New home, high oil consumption?

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Old 12-19-13, 06:16 AM
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New home, high oil consumption?

I am currently living in my first home which I bought back in August and I am concerned that I may be using too much fuel oil.

As it stands I am using just over 100 gallons per month.
I keep my 1250sqft house at 64F and take approximately 3 minute showers (the water turns cold after that)

The attic has 13in of fresh fiberglass insulation in it. Does my consumption seem correct or do you think my furnace might have a problem?

Supposedly my furnace was inspected in March of this year.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:41 AM
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Hello. Welcome.

Dont know if 100 gallons a month is good... It have been cold and you dont show your location..

What are your aquastat settings? Hi/lo/diff???? Adjusting these properly can save some fuel.


take approximately 3 minute showers (the water turns cold after that)
Should not be. Can you take several pics or the boiler and controls?

If you have a tankess coil on the boiler that makes your hot water, it may be better to install an electric water heater. The [tankless] coils [inside the boiler] are very [IN]efficient... Disconnecting the coil and making the boil cold start will save fuel also...

Your boiler stays constantly hot because of that coil and wastses fuel..

Hope this makes sense...
 

Last edited by NJT; 12-19-13 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 12-19-13, 06:41 AM
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Since you did not say where you live it's impossible to say. When my brother in law lived in central Alaska he wished he only used 100 gallons a month. You also did not describe the age and condition of your home. Even though the attic is somewhat insulated the walls in many older homes have absolutely nothing and old windows are notorious sources of air leaks.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:48 AM
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Hi Travis and welcome to the forum.

Lots of questions. Where are you, approximately, so we can judge your climate?
The running out of hot water in three minutes should not be happening. How is your water heated?
Ranch with a basement?
Any history from previous owner?
Age of house? Ceiling insulation does not mean a lot if everything else has been overlooked.
When was the last time the furnace was serviced, not just inspected? Is there a tag on it with any details.

In general, if you lived in Maine, 100 gallons a month would be reasonable, but improvements should be made. 6 months for a total of 600 gallons is well below the average of 900 gallons up here, of course cold weather is still coming. Your house is not huge, but a good target should be half of what you are seeing and a lot of what is needed will be DIY.

Bud
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:50 AM
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Sorry about that, I live in Vermont, USA it's been between 0-38F for the past month or so.
I do not know exactly how much insulation is in the walls of the home, it was listed as unknown on the paperwork, but I estimate 4-6 inches. The house was built in 1941. I can take some pictures when I get home tonight.

I do not know house styles well, but it is a two story house with full upstairs and down stairs (not peaked rooms upstairs) and a partially exposed basement


The water is heated through the furnace, there is no external water heater.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:58 AM
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Hi Travis, and welcome to the Forums.

A couple of things... Do you have a boiler not a furnace? Since your water is heated by it, I'd assume you do. Terminology can be important. Baseboard or radiators? If so, we'll move this thread to the correct Forum Boilers - Home Heating Steam and Hot Water Systems - DoItYourself.com Community Forums

Also, I see you've used your full name and now provided a link to your home. Are you sure you want to do that? The name can be changed by admin, and the link can be edited if desired.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:59 AM
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Pull the front cover off that grey box with the big white tag hanging in front... tell us the settings....

That red valve is throttled too... Looks like the coil may be calcified and they/someone was trying to slow the flow through the coil to get more hot water...


 
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Old 12-19-13, 07:00 AM
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I removed the link, but the name is due to linking my facebook for access here.

I am fairly sure it's a furnace, but I could be wrong, it is Baseboard heat.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 07:01 AM
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Moved thread to proper forum......
 
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Old 12-19-13, 07:04 AM
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I am at work right now but I'll get a full list of the settings when I get home tonight as well as better pictures for you. if you got that much out of an old, not close up picture I imagine you could get a lot more later.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 08:14 AM
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As a simple point of reference, here by the "Joisey Shaw" since Sept 17 until yesterday, I have burned 120 gallons. I do NOT heat my domestic hot water with the boiler. I'm sure it has been warmer here during that time period than up in VT. Clearly the majority of that usage has been during the past month or so, but nowhere near 100 gallons a month.

I am fairly sure it's a furnace
TECHNICALLY, you could probably 'define' the combustion chamber of your appliance as a furnace, but in the industry we generally refer to "forced hot air" heating systems as 'furnaces', and "hot water or steam" systems as 'boilers'.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 08:29 AM
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Ahh, thank you NJ i was going off of my inspection report :P
 
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Old 12-19-13, 05:10 PM
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Ok here are some new pictures.
The display in the grey metal box reads 181F then goes blank then flashes what I can't make out, it appears to be a 6 and an upside down F.

The red lever located above the box is mostly cut off in the pictures but it is pointing straight up flush with the piping.

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Last edited by NJT; 12-19-13 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 12-19-13, 05:13 PM
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A house built in 1941 would likely have had no insulation in the walls when constructed. Air leakage can be as bad an energy hog as can a lack of insulation and houses built in that era are notoriously leaky. Even with all that fiberglass in the attic if you have a leaky house you will be losing a huge amount of heat.

Do you have the common double hung windows with sash weights in pockets next to the windows? These are prime examples of places where air can leak. How about storm windows?

Your method of heating domestic hot water, via a "tankless coil" internal to the boiler is one of the most inefficient methods known. The worst is an open kettle on a wood-burning kitchen range. If you have a "limed up" coil, which it sounds like you do with the very limited amount of hot water, then it is even more inefficient.

Judging by the temperatures you cite and the age of the house I would say that 100 gallons a month may not be an unreasonable figure. I suspect there is a lot of room for improvement.

You added the pictures while I was typing. In the future please add a double space between picture posts so that they do not run together.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 05:53 PM
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The windows are all wooden single hung windows with metal storms.

If my current method of heating is inefficient what would you recommend for an economical solution?

Also, what could cause my shower water to only be hot for a scant few minutes on a boiler, if there isn't enough hot water to keep the shower hot, wouldn't that also pose a problem for my baseboard?
 
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Old 12-19-13, 05:57 PM
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Supposedly my furnace was inspected in March of this year.
"Inspected" ? or SERVICED ? Big difference in my lexicon.

Is there any indication that the burner was actually SERVICED?

The display in the grey metal box reads 181F then goes blank then flashes what I can't make out, it appears to be a 6 and an upside down F.
Try standing on your head when you read it... apparently that's what whoever installed it was doing.

What you are seeing is in fact 181 ... and it's a good thing that number is symmetrical.

The other thing you are seeing is " F " as in " degrees F "

The red lever located above the box
That red lever is part of what is called a " BALL VALVE "

Air leakage can be as bad an energy hog as can a lack of insulation
I say much MORE heat loss from air leakage than lack of insulation.

please add a double space between picture posts
Done... one of my pet peeves too...

From what I can see in the pics, the AQUASTAT appears to be an L7224U .

Here is the manual for it, you should read this Travis and familiarize yourself with the functions. We are going to ask you for the 'settings' pretty soon.

http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell...ll/69_1720.pdf
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:10 PM
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If my current method of heating is inefficient what would you recommend for an economical solution?
You will fair better with an electric water heater IMO....

if there isn't enough hot water to keep the shower hot, wouldn't that also pose a problem for my baseboard?
Two separate systems basically...

 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:11 PM
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I did "stand on my head" it reads 181, then degrees F, then 6 upside down F, I will read it the manual now
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:19 PM
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I did "stand on my head" it reads 181, then degrees F, then 6 upside down F
Yer lucky you can still do that!

I think the other thing you are seeing is " bt " and this means " boiler temperature "

So you are seeing the boiler temperature display in degrees F ...

Learn how to cycle through the settings using the pushbuttons and report what they are all set at, you may have some that are knucklehead settings.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:46 PM
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Ok I do not see a tag that says inspected or serviced, the last record i see is 2/2/13 where the very messy handwriting says something about having to reset the furnace.

Here are the settings on my readout
Boiler Temperature 164
High Limit 180
Low Limit 160
High Limit Differential 5
Low Limit Differential 10
Local THermostat Status Off
Enviracom Thermostat Status Off
Burner Status Off
Circulator Status Off
Zone Control On
Zone Request Off
DHC No
Duu Off
ASC Off
BSP 180
 
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Old 12-19-13, 07:31 PM
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High Limit 180
Low Limit 160
High Limit Differential 5
Low Limit Differential 10
Let's work with these first.

High Limit is fine.

The high limit differential is a 'knuckleheader'. That should never be less than 10, and I personally would run it at TWENTY. This will give you a LONGER TIME BETWEEN firings and allow the pumps to suck more heat out of the boiler and use the heat in the boiler to heat the home.

When the boiler DOES fire, it won't be a short little burst, but a little bit longer, which is a GOOD THING when also offset by longer OFF times. Fuel use may be a 'wash' to slightly improved by this change.

The fact that you have a 'limed up' nearly non-functional coil in the boiler that's producing your domestic hot water is the reason that the LOW LIMIT is so gawdawful HIGH!

THIS is the primary reason you are burning through so much oil!

With a GOOD CLEAN COIL, you could probably run that LOW setting at 140 with a 15-20 diff and get 'adequate' hot water. You'll never be happy with that coil though... not completely...

I second the emotion that you look into a different solution for your domestic hot water. I wouldn't be surprised that even an electric water heater would be cheaper than the extra oil you are now burning through to use hot water a few times a day.

Think about it... you are maintaining that boiler at 160 degrees, 24/7/365 in order to draw a few gallons of hot water a day!
 
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Old 12-20-13, 06:05 AM
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I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, would I still need the boiler to operate the baseboard if I went with an electric hot water heater?

If so, wouldn't the boiler need to stay at temperature to keep the house warm?
 
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Old 12-20-13, 07:39 AM
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If you went with electric HW, the boiler would only need to heat up on a call for heat.
Between heat calls, it would be perfectly fine and save you $$ as it cools down.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 08:04 AM
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What Tom said.................................

the boiler would only need to heat up on a call for heat
Which is what we call a 'cold start' system.

Keeping itself warm is likewise appropriately called a 'warm start' system.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 08:14 AM
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Is it just a setting I would have to change to convert the system to a cold start? aside from piping in the new water heater, or would I have to hire someone to come out and change something physically?
 
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Old 12-20-13, 08:43 AM
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Is it just a setting I would have to change to convert the system to a cold start? aside from piping in the new water heater, or would I have to hire someone to come out and change something physically?
Yes, just a setting in the L7224 ... you would turn the LOW LIMIT to "OFF" and the boiler would/could go 'cold' between firings for heat calls.
 
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Old 12-20-13, 09:10 AM
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Ok, I'll change my settings and get a secondary water heating source, thanks all for your help
 
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Old 12-20-13, 06:22 PM
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Low flow showerhead?

Do you have a low flow shower head? When we had an oil boiler with a tankless coil, I could get plenty of hot water for my shower, but my mother could not get warm water for a bath. I think our coil was rated at 1.7 gallons/min (100 degree temp rise with 200 degree boiler water) A low flow head would save you water, oil and sewage charges (if connected to those services)

I also had been keeping track of oil usage a month ago since we just switched to natural gas. The oil consumption (pretty much JUST to make domestic hot water) was 1.6 gal/day and we burned around a bag of wood pellets a day (works out to about 2.3 gal of oil per bag). That makes a total of just under four gallons a day. Sounds about what you are at. I'm in Essex Vt.

Patrick
 
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