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Old 06-26-2011, 08:45 AM   #1
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


i have an oil-fired boiler. with the cost of oil so high, i want to install an electric water heater so that i can turn off my boiler during the summer and save money.

here are my questions:

1) does this make sense financially?

2) would i have to turn off the water to the boiler when using the electric heater?

3) how about the reverse -- when i do turn on the boiler, do i turn off the electric heater?

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Old 06-26-2011, 09:04 AM   #2
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


where do you live? what do you pay in cents/kwhour for electricity and how much per gallon for oil and what brand and age of boiler do you have. with this info our oil guru Beenthere may be able to help

you can phone your elec supplier and ask for a cost comparison from them and one of their engineers.

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Old 06-26-2011, 12:24 PM   #3
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


You could go with a Hybrid that is a Heat-pump, or with a On-Demand. What size is your current Load Center (ie electric service panel with fuses or breakers)?
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:05 PM   #4
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


I had a similar issue recently, when the coil for my indirect hot water heater, fired off my fuel oil fired boiler, developed a leak. It would have cost approximately $800 to replace the coil in the boiler, with no guarantee of longevity, so I capped off the coil and installed a heat pump type electric hot water heater.

As for saving money, it is hard to envision saving any money in your situation. Typically the cost per BTU for electric hot water exceeds the cost per BTU for oil fired hot water, even accounting for high fuel oil costs. Plus you will need an up front expense to install the electric hot water heater. In my case, it was a relatively easy decision, since installing a new coil in the boiler looked like it was going to be a temporary fix.

Now that I have electric hot water heat, I turn the boiler off at the end of heating season. You can leave the water inlet valve to the boiler in the on position or you can shut it off, I don't think it much matters, since you will be using no boiler water during the summer, unless you have a leak. As to what you do in the winter, well that will depend on whether you keep the oil fired hot water system installed, in which case you are going to have two different hot water systems, and the plumbing and options get more complicated.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:13 PM   #5
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


Generally you save a large amount of money by installing an electric water heater. And converting your oil boiler to a cold start boiler. Your oil boiler loses a lot of heat up the chimney, an electric water heater doesn't.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:55 PM   #6
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


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Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
Generally you save a large amount of money by installing an electric water heater. And converting your oil boiler to a cold start boiler. Your oil boiler loses a lot of heat up the chimney, an electric water heater doesn't.

Makes lots of sense to me. Heat rises and lots of it goes up the chimney 24 hrs a day year round so why keep the boiler hot. Does not hurt it to shut it off for Summer. All our boilers do not have indirect water heaters and are cold start with no harm to them from expansion and contraction where I am. Also saves lots of wear and tear on the oil burner and makes it last longer and saves on repairs.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:59 PM   #7
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


Years ago, when I still owned a house in Northern California, I converted from a large, gas water heater in the garage to two on demand Bosche things that came with insane warranties. The hard water was doing in the water storage tank components of the conventional units I was replacing or trying to overhaul the gas heater every few years.

It was also a long, ranch house so a run of cold water had to be wasted and flowed out of the way before hot water reached the shower the shower in the master bath.

One on demand unit for the bedrooms and showers on one end of the house and another for dishwasher and washing machine on the other made a dramatic difference in energy cost. I was more than able to justify the then quite high cost of the units themselves.

I don't know how we second guess electric over burned fuel heating and so forth. I do think a hybrid approach like you are taking makes the most sense.
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:00 PM   #8
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should i install electric water heater to save $$?


Also helps keep it from reaching high limit and cycling on and off at mild out door temps, so you gain a little efficiency with the longer run times.

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