Problem: I'm hot natured and I hate having it warm around my house. Even further, I'm a tightwad and got a high speed programmable thermostat that effectively turns the heat off at night, knocking that house down to the upper 50's while I sleep. Cold is not good for fermenting beer.
I'm new to brewing, so I didn't want to make a big investment in a heating system. Plus, I'm enjoying brewing, and want to have multiple batches fermenting at any time. I've recently expanded to allow for three consecutive batches. Three fermentation heaters with temperature controllers would be too expensive.
Solution: My platoon had a snake named Osama that we found in our office one day. He was recently decapitated by a rogue mouse, prompting the dismantling of his aquarium. The concept of reptile heating made sense, and it is cheap. So off to Petsmart I went.
My problem is temperature at specific times. I'm not looking for exact science here, so I just need to keep it in the zone.
First, I picked up a stick on thermometer for $2. Granted it only shows down to 64 degrees, it is already telling me that when my house is 67, my beer is below 64. This is a no-go.
Now I found this on sale for $12. It's a 23ft heat wrap. The cable is round, so it is not ideal, but as long as I keep it in contact with the fermenting bucket I should be good.
I made a few laps around the bucket and secured it with a little electrical tape.
Now, since my temperature problems occur directly opposite of my thermostat settings, I needed a timer to offset it. A quick trip to Home Depot netted me this timer for $9.
As seen, I was testing the programming with a light. I plugged the heater directly into the wall and it elevated my fermenting ale about 5 degrees in an hour. So what I'll do is run it in a couple two hour bursts throughout the night to start things off. I'm a light sleeper, so I'll keep an eye on it the first few nights and see how it works.
Total investment: $21.
Progress report to follow.