water comes into house in unheated basement. help?

I'm trying to figure out how to solve an issue with an 1800s barn here in vermont that is my home. The water comes into the house into the unheated, un-insulated basement (where the cows used to live). Floors are dirt, barn wood walls. There is a room for the water pipes, insulated, cement floor, and with an electric water heater in the room, blanketed. Upstairs is the living part of the barn, heated with wood stove heat in the winter. I've been paying a rental fee for the hotwater heater for years, and more than half of my kwh use is from the water heater. The water heater has been helpful in that it helps add heat to the water room in the winter and aids in preventing the pipes from freezing. I also have a fan that vents heat from the upstairs bathroom down to the water room. And I have anelectric space heater that is on a thermostat in the water room. It gets to 20 below zero in the winter here.
I don't want to continue to pay a rental cost for an old water heater. I can purchase the heater for $100, but that seems a waste, given how old the heater is (over 15 years). I use wood heat over 6 months of the year.
*Should I get rid of the downstairs water heater and figure on heating the room via the space heater only. (any other good ideas?) *Does an on demand water heater make sense? Or a tank water heater that I can heat part of the year via my woodstove? I only need hot water for a shower and sink. I don't use hot water for the laundry.
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vermonty wrote:

Is this below grade?
What is the temperature of this insulated room when it approaches -20 outside?
It seems you may be over-heating your utility room. If it's below grade, it would be tough to get it under 40 degrees, negating the need to do any room heating.
I've never heard of a rented water heater? They're only $225 new. And then I would consider switching to propane and/or putting the heater on a 24/7 timer to match your needs.
Rob
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No info to contribute. Lived in the Colchester/Essex Jct area for a couple of decades though...

In a hot spot ehhhh??? At least you aren't in the NE Kingdom.
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vermont,
Sounds as if the house is on a slope and the basement is partially aboveground, unheated, and cold. How cold? Does it get below freezing there? You mention a "water room" but fail to tell us what's there. Pump? Holding tank? et c.? You also mention that the electric water heater is so inadequately insulated that it heats the water room. If the basement does dip below freezing a lot then insulating and heating the water room would be a good idea. How to do this with a wood stove, I don't know. I suspect that you'll need an electric fan and some grills. The water heater is designed to heat water and will not efficiently heat the air in the water room. Electric water heaters do use a lot of electricity. I doubt you'll see huge savings with a newer (and better insulated) heater. You don't say why you wish to replace the current heater. If it's working ok throw some more insulation around it. My mother lives in NH and has a wood furnace in her basement which heats water used for heating baseboards and bathing. Oil furnace supplies hot water in Summer.
Dave M.
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