Oil Furnace to Electric Furnace

We currently have an Oil burning funace heating Hot Water radiant baseboards. Oil is getting expensive where we live, $0.88 cents per liter. We are thinking of adding an Electric Furnace to the existing Oil Furnace, sort of Hybrid system, Just in case I guess. Electicity is $0.09 cents a KWh, which is not too bad, for now. We always get price hikes though and could rise. I know that an Electric furnace is 100% Efficient, which is better then the 80% or so efficiency of the oil furnace.
Anyway, anyone have any advice or things to watch out for, makes/models are best?
I live in Newfoundland, Canada if that matters.
--
Steve



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Hey Steve,
I too was considering the "swap" but felt that the savings were nil based on adding to or replacing a perfectly good oil furnace with an electric unit. The only way I would consider this is when the life of my oil furnace is on it's last legs. How long would it take to gain back in savings the cost of the new furnace? As well the inevitable (sp) retro fit of the Holyrood Generating Station to get away from burning Bunker C crude / cost difference between current fuel type and a sweeter crude will be at the expense of the consumer. At the end of the day what you burn in your furnace will be no cheaper than what you will get from the grid (IMO). In the mean time I have realized substancial savings by upgrading my windows / adding more insulation and installing a woodstove as a secondary heat source.
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jim wrote:

What is the efficiency rating of your furnace ? Do you have a thermostat that help regulate your house heating ? i would also look into tankless waterheater. i would choose a mason stove as a secondary heat source . Add soapstone insert into your fireplace if you have one. just some thoughts. Your electric bill will be going up. Their is suppose to be a shortage of electricity available as demand goes up.
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you need to compare the cost of electric vs the cost of oil on a BTU basis, unfortunately I believe electric will still cost more. remember a large aount of electric is generated by burning oil, and all energy tends to go up and down together.
your probably better off upgrading insulation etc, and may look into a more efficent oil furnace....
short term we are all screwed:(
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SteveC wrote:

When it comes to electric heat, I look at it this way: Electricity is generated by burning fuel of whatever kind. This fuel burns and spins turbines to generate electricity. This electricity comes into your house, and then through resistance you turn it back into heat.
So, while the end units may be efficient with the power they get, there are all sorts of losses associated with generation and transmission of electricity.
Why not just burn fuel for heating locally and cut out the middle man?
Even if right now its cheaper to heat with electric, overall it's a very expensive way to heat a building.
New high-efficiency boilers can easily achieve 95% efficiency.
Jason
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Jason Howe wrote:

addendum: If Natural Gas is available in your area, they can get to 95% efficiency, oil burners seem to max out at about 80%, like you said.
Of course if your oil burner is really old, it might be only getting like 60%.
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SteveC wrote:

Bad, bad idea.
With hydronic baseboards, it is perfectly reasonable to have multiple heat sources on the loop, and keeping a perfectly good oil boiler makes a lot of sense in that it gives you a backup heat source in the event of a failure of another heat source, as well as the ability to switch fuels based on what is cheaper.
The problem is that an electric boiler is very costly to run, and effectively inefficient since even though 100% of the electricity used is converted to heat, and electric powered heat pump (ground source for you up north) is much more efficient, producing far more BTUs per unit of electricity, effectively over 100% efficiency compared to electric resistive heating.
Add a ground source heat pump to your hydronic heating loop and you'll likely only run the heat pump since it will be cheaper than oil. If you have the space, leave the oil boiler in the loop (with bypass valves) and you have backup in the event that the heat pump needs service, or if there is a drastic change in the relative cost of oil vs. electric.
For reference, it is increasingly common in the Northeast US where oil fired hydronic heat is the norm and wood is plentiful, for people to install outside wood burning boilers and use that as their primary heat source, with the oil boiler taking over when they are away and the wood fire burns down.
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Pete C. wrote:

Unfortunately they stink up the neighborhood. Two local municipalities are considering banning them unless you have at least a 3 acre lot which I think is still too small.
I would much rather see a lot fewer single occupant 5 ton trucks on the road and sensible sized homes.
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George wrote:

I guess you're a city person, as most people like the smell of wood smoke.
Bumper sticker: "Looking for your Prius? Check under my tires."
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Pete C. wrote:

Me too, what I object to is the acrid stinky smell because people seem to like to operate them at low temperatures.

I think anyone who is a sole occupant driver of a 5 ton truck as a fashion statement is wasteful.
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George wrote:

Yea, that's a different issue entirely. They need a small hot fire, not a big smoldering creosote belching mess.

Well, that's the key "as a fashion statement". Plenty of sole occupant drivers of large vehicles for very different reasons. Not everyone who needs a big vehicle for whatever cargo or towing purpose can afford to have a second small vehicle for the trips that don't require the capacity. My 7,000# truck does grocery runs too, but the grocery store is a 6 mile round trip so any fuel savings from a smaller vehicle would be negligible. I don't commute, and most of the trips the truck makes are with significant cargo.
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Hi,
If you have propane. Maybe one of these will do the trick. Heat and Power for your home from .... Honda... yup the car maker ....
Best, Mike.
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/honda_and_clima.php
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SteveC wrote:

Wow! You have inexpensive electricity.
Still, a liter of heating oil has about 10.7 KwH of energy. That makes it, financially, a wash at current prices.
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Run the numbers http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator /
At your rates, electric is a bit cheaper but the payback is still long.
My oil dealer wants to sell me a new $6000 boiler/water heater so I can save $400 a year on oil. He wants to get paid when done, though, now from the savings over the next 15 years.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator /
Hmmm, Think oil is DIRTY! Why not natural gas or even propane gas? Our electric power rate is 7 cents/kwh(locked in for 5 years). I am in Calgary Alberta. I thought it's cheaper over there. I don't get it.
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I dislike oil, but natural gas would cost me about $50,000 to run the line. Propane can be expensive also, but I do use it for cooking.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

Oil isn't dirty, that impression is a result of propaganda from the nat gas lobby. It is also safer than nat gas, doesn't lock you into a single supplier monopoly and you have independent reserve storage.
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On Thu, 3 Jan 2008 09:15:00 -0330, "SteveC"

Hi Steve,
One litre of heating oil contains 36,500 BTUs and at 80 per cent conversion efficiency, you net roughly 8.6 kWh of heat per litre. If you currently pay $0.88 a litre, your cost per kWh of oil heat is $0.103.
Over 95 per cent of your electricity is hydro-electric generated, so I wouldn't expect electricity rates to increase at nearly the same pace as oil. Over the long term, I expect electricity to be your better option. [Here in Nova Scotia, the average cost of heating oil runs anywhere from $0.909 to $0.957 a litre, not including taxes -- over the past twelve years, our electricity costs have risen 28 per cent, whereas heating oil prices have nearly tripled.]
Personally, I would keep your oil-fired boiler for now but use portable electric space heaters to offset as much of your heating demand as possible -- the oil-filled units are a good choice because their surface temperatures are relatively low compared to the other alternatives and they often provide multiple wattage settings (handy if there are other appliances sharing the same circuit).
Best regards, Paul
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wrote:

I am also in Newfoundland, and I have been doing what Paul suggests for over five years now. And, as Steve asks, I too am pondering the same conversion to electric (Thermolec) boiler system. Except, my conversion would be a replacement system versus hyrbid. Getting rid of the oil tank would certainly remove alot of liability. In 1999 I paid 25 cent per litre for oil, and now it's at 90 cents. I wonder what the real savings would be??
Regards,
Dave
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On Wed, 16 Jan 2008 05:38:30 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@royalroadscorp.ca wrote:

Hi Dave,
I'm with Scotia Fuels and they currently charge $0.949 a litre. My five-year old oil-fired Slant/Fin boiler has an AFUE rating of 82% so, in my case, I net about 8.77 kWh of heat from every litre; this puts the cost of oil heat at $0.1082 per kWh (electric resistance heat is $0.1067).
I'm kicking myself for replacing the original boiler with another oil-fired unit. With my ductless heat pump now serving as my primary heat source, my fuel oil consumption (backup space heating and domestic hot water production) has fallen to less than 850 litres/year. A small electric boiler would have been the better choice, but the deal breaker for me at the time was that it would have required an electrical upgrade to my home (I have a 100-amp service).
My ductless heat pump provides heat at the equivalent cost of just $0.38 a litre and an ultra high efficiency Fujitsu would do the same job for as little as $0.25 a litre. My space heating demands are relatively modest given the size of my home and local climate but, even so, I expect my net savings over oil this year to exceed $600.00.
A summary of my heat pump savings, as of today, can be found in PDF format here:
http://www.datafilehost.com/download.php?file 9bb64d
A record of my fuel oil consumption is available here (my last fill was four months ago and at this point I'm standing just shy of the 3/4 mark):
http://www.datafilehost.com/download.php?file 3829a7
Best regards, Paul
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