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Old 04-03-2007, 11:15 PM   #1
Lehigh Valley PA
 
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Heating options?


Now that the winter is starting to let up and I can start looking forward to lower electric bills I'm starting to think again.
I have a 1 story home built on a slab with a decent size attic over top.
The problem is the house is heated by electric radiant panels in the floors of each room. This is proving to be extremely expensive to say the least. (these are each running off line-voltage 220)

Is there anything I can do to supplement the heating (and possibly cooling while I'm at it) in this house?
I thought about getting an oil furnace but am not sure if that's a good route to go. I don't know much about other types of systems and that's where I'm hoping some of you can help me out.

Anyone with any ideas?

I'm going to try and replace all the windows this summer / fall and see about insulating everything I can to make sure that's up to par.
The house was built in 1965 and still has the original windows which are VERY drafty when the wind blows. I have the plastic covering from 3M on them every winter as it is which has helped a lot for comfort but not at all for energy bill.

B.T.W. The house has a fireplace but I don't want to be bothered trying to keep that going all winter with our schedules.

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Old 04-03-2007, 11:33 PM   #2
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Heating options?


I'd definately replace the old windows to save on energy costs. Check the overall insulation of the house as well.

oil furnaces tend to have a smell to them that'll be all over you, and fireplaces aren't as efficient as maybe a woodburning stove.

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Old 04-04-2007, 05:59 AM   #3
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Heating options?


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Originally Posted by Nhrafan View Post
Now that the winter is starting to let up and I can start looking forward to lower electric bills I'm starting to think again.
I have a 1 story home built on a slab with a decent size attic over top.
The problem is the house is heated by electric radiant panels in the floors of each room. This is proving to be extremely expensive to say the least. (these are each running off line-voltage 220)

Is there anything I can do to supplement the heating (and possibly cooling while I'm at it) in this house?
I thought about getting an oil furnace but am not sure if that's a good route to go. I don't know much about other types of systems and that's where I'm hoping some of you can help me out.

Anyone with any ideas?

I'm going to try and replace all the windows this summer / fall and see about insulating everything I can to make sure that's up to par.
The house was built in 1965 and still has the original windows which are VERY drafty when the wind blows. I have the plastic covering from 3M on them every winter as it is which has helped a lot for comfort but not at all for energy bill.

B.T.W. The house has a fireplace but I don't want to be bothered trying to keep that going all winter with our schedules.

Add a forced air gas furnace and A/c ........put duct work and furnace up in actic and a/c outside on ground. Use LP as fuel (if available in your area.)
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:29 AM   #4
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Heating options?


It sounds like air infiltration is the biggest problem you have. I would definitely work on the envelope first. Do a complete heat loss calculation. You can then see where your money will work the hardest. Without knowing the energy prices in your area, it's hard to tell which would be the best heating solution for you. Take into consideration the efficiency of the heating equipment you install. Electric is the most efficient, returning nearly $1.00 in heat for every dollar you spend. Oil is the least efficient returning, at best, around $0.85 for every dollar spent. Even though electric is the most efficient, it typically is the most expensive per BTU.

One idea is to add a pellet stove. These feed themselves so they don't need to be stoked or maintained while they are running. They can work on a thermostat and will even ignite themselves when the thermostat calls for heat. All you have to do is add a couple of bags of pellets every 2-4 days. Bear in mind that the price pellets also fluctuate with rest of the energy (gas,oil,electric) prices. I almost went this route for my house but it turned out that NG was cheaper/BTU than pellets.

Good Luck
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Old 04-04-2007, 11:01 AM   #5
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Heating options?


"Do a complete heat loss calculation. You can then see where your money will work the hardest."

How would I go about doing something like that?


Gas isn't available here, I'm pretty far away from any average city or town.
I think my options are either something else electrical, oil or some kind of stove like mentioned.

I do have plenty of space to run duct work and cut holes in the ceilings for registers.
I'm leaning a little towards putting in a pellet stove like mentioned because the 2 main areas that I want to heat are the living room and the dining / kitchen area which are right where the fireplace is now. The other rooms are okay to heat from the floor radiant but the living area is all open and is a quite large space. I think this is where a lot of the cost is coming in.

Only thing is I'd also like to install some kind of a/c unit for the summer months.

Anyway, thank you for the ideas and suggestions. It's just what I need in trying to figure this all out.

I can tell you this much, I have to do something because I got set up with a budget plan for my electric and next month it'll be around $245 a month. The winter of the first year we moved in it wasn't uncommon to have 3-4 months of a $400 bill.
So I figure whatever I do it won't take too long to get a decent R.O.I.

Sorry that was soooo long, just want everyone to understand exactly where I'm coming from to help me figure this out.
Thanks again.
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Old 04-04-2007, 01:44 PM   #6
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Heating options?


Do you have a space for the mechanicals? If you had access to LP or NG you could have put the furnace in the attic, with oil you can't.
Any other electrical heat source won't save you a dime. Slantfin (on their website) has a free heat loss program where you can try different scenarios with windows, insulation, etc.; it's because of that program that my house is down to studs right now.
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Old 04-04-2007, 01:51 PM   #7
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Heating options?


How about a pellet stove? They usually come with a thermostat that automatically controls the amount pellets that are burned in order to keep up with demand? Solar panels should also be considered, as they are tax friendly.
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Old 04-05-2007, 10:47 AM   #8
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Heating options?


LP gas is Liquid propane. Its delivered, like oil, to a tank you lease or buy. You can get a big tank and have it buried. Don't just write off LP, its likely a viable option for you.

maybe a fireplace insert with LP. Pellet stoves are a pain because you need to fill the hopper with the pellets.
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:47 AM   #9
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Heating options?


Pellet stoves: 40 lbs bags, maybe once every two days depending on outside temperature. Not that big of a deal.
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Old 04-05-2007, 02:35 PM   #10
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Heating options?


What kind of ballpark range are we talking about for LP and for a bag of pellets??

I'd like to figure out what this will cost overall and see which is more economical in the long run.

Thanks for the help so far.
Given me a lot to think about.
First I will replace all the windows, starting with the windy end of the house.
I'm also thinking of blowing in some insulation this fall into the attic. Mainly at the windy end of the house and along the edges. Still use the middle area for storage and access to all wiring and things.
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Old 04-05-2007, 02:49 PM   #11
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Heating options?


In season, pellets can cost $4/bag. Now may be the time to stock up if you're heading that direction. Pellet stove itself will run in the low $1000.
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Old 04-05-2007, 03:12 PM   #12
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Heating options?


Well so far that sounds like a good option to go with.
I know a furnace will cost MUCH more than that.

Is the pellet stove something you can install yourself?
Especially with a fireplace already there with a good working chimney.
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Old 04-05-2007, 05:48 PM   #13
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Heating options?


If you know what you're doing, you can install it yourself. A pellet stove is really heavy though. Probably 200+ lbs. Here's an example of a rough cost for one.


http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=91867
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Old 04-05-2007, 06:01 PM   #14
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Heating options?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nhrafan View Post
Is the pellet stove something you can install yourself?
Especially with a fireplace already there with a good working chimney.
.
You may need a liner if the draft isn't quite right. Those are relatively easy to install though.

You are going to need to have electricity someplace in the vicinity.

They make fireplace inserts that burn pellets too. In that case you would want to have electricity installed on the backwall of your current firebox so that you don't have to run extension cords in front of the fireplace.
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Old 04-15-2007, 08:29 PM   #15
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Heating options?


You stated that you wanted ac as well. The most obvious is to install a heatpump with an electric heating package to assist the heat pump on colder days. LP(propane) is pricey at least in Ohio. Oil is also expensive as well. Not to mention all the maintenance involved every year. Pellets may be an option, but with corn prices going thru the roof it also will go up in price as well.

Heat Pumps are a viable option because you can install the system and ductwork in the attic. You will have AC in the summer and heating in the winter. Just a warning, initial cost because of the ductwork will be costly, upwards of $15-18,000.

You may want to replace the windows and add insulation first, since that may give you more return on your money. By the way, if you call hvac contractors, they should do a heat loss on your house to correctly size the new equipment.


Last edited by sgthvac; 04-15-2007 at 08:32 PM.
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