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Old 07-04-2013, 10:46 AM   #1
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converting electric to natural gas


I just purchased a split level duplex that was built in the early 1900s that I am using as a rental. It was heated by a natural gas hot water furnace. However, when the water heater went out the previous owner decided to convert the house to electric baseboard heat. In Northern Minnesota this can be quite costly. Before purchasing the house I looked over his utility bills from the previous year and discovered that he paid $900 just in electric for ONE MONTH (January). I am renting the house out with all utilities included and need a more efficient and cost effective way to heat the house. I considered re-utilizing the old hot water system by replacing the boiler, however, the previous owner took out a few of the radiators and I am unsure of whether or not the system is completely closed still. There is no ductwork in the home at all, so putting in a natural gas central air system would be quite costly. I am considering running the natural gas line to each apartment and installing a direct vent wall furnace in each apartment and supplement the bedrooms with the existing baseboard heat integrated with a programmable thermostat. My concern is that there will not be enough air circulation with a lone standing wall furnace. Each of the apartments is approximately 1000 square ft. Would installing a ceiling fan in each main room where the furnace is, suffice? What type of wall furnace would give me the best return on investment? Any other suggestions that I may be unaware of?

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Old 07-04-2013, 11:41 AM   #2
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converting electric to natural gas


Without seeing a layout of the apartments, can't say if a ceiling fan will really help the bedrooms during the day.

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Old 07-04-2013, 01:59 PM   #3
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converting electric to natural gas


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Originally Posted by mnhockeydude View Post
I just purchased a split level duplex that was built in the early 1900s that I am using as a rental. I am renting the house out with all utilities included
NEVER do this

Quote:
It was heated by a natural gas hot water BOILER.
Any other suggestions that I may be unaware of?
Explore re-establishing the boiler and baseboard radiators...
and splitting up the (new) piping better than done in the past.
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Old 07-04-2013, 02:43 PM   #4
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converting electric to natural gas


Always best to go with what was there, however that may be cost prohibitive with what was done in the home. There are a great deal of direct vent gas fired wall furnaces with blowers included. They come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly you can find one that will fit your needs. One disadvantage of the wall furnaces is they can tend to be a bit loud. One advantage is that they can have individual wall mounted thermostats. I guess it comes down to what you want to spend and what will get the job done.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:03 PM   #5
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converting electric to natural gas


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Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
NEVER do this



Explore re-establishing the boiler and baseboard radiators...
and splitting up the (new) piping better than done in the past.


It was necessary for me to include utilities for the location. The duplex is located next to a college and in general most people increase the cost of rent for fixed income college kids. I have thought about paying up to a certain amount of utilities and they pay anything over that. i.e. I cover up to $65 in electric each month and they pay anything over that...

The problem with re-establishing the new boiler and baseboard radiators is that the main level radiators were removed and I would need to purchase new ones.

Can anyone tell me about the efficiency differences between a natural gas wall furnace and heating with hot water radiators? My budget is about $4000 for everything and I will need to purchase two furnaces. I have a quote to run the natural gas line to all of the levels for $300.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:08 PM   #6
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Always best to go with what was there, however that may be cost prohibitive with what was done in the home. There are a great deal of direct vent gas fired wall furnaces with blowers included. They come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly you can find one that will fit your needs. One disadvantage of the wall furnaces is they can tend to be a bit loud. One advantage is that they can have individual wall mounted thermostats. I guess it comes down to what you want to spend and what will get the job done.

I live in a rural area and my options for competitive pricing on wall furnaces is pretty limited. Is there a reputable dealer or company online that anybody could direct me to that could give me more information?
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:13 PM   #7
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converting electric to natural gas


Quote:
Originally Posted by mnhockeydude View Post
The problem with re-establishing the new boiler and baseboard radiators is that the main level radiators were removed and I would need to purchase new ones.

Can anyone tell me about the efficiency differences between a natural gas wall furnace and heating with hot water radiators? My budget is about $4000 for everything and I will need to purchase two furnaces. I have a quote to run the natural gas line to all of the levels for $300.
The difference is simple, one is basically a space heater and one is a central heating unit. Efficiency depends on how new your boiler is so comparisons may be difficult. Are the pipes still there for the old radiators?

If the pipes are there you could figure out how much copperfin baseboard each room would need to heat it. If you don't want to do that you can look into some of these architectural salvage places, they may have cast iron baseboard or radiators.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:26 PM   #8
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The difference is simple, one is basically a space heater and one is a central heating unit. Efficiency depends on how new your boiler is so comparisons may be difficult. Are the pipes still there for the old radiators?

If the pipes are there you could figure out how much copperfin baseboard each room would need to heat it. If you don't want to do that you can look into some of these architectural salvage places, they may have cast iron baseboard or radiators.
Yes the pipes are still there in the floor but I have no idea if I am missing parts of the closed system. I was thinking I could air pressurize the system and go through the house until I have everything covered.
That is a good point, the other issue that I would be dealing with is differentiating the heating per unit. The building is split between an upstairs apartment and a main level apartment with an unfinished basement that I plan on finishing this winter and connecting to the main level adding two bedrooms and secondary family room. Would there be a way for each unit to regulate the heat? Otherwise, no individual unit would be able to control their own temperature. What I imagine happening is that the people on the main level set the temperature to be comfortable while the people in the upstairs apartment would open the windows to let the excess heat out as it rises....

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Old 07-04-2013, 03:28 PM   #9
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It can be zoned, so that each level has its own thermostat.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:34 PM   #10
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It can be zoned, so that each level has its own thermostat.
Thanks, I will look into this a lot further.
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Old 07-04-2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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converting electric to natural gas


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Originally Posted by mnhockeydude View Post
It was necessary for me to include utilities for the location...
Yeah, I get the reasons why.

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My budget is about $4000 for everything...
Explore separate electric meters & panels for each tenant.
This would be the second stage of the previous LL's work.

No one will ever stay more than one winter...
but with student's that isn't as much an issue as regular tenants.

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