Possible hybid home heating idea - like with cars

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  #1  
Old 10-07-09, 07:10 AM
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Possible hybid home heating idea - like with cars

Got my furnace up and running for first itme this year. As any of you have been following, I have been doing my nightime and early morning time- of- use electric meter heating with a space heater.

The furnace needed a new blower motor, that I put in last night. Lit the pilot and ran it to warm up the house. Then shut off the furnace and cruised on electric space heating.

It was only when I woke up this morning, after looking at my thermometer in my bedroom, that it dawned on me that what I had done, was create a hybid situation, like with a hybid car, that runs under load with a powerful gas plant, but cruises when up to speed on smaller electric system.

With the house, under load (quite cool at the time) I ramped the house up to desired temperature. Then let the bedroom cruise on low heat, overnight, with no electric preheating this time, to maintain that already existing bedroom temperature, on low(750 watt) heat (cord or plug does not even get warm).

If I had not done that, with the one cube space heater running in my bedroom, with the outside temps in the 30's, I likely would have woken up to a bedroom temp of about 66-68, rather than the 73 that it was!

How do I know? Because under similar conditions, when only doing the space heater and trying to warm up the bedroom with only using the space heater, from a dead start-up, with bedroom temp in the mid-to high 50's, it was laboring too hard and for too long, to try to actuially raise the bedroom temperature. But what I did by first running the NG furnace was make it so the space heater, after that, only had to maintain the temperature, or raise it some.

So how does that save money by using the electric?, over the NG? It will, since I only run the bedroom cube heater on 750 watts and have time of use 5 kwh charge to boot.

But I believe using this hybrid approach will even help people save, who are not on time of use!, and yet not compromise comfort. That is the key. Anybody can save, obviously, if you turn off the heat, and have to huddle under blankets. What I am talking here is actually maintining your normal temp in the room you are in. And since you might be in your bedroom for 8 hours(some longer, if they watch tv in there, as some people I know practially live in their bedrooms! One woman actually cordons off the rest of her house in the winter, to save), that could yield you a pretty good savings I'd think, if you do as I suggest, and leave furnace to only maintain the rest of the house to about 50-55. And to leave the furnace to only come on during the day, while you are away, only when it gets to 50-55, or so, inside. You should be able to save substantially.
 
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Old 10-19-09, 09:53 AM
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But you have no real comparison to the NG cost. What if you shut your vents in the unused rooms (at night) and moved your thermostat into the bedroom... Maybe the furnace would only kick on once or twice during the night. Electric heat has always been very expensive. Seems like this may be one for the rocket scientists!
 
  #3  
Old 10-19-09, 04:43 PM
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Good thinking, about moving the thermostat. You must be very HVAC savvy or plain clever to have thought of that, as that thinking is 'outside the box'.

I actually did that very thing in a 2-story duplex when the downstairs one was vacant one winter. I moved the stat to the bedroom and closed the bedroom door and closed down the downstairs radiators. The upstairs tenants apt. were normal temp about 70. But the downstairs was in the 50's.

There are reasons though why this would not be too good of an idea in the place that I live . Limited number of regsiters and an already oversized furnace.

As far as me not to really be able to calcualte savings between the gas furnace and the space heater - I disagree. I have several ways of cross checking to get a fairly good idea. One is the fact I have organized utility receipts dating back like 20 years. I can thumb through reams of bills looking for the avg. temp (printed on each bill), to compare with the temps now. I also know what my input and output rating are on my furance and also the approx. run times per hour in these kind of weather condions, based on 24 years experience in that house - and compare that to the btus of the space heater (easy since there is no cycling).

I took an electric reading last Thursday morning and now this morning = 4 days. I only had 4 on-peak kwh's! I calculated the 4-day useage, which includes running the space heater every evening and nite, and the total is about $5 for 4 days = under $40/mo.rate. That is cheap to average for me. And that includes comparing to when I never ran a space heater! So you can roughly figure I did not really spend any more for electric than I normally woud have. (Remember, I am only paying 1/2 what other people do!: 5.00/kwh, compared to current 10.5/kwh.). Then figure that my furnace bill in these temps would be like $50-60 based on $1 a therm (close to real, avg.). But for this last 4 day meter read, I only used 2.4 therms, or $2.40, which is like at a rate of only $18 for the month, at weather in the 30's!

Nope. I'm really coming out a head doing what I am doing, just the way I am doing it. Even if say I got an NG space heater, and used that instead, the savings would still only be about that same amount, based on the fact my electric costs me half as much as what it used to(during the evening-nite times I am using the electric heater) heat!

This last winter I have reported on this board that I have saved 30-37% in total energy cost (elect. and gas combined) over past winter seasons. I've also been able to judge my savings based on how I now save big over my neighbor, when it used to be the other way around! (He used to save big over me.) I have compared his total energy useage, to mine, for many years. And last winter was the first season I beat him, and quite handily, after switching to time of use and using a space heater near me, when the house is kept (24 hours a day) about 55 degrees by the NG furnace.

And those couple of nationally advertised electric space heaters are also making similar claims(the one Bob Villa endorses and the other one that the Amish make the mantle for) of saving 30-up to 50%. The idea is to keep the furnace stat set to 55 -60, and then make only the room you are in, nice and toasty. You can't really do that by switching a stat to another troom and closing down regsiters, since it is not okay to be closing down a bunch of regsiters.
 
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Old 10-20-09, 04:15 PM
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Milemaker,

And consider THIS one: Today I opened up a past due gas bill from last month, and they did an estimated reading based on my 24 years here. They estimated me 37 days ago, giving me a higher meter read number than not only what the meter read last month, but what is on the meter this morning!! They are going to be scratching their heads on that one.
 
  #5  
Old 10-20-09, 04:15 PM
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Built any good rockets lately? Sounds like I kinda put my foot in my mouth here.

Keep up the good work
 
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Old 10-20-09, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
Built any good rockets lately? Sounds like I kinda put my foot in my mouth here.

Keep up the good work
Don't run away. You are a good questioner.

If you think I'm like a rocket scientist type? If that is what you mean? Well, I do enjoy challenges and data gathering. It be boring if not for that stuff. I don't like repetitious stuff for years on end. My work history bears that out, also.
 
  #7  
Old 10-21-09, 07:20 AM
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I'm here.... I am also one who watches the bills. I am thinking about upgrading the current boiler and 90 yr old pipes to a new high effecency furnace, adding central AC at the same time. What are your thoughts on radiant hot water heat vs. forced air as far as effecency and comfort?
 
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Old 10-23-09, 08:14 AM
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I am not a pro or engineer in these fields. I mainly make repairs.

I recently learned here that some places in the country have boilers with force air heating. I have not had to deal with such a system here. One has to wonder why first heat the water, rather than just the air. I can't tell you. Ask the guys in the boilers forum here.

I do know that hydronic baseboard heating can be just as comfortable at a lower stat setting because you do not get room temp swings as much, and no drafts from a blower running.

Other than that, I could not tell you. Interesting even why they have the 3 types of heating systems that I talked about, if one was far superior. I have similarly wondered why so many furnace burner systems and ignition systems(direct spark, spark to pilot, and glow coil). You'd think there would be one system that is the most reliable and efficient and all companies would go with that. ???

I know that geothermal is superior, but you have to really pay for that, upfront. As far as these plain ol other types of systems go, I do not know what is more economical.

We have both forced air and hydronic/baseboard heat in the various rentals, but since the houses are so different, it is inconclusive as to which is the best. I do know that with hydronic systems though, that especially if there are cold winters and there are crawl spaces or otherwise cold basements, that it pays to insulate the pipes, since the heated water sits in there between cycles.

I suppose there is the installation cost factor also, comparing the various types of heating systems. That must have played into why they chose the forced air high-efficient furnaces in the newer rentals, rather than boiler systems -as they would not be concerned about what the monthly bills are, as much as if their was substantial savings to install that type of system.
 
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Old 10-23-09, 08:36 AM
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You mentioned geo thermal heating. An interesting plan... but what would happen if most homes on earth used geo thermal heating?

I bet the first guy with a coal stove in his village thought it was the best way. So everybody got a coal stove. Then many years later we discover that we may have been barking up the wrong tree all along. The coal (and other fossil fuels) is now "almost gone".

What would happen if every home on earth tapped the earth's internal warmth and drew it up and out onto the surface, where it would rapidly dissapate compared to being inside the earth. I wonder if the Earth would cool as we have never known, reversing global warming and then bringing on another Ice Age.

Which is worse for the people of Earth... A few degrees warmer or a few degrees cooler? Who knows!
 
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Old 10-27-09, 04:16 AM
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Aww, C'mon... Ain't nobody got a comment on that?
 
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Old 10-27-09, 05:58 AM
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Hi mm, the world supply of energy is one of those topics no one wants to face. Coal, we have over a 100 year supply of it. Oil, we have huge un-tapped supplies in the gulf, along the Cal coast, and around Florida. Oil shale, a dirty but additional source for another 50 years. Today's technology to build nuclear power plants is 40 years ahead of what we have running already, and it has lasted twice as long as it was supposed to and we have only ONE new plant approved for construction. We need 500 more of them just to get started. How long would that take.

We have the capacity TODAY to set a course for total energy independence, but we lack the leadership, in both parties, to do so. $140 per barrel oil prices, this time last year, got our attention, but we forgot "again" and now believe it is our responsibility to go broke importing energy rather than developing a home grown solution. We are at the mercy of too many countries who hate our guts and our politicians just don't see it.

As for geothermal systems cooling off the earth, not even close. But are they the solution we need, not even close.

Our national debt is now passing 12 trillion dollars and accelerating.

I drifted, but I needed that, thanks.

Bud
 
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Old 10-27-09, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
Aww, C'mon... Ain't nobody got a comment on that?
I thought it was a whimsical questions like, - if everyone died on Earth, would the Earth get lighter? Or, if you mow your grass and bag the clippings does your yard start to sink after a while? And if it doesn't, does that mean if you leave the clippings, that the yard then gets taller and taller?
 
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Old 10-27-09, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
But you have no real comparison to the NG cost. What if you shut your vents in the unused rooms (at night) and moved your thermostat into the bedroom... Maybe the furnace would only kick on once or twice during the night. Electric heat has always been very expensive. Seems like this may be one for the rocket scientists!
Shutting off unused vents, especially all of them but one room, is a guaranteed way to premature furnace death! The greatly reduced airflow will allow the heat exchanger to get much hotter than its designed to operate at. Before long, yo'll have a cracked heat exchanger. Furnaces are designed to operate with a specific airflow through them.

At a night time price of 5 cents/KW, those electric rates are competitive with NG costs. I know in my parent's hometown, residential electric is 4.5 cents/KW and its cheaper to operate resistance heating than using natural gas. The electric rates are even lower if your home is total electric. Natural gas costs have risen much faster than electric rates, and are expected to do so, as much new electrical generation will be natural gas fired, rather than coal, so expect NG to become in shorter supply.
 
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Old 10-27-09, 11:49 AM
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I guess if you've done the math and the electric rates are less per BTU than NG, then yes, electric spae heating is OK. But why not just run several space heaters and no furnce at all?


Anyway, back to the orignal hybrid home heat idea. What about supplimental heat from the fire place? My home has a 90 yr old brick fireplace, which we all know is very ineffecent and burns up your already heated air and so on.

But what about a wood burning stove insert? I've read a little where they can be installed in the existing fireplace and then the chimney pipe runs up inside your existing chimney. Not so much a fireplace insert, but a real cast iron stove. If it was fed air from outside and burned with the door closed most of the time... I get cut up oak pallets from work. Besides cleaning out the nails, it is very good wood.

Maybe that would help cut the bills since the second fuel source is free.
 
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Old 10-27-09, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Beachboy View Post
Shutting off unused vents, especially all of them but one room, is a guaranteed way to premature furnace death! The greatly reduced airflow will allow the heat exchanger to get much hotter than its designed to operate at. Before long, yo'll have a cracked heat exchanger. Furnaces are designed to operate with a specific airflow through them.
I hope you aren't trying to tell me that one. I know.


At a night time price of 5 cents/KW, those electric rates are competitive with NG costs.
At the rate NG is right now by me, it sure is cheaper with electric at 5. I think my last bill was about $1.20 a therm. I'll have to take another look at the bill to be sure. They just said in the news that this winter may see 12% cheaper NG bills. (Cough).....ya , they first raise it by 12% or more first.
 
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Old 10-27-09, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
I guess if you've done the math and the electric rates are less per BTU than NG, then yes, electric spae heating is OK. But why not just run several space heaters and no furnce at all?
Portable space heaters have more inherent risks. And you may need quite a few of them, that, besides their individual risks, could over tax your power service( especially on prolonged super cold days), without an upgrade. If you had electric baseboard heating, that be a different story.
 
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Old 10-28-09, 03:31 AM
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Thinking about it like that, that electric baseboard heat may be cheaper, maybe an all electric house would be just the thing. Most utilities give a discount for all electric too, right? Then you would need no chimney (electric WH as well). No negative pressure in the house, no warm air exhausted thru the flue at all. Hmmm...

How does a Kw compare to a therm?? What is the conversion in order to compare NG and electric?
 
  #18  
Old 10-28-09, 05:04 AM
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1 kwh = 3,412 btu's
1 therm = 100,000 btu's
1 therm = 29.3 kwh
There are lots of pages providing the conversion, I just grabbed this one.
http://www.networketi.com/pdfs/september2003.pdf

The other part of the equation is the heating system. NG is usually in the 90% range where electric is considered 100% efficient.

Just feel lucky you don't pay our electric rates, 17.5 cents per kwh.

Bud
 
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Old 10-28-09, 07:14 AM
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Very succinct, to the point post, Bud, that allows everyone to easily see what the conversion is, and plug in their NG and Kwh rates, and get an idea if they realistically can save with one over the other.

Too bad on those high rates. But they must figure that they want their cut of the pie, since probably the avg. salary out there is $200,000 a year? Too bad they do not dam more rivers. I wonder what kind of rates Buffalo has due to Niagara Falls?
 
  #20  
Old 10-28-09, 12:17 PM
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OK, check my math here, but, at .05 per kwh electric heat comes out at 1.46 per therm. Considering that NG may be 90% and electric is 100% effecent, that still puts NG at $1.32 per usuable therm and Electric at $1.46 per usuable therm.

Again, check my math, but it looks pretty close with NG in the lead. But same time last year my NG was more than twice what it is now... so....
 
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Old 10-28-09, 03:50 PM
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So your math indeed proves NG is cheaper per 90% efficient furnace. So that shoots down the theory for one to use electric space heaters in every room, if you also have a 90% furnace.

But if you only have one that realistically does 65-70% including how it just starts up sending burned gas up the chimney for 1 1/2 minutes before even the blower comes on......AND the fact that running the blower does not come free......it then might be better for such a person to run the electric heaters, in theory.

But no matter what, a person is not going to amass some sort of nest egg, doing this. But if you just use the one electric space heater, while the rest of the house is quite cool, you surely will save.

A commercial facility I help out at, just got their Xcel Energy bill of less than 50 a therm! I kid you not. The therm charge was 35, and the distribution charge/therm was about 13. And here I think the bill they sent ME recently was pushing $1.20 a therm (albeit a different supplier, but generally is competitive). What?! I made a note already to check that out. Something is really wrong here, if I am comparing apples/apples (same month bill?). And is this attributed to 'commercial', as the reason why? Nope. I hope they ain't socking it to me because they found out I was using way less therms than what I normally have, in order to save! A phone call might be in order tomorrow after I carefully re-review my own bill.
 
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Old 10-29-09, 05:30 AM
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Those are some good points... exchanger needs to warm up first, most furnacs arn't 90% yet, and the blower does use some kwhs itself. And also the combustion itself, unless you have a nice new 90% furnace using outside air for combustion, will be drawing out your heated air while drawing in cold make up air.

Maybe electric does win!
 
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Old 10-29-09, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Milemaker13 View Post
, unless you have a nice new 90% furnace using outside air for combustion, will be drawing out your heated air while drawing in cold make up air.

Maybe electric does win!
That's true also. Something broomed under the rug?, in such discussions regarding efficiency. With a fireplace, I know that is a huge issue. Not sure with furnaces.

It be fun to find out how, if two furnaces compare to each other in every way, except one is open combustion, and the other is closed combustion, how that affects total energy efficiency.

This is interesting enough I'd say that I may bring this up to the guy who does the column in the Saturday paper regarding home energy!
 
  #24  
Old 10-29-09, 09:58 AM
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My boiler draws in so much cold air that the basement is always cold. I am building a boiler room to house the boiler and WH. I have an old coal door into which I will install outside vents, thus providing cold air for combustion while keeping it contained in the boiler room. I think this will keep the basement / house warmer as well as elimanating the negitive pressure issue that would fill my house with smoke should I have a fire in the fireplace.

Right now if we want to have a nice fire in the evening, I have to shut off the boiler to prevent the negitive pressure. It gets pretty cold overnight...

Actually, I have a good question for the boiler section... See ya there!
 
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Old 10-29-09, 04:22 PM
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The one 4-plex I took care of (it, along with 2 others, were sold this year....2 to go) had a common fresh air intake duct, and when the furnace ran, or 2-3-4 al at once, you would not want to be in that fireproof furnace room when it was below 0 out (causing several furnaces to run). So I know what you mean.
 
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Old 10-31-09, 12:57 PM
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Correction to post 21

I looked at my NG bills and it is actually closer to being only 66 a therm after this big credit they are giving!

It hasn't been this low in many many years. And adjusted for inflation, it is REALLY low. I think the lowest I recall, from 20 years ago, was about 50 !

Hmmmm. I'm going to have to reassess my methods for keeping warm I think after analyzing my latest meter reads compared to my neighbor who I have over 20 years of comparing with. And also compared to months out of all those past years (since I have ALL my bills) that have the same avg. temp listed on the bills. And go by that, rather than mathematical theory on btus. I'll let you know whan I do the figures.
 
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Old 11-03-09, 05:20 PM
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Possible hybid home heating idea - like with cars

I switched my all-electric house from elec. basboard in every room (a few hydronic) over to geothermal last year. The difference in comfort and cost is rediculous, to be honest. The cooling season cost is a little better then the standard A/C we had but the warming is 3 X cheaper!
 
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Old 11-09-09, 04:03 PM
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What size house do you have, and what did it cost for you to install that system in order to save so much, and did this qualify for any of the large energy group or gov't rebate programs?
 
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Old 11-11-09, 10:14 AM
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size house = 2k sq. ft.
cost to install = $16k
qualify for any rebates = Y

About a 5 to 7 yr. payback at this point.
 
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Old 11-11-09, 02:53 PM
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Only 5-7 year payback? You sure? That would be $2,300 - 3,200 a year it would be costing you, for 5 - 7 years. You even have those kinds of heating bills per season, in VA?

Or, was the $16,000 installation cost, and the rebates have not been factored in that figure?
 
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Old 11-12-09, 06:38 AM
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Sounds like that is the installed cost before the gov. rebates.
 
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Old 11-13-09, 02:28 PM
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Its been in for a year so instead of 6 - 8 years payback its about 5 -7 years.

Thats actual direct expenses so its 16k after rebates.

Includes projected increases to cost of electricity -- the month we turned it up electric rates jumped 25%. That was just lucky timing but it makes a big difference in payback.

Also had a blower, for example, that had to be replaced anyway -- it was much cheaper when we did the drilling, plumbing, pumps, blower etc all at once so that was another big lowering of the time to payback.
 
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Old 11-13-09, 04:27 PM
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What kind of depth and square footage area did they run the pipes?
 
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Old 10-09-10, 07:57 AM
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Using less is better

Responding to your original post:

I don't think that anyone has pointed out that by only heating your bedroom, you are heating a much smaller space...so it is a far more cost and resource efficient way of heating the house.

That's what we do too, and I'm a big fan of it.
 
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