On Wed, 07 Oct 2009 11:36:59 -0400, Jim Elbrecht wrote:
Yeah, I keep trying to get the necessary tuits together :-)
I had them come out and trace our line a little while back as it was where
I wanted to put a dog fence in - I was surprised that the line was only
6" down and just plain old 3/8" copper pipe; I was expecting something
deeper and a bit stronger (possibly even a pipe within a pipe). I know
that's all it is within the house, but I'd thought the outdoor stuff would
be a bit tougher.
Your electric heating is 100% efficient. It ALL turns to heat
somewhere in the house and none is lost out the "stack". It CAN be
cheaper than propane or oil. Sometimes.
I've told many people who converted from electric to gas to leave the
electric heat installed - if gas prices spike, use the electric.
Generally, electric heat is 10 times more expensive than fossil fuels.
It has to be one hell of a fuel price spike for electric heat to be worth
it. The only time electric heat can be remotely reasonable is if only
one room is heated.
You don't have to use resistive elements to have electric heat. There
are also heat pumps. If your climate is mild enough for a heat pump
they could beat gas and certainly oil or propane.
I know a heat pump pool heater is cheaper to run than nat gas in SW
Fla because I know people with both types and very similar pools.
That is with a fairly warm ambient tho.
The country club where my wife works uses heat pumps on all 7 pools
they have because they are cheaper to operate..
On Wed, 07 Oct 2009 02:23:40 -0400, gfretwell wrote:
Well, see other post - we were seeing propane heat costs of about 2x elec.
heating cost last season.
I think you can run ground-source pretty much anywhere, can't you? But
air-source craps out at about -20F (so no good up here).
I'd like to put a GSHP in one day, but I need to work out where the frost
line is first (unless that info's online anywhere, but I've not found it
yet). All I know is that the well lines are 8' down and they didn't
freeze, so it's somewhere above that ;-)
I can borrow tools and dig trenches / lay the ground loops myself, but
that's only if I can find a compnay that'll work with me and handle
equipment supply and any bits I can't do; I think a lot of them want to do
the whole job, and of course the labor for putting the loops in is $$$.
At the moment I'm probably better off replacing all the old wood-framed
windows and saving the GSHP for the next project after that (by which time
maybe there'll be more 'public domain' information available on them
and a few more folk will have documented their own experiences)
A new 500 plus student school here is using 15 bore holes into the
ground for ground source heating. Each is, I think 50 feet deep and
will contain a vertical loop. But no reason one cannot use use
horizontal loops in trenches.
And yes word here is that air exchanger heat pumps although compact
and cheaper don't work well at low temps. So then electric heating
cuts in and one has in effect, electric heating at low temps. So one
has to consider if the extra first capital cost and complexity of a
heat pump is worthwhile and economic for the length of time and
weather conditions it works well.
As usual there is no 'magic' answer to every situation!
e.g wind power when no wind, solar power with no sun!
Yeah, I always thought the vertical ones were really just for sites with
less space - but thinking about it there are probably geological
advantages in certain areas too, as different types of soil are going
to affect performance and having vertical loops might be better than
Unfortunately I can't imagine installing vertical myself :-) Not sure
what the installation cost is like for vertical - I know it's about
$3500 for a 90' well as I was talking to an installer last year, and it
wouldn't surprise me if it's at least half that for each of those
installed 50' loops. Costly stuff with a long-term payback...
Or too much wind... :-( There do seem to be some major drawbacks both
with wind and solar (at least for electricity generation) - GSHP's seem to
be a bit more reliable in terms of performance; it's a shame they're not
talked about as much and there are still only a few companies doing
installs (and charging a fortune for it). Hopefully that'll change...
On Wed, 07 Oct 2009 08:16:26 -0700, harry k wrote:
Interesting... I can try that - we don't actually *have* building permits
where I am, but they do in the nearby town, so if the info's with all such
places there should be an office there somewhere that has it.
On Wed, 07 Oct 2009 02:23:40 -0400, email@example.com wrote:
A good ground source heat pump can be something like 140% efficient.
When it gets too cold, which is REAL cold, resistive electric heat can
take over - and for the short amount of time it is needed in the
average season, it does not hurt the heating budget terribly bad.
Just general experience. A datapoint in the early 80's; $300/mo to heat a
vermont vacation house two weekends a month compared to $150/mo to heat the main
house in connecticut which was twice the size and occupied all month.
In another situation, About $40/month to heat one room in a northeastern winter
vs. $100/mo to heat the whole apartment.
Generally it is a lot more useful to determine the cost/BTU and then
factor in the efficiency of the heating equipment to determine net
cost/BTU. Stuff like location A heating one room cost this and location
B cost that pretty much tells you nothing without knowing a complete set
of details and even then the answer is just a best guess.
What you describe is not general experience- it is an isolated [30 yr
In NY in the early 80's Niagara Mohawk sold electricity cheaper than
oil, gas or coal prices-- per BTU. By the end of the decade it was
no longer the bargain. Now NY's Public Service Commission does
everything in their power to equalize the prices of Nat. Gas, propane,
electricity & oil.
That's the kind of twisted reasoning that makes all these reports and
predictions so unreliable. No mention is made of the Heating Degree
Days- heat loss of the dwelling, or type of system installed.
If you really care to compare fuels, you need to do real world
Figure 123000 BTUs of heat from a gallon of oil.
Propane makes 91600 BTU's per gallon.
Electricity is 3412/kWh.
Right now- in NY [National grid] I can buy 3412 BTU's of electric
resistance heat for 16cents. [I don't know anything about heat
pumps anymore-- but I'll bet a ground exchange heat pump would be a
lot less this time of year]
16 cents worth of oil [.149375gallons] will produce 18373 BTU's.
But 20% goes up the chimney so I'm left with 14698. There are other
losses- like not have room by room zones-- But you could say that
electricity is roughly 4 times as expensive as oil *right now*, where
16 cents worth of propane will buy 14827 BTU's. My propane heater is
un-vented so it is 100% efficient- so it is also about 1/4 the cost of
electricity *right now*.
Next week, next month. . .next year those numbers will change & need
to be recalculated. There is no "generally electricity is 'x' times
the cost of other fuels"
That blanket statement is not true everywhere.
It must be very much a case of where one is located. How cold the
climate and how much wind.
Here in the most eastern area of Canada it is a short summer; we do
not need or use AC (although a few have heat pumps that can be
reversed to provide cooling). We are less than a kilometre (that's 0.6
miles) from the North Atlantic and it CAN be windy!
The heating season started in September and will go through to at
In fact when electric heating first started to be popular in the late
1950s one observation was 'Every month of the year, in this climate,
requires some heating'.
Apart from the advantages of no initial costs for chimney, no oil
storage tank, no annual furnace maintenance etc. we have been all
electric since 1970. Our total electric maintenance during that time
has been less than $100 comprising one circuit breaker, and three
thermostats. Electric heating is also very safe and each room can be
it's own zone. It's also very useful for an area such as a garage or
workshop where it can be turned on for a few hours to work on
something such as the car.
Electricity cost here, at the moment, is just over ten cents per
kilowatt hour (inclusive of all sales taxes and a per customer
account charge of around $17 per month).
All electricity that comes into the home gets turned into warmth in
some form or other. Either as lighting, cooking, TV or other appliance
usage etc. Including the heat from our two computers. Where heat is
wasted is by the clothes dryer which, as it has to, chucks warm damp
air outside and if/when warm bath or shower water goes straight down
the drain rather than being allowed to cool to room temperature. For
an estimated heat saving of somewhere around 12 to 15 cents per
shower. Also dish washer that is run couple of times a week.
Several electric bulbs that are on when bathroom is in use pretty well
heat it during most of the year; so the 500 watt thermostatically
controlled baseboard in that room rarely cuts in. There is also a 50
watt bulb outside over front door which is on about 8 - 10 hours per
nightly all year round for insurance purposes; the electricity
consumed by that item is a bit less than $20 per year. Not converted
to a CFL because so far they haven't worked well in cold weather! If/
when a suitable CFL is found; probably at a cost of say $3 to $5 the
annual consumption of that one outside light can probably be reduced
to $5 or less?
Cost: On an equal monthly payments budget plan (no interest charges)
cost is now approx. $230 (Canadian) = roughly $196 US) per month for
all energy consumed by the home. So average annual energy cost in US
dollars is a bit less than $2400.
In view of oil costs and tight new regulations about improperly
installed and protected oil tanks (only expensive delivered propane is
available) many people have and are converting to 'electric
furnaces' (either hot water or air, depending on what sytem they
have). Since most** (but not all) of the electrcity is generated by
hydro it is also considered more ecologically viable. Also with very
reliable electricity sytem and fast repairs there are no fuel delivery
When the wind is not blowing there is definitely a reduction during
the winter in the pall of haze and smoke hanging over the downtown and
harbour area of our major provincial city. Old style 'oil heaters'
with tin chimneys have been long gone for many years and the use of
domestic oil furnaces in the many newer homes constructed during the
last twenty-thirty years pretty well unheard of.
The local electricity supplier reduced electricity rates due to lower
oil** consumption at the one an only standby thermal generating
station using Bunker C, but is proposing an approx 5 to 6 per cent
increase next year. So our per hour kilowatt cost 'may' rise to around
11 cents (Canadian) = approx 9 cents US. As other sources become
available the the thermal generating will be phased out.
Eventually the huge proposed hydro expansion at Lower Churchill, in
addition to the existing Churchill Falls, in Newfoundland-Labrador
which will be partly for export to other parts of Canada and the
northern USA may reduce rates once again.
Trust this of interest.
If you're talking about resistance electric heating, which apparently
you are, then the climate and wind have zippo to do with how much
either fuel costs. The house needs X BTUs to achieve a certain
temperature. That is determined by the climate and wind. But how
much it costs to supply those X BTUs is determined by the fuel costs
and efficiencies, not the climate.
I think you meant more like 10% there ;-) Your version would take a 900$
natural gas and make it 9,000$ for electric.
I think the big difference really though in the end is 'how cold does it
get' where a person is. In Georgia for example, the mere cost to install a
natural gas heat system wouldnt make sense compared to just going electric
at need. A person in Vermont, would have a different view since it runs
probably 1/2 the year or near it.
I'm the mid-zone. Gas for most of my heat needs and one room off the 'grid'
gets electric. Also, Garage gets heat augment from 2 space heaters designed
to have a setting just about 6C where they kick in at that temp.
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