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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    612

    Default Heating with what fuel and cost

    In the interest of learning about heating alternatives, I am curious what fuels are being used to heat homes and at what cost and comfort level.

    We live MD and are using PA anthracite nut coal in a hand fed radiant stove to heat 1600sq ft of unfinished and uninsulated basement and 2000 sqft of living space. We use about 4 ton of coal per year at a cost of $210 / ton for a total of $840 per year.

    Our backup heat is a high efficiency propane furnace but as long as the coal stove is running it doesn't ever kick on. We will use the propane to heat with in early fall and late spring when it isn't cold enough to use the coal stove. We also use propane for hot water, dryer and cooktop and will be installing a propane generator for backup since we lose electric often.

    Based on our neighbors propane usage in a similarly sized and insulated house I estimate we have saved about $1200 this year and our house is usually at least 70* while theirs is kept at 65* and below to save fuel.

    So, if you feel like sharing info, what are you all using to heat what size space and at what cost and comfort level??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    Sounds like you've got a great set up. We have an oil furnace which I really don't like to much. It efficient but heating oil prices go all over the place just like gasoline. I think for the first few years we were in our home we would pay between 1200-1500 dollars.

    The last couple years we have been using our fireplace a lot more due to the fact that the wood is 'free' because we are lucky enough to have the ability to fell trees on our property.

    We live in Washington state.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    Up here in c-c-c cold part of Canada -- just shy of 1200sq ft -- NG 80% forced hot air furnace -- gas dryer -- gas water heater.
    Total cost for a period of Sept. 2010 - Sept 2011 was $790. Now subtract the gas dryer and water heater and I would say ( conservatively ) maybe $700 for heat.
    Mind you last winter was shorter than normal --- 4-1/2 months instead of the usual 5-1/2
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    661

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    We have a forced hot air Furnace by Oil, heating bill runs about 900-1200 per year, everything else is electric. Hopefully next year we will be all gas, or at least for heat. I'd like to do a boiler but it may be cost prohibitive, the house won't heat up as fast either and the wife likes quick heat.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    I did mostly firewood for many years also. But got lazy and old and the coal delivery was easier than cutting/carrying/stacking/splitting/carrying/stacking/carrying/stacking/burning!!

    I wish we had NG here, but we live too far from the beaten path for them to run a main. Sounds like your NG prices must be a good deal since heating cost is that low in such a cold climate.

    Oil & propane are both above $3/gallon right now in this area. When we do get our propane tank filled I always do it in the summer since prices are generally lower then.

    Any other alternatives out there I should be looking at to save some $$???

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    93

    Default Tough Question

    That's a tough question to anwser. There are many things to consider when you compare someone elses fuel cost to your own.

    For starters you'd have to look at the equipment. Is it oversized for the heat loss of the home? Probably. Nintey percent of heating systems in the US are oversized. In forced air the same can be said for the duct work. Its either undersized or oversized. Never mind that there is a ton of it out there that isn't insulated.

    To really true test to see how much wasted money you are throwing to the gas or oil company based on the equipment is to start with a heat loss of the home. How oversized is that piece of heating equipment? Then its off to look at the distribution system. Are the ducts insulated? Are they properly sized? How about the returns in forced air systems. Are they properly sized? Filters, are they changed regularly?

    In hydronic systems is the baseboard oversized? Do I really need 180 degree water to overcome the heat loss. The rule of thumb in a hydronic heating system is that for every 3 degrees below that 180 degree water temp you can save 1 percent of fuel.

    The other most important reason why you cannot compare your home to a neighbor. Comfort level. Yours is different then mine and mine different then the other. Living style also plays another role.

    There are plent of simple things one can do to the existing piece of equipment to make their heating system better but it all starts with a heat loss.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Tough Question

    Quote Originally Posted by hvhehcca View Post
    That's a tough question to anwser. There are many things to consider when you compare someone elses fuel cost to your own.

    For starters you'd have to look at the equipment. Is it oversized for the heat loss of the home? Probably. Nintey percent of heating systems in the US are oversized. In forced air the same can be said for the duct work. Its either undersized or oversized. Never mind that there is a ton of it out there that isn't insulated.

    To really true test to see how much wasted money you are throwing to the gas or oil company based on the equipment is to start with a heat loss of the home. How oversized is that piece of heating equipment? Then its off to look at the distribution system. Are the ducts insulated? Are they properly sized? How about the returns in forced air systems. Are they properly sized? Filters, are they changed regularly?

    In hydronic systems is the baseboard oversized? Do I really need 180 degree water to overcome the heat loss. The rule of thumb in a hydronic heating system is that for every 3 degrees below that 180 degree water temp you can save 1 percent of fuel.

    The other most important reason why you cannot compare your home to a neighbor. Comfort level. Yours is different then mine and mine different then the other. Living style also plays another role.

    There are plent of simple things one can do to the existing piece of equipment to make their heating system better but it all starts with a heat loss.
    Sorry, but in all that I must have missed the answer to the original question which was pretty simple since I wasn't asking for you to do any comparisons.

    "So, if you feel like sharing info, what are you all using to heat what size space and at what cost and comfort level??"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    1,387

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    Howdy, consider super insulation to then greatly reduce the heating need. Many good topics on web about it. In basement the uninsulated. Consider first insulation and air sealing the rim joists and install R30 insuilation down the wall to 2 feet below the exterior soil grade. Its interesting how stable the temp is in a basement below this level. Also consider insulating you basement ceiling with R20 to R40 so the heat is not migrating out of the conditioned space of the home into the basement... Attic got R60 if not great time to increase the insulation..... I predict any fuel cost is only going up in cost so reducing the need is the way i am going into the future...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    93

    Default Gas Vitodens 200

    Running a Viessmann Vitodens 200 WB2B-19 on fin-tube baseboard. Heating just about 2,000sqft. House was 2 zones turned it into a constant circulation system using a Vitotrol 300 (an extension of the boiler control) that provides indoor temp feedback to the boiler and using a Grundfoss Alpha as a system pump. The Vitotrol is centrally located.

    Max water temp at design (0 degrees) is 140 degree water. Boiler condenses every day. Home is a comfortable 70 degrees with no temp swings. Do not use setback I just let it fly on outdoor reset. Monthly gas bill average 150 bucks! That includes cooking and hot water. Running a Nortiz for domestic hot water. Live in New York and it's been cold real cold. For 2 months I don't think the nights saw the 20's mostly in the teens or less. Daytimes 20's to 30's.

    Last year that bills average was more than 400 bucks! Was running a old HydroTherm and a 40 gal nat gas water heater. Boiler was banging off 180 degree water and oversized.

    Being in the business and specializing in low temp hydronics I designed and installed myself. Eventually the fintube will be changed out to panel rads once I save my pennies...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Heating with what fuel and cost

    "Monthly gas bill average 150 bucks! "

    If that is for the 3 or 4 winter months, that is awesome efficiency. Still not too bad if it is a 12 month average for your climate. I wish we had NG available here.

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