be able to use a modern thermostat. The wiring may be confusing but if you read the thermostat manual you can probably figure it out. Save the old thermostat and take the new one with you to your next place.

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+1 on the thermostat. "old and archaic" means "simple to common". –  Bryce Jan 16 at 5:44
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In addition to other answers, the blower fan on your unit is likely adjustable. Usually this is done with jumpers. You'll need to track down the service manual first.

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