Low cost heating systems

I'm new to this group and I'm sure that the subject has been covered before, so I apologize for asking it again. But then again, with fuel prices fluctuating so much recently, maybe the answer has changed.
My wife and I are looking to buy a retirement home in NE Pa. Of the following already installed heating systems in a well-insulated home, which one would you say provides the most heat for the least amount of money?
1. Natural gas forced air 2. Natural gas hot water 3. Propane forced air 4. Propane hot water 5. Oil forced air 6. Oil hot water 7. Electric baseboard
There is also an option for a to-be-installed natural gas unvented fireplace in a downstairs family room. I don't know if that would also be a factor that could lower heating costs. Heck, maybe using that exclusively would be the answer. Whadya think? Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
46erjoe wrote:

I'd buy this one

if it has lots of insulation (likely with electric heat) and a large plain south wall facing away from the street, and add a sunspace onto that wall to solar heat the house. An electric baseboard house is likely to have a less costly heating system with higher fuel bills than others of the same vintage, so the price should be lower.
Nick
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Historically, natural gas has been about the cheapest. Electric is usually the most expensive. Rates change, electric in some areas is cheap. Propane tends to be higher than natural gas, a bit more than oil.
No knowing the particulars of your area, I cannot say for sure, but a high efficiency gas boiler is my favorite. Hot air is a better bet if you also want central AC.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I built my house small with lots of insulation and two windows (south side). Baseboard heaters were very inexpensive to install and have worked very well. They are silent and have no duct losses. A small well built house needs little heat. With small heat bills the saving in installation costs goes a long ways. High electric costs are unimportant when you need little amounts. My house is 930 square feet with two bedrooms. Frankly I should have left off the second bedroom. I have no need for it and it fills with junk. I could get along fine with 700 square feet. If I ever have company my savings would pay for their hotel room. That second bedroom is too attractive for grown children to move back home. Your real savings come from building small. Every square foot you lop off saves construction costs, maintenance, utilities, and tax bill. Small reduces furniture costs as well. Baseboard heat limits you to wall air conditioners.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gas would give you the most heat for the least operating cost. If you are insulated well enough for electric baseboard, gas will be still cheaper to operate. You can install an Apollo system which can use an existing gas water heater to supply heat to a hot water blower coil. Or you can install hot water baseboard & use the water heater for a boiler. A water heater costs more to opertate than a boiler, but the installed cost to add a hot water coil to an existing air conditioner is so much less than what a boiler costs to install that the efficiency payback may be very long.
It all depends on what is there now, your local utility rates as well as the local climate. You can get some ideas over the internet, but only you can make a good decision.
Good Luck
Stretch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You just reminded me: Forgot to mention in my other post, gas required much less maintenance than oil. With an oil burner, it should be cleaned about every 1000 gallons and will cost about $90 to $130 for the service. I mention it because it adds about 10 bucks a month to the overall cost.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

No windows in any other side at all?
Also...... I agree abt building small..... and south facing if possible.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You can't compare heating systems with different houses. If you're looking at existing houses, take the tightness of the envelope into consideration.
Over about the last 25 years in NE PA, oil and natural gas have averaged out about the same. LP gas has been more expensive, and electric (even with PPL) has been the most expensive. In a well insulated house, forced air and hot water are going to be about the same cost. If the home is in the woods, you need to consider air conditioning for dehumidification in NE PA.
Home location is also important. A house in the country will most likely not have natural gas available, so your cheapest would then be oil. Penn State has an Energy Selector, http://energy.cas.psu.edu/energyselector/ which you may find useful, but you'll have to call different fuel suppliers to get their current prices.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Actually, depending on his cost of electric, a heat pump with gas backup might be cheaper yet.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yes, and a geothermal would be even cheaper, but he didn't list those as options. It sounds like he's looking at existing homes, in which case, he should consider the tightness of the construction before looking at the type of system.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

How about:
8. Geothermal. (ground source heat pump) Higher purchase cost, but lowest operating costs of all your options. Efficiencies of 300-400% are possible.
Paul Franklin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm not sure the costs of fuel, one compared to the other. But.... natural gas and propane burn much more clean than fuel oil. Electric is generally far more expensive.
I'd suggest a natural gas furnace, 90% efficiency model. Then, you can get AC, a high efficiency air filter, humdifier, and all the other comforts.
Unvented fireplace puts all the carbon dioxide and water vapor into the living area air. Not necessarily a bad thing. But, if it's not running efficiently that means carbon monoxide.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Depends on too many variables. Electric heat is the most expensive, but also the most granular, in that you can control heat by individual room.
The choice between Natural Gas and Propane is usually driven by what's most available in your area, the economic benefits of gas/oil seem to flip-flop on a fairly regular basis.
Ventless fireplaces are pure evil. You can use them for short-burn ambiance, but they shouldn't be on when you're not in the room, nor should they be on when you're in the room but sleeping.
The forced/air vs hydronic heat question depends on whether you want a fast response when you change the temperature, or less wind in your living space.
*I* like forced air because I keep my barn..er... house at around 45 degrees both when I'm gone, and when I'm sleeping, so when I want heat, I want it right now, and my forced-air furnace can generally get the main room habittable in about 10 minutes. If you expect to set the temp at 75 degrees and leave it there for the winter season, hot-water is probably a better bet.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Great explanations!
Thanks!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Is this also true of vent less gas wall heaters?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Good point Id never thought of
I like lower temps when I sleep as well.
So you are saying that's almost impossible to do with hydronic heat, yes?
Also.....cant a forced air furnace also be used to clean and filter the air in some respects as well?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Depends on your region, usually #1 #3,4,5,6 are not regulated by the PUC and can charge whatever they want and change it at anytime. Larry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.