82% AFUE vs. 93% and Oil vs. Gas???

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Old 10-10-05, 01:47 PM
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Question 82% AFUE vs. 93% and Oil vs. Gas???

Hi everyone,
I'm sure this question is asked all the time but mine is a little unique (I think ) I'm making a very tough decision this week and am hoping to get some valuable input here! My basic question is should I convert to natural gas and ditch my oil heat? I'll go into more detail...

My oil heater is an Armstrong rated @ 82%AFUE and installed in 1997. It works well but does need a tuneup. I spoke with the gas company and they will install natural gas in my house free of charge as long as I get a gas furnace. A family friend has a heating/cooling business and will install a Bryant 93%AFUE gas direct-vent for $4000, including the cooling coil for future A/C.

I remember reading a year or two ago that it does not make economic sense to switch if your heater does not need replacement. Reports showed that per BTU, oil was typically cheaper. This was before the price inflation of oil during the recent years and I can NOT find a new report.

So, how much more efficient is 93% vs. 82% when comparing gas to oil (besides the obvious 11%)? I realize that I'm not going to recoupe all money spent on the new heater in one year, but do you think I will after several years? I also must mention my house is about as inefficient as they get. Built in 1840, single pane wood windows, 0 insulation (except what I added in the attic). I realize insulating is the best way to save money but I am doing that one room at a time. I bought new windows but won't be able to install all of them before winter! Finally, as a comparison, last year I went through 3 tanks of 275 gal of oil and the thermostat was always between 50 and 55!

Thanks for the input!!!
 
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Old 10-10-05, 06:29 PM
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First of all, I would spend the money now to update the walls and windows before you even look at a new furnace.

If you get a new furnace, and when all the windows/walls are said and done, Your furnace more likely be over sized. You sure will not get your money out of it! The system will short cycle, and that leads to system life cutting short.

Do you know what the cost of oil is for your area? Cost of Natural gas??

Yes the gas company may put one in for free..... But i know our local gas company says price of gas may go up 62%! I don't know how much oil will go up..

Give me a price, and i'll tell you what the best thing to do...

Again, don't look at a new furnace.. Get the windows and insulation updated.
 
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Old 10-10-05, 07:41 PM
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Thumbs up Jay's right (as usual)

Upgrade the insulation (walls, ceiling, windows, & doors) WAY before even thinking about a new furnace.
 
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Old 10-11-05, 07:20 AM
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Thanks for the input! I knew that upgrading the insulation and windows is most important, but unfortunately that takes time that I don't have at the moment. I bought 19 new windows but will only have the time to install about 9 of them before winter hits. By the same token, there is no way I'll be able to add insulation to the walls before winter because I'll have to tear down the plaster in each room. The heater would be installed by someone else so it would virtually take me no time. So that's why I was asking if it would help to save money on fuel costs. I never considered the fact that over powering it would be bad for me in the future. I should mention the heater I would be having installed would be a 2 stage.

I know oil in my area is going for around $2.50 per gallon presently. The only information I could find on the present cost of gas was "$1.5877/therm." I'm not sure what that means so I'm not sure if it's the number you're looking for.
Hopefully it helps and any additional input would be greatly appreciated!!
 
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Old 10-11-05, 07:37 AM
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Do you know price of Cu/ft of Nat gas??

For therm. I have to find out to figure out into cubic feet from therm..
 
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Old 10-11-05, 02:06 PM
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Just looked it up in my area.. it says average is $13.46 per thousand cubic feet... Sound about right? Like I said, I have no idea how much gas is in a certain quantity. That price includes taxes and fees.

Pete
 
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Old 10-11-05, 07:07 PM
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Therm

A therm is defined as 100,000 btu. For quick figuring, you can consider it to be 100 cu. ft. of natural gas. At $1.5877/therm it equates to aprox. $2.21 for the same btu as a gallon of fuel oil, using 139,000 btu/gal for fuel oil.
 
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Old 11-06-05, 03:04 PM
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Just to add a little to Grady's reply...

The reason the gas company sells Nat.Gas in terms of "Therms" is because the BTU's in a cubic foot of gas will change, depending on how "pure" the gas is as they suck it out of the earth.

So... somebody must literally burn a cubic foot of gas, determine the energy value, and price it appropriately. Very much unlike Propane - which is manmade, and the energy value per unit is constant.

That's how I understand it, please correct me if I'm wrong.

craig
 
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Old 11-06-05, 05:46 PM
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Fuels' BTU content

In reality all fuels vary in their btu content. Almost all published data is based on averages & the fuel being at a standard temperature. As the temperature drops, the fuels become more dense & thus have more BTUs/volume. I've seen oil & LP lines so cold they actually cause condensation when the warm interior air hits them.
 
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