I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest where electric rates are
cheap. We use electric for heating, cooking, hot water, etc. Our electric
is also quite reliable, with less than one short outage per year (usually
only during wind or ice storms).
I personally prefer electric, even if it cost a little more.
Electricity can be generated in multiple ways. Hydropower, wind power,
solar, nuclear, natural gas generators, coal fired generators, etc. If
the grid went down for some reason I could always get a generator and
make my own electricity. I like that flexibility.
Switching between other fuel sources (propane, natural gas, coal, oil,
etc.) isn't quite so easy. It usually involves an expensive replacement
of the heating equipment and connections to ductwork.
Electricity is also relatively safe. I don't have to worry about gas
leaks, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning. As long as the wiring is
installed correctly and I keep butter knives out of the light sockets, I
don't have much to worry about.
That said, I also believe in redundancy. In our last home our furnace
went out in the middle of a very cold winter. We had no heat for two
weeks while we waited for a part to be delivered. I learned not to rely
on a single heating source.
When we built our new house, we used individual room heaters. Even if two
or three heaters were to fail, we still have heat in the other rooms.
It's also more efficient being able to provide only the heat that's
needed in the individual room (we tend to keep the bedrooms cooler for
We also have a woodstove. We use it mostly for ambiance and a little
extra heat on cold evenings, but it's nice to have yet another backup
heat source when the power goes out.
It would be nice to generate at least part of our own electricity. But,
living in the forest we don't get enough wind or sunlight, and don't have
a creek available for micro-hydro. So, I buy the electric and keep our
If new cars didn't cost more than my first home, I would love to have an
electric car. But at those prices I'll make do with the $800 car I've
driven the last 25+ years. :)
Glad that works for you. I think that a lot of our
day to day decisions are greatly influenced by Our
Nation's Leaders, and their policies. Prices of
various fuels are highly dependant on permits to
drill, transport, refine, etc.
Our electric service was excellent until deregulation. Now it's all cheapest bidder mentality.
Sure, deregulation shaved a few pennies a year off my bill but I also had to spend $5500 on a whole house genset.
I'd rather have the regulated electric company back along with their formerly excellent service.
On Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:38:17 AM UTC-5, HerHusband wrote:
If the grid went down, you could generate heat with a generator
to run a few electric heaters without regard to whether you were
using oil, nat gas, propane or anything else as a regula source
for heat. But if you
had one of those other fuels, you could rely on the generator just
to run the blower or water pump and heat the whole house normally
using just a few hundred watts.
A generator is a poor way of generating resistance electric heat
and you're only going to get 5Kw of electric heat out of a 5kw
generator. It would be like running 4 hair dryers.
You can't switch between hydro, nuclear, coal, nat gas etc either. Only
your electric company can do that.
Plenty of houses have burned down from fires caused by electricity.
On 2/26/2014 5:41 PM, email@example.com wrote:
If you had some way to duct the exhaust outdoors,
the heat from the generator engine would probably
help a lot. Noisy, but a source of heat.
During my most recent power cut, the NG was still
on, so I wired my generator into the furnace. That
provided the most comfortable heat.
I ran some numbers from generator catalogs, think
I remember that a gal of gas makes about 4,000 watts
for an hour. If memory serves, that is. Those four
hair dryers going to use a lot of gasoline.
As I said, I have a redundant heat source. If the electric grid went down,
I still have a wood stove for heating.
My point was electric offers flexibility. If you have oil or propane heat
and run out of fuel, then what? If natural gas prices soar in coming years,
what options do you have? You can generate electricity with other fuels.
You can't generate other fuels from anything else.
I don't have to make any changes as supplies become scarce or technology
improves. My power company can obtain electricity from any of those sources
to keep rates lowest.
True. I just feel more comfortable with electricity. Personal preference.
On Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:24:44 AM UTC-5, HerHusband wrote:
If the power lines go down in a storm with electric, then what?
And in my experience, that's a lot more likely than to have NG
interrupted. We went through a week of no electricity here in NJ
during Sandy, but I had NG the whole time.
If natural gas prices soar in coming years,
If electric prices soar in coming years, which isn't unlikely
if the cap and trade folks prevail, then what options do you have?
You can make that argument with regard to any fuel source.
You can generate electricity with other fuels.
You're completely ignoring the huge inefficiency in generating
electricity, not to mention that you'd have to have eqpt capable
of using any fuel. If you have a gallon of fuel oil, you could
put it into a diesel generator that drives an electric heater or
you could put it into an oil furnace. You'd probably get 2X the
heat out of the furnace. And with an oil furnace or boiler, I can
heat the whole house easily. If you take that gallon of fuel oil
and put in in a diesel generator, then use it to power resistance
heat, it's hugely inefficient. As I pointed out, with a 5KW generator,
you'd power 4 hair dryers.
Really? Keep rates lowest? In most of the USA, electric resistance
heat is by far the most expensive way of heating and that is with todays
prices as well as the price history of the past many decades. If electric
heat is so peachy keen, why don't we see it being used, except in special
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