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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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