Home Heating Advice

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Dynasty90
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Home Heating Advice

Post by Dynasty90 »

I plan on building a home in a semi-rural setting. There is not a natural gas line at the street and to get a line there from the nearest location is out of my budget. The two options I was suggested from the builder are electricity and/or propane to fuel the furnace, hot water tank, and other appliances. Solar and geothermal options are out of my budget. I have only had natural gas as the primary heating source my entire life, so I am curious to the performance and cost differences with these other options. Between electricity and propane...is there a clear winner?

I would appreciate any input. I'm trying to make the best choice for initial and long term performance and cost.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

I assume that you’ve explored state and federal subsidies for solar and geothermal before deciding that they are out of budget. Various incentives will pay for 40% of our geothermal.

Between propane and electric, I’d go electric.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Sandtrap »

1. Dual stage propane for heat. Heat pump (electric) and then propane kicks in when temperatures drop below what is optimal for the heat pump. Otherwise, electric for HVAC cooling.
If home is multi level, smaller HVAC systems can be "zoned" per floor.
2. Propane, water heater, range top.
3. Electric: all other utilities.
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gmc4h232
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by gmc4h232 »

I didnt think propane was substantially different from natural gas. Just have a tank that needs to be refilled instead of a continuous supply from the public utility.

Nice to have a working cooktop when the power goes out....I wouldnt know. Can do a propane generator as well if desired. Just dont locate it next to your bedroom window or anywhere else you dont want to hear it.
Soon2BXProgrammer
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

if possible insulate well and use a heat pump, with potentially propane emergency heat.

propane is expensive in comparison to natural gas. (atleast my experience)
HMdocinPA
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by HMdocinPA »

My home is propane: 2 furnaces, hot water heater, clothes dryer, stovetop and backup generator. Propane is more expensive than natural gas, but cheaper than using electricity when it comes to heating. I have a 1000 gallon underground tank, gets filled ~ 3 times per year, usually 600gal at a time, cost is appx $2.15 per gallon. We have 3 young kids, which means lots of baths and laundry, but I think the overall cost of the propane is reasonable.
Smoke
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Smoke »

Perhaps rethink Geothermal (Ground source) heat pump.
30% tax credit
https://www.energy.gov/savings/resident ... tax-credit

System is supposed to last 2x as long as a traditional air source heat pump, and has a cop around 5. (27 seer.)
The fields/well last over 50 yrs, it's just the inside unit that needs work/replacement.
All things factored in it's why I chose it 9 yrs ago.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.
mortfree
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by mortfree »

How big is the house? 1 or 2 stories?

Are you in a cold climate?

I have been in our home for a year. It is 4000 sq ft (+/-) has 1000 gallon underground propane tank for Forced air heat (2-zoned system), Water heater, grill and stovetop.

In the first year I have spent around $2200 for propane. I own the tank so I can price shop as needed. $1.13 per gallon (summer 2018) to $1.87 per gallon (Jan 2018). Next fill is $1.20 per gallon in January 2019. Bulk rate helps to lower costs.

I haven’t heard good things about heat pumps for cold climate areas (at least).

What would your electric bill be if you used that for heat? My guess it would cost more with electric.

I miss the natural gas which I always had before this house.
Last edited by mortfree on Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
3504PIR
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by 3504PIR »

We have propane on our semi rural farm. We opted for a 1000 gallon tank buried. The propane runs our heat, cook top and our on demand water heater. We went with the larger tank just to be safe, and own it. We get it filled once a year (topped off is a better term). I’ve had natural gas before and don’t really notice the difference. Tank was about $1800, less for a 500 and less if not buried. Companies prefer if you rent the tank for obvious reasons.
Last edited by 3504PIR on Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
brianH
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by brianH »

It would help to know your general location and cost of various fuels: propane $/gal, oil $/gal, electric $/kWh.

In the Northeast, oil is typically cheaper than propane for the equivalent BTUs and doesn't require as expensive of a tank. Oil (and gasoline for that matter) is likely to remain relatively inexpensive, with the US having a large glut by 2025. In any case, if oil goes up, propane usually tracks it in price.

As sandtrap mentioned, you likely want a dual-system that is able to use a heat-pump for much of the heating season and hydrocarbons for only the cold days. One benefit of propane would be using it for dryer/water heater, though heat pump water heaters are typically cheaper to run than other fuels.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Smoke wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:21 pm Perhaps rethink Geothermal (Ground source) heat pump.
30% tax credit
https://www.energy.gov/savings/resident ... tax-credit

System is supposed to last 2x as long as a traditional air source heat pump, and has a cop around 5. (27 seer.)
The fields/well last over 50 yrs, it's just the inside unit that needs work/replacement.
All things factored in it's why I chose it 9 yrs ago.
In Mass, we also will get $11k from the state and a $25k interest free loan for 7 years. It’s an expensive system, but it’s also reputed to be very comfortable.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
motorcyclesarecool
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by motorcyclesarecool »

I’d try oil before propane for cost. Home heating oil price is effectively capped by the price of untaxed, off road diesel. Propane you are often captive with a less-than-scrupulous player, and the retail market has less price sensitivity.
Understand that choosing an HDHP is very much a "red pill" approach. Most would rather pay higher premiums for a $20 copay per visit. They will think you weird for choosing an HSA.
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Dynasty90
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Dynasty90 »

mortfree wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:38 pm How big is the house? 1 or 2 stories?

Are you in a cold climate?

I have been in our home for a year. It is 4000 sq ft (+/-) has 1000 gallon underground propane tank for Forced air heat (2-zoned system), Water heater, grill and stovetop.

In the first year I have spent around $2200 for propane. I own the tank so I can price shop as needed. $1.13 per gallon (summer 2018) to $1.87 per gallon (Jan 2018). Next fill is $1.20 per gallon in January 2019. Bulk rate helps to lower costs.

I haven’t heard good things about heat pumps for cold climate areas (at least).

What would your electric bill be if you used that for heat? My guess it would cost more with electric.

I miss the natural gas which I always had before this house.
House will be approximately 2,000 sq ft (1 story ranch with unfinished basement with plans to finish in the next few years)

I am located in northeast Ohio, so our winters can get pretty cold (single digit temperates and below zero with wind chill)
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Dynasty90
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Dynasty90 »

brianH wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:57 pm It would help to know your general location and cost of various fuels: propane $/gal, oil $/gal, electric $/kWh.

In the Northeast, oil is typically cheaper than propane for the equivalent BTUs and doesn't require as expensive of a tank. Oil (and gasoline for that matter) is likely to remain relatively inexpensive, with the US having a large glut by 2025. In any case, if oil goes up, propane usually tracks it in price.

As sandtrap mentioned, you likely want a dual-system that is able to use a heat-pump for much of the heating season and hydrocarbons for only the cold days. One benefit of propane would be using it for dryer/water heater, though heat pump water heaters are typically cheaper to run than other fuels.
Home will be located in northeast Ohio. Google tells me the following:

propane $/gal = $2.70/gal (entire state)
oil $/gal = $2.55/gal (entire state)
electric $/kWh = 5.36¢/kWh (local pricing)
criticalmass
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by criticalmass »

Dynasty90 wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:42 pm
brianH wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:57 pm It would help to know your general location and cost of various fuels: propane $/gal, oil $/gal, electric $/kWh.

In the Northeast, oil is typically cheaper than propane for the equivalent BTUs and doesn't require as expensive of a tank. Oil (and gasoline for that matter) is likely to remain relatively inexpensive, with the US having a large glut by 2025. In any case, if oil goes up, propane usually tracks it in price.

As sandtrap mentioned, you likely want a dual-system that is able to use a heat-pump for much of the heating season and hydrocarbons for only the cold days. One benefit of propane would be using it for dryer/water heater, though heat pump water heaters are typically cheaper to run than other fuels.
Home will be located in northeast Ohio. Google tells me the following:

propane $/gal = $2.70/gal (entire state)
oil $/gal = $2.55/gal (entire state)
electric $/kWh = 5.36¢/kWh (local pricing)
Comparing the price per volume alone of fuel between propane and heating oil doesn’t make sense, because you care about heating energy, which ultimately determines the quantity used.

A gallon of propane contains about 95,000 BTU.
A gallon of oil contains about 130,000 BTU.

But you can get a propane furnace that operates aboot 96% efficiency, while most oil burners will run no more than 80% efficiency when new. This is because oil doesn’t burn cleanly enough for a condensing unit to run well, which is largely how the high efficiency is obtained in a 90+% gas furnace. A gas (e.g. propane) furnace needs almost no maintenance (until something finally breaks) but an oil heater needs regular tune ups, cleanings, and maintenance each year.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Epsilon Delta »

First priority is air sealing, followed by insulation. If you do those right you'll need less heat and it will matter less what fuel you use.

Air sealing in particular is matter of paying attention to detail. You want a builder who does it right as a matter of routine.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by WaffleCone »

Dynasty90 wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:42 pm Home will be located in northeast Ohio. Google tells me the following:

electric $/kWh = 5.36¢/kWh (local pricing)
I'm pretty sure that's not your full rate, it's more likely double that. OH has electric choice and .0536 looks like your generation charge. You have to add transmission and distribution charges to that rate. Could be about 2x that.

I'm partial to hydronic heat (hot water) over forced hot air. Look into radiant or low-profile radiators (runtal) if you can afford it, but then of course you'll still need ductwork for A/C. I'd go natural gas if it was available, if not then propane with an owned above ground tank. High-efficiency electric heat pumps work very well if you're doing forced hot air.

Also, plan for a fireplace. Woodburning stoves have near zero fuel cost but are some work. A fully vented gas/propane fireplaces can be set on a thermostat and will turn on/off as needed.
brianH
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by brianH »

criticalmass wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:16 pm But you can get a propane furnace that operates aboot 96% efficiency, while most oil burners will run no more than 80% efficiency when new. This is because oil doesn’t burn cleanly enough for a condensing unit to run well, which is largely how the high efficiency is obtained in a 90+% gas furnace. A gas (e.g. propane) furnace needs almost no maintenance (until something finally breaks) but an oil heater needs regular tune ups, cleanings, and maintenance each year.
I would not recommend not having a hydrocarbon-burning furnace serviced every year, regardless of the fuel. At the least, you're risking a 'no-heat' ($$$) call when something goes wrong that might have been caught in the annual preventative maintenance, and at worst, you could have dangerous flame rollout or issues with the heat exchanger that result in CO gas emission into the living space. The higher efficiency furnaces are particularly finicky due to the tight fins on the secondary exchanger and condensate problems - it's not a free-lunch.

Either way, annual PM on a oil burner isn't exactly rocket science. In most cases, it's oil filter at the tank ($3), pump strainer ($5), new nozzle ($6), combustion test, and clean the exchanger and chimney. Prices around here are about $200-$250/yr with all parts included. Given the price of oil/propane provided, it still may work out to be cheaper to burn oil due to the higher BTUs and lower per gallon costs. One also, obviously, has to consider the initial cost of the furnace. You will pay more for the higher efficiency options.

Oil gets a (undeserved, IMHO) bad rap, but it does depend on the area. In the Northeast, finding oil suppliers and service men is easy. As far as I know, the Midwest/Southeast is almost exclusively propane (assuming no NatGas)
desiderium
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by desiderium »

Epsilon Delta wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:22 pm First priority is air sealing, followed by insulation. If you do those right you'll need less heat and it will matter less what fuel you use.

Air sealing in particular is matter of paying attention to detail. You want a builder who does it right as a matter of routine.
And as a complement to air sealing, a heat-recovery ventilating system

We have above with radiant heat, with a heat pump system to heat the hot water. Very efficient. House is very comfortable, draft free dry and air is fresh. Presumably would need geothermal to be efficient heat pump system in your area.

One other thing about comfort; you perceive the radiant cold from windows. When there is a radiant difference between the window and non-window sides of your body, it registers as cold--independent of the room temperature. This is why radiators are often placed under windows. Best solution in your case is to invest in very efficient windows--triple pane with insulated frames, fiberglass frames are very good.
criticalmass
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by criticalmass »

brianH wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:05 pm
criticalmass wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:16 pm But you can get a propane furnace that operates aboot 96% efficiency, while most oil burners will run no more than 80% efficiency when new. This is because oil doesn’t burn cleanly enough for a condensing unit to run well, which is largely how the high efficiency is obtained in a 90+% gas furnace. A gas (e.g. propane) furnace needs almost no maintenance (until something finally breaks) but an oil heater needs regular tune ups, cleanings, and maintenance each year.
I would not recommend not having a hydrocarbon-burning furnace serviced every year, regardless of the fuel. At the least, you're risking a 'no-heat' ($$$) call when something goes wrong that might have been caught in the annual preventative maintenance, and at worst, you could have dangerous flame rollout or issues with the heat exchanger that result in CO gas emission into the living space. The higher efficiency furnaces are particularly finicky due to the tight fins on the secondary exchanger and condensate problems - it's not a free-lunch.

Either way, annual PM on a oil burner isn't exactly rocket science. In most cases, it's oil filter at the tank ($3), pump strainer ($5), new nozzle ($6), combustion test, and clean the exchanger and chimney. Prices around here are about $200-$250/yr with all parts included. Given the price of oil/propane provided, it still may work out to be cheaper to burn oil due to the higher BTUs and lower per gallon costs. One also, obviously, has to consider the initial cost of the furnace. You will pay more for the higher efficiency options.

Oil gets a (undeserved, IMHO) bad rap, but it does depend on the area. In the Northeast, finding oil suppliers and service men is easy. As far as I know, the Midwest/Southeast is almost exclusively propane (assuming no NatGas)
I usually do the gas furnace cleaning and annual checks myself, but even our HVAC company says that every 2 years is plenty for gas technician check ups. I also check the inlets and exhaust a few times a year to ensure no insects or whatever gets in there.

A common cause of "no heat" is an ignitor finally went bad, and I keep a spare hanging up next to the furnace. Other issues like a bad inducer motor are fairly easy to deal with, once you bring home the part. We've never had any "finicky" heat exchangers, but all of ours are guaranteed for life, clean, and air tight. Flame rollout would cause carbon build up and/or dark coloring in the furnace, and that's easy to spot by me, even if all of the safety devices didn't detect it first. There is often a window to see what's going on, or you can take everything apart. Gas furnaces are pretty simple to work on, they aren't nuclear power plants. Oil burner is more complicated, more dirty parts, and more dependent on replacing/cleaning things much more often than gas.

But if you do need cleaning service professionally every 12 months, be sure you are also getting all other appliances serviced too, e.g. gas water heater, gas generator, and gas dryer.
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Larry3862
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Larry3862 »

Certainly not a sole source of supply but worth looking into if a new build.

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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by 6Pack »

motorcyclesarecool wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:09 pm I’d try oil before propane for cost. Home heating oil price is effectively capped by the price of untaxed, off road diesel. Propane you are often captive with a less-than-scrupulous player, and the retail market has less price sensitivity.
^ this

We have heating oil and during the propane shortage of 2014, I realized we’ll never be caught up in a fuel shortage because you can always run diesel in a heating oil furnace.
Last edited by 6Pack on Mon Dec 24, 2018 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dwickenh
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by dwickenh »

Smoke wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:21 pm Perhaps rethink Geothermal (Ground source) heat pump.
30% tax credit
https://www.energy.gov/savings/resident ... tax-credit

System is supposed to last 2x as long as a traditional air source heat pump, and has a cop around 5. (27 seer.)
The fields/well last over 50 yrs, it's just the inside unit that needs work/replacement.
All things factored in it's why I chose it 9 yrs ago.
I have a geothermal heat pump installed in 2011. With the tax credit, it cost about 4000 more than a conventional heat
pump. It reduced my power bills by 1200 per year and the payoff was a little over 3 years. My neighbors have 200-300
heating and cooling bills, where my average bill this year was 95.67. I was skeptical at first, but color me convinced.
3 150 ft deep holes for my ground source.

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MedicatedMoney
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by MedicatedMoney »

Another vote for oil heat!

We just moved into a 3500sq ft house with dual zone oil heated hydronic force air system. We live in the Northeast and our old home had a heat pump.
Personally, the hot air coming out of the ducts has been a game changer for my wife and kids vs the luke-warm air from the heat pump. We use to set the old thermostat at 72 and it would still feel cold in the house. The new house is set at 66 and feels warmer!

Eventually I may put in a heat pump to have a duel fuel system for those days when we call for heat and its still relatively warm outside (45-50 degrees out); from what I have researched, that would be the optimal system. But I will wait until I need to replace the A/C unit. For now, I have invested in air sealing my attic, adding insulation to get to R-60 level, and continue to work on air sealing/insulating other areas of the house.

As stated above, due to BTUs generated, I think oil is the better bang for buck over propane, but everybody's situation will be different.
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whomever
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by whomever »

First priority is air sealing, followed by insulation.
+1, and I'd add passive solar; windows in the right place etc can make a difference.

I'm not up on the latest, but hear good things about the efficiency of the newer 'Ductless mini-splits'. In addition to, I think, good overall efficiency they allow the option of heating different parts of the house differently, if that fits your lifestyle.



(I claim no expertise, but we've had natural gas for 40 odd years now, without annual checkups or problems. We had one failure, in the induction blower, but there wouldn't have been any symptoms if we had done annual inspections. The blower was a sealed unit and didn't make any noises prior to failure.)
Valuethinker
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Valuethinker »

Dynasty90 wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:36 pm I plan on building a home in a semi-rural setting. There is not a natural gas line at the street and to get a line there from the nearest location is out of my budget. The two options I was suggested from the builder are electricity and/or propane to fuel the furnace, hot water tank, and other appliances. Solar and geothermal options are out of my budget. I have only had natural gas as the primary heating source my entire life, so I am curious to the performance and cost differences with these other options. Between electricity and propane...is there a clear winner?

I would appreciate any input. I'm trying to make the best choice for initial and long term performance and cost.
1. It's possible to build a house that does not need an external best source. Google Passive House or passivhaus (German origin)

2. Failing that higher you can get the insulation the better. But it quickly becomes about air leak proofing the house. Taping at the windows etc. Also if you can use relatively little window glass on North side of house and towards prevailing winds in winter. By having a long roof overhang to South and to west you can maximize solar insolation in winter but reduce overheating in summer.

A good window is R9 tops average window (double with thermal e layer on inside is say R5 or 6 whereas a wall is R30 plus.

3. See what cost and subsidies are for geothermal heat pump

4. Your AC is in effect an air source heat pump. The latest ones can do heating COP of 4.0.

Ohio climate means on cold days COP will fall towards electric bar ie COP 1.0. that gets expensive.

If you go for hydronic heating underfloor (often just ground w rads on upper floor) ASHP works well. Water temperature is lower than w a furnace system so you run the system almost all the time. But a well insulated modern home does not spill heat. Oil systems were in older homes where you needed big heat output to get house back up to reasonable temperature when you got home. But a modern home should not lose heat that fast.

Everyone says hydronic is far more comfortable btw due to less dryness and dust circulation.

5. So then it is propane or fuel oil. I confess to loathing the latter. it is far more polluting and the stuff, spilled, is a serious environmental hazard.

I accept that propane is likely a more expensive option because wholesale price is less transparent.

So I would say 1. Air sealed and insulated house 2. If not geothermal then ASHP 3. Propane or oil as backup depending on relative cost.

I should add. At least 2 heating zones. Upstairs and downstairs. Most of us don't need upstairs to be as warm as downstairs during day. Cooling also.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by willthrill81 »

Back when propane was around $3 per gallon, I believe that it worked out to be equivalent to electricity in our area for heating purposes (~$.08 per kWh). Most people pay significantly more than that for electricity, so propane is likely to be the more cost effective choice. However, there is significantly more front-end expense with propane (e.g. tank, pipes) than electricity, so it may take a few years to break-even.

Besides the cost difference, another reason that I would prefer propane is because it would be under my control, not the utility company's. If you lose power, you can still run many propane heaters, especially wall heaters and LPG logs. If you lose electricity (or natural gas for that matter, though it's far less common for natural gas to stop flowing), you're out of luck unless you have backup heating.

IMHO, everyone in a northern climate should have at least two means of heating their home or at least a single room where the family can congregate.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by finite_difference »

HMdocinPA wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:20 pm My home is propane: 2 furnaces, hot water heater, clothes dryer, stovetop and backup generator. Propane is more expensive than natural gas, but cheaper than using electricity when it comes to heating. I have a 1000 gallon underground tank, gets filled ~ 3 times per year, usually 600gal at a time, cost is appx $2.15 per gallon. We have 3 young kids, which means lots of baths and laundry, but I think the overall cost of the propane is reasonable.
That’s $3,870/year in propane costs. If NG cost half of that, then after 10 years NG would save $19,350.

So how much does it cost to run a NG line and how much would your estimated propane/NG costs be?

I also think having NG + radiant heat would be a selling point.

Otherwise I think the dual-stage heat pump (ideally geothermal) + propane (perhaps also convertible to NG) would be pretty sweet. Bonus for radiant heat.
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HMdocinPA
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by HMdocinPA »

finite_difference wrote: Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:10 pm
HMdocinPA wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:20 pm My home is propane: 2 furnaces, hot water heater, clothes dryer, stovetop and backup generator. Propane is more expensive than natural gas, but cheaper than using electricity when it comes to heating. I have a 1000 gallon underground tank, gets filled ~ 3 times per year, usually 600gal at a time, cost is appx $2.15 per gallon. We have 3 young kids, which means lots of baths and laundry, but I think the overall cost of the propane is reasonable.
That’s $3,870/year in propane costs. If NG cost half of that, then after 10 years NG would save $19,350.

So how much does it cost to run a NG line and how much would your estimated propane/NG costs be?

I also think having NG + radiant heat would be a selling point.

Otherwise I think the dual-stage heat pump (ideally geothermal) + propane (perhaps also convertible to NG) would be pretty sweet. Bonus for radiant heat.
It’s a bit on the rural side where we live, no option for NG here so propane is our only option for now.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by abuss368 »

When we were looking to move we learned rather quickly how expensive electricity and propane are. I had incorrectly assumed propane was cheap.

Is it possible to loan the money to install natural gas?
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Valuethinker
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Valuethinker »

Dynasty90 wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:36 pm I plan on building a home in a semi-rural setting. There is not a natural gas line at the street and to get a line there from the nearest location is out of my budget. The two options I was suggested from the builder are electricity and/or propane to fuel the furnace, hot water tank, and other appliances. Solar and geothermal options are out of my budget. I have only had natural gas as the primary heating source my entire life, so I am curious to the performance and cost differences with these other options. Between electricity and propane...is there a clear winner?

I would appreciate any input. I'm trying to make the best choice for initial and long term performance and cost.
Since you are at the planning stage you should be able to plan for really excellent levels of insulation. Air leakage is tougher but can be achieved especially with the more prefabricated building units approach. Insulation is dirt cheap if installed at build stage.

You will have a heat pump anyways for air conditioning. Air to hot water HPs are out there and would support underfloor heating.

The last challenge is windows. Relatively small windows on the north side of the house and in the direction of the prevailing winds in January makes a big difference. Subject to budget there are some pretty good low e triple glazed windows out there.

If your house is well enough insulated the choice of fuel then becomes less important. Another advantage of radiant floor heating is that the house will feel warmer for the same temperature. Ditto w good windows.
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Brantley
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Brantley »

Can I hop into this thread?

Have a heat pump system with electric baseboard as backup. No gas on street. 2,200 square foot split level home in Massachusetts. Duct work runs through ceiling throughout upstairs with air handler in the attic. Only one duct/vent in basement, and as such gets colder in the winter. Finished basement so would not want to tear it apart. Condenser is newer (2013). Age of air handler is unknown but older.

I am currently exploring propane options (was suggested baseboards in basement, and a hydro-air system for upstairs using existing duct work). I’ve also thought of putting on solar panels, but haven’t priced it out yet. Any thoughts? Moved into the home in September and bills have not been bad thus far, but winter has been reasonable and I’ve kept the heat low. Any initial thoughts?
~Brantley
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

If you're on a budget, Air Sourced Heat Pumps (ASHP) have payback pretty quickly and are often subsidized by government and utilities.

Insulation is a cost-effective way to reduce heating and cooling needs. We are replacing R-single digit in our house with R60+ every time we open a roof for repair, and we can feel the difference.

Don't forget design elements that can have a large effect on heating and cooling costs. My favorite "often overlooked" (ha! wordplay) feature is the overhang.
An overhang, or some sort of solar control or solar shading, is a crucial element in passive solar design because it blocks the sun’s heat energy when it is not desired. Because the sun travels different paths across the sky in the winter (low) and summer (high) time, an overhang can be constructed to utilize and manipulate the heat energy from the sun. The overhang can be a fixture on the outside of the house, or it can be a type of shading, overhang, or some type of control that can be utilized and and managed from inside or outside of the house.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

The answer will be completely different depending on where you live and what energy costs. Here in Massachusetts, natural gas is expensive because it's all used for power generation and we don't have enough pipelines to get enough in for the demand.

We had propane at our house when we bought it. It's expensive. It's a pain. There were too many times when the company didn't come fill it in time and we ran out. It happened often enough that the gas guy showed me how to hook up our grill tank to get us by while waiting for a fill. We finally dumped it when the house right next to the fire station had a leak, blew up the house and the kids in the house.

Like most of New England, we have oil now for everything. I've got a good sized wooded lot and also cut fire wood which goes into a large wood furnace.

Electricity depends on cost. We moved to Virginia from Mass for my graduate work. The electric rate (total with all fees and taxes) was literally half per kWHr of Mass. So our house in VA was all electric, where in Mass, that would be insanity.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by squirm »

Propane isn't as bad for the environment.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Brantley wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:25 am Have a heat pump system with electric baseboard as backup. No gas on street. 2,200 square foot split level home in Massachusetts. Duct work runs through ceiling throughout upstairs with air handler in the attic. Only one duct/vent in basement, and as such gets colder in the winter. Finished basement so would not want to tear it apart. Condenser is newer (2013). Age of air handler is unknown but older.
I am currently exploring propane options (was suggested baseboards in basement, and a hydro-air system for upstairs using existing duct work). I’ve also thought of putting on solar panels, but haven’t priced it out yet. Any thoughts? Moved into the home in September and bills have not been bad thus far, but winter has been reasonable and I’ve kept the heat low. Any initial thoughts?
Propane is expensive here in MA; I am replacing propane users in my house as I upgrade.
MA is very generous with solar, as is the Federal government. My home had existing solar panels, and as I electrify my house I'm upgrading capacity and storage. Just for the solar upgrade: 30% Federal tax credit, $0.117 SMART rate per kWh I generate, the electricity I generate avoids $0.22 of expense I don't have to pay Eversource (and that price will likely climb over time), and then there's the intangible value of not polluting with my energy generation. There are additional small incentives (I think $1k DOER, for example). 5% 10 year loans are available. Break even in roughly 5 years.

There are similar incentives for my battery.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:28 am Electricity depends on cost. We moved to Virginia from Mass for my graduate work. The electric rate (total with all fees and taxes) was literally half per kWHr of Mass. So our house in VA was all electric, where in Mass, that would be insanity.
It's only insanity if you're buying electricity at retail.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
BeerTooth
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

Since you're looking at new construction, you have a unique opportunity that most of us in "old-stock" housing never get. That is to design your house for high performance from the start, and then select the energy source(s) from all available choices.

Most homes in the US were built with only minimal thought to these areas of building performance, and generations of owners are stuck dealing with all the corners they cut.

I would set aside the choice of propane vs. natural gas vs. electric and first think about minimizing the overall energy consumption of your house. The DOE Net Zero Ready and Pretty Good House programs are a good start.

https://www.finehomebuilding.com/2016/0 ... ood-enough

https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/ar ... good-house

https://www.nist.gov/industry-impacts/n ... ergy-house

https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/z ... ready-home

With only a marginal increase in construction cost, some thoughtful design and attention to detail can give you a comfortable house that has zero net energy consumption on year-round basis, saving you a couple thousand dollars every year for the life of the home.
Last edited by BeerTooth on Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:28 am Electricity depends on cost. We moved to Virginia from Mass for my graduate work. The electric rate (total with all fees and taxes) was literally half per kWHr of Mass. So our house in VA was all electric, where in Mass, that would be insanity.
It's only insanity if you're buying electricity at retail.
My 3,000 square foot Colonial in New Hampshire was designed and built with 100% electric energy in 1974. Electric resistance baseboard heaters. Boggles the mind today, but at the time apparently it made financial sense. It's a fool's errand to try to guess relative fuel prices 10, 20, 30 years from now. The only prudent approach is to design new construction homes with minimum energy usage, and deal with energy sources and prices as they come.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

BeerTooth wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:53 am The DOE Net Zero Ready and Pretty Good House programs are a good start.
Be careful. Over my objection, my signature "Net Zero Carbon in 2019" was ruled "political and controversial (climate change)" and removed. Note that I didn't mention climate change.

Anyway, those are great references for the OP to look at.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

BeerTooth wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:05 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:28 am Electricity depends on cost. We moved to Virginia from Mass for my graduate work. The electric rate (total with all fees and taxes) was literally half per kWHr of Mass. So our house in VA was all electric, where in Mass, that would be insanity.
It's only insanity if you're buying electricity at retail.
My 3,000 square foot Colonial in New Hampshire was designed and built with 100% electric energy in 1974. Electric resistance baseboard heaters. Boggles the mind today, but at the time apparently it made financial sense. It's a fool's errand to try to guess relative fuel prices 10, 20, 30 years from now. The only prudent approach is to design new construction homes with minimum energy usage, and deal with energy sources and prices as they come.
I agree, but I'll add that being as close to self-sufficient as possible is good also. We will shortly generate as much electricity as we can use.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:08 am
BeerTooth wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:05 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:28 am Electricity depends on cost. We moved to Virginia from Mass for my graduate work. The electric rate (total with all fees and taxes) was literally half per kWHr of Mass. So our house in VA was all electric, where in Mass, that would be insanity.
It's only insanity if you're buying electricity at retail.
My 3,000 square foot Colonial in New Hampshire was designed and built with 100% electric energy in 1974. Electric resistance baseboard heaters. Boggles the mind today, but at the time apparently it made financial sense. It's a fool's errand to try to guess relative fuel prices 10, 20, 30 years from now. The only prudent approach is to design new construction homes with minimum energy usage, and deal with energy sources and prices as they come.
I agree, but I'll add that being as close to self-sufficient as possible is good also. We will shortly generate as much electricity as we can use.
Yes, implied but not stated on my part. The only way to be net-zero on a year-round basis is to generate excess electric during the summer and sell it back to the grid.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:06 am
BeerTooth wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:53 am The DOE Net Zero Ready and Pretty Good House programs are a good start.
Be careful. Over my objection, my signature "Net Zero Carbon in 2019" was ruled "political and controversial (climate change)" and removed. Note that I didn't mention climate change.

Anyway, those are great references for the OP to look at.
I guess we'll just tip-toe around that subject. But we can all agree about saving money, right?!
nhdblfan
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by nhdblfan »

Here in New England most folks use a wood stove either as a backup or many for the primary heat source.
I have a wood stove, pellet stove and oil boiler,use them all to heat my 2800sq fit home.

If you live on the country you need a wood stove and generator.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

nhdblfan wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:37 am Here in New England most folks use a wood stove either as a backup or many for the primary heat source.
I have a wood stove, pellet stove and oil boiler,use them all to heat my 2800sq fit home.

If you live on the country you need a wood stove and generator.
Yes, but that's only because we don't have other choices. The OP is planning new construction.

I also live in New England, and I also heat 80% with a wood stove (other 20% propane). If I were building new constructions today, I would put in a ground source heat pump and solar PV panels, plus a small wood stove for backup only.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by nhdblfan »

I know a lot of builders and not one of them has built a home without either oil or propane heat and most add a wood stove like we do.

I like the pellet stove most of the time but when oil is cheap-as its is now,oil and wood stove for those cold nights. Would not even want to think about depending on a heat pump for anything other then shoulder seasons-here in NH I never see them used as a primary eating source.
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by TomatoTomahto »

In MA (and NH), an air sourced heat pump (ASHP) will usually have a “really cold weather” backup of oil or propane. A ground sourced heat pump (ie, geothermal) doesn’t need that backup, which is why I went that route. You do, however, need access to dependable electric.

ETA: my sister in Oregon heats primarily with a masonry/ceramic wood heater, but that climate is milder.
Last edited by TomatoTomahto on Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
BeerTooth
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by BeerTooth »

nhdblfan wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:28 pm I know a lot of builders and not one of them has built a home without either oil or propane heat and most add a wood stove like we do.

I like the pellet stove most of the time but when oil is cheap-as its is now,oil and wood stove for those cold nights. Would not even want to think about depending on a heat pump for anything other then shoulder seasons-here in NH I never see them used as a primary eating source.
Probably because they're still building the traditional way - with a leaky envelope that requires a lot of BTUs to makeup.

Do you know RH Irving? They're building new homes with no fossil fuel hookups - air source heat pumps and PV panels:

http://rhirvinghomebuilders.com/

Also DEAP Energy Group in Mass.: http://www.deapgroup.com/LZNE_Top.html
Last edited by BeerTooth on Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Brantley
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by Brantley »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:46 am
Brantley wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:25 am Have a heat pump system with electric baseboard as backup. No gas on street. 2,200 square foot split level home in Massachusetts. Duct work runs through ceiling throughout upstairs with air handler in the attic. Only one duct/vent in basement, and as such gets colder in the winter. Finished basement so would not want to tear it apart. Condenser is newer (2013). Age of air handler is unknown but older.
I am currently exploring propane options (was suggested baseboards in basement, and a hydro-air system for upstairs using existing duct work). I’ve also thought of putting on solar panels, but haven’t priced it out yet. Any thoughts? Moved into the home in September and bills have not been bad thus far, but winter has been reasonable and I’ve kept the heat low. Any initial thoughts?
Propane is expensive here in MA; I am replacing propane users in my house as I upgrade.
MA is very generous with solar, as is the Federal government. My home had existing solar panels, and as I electrify my house I'm upgrading capacity and storage. Just for the solar upgrade: 30% Federal tax credit, $0.117 SMART rate per kWh I generate, the electricity I generate avoids $0.22 of expense I don't have to pay Eversource (and that price will likely climb over time), and then there's the intangible value of not polluting with my energy generation. There are additional small incentives (I think $1k DOER, for example). 5% 10 year loans are available. Break even in roughly 5 years.

There are similar incentives for my battery.
Thanks this is helpful. Definitely going to explore all avenues before making a decision. Have also considered putting in a propane fireplace insert in the basement (maybe up stairs too) to supplement. Haven’t priced it out yet.
~Brantley
nhdblfan
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Re: Home Heating Advice

Post by nhdblfan »

BeerTooth wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:38 pm
nhdblfan wrote: Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:28 pm I know a lot of builders and not one of them has built a home without either oil or propane heat and most add a wood stove like we do.

I like the pellet stove most of the time but when oil is cheap-as its is now,oil and wood stove for those cold nights. Would not even want to think about depending on a heat pump for anything other then shoulder seasons-here in NH I never see them used as a primary eating source.
Probably because they're still building the traditional way - with a leaky envelope that requires a lot of BTUs to makeup.

Do you know RH Irving? They're building new homes with no fossil fuel hookups - air source heat pumps and PV panels:

http://rhirvinghomebuilders.com/

Also DEAP Energy Group in Mass.: http://www.deapgroup.com/LZNE_Top.html

Actually no, no builder today could still be competitive with a 'leaky" envelope. I have a friend building a nice home on coastal Maine-best windows doors and insulation-he is using propane (two tanks he owns and puts out for bid fill ups during summer.
By far the best way to heat your home up here is going to be wood with a propane back up,or just use the propane.
Irving may get a few buyers but they are not a big player in home building market here in NH.
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