Need to replace Electric Baseboard Heating Units & Replacement Windows

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Hi, I live in a 70 y/o EOG rowhouse with southern & western exposure located in Baltimore, MD. The house has electric baseboard heating and window air conditioners. Utilities were recently deregulated and I believe I need to install a more efficient heating unit. Might as well install central air at the same time.
I understand there are new high efficiency units that can save a bundle in utility costs but they need to installed by a crew that's trained to install them otherwise the are less effcient than the other systems.
Recommendations for HVAC companies are also needed.
Any recommendations for highly effcient replacement windows at a resonalble cost? (will chck consumers union website)
Thanks,
Mike
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I imagine you are probably going to end up with an electric furnace with a heat pump.
As far as I know this is about as efficient as you can get using electric.
But bear in mind the cost of this is going to be thousands of dollars It could be a while before you hit break even on your energy bills.
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wrote:

I've got a gas stove and water heater. How can I convert BTU/therms to kw so I can compare costs?
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Hi Mike,
There are 100,000 BTUs per therm of natural gas, or the equivalent of 29.3 kWh of electric heat.
A mid efficiency furnace operating at 80 per cent efficiency will provide you with 23.4 kWh of heat per therm (the other 5.9 kWh being lost up the chimney). A high efficiency furnace with a 90 per cent efficiency rating would give you 26.4 kWh/therm and at the very top end of the scale you might achieve upwards of 28 kWh/therm.
It looks like BGE is currently charging residential customers $1.30 per therm (commodity and delivery prices combined). At 80 per cent conversion efficiency, each kWh of gas heat costs you roughly 5.5 cents and at 90 per cent efficiency, that cost falls to 4.9 cents per kWh(e).
I believe BGE's winter electric rate now stands at 12.73 cents per kWh. A high efficiency heat pump with a seasonal COP of between 2.5 and 3.0 (not an unreasonable number given your relatively moderate winters), would produce heat in the range of 4.2 to 5.1 cents per kWh(e).
One of the Fujitsu ductless heat pumps has a HSPF of 11.0, which puts its seasonal COP at just over 3.2. That effectively reduces the cost of electric heat to just 3.9 cents per kWh(e), or some twenty per cent below that of a high efficiency gas furnace operating at 90 per cent efficiency.
One of the nice things about a ductless heat pump is that you can simply leave your electric baseboard heaters in place, so there's no need to rip them out, re-plaster your walls and repaint your rooms. This also provides you with backup emergency heat should your heat pump require servicing.
Cheers, Paul

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wrote:

Paul, another poster stated the cost on NG is going up, and I assume, might even surpass electricso the HP is evenn more appealing. How does it cool in the rooms in the summer?
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Hi Mike,
I don't think anyone can accurately predict the long-term cost of natural gas, but I tend to believe it will only go up... most likely, way up.
Canada now supplies 90 per cent of U.S. imports and most of that gas originates in Alberta. The bad news is that Alberta's fields are rapidly maturing and production will soon begin its inevitable decline.
But that's just part of the story. It takes 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas to process each barrel of oil made from Alberta's tar sands (add four barrels of fresh water to the mix while you're at it). By 2015, these oil sands are expected to produce two million barrels of oil per day. Now do the math.... multiple two million barrels by 1,000 cubic feet, then multiple by 365 days in a year. Anyone want to guess where a good chunk of that Canadian gas will soon be going?
I don't know about you, but I get that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Oh, while we're at it, can anyone tell me where those eight million barrels of water (per day) will go once they finish processing all that oily, sticky tar? ... Someone? ... Anyone?
In regards to cooling, they work great. A heat pump with a SEER rating of 20 or 21 is likely to be two to two-and-a-half times more energy efficient than your current window units. I'm happy to say they cool just as well as they heat.
Cheers, Paul

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Look into Spacepack with heatpump. Ducts can be run anywhere. But Ng is cheaper than electric.
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firewood is a loser, run the numbers
lets assume you have a wooded lot nearby and the wood is free:)
now you must go cut down the trees, cut up the trees, haul the logs home, split the logs, stack the split firewood, later stack it by house, carry it indoors and burn, haul out ashes.
thats a LOT of work, and not real convenient:(
now take all the hours worked and get minimum wage job, after taxes your probabl;y stilll ahead working the job
and that assuming the firewood source is closeby and free......
add in splitter, chainsaw, vehicle for hauling wood and fuel to run vehicle....
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Generally speaking, the spread between natural gas and electricity has narrowed in recent years and there have been times when their respective price positions have reversed, at least temporarily.
This time last year, Heritage Gas (our local distributor) was charging residential customers $20.413 per GJ. One GJ is equal to 277.8 kWh, so the cost per kWh(e) works out to be $0.073. Assuming 80 per cent burner efficiency, the price jumps up to $0.092.
A typical new, energy-efficient home here in Nova Scotia might require 50 GJ of heat/year. At $20.413 per GJ and assuming an 80 per cent conversion efficiency, natural gas heat would cost our homeowner $1,275.81. At NSP's then rate of $0.922 per kWh, electric baseboard heat comes to $1,280.66, so the difference in cost is less than $5.00. If you factor in the volume of air that would have been exhausted out of the house over the course of the heating season (air that, in many cases, would have been previously heated), both while the gas furnace was operating, as well as what would have leaked out the damper as it sat idle, electric pulls ahead. And if individual room controls allowed the homeowner to turn down the heat in various parts of his home, the net result is that electric heat is the clear winner.
Today, the price of these fuels has reverted back to their more historical positions. Natural gas heat has fallen to a little over $800.00/year and with NSP's latest rate increase, electric baseboard heat has climbed to just over $1,400.00. The gap, in this case, of just $5.00 has now grown to $600.00, all in the space of one year.
So it seems homeowners never really know from one year to the next what they'll pay to stay comfortable in their homes. For many of us, the uncertainty (perhaps anxiety is a better word) is just not worth it.
Which brings me to the point I keep hammering again and again. A high efficiency heat pump could heat this same home for as little as $450.00 a year; at current rates, that's a $950.00 savings over electric baseboard heat and a $350.00 savings over natural gas.
Cheers, Paul
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What is Spacepack?
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Hi Mike,
I suspect Mr. Ransley meant "spacepak".
See: http://www.spacepak.com /
Cheers, Paul

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Thganks I'll review the link.
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Hi Mike,
Since you currently have electric baseboard heat and therefore I take it no existing ductwork, I would highly recommend a ductless heat pump (a multi-zone model most likely). A ductless heat pump can be installed very easily and without any disruption to your living space -- no cutting of walls and floors, no loss of interior or closet space, no re-drywalling, no repainting and no construction dust.
A high efficiency ductless heat pump can cut your space heating costs by 70 per cent and your cooling costs in half. It will improve the outward appearance and security of your home; i.e., no unsightly window air conditioners that can leave you venerable to break-ins. They're also incredibly quiet.
I've been speaking with someone in another newsgroup who lives in Montral, a city much colder than your own. He tells me that even at -1F, his ductless heat pump can still heat his entire home and at half the cost of resistance heat.
He has a Fujitsu model 24RL. You can obtain more information on this product here:
http://www.fujitsugeneral.com/PDF_06/halcyon06_brochure.pdf
I have oil-fired hot water baseboard heating and a year and a half ago I installed a small Friedrich ductless heat pump (it's a rebranded Fujitsu). It has cut my heating costs by more than half.
This is a picture of the inside air handler, which is located in my living room:
http://server4.pictiger.com/img/264069/picture-hosting/heat-pump.php
You can view the Friedrich line here: http://www.friedrich.com/pdf/Ductless_Sales_Brochure.pdf
The Mitsubishi "Mr. Slim" is another popular choice and you can learn more about their offerings here:
http://www.mrslim.com/UploadedFiles/Resource/MrSlim_final_9-8.pdf
I had read BGE will be increasing their residential utility rates by a whopping 72 per cent! With that in mind, I would recommend a heat pump with a high SEER and HSPF rating -- preferably a SEER in the range of 16 to 20 and a HSPF of at least 8.0 and, better yet, 9 or 10. You'll pay a little more upfront, but a heat pump with a high HSPF produces far more heat in sub-freezing weather and at a much lower operating cost.
Cheers, Paul

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wrote:

Hi Paul, thanks for the useful information. I'll check out each link. BGE rates going up - I suspect the "delivery charge" will be going up too. Nobody has ever saved money using deregulated gas or electric. What a major rip off.
Mike
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Hi Mike,
You're welcome. Domestic natural gas production peaked back in 1973. I believe current U.S. demand is somewhere around 22 trillion cubic feet per year, twenty per cent of which is imported from outside sources. As domestic production continues to fall and as demand continues to rise, this ever-widening gap will be made up through additional imports. That puts the U.S. in an unenviable position both economically and politically speaking, and in terms of its national security. See where I'm going here?
Your best course of action is to aggressively reduce your home's energy demands through generous insulation and careful air sealing. That should be your number one priority. Once you've done everything you can on that front, investigate your heating options and choose the one likely to offer the lowest long-term operating costs and the greatest security of supply. I don't know much about BGE's fuel mix but I seem to recall it's heavily weighted towards nuclear and coal, both domestic sources.
As it stands now, a high efficiency heat pump can provide heat at less than one-third the cost of your current heating system and even below that of a high efficiency gas furnace. Over the long term, I tend to believe it's one of your best choices.
Cheers, Paul

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Paul, BGE energy production comes from nuclear and coal and just enough natural gas so the can use the cost of natural gas for ALL of the cost to produce energy. All energy produces do this and it's legal.
Insulating and HP seems to be the way to go. Tomorrow I'll print out the descriptions of the heat pumps. It is appealing to leave the baseboard electric heaters in place and add the heat pump.
Mike
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Hi Mike,
At this stage you've already taken the big hit in terms of your rate adjustment. Unfortunately, this is what happens when regulators lock prices at artificially low levels for, what was it? Ten years?
When you don't pay the true cost, consumers will use far more electricity than they would otherwise and will logically forego investments in energy conservation and more efficient end-use technologies such as heat pumps. And who can blame them? It's the perfectly rational thing to do.
But now the ride has come to an end and consumers are faced with the new reality. Hopefully most have prepared for this day, but for those who haven't, the pain has only begun.
Please keep us informed of your progress and, by all means, let me know if I can help you in any way.
Cheers, Pau;

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Paul, Thank you much for you useful comments. I will keep the group informed. Also, I've learned alot. Today I was talking some buddies about HPs. Apparently, they have improved quite a bit over the last few years.
Electric - BGE and Constellation Energy made very substanial profits even though the rates were frozen since 1999. BGE, when regulated produced reliable power and always paid dividends to its stock holders. It was a stock many conservative investors owned. Then Enron and others lobbied (bought) the local polictioans in Annapolis and after power producers were decoupled from the power transmitters and the rates were deregulated resulting in the maintenance of the grid going to pot and the rates are in a continuous upward spiral. The local power grids were not designed to import power from other areas thus they are overstressed and are facing premature failure. Of course there is no method to store electric so it is not a commodity that be stored 'til it's needed. In some areas transmissions costs are approaching electric rates in some deregulated markets. I don't know of anybody who has saved a nickel in rates when switching to deregulated electric power. Sorry I digress. It just really pisses me off. I'm a free market guy when it serves a purpose. BTW, A large energy intensive business just left Maryland and moved to state w/ regulated electric because it was no longer profitable using overpriced deregulated energy. Most states who had been moving to deregualtion no longer are because they're a seeing the profound impact it has.
Mike
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Hi Mike,
I can appreciate your frustration. What I find funny is how major power consumers vigorously fought for deregulation, fully expecting electricity rates to go down. In most cases, that didn't happen (quite the opposite) and some of those same voices were screaming to have things put back as they once were.
We can bemoan high energy prices but at the end of the day we're no further ahead. What we need to do is look for intelligent ways to use less. For example, all of us might consider replacing the five incandescent bulbs we use most frequently with CFLs; at $2.00 to $3.00 each, there's really no reason why any of us should be using a bulb that consumes four times more energy than necessary.
When it comes time to replace that old refrigerator or dishwasher, select an Energy Star model. A twenty-five or thirty year old refrigerator could easily consume 2,000 or more kWhs per year; my current refrigerator uses less than one-quarter of that. How many old refrigerators sit in hot garages keeping one or two cases of beer cold?
If you put your mind to it, you'll find a dozen different ways to reduce your bill.
This Channel 4 presentation might help start the ball running. And who knows? You too might save a "packet of money".
#1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PVGEk5Wlxk

#2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxfyiOtfD88

#3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGtHpxvmLg

#4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S8DPfICQiM

#5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXqHrsTFv2Y

#6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
ub4yoRZkc
Cheers, Paul
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