Gas consumption for heat

I've been interested in reducing our gas consumption for heat, as in the past 2 mo. our cost per ccf has risen 30%. We've added insulation, caulked, weatherstripped, and this past weekend with help from the group, installed a programmable thermostat.
Has anyone compared the use of a (gas) fireplace with insert and blower with a programmable thermostat and furnace, or other scenarios to determine consumption (i.e., does the pilot light for the FP consume measureable quantities, etc.)?
I've been searching but have not found information (yet) that would provide better data collection than reading the analog meter outside over the course of a few days. I know there are other variables...the weather outside, the efficiency of the furnace/fireplace, etc., but would be interested in what others have found.
Thank you, Dave
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote in

You can buy furnaces that with 95% efficiency. Even the best fireplaces run around 70%. http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/equipment/english/gas_fireplaces.cfm

If you want to measure efficiency improvements, the only variables you need to measure are energy usage and outside temperature. Check with your fuel supplier -- they will likely have a web page with the local heating degree day data. This will save you from having to measure the outside temperature every hour.
You can then measure your efficiency every month in consistent terms (gigajoules per heating degree day). Do a google search for "heating degree day" for more info.
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A 'gas log fireplace' will not heat your home properly ; they are more for asthetics. Usually, they keep the room they are in comfy but thats about it. No...a standing pilot doesnt cost alot to keep it going -- maybe $4-8 per month in gas cost. If by chance you have access to free (or cheap) WOOD., then, heating your home with a fireplace insert/wood Stove that has a blower on it, IS the way to go. My friend does this every winter, and has saved a considerable amount of money on gas costs. He has yet to turn on his gas furnace --- his freestanding Box type Stove purchased at Menards for about $170, is centrally located in his living area on the first floor and he can keep his entire second floor at 65 f. even in cold outside temps. He has stairs that are also pretty much in the center of his house so the heat goes up there readily. His house was built in the 1930's and is not a very tight house either. Keep in mind that heating with wood in a Stove does create some inconvenience / mess, rounding up a big supply of wood, stove attention, etc...but there is a nice payoff if you can do it. You should visit a local Fireplace Store showroom so you can see how much heat each kind gives off.
If you want to explore 'gas heat' options...like the poster above said, there are 90 plus efficiency gas furnaces if you want to go that route . Depending on where you are in the country, payback on an installation (if you currently have a 65% standard efficiency gas furnace) is roughly 8-12 years. Not a bad payback really. Plus, it will make your house more saleable. Get a few bids on the installation, as, prices usually vary alot amongst Contractors.
If you live in a rural area, going with a CornBurning Stove can be very advantegous if you can get feed corn cheap. This sort of stove has an automatic auger on it and feeds in a preselected 2-4 kernels of corn every so often to keep the fire going. ANother friend of mine has one and its in the basement of his single story home ; keeps his entire house at 70 f when its -10 f outside. Pretty compact stove but has a high initial purchase price . You have to consider venting of it too. That can be tricky and expensive. Do a google under Corn Burning Stoves if your interested.
Definetly go with things like : a programmable thermostat, automatic timer for your water heater preset to ONLY the times you actually use hot water or...go with an instaneous water heater, Tyvek House Wrap is a must and really made a difference on my house as did vinyl siding with styrofoam on the backside, insulate the heck out of the attic, go with thermopane type 'e' glass windows, tight fitting exterior doors, seal up all crawlspace outside vents tight in the winter, raise the fridge temp as high as practical, only use lights in the section of the house that is occupied, etc...Contact the Dept. of Energy for tips on cutting fuel bills ; they have materials they send out via regular mail for free, or a nominal charge.
Good luck ! Norman
P.S. Oh yeah...if your married , take better advantage of body heat :)
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I does not cost anything additional to keep lit during heating season. It gives off heat. You want heat. Turn it off during the off season.

Free or cheap yes. The cost of wood right now is exceeding the cost of oil in my area. When I get it cheap, it does a very good job.
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  No...a standing pilot doesnt cost alot to keep it going -- maybe $4-8 per month in gas cost.
'It does not cost anything additional to keep lit during heating season. It gives off heat. You want heat. Turn it off during the off season.'
ME: Whether you want heat or not, the pilot flame cost SOMETHING additional to keep it lit ; Whenever you have natural gas being used (a flame)...it is allowing the gas meter to turn. In the summer, you can turn off the pilot if you like.
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news:3397-41D880AC-
ME: Whether you want heat or not, the pilot flame cost SOMETHING additional to keep it lit ; Whenever you have natural gas being used (a flame)...it is allowing the gas meter to turn.
-Why would it add cost.?
Compare two heaters in an identical situation.
A living area needs 1000 cubic feet of gas to be burned to maintain the desired temperature for a week.
Situation A is a heater with pilot light.
Situation B is a heater with electronic ignition.
For the sake of argument, let's say the pilot light can burn 20 cubic feet of gas a week. So, the pilot light is burning for seven days and it gives off the heat contained in 20 cu. ft. of gas. The burner will cycle off and on and burn 980 cubic feet of gas. House if comfy. Meantime, the pilot light is burning the 20 cu. ft and small as it is, the heat is kept in the house. That means the big burner will burn a tad less.
In situation B, their is no pilot light. The thermostat calls for heat, turns on the heater and the electronic ignition starts the fire. Over the course of a week, it will still burn the identical 1000 cu. ft. of gas to satisfy the requirement.
In the summer or on day when heat is not needed, the pilot is burning fuel at additional cost.
Look at another situation. People will sometime use a microwave to cook something instead of heating up the oven. in the non heating season, this makes sense and even more so when you are paying to cool the air. During the heating season, it makes no sense. The heat from the oven adds to the heat needed to keep the house comfortable. There is no added cost.
Heat is heat no matter the source. Light bulbs, the TV, computer monitor all add heat to a room and in the winter it is supplementing the central heating system. Go ahead, toast that bagel and warm the house a bit! Its physics. We can't change it.
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wrote in message

Because some percentage of that heat is being wasted. The pilot light by itself may not have as good an efficiency as when the furnace is turned on.

However, the amount you pay for that heat differs dramatically. Electrical energy is more expensive than that obtained by natural gas.
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wrote in message

It may cost extra, depending on the efficiency of the fireplace. In other words, how much of that heat is just going up the chimney?
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JustCallMe Norman wrote:

Except for when the house was built the above describes mine very well. Built in '48 it is a center stairwell cape cod style. Fireplace is centrally situated in the living room. It easily heats the entire house. We're talking high 80's downstairs with mid 70's upstairs when the exterior temp is +10f.
My unit is the Avalon Rainier which is their smallest. Only hassle is the specs call for 20" logs which mean I need to order 16" locally. To control costs I order my wood between April and June when the supplier is offering 20% discounts to generate business. Ideal as this assures nicely seasoned wood when needed come Autumn.
What I haven't seen in this thread as of yet is another key advantage to a wood burning setup, heat when the power goes out. With ice forecasted for tonight I won't be worried about keeping the house warm if the wires go down.
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When power is out the blower doesn't work, it helps to have an airtight that doesn't need a blower or a battery backup for the blower (inverter).
--
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Aren't the "ventless" gas fireplaces closer to 100% efficient?
Bob
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Yes, but do you want the combustion products exhausted into your living room? Many governments have banned them entirely.
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

All the data I have seen places a modern gas furnace far ahead of any insert or fireplace. Yes, you could measure the pilot, I would guess most will cost you a couple of dollars a month during heating season and twice that during cooling season.

--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Typical gas fireplace inserts, even ones with a blower, will not be as efficiant as a gas furnace. The only way you may save on gas with a fire plce is if you do not try to heat the whole house with it. If you heat just the one room it is in and let the rest of the house cool down, you may see some savings. The pilot flame consumes a fairly insignificant amout of gas. The pilot on my old furnace would never consume enough gas to carry the utility charge over the minimun of $6 in the summer. IMO a gas fireplace is good for backup heat, (no electricity needed), or just 'cuz you want a fireplace, the romance of it perhaps. You will not see a gas savings with one. If you want to save money you are on the right track, insulate, weather strip, plastic over most of the windows, perhaps replace the furnace with a new, more efficiant model. Turn the heat down a few degrees, and wear another layer of clothing in the house. This will save you more money than anything. Greg
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This is Turtle.
I have never met a fire place heater gas that could be more effiecent as a gas hot air furnace. Now I have seen some that will come close but never beat them.
TURTLE
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I had a gas fire place and gas heat in the last home. When I really wanted to heat the home I used the furnace. When I was looking to warm the great room I used the fireplace. Knowing full well that the furnace was the less expensive method to heat.
I remember that a standing pilot light is 30% of the gas bill. That is why here in AZ we shut off furnace pilots during non-heating months.
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Thanks to all who posted. I wanted to mention a few notes as a follow up.
In addition to what was mentioned here, I've read some sources on the web that the pilot itself should run about $5/mo, which is in line with most of the replies.
Also, I was thinking of possibly combining the effort of the furnace with the fireplace in the morning, but over the past few days we've noticed that the temp rises fairly quickly in the morning. It would come down to whether the longer burn of the furnace was more efficient than the FP, which would artificially affect the thermostat and trip the furnace (they're in the same room).
Surprisingly, to me at least, is that our heat dissipation appears to be about 1 deg/hour. I don't know if that's comparatively good or bad yet, but it is much different than what our old mercury thermostat would report (a much faster decline). At the current settings, by the time the temp gets to where we're allowing it to drop, it's time to heat the house again?! I'm hopeful I can pull that back to increase the downtime of the furnace and reduce consumption without much discomfort.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who responded. Have a great day! Thanks, Dave
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That decline will change based on the outside temperature. It will not decline at all in the summer but can easily drop a couple of degrees and hour in very cold weather. While all your efforts for conserving the running of the heater are good, be sure you have lots of insulation.
> At the current settings, by the

I don't understand this.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

My understanding is that the energy saved while the temperature drops is roughly equal to the energy necessary to reheat to the original temp. The savings comes from the energy saved during the time in between the drop and the rise. So, if I'm hitting the minimum temp at about the time I have to reheat, I should be able to start my temp drop earlier to increase the time the temperature is at its lowest level as we sleep and increase the (low energy) time that the temperature is not maintained at peak levels.
Dave
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OK, now it makes sense. As the temperature differential increases, so does the rate of heat flow. Maintaining a lower temperature longer will amount to greater savings.
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