Gas vs. total electric

Don't shoot the messenger... What are the pros and cons of gas heating vs. total electric in new construction in West Texas? My thinking has been that electric heating is very expensive.
Thanks!
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Bob Dozier wrote:

Andy writes: Yep , pardner !!
But gas can be expensive , also... It depends completely on how well your house is insulated, sealed, designed, the location, the shade available, the ground temp,,, etc etc...
For actual heating, gas is presently cheaper per joule of heat...
However the cost of installation and maintenance of a fossil burning furnace inside your house may dwarf that monthly cost of electrical , which doesn't require venting to the outside....
My suggestion is : Put in a gas system that is MINIMUM for your requirements. Supplement it with electric heaters, in each room... Insulate and seal the hell out of the house during construction...... .... double pane windows, awnings, mirrored EXTERNAL surfaces, metal reflective roof, shade trees on the south side, and a garden.... ( I just added that cause I like gardens )
You gotta plan, pardner....
I live a little south of Dallas , and am looking for a way to vacation in August and Sept..... you should consider this also.. If you turn your air condx off during Aug and Sept, you can pay for a motel room in Ruidoso , NM , and break even....
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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Don't get that cold in W. Texas the last couple of years. So electric heating of air is not a big deal. The most expensive thing to heat is water, IE water heater. If you use alot of hot water, big demand over a short time, go with gas. If not, electric is okay. Only exception is water particulates (iron), or gases (hydrogen sulfide) that can eat the anode on the water heater.
--
Jonny



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In terms of operating expense, electric RESISTANCE heating is very expensive. If you are willing to spend money on the front end, a ground source heat pump will generally give the lowest operating costs.
Steve.
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True, more or less, but that wasn't the subject and parameters presented. Heat pumps depend on greater difference of temperature for greater performance. Not present in past 2 winters in W. Texas. If you're going to depend on geothermal subsoil difference temperature, might as well put the house underground.
--
Jonny



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What did I miss that the subject was not "Gas heating versus total electric"?
When I lived in Dallas, "West Texas" was everything west of Fort Worth so I wouldn't know what the winter would be like where Bob plans to build since he didn't narrow it down. Amarillo isn't exactly a place where people go in January to escape the cold.
Not sure what you mean by "Heats pumps depend on greater difference of temperature for greater performance." If you mean that they work better when it is colder, that is incorrect. Heat pumps draw heat energy from a source. 60 degree air has more heat energy than 30 degree air so the heat pump creates warm air inside with less work when it is 60. As the outside air gets colder the heat pump works harder and harder until it reaches the "balance point". Below the balance point, heat pumps have "backup heating" which means electric resistance. A house I owned previously got the Carrier heat pump replaced, when it was apart I looked in the air handler and it looked like a giant toaster. It was replaced with a heat pump and gas furnace set up so thermostat kicked on the heat pump if it was above 45 degrees outside otherwise it kicked on the gas furnace. Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) don't have this problem since the source temperature is a fairly constant mid 50s. And the situation is exactly the same for a heat pump trying to put heat energy from inside the house into warm air (less work) versus hot air (more work).
GSHPs are expensive to install but have low operating costs, both in winter and summer. Another option is a dual system like I had installed.
We'll let Bob price a GSHP versus the cost of burying the entire house.
Steve.
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Have you considered solar radiant or solar to heat pump? Do you have good mass and/or insulation now?
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Another angle on the advantage of gas is if you ever go solar or if you run a generator it will cost you alot less as your loads will be alot smaller, significantly!
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sparky wrote:

I'm building in SE tenn. Does anyone havean opinion about heating cooling there? What is the big expensie to the geo thermo? Is it the gogging and pipe layout or the unit it's self?
I'm going woodstove with some kind of heat backup. A/c of course too.
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Hi Bill,
Geothermal in these parts tends to be rather pricy ($15,000 CDN and up is not uncommon) with trenching costs being a large part of the overall expense. Operating costs are extremely low of course and in addition to supplying you with space heating and air conditioning, it can also service domestic hot water needs. Such a system may increase the value and market appeal of your home as well.
The additional upfront costs can be rolled into your mortgage (assuming you will have one) and I suspect the cost savings over alternative space conditioning and domestic hot water systems will more than offset your additional carrying costs. In an era of rapidly rising energy costs, you'll also have the peace of mind of knowing you will be protected from much of this pain.
If a GSHP is more than your budget allows, a high efficiency air-source heat pump would be my next choice (ideally equipped with a desuperheater to lower your hot water costs).
Whatever you decide, ensure your new home is well insulated and has good air sealing; reducing your overall space conditioning needs is just as important as choosing the right heating and cooling equipment. And if new appliances are required, look for those that are EnergyStar rated as they can lower your monthly utility costs considerably (front load washers in particular).
Congratulations and good luck!
Cheers, Paul
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The biggest expense to the GSHP is burying the pipe, either in a trench or vertically in a well hole. For a vertical install a GSHP generally would need one 150 foot deep hole per ton of system. Around here well drilling is $8 per foot so the cost mounts pretty quickly.
Steve.
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Well, I will have a trac hoe there for my footers, foundation, water lines etc. And I'm not afraid to use it either! How deep and long do you suggest? How does that help my hot water expense?
I plan the house to be a hybrid, 3 courses of block above the floor line, post and beam filled in with 2X6 conventional framing of something to be picked later. MAybe SIPS if I learn more about them.
SteveF wrote:

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From the articles I've seen tubing is around 250 to 300 feet per loop with one loop per ton. One article that buried the tubes in trenches showed around 8 feet deep but it was maybe 10 feet wide and the tubing was looped over and over itself so the total trench length was only something like 60 - 80 feet. The biggest problem I found was that in central North Carolina these systems are not common so it took some work to find someone with the knowledge and experience to do the install. Call around and find an installer first and they should be able to give guidance on the tubing placement.
There are combined HVAC and hot water systems out there but I don't have any info on them.
I looked at SIPs for my shop but since they are also not common around here the price was way out of line.
Steve.
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Talk to your local utility company and your local agency concerned with solar and alternative energy. You may find the combination of tax breaks and credits bring the cost of ownership down sharply, especially with rising energy costs looking like a very real possibility. http://cee.web.mtsu.edu/TSEA.htm http://www.state.tn.us/ecd/energy_links.htm http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/EPact-05.htm
You may have to dig a bit... these are some of the offerings in our state: http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/CONS/Federal-Res.shtml http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/CONS/RES/reshome.shtml
Some folks here are reporting payoff on their systems at 10-11 years.
Kay
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