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Which is better for me? Gas ventless or electric baseboard? (prices inside)

Which is better for me? Gas ventless or electric baseboard? (prices inside)

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  #1  
Old 02-06-13, 09:35 AM
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Which is better for me? Gas ventless or electric baseboard? (prices inside)

I'm in Northeastern Pennsylvania and here are my current prices:

Electric: $0.10711/kWh (generation + transmission + distribution)
Natural Gas: $0.49668/CCF

We currently have natural gas forced air heat but the basement is still cold because the vents are located on the ceiling and so the heat is rising out of the room.

We have the following options:

1) Relocate (or add) vents lower on the walls. (* not sure if the furnace is large enough to support these extra vents)
2) Purchase Gas ventless heater
3) Purchase electric baseboard.

Requirements:

1) Keep heated on a schedule (i.e. automatically heat after work so when I come home it's warm)
2) Heats quickly so I don't have to wait 30 minutes to use the room if I turn off the heat.
3) Safe for my son (2 years old); so it's not an open flame or anything

I've used some online calculators and it looks like electric heat is about 4x or 5x more expensive than natural gas so am I better off getting a small gas (ventless) heater?

Thanks for any help!
 
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  #2  
Old 02-06-13, 09:49 AM
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Personally, I would not get a gas heater which did not vent to the outside.

What do you have for cold air returns in the basement? Having the vents in the ceiling is common and is what I have at my house - I close a couple vents in the upstairs for the winter, open all of them downstairs (I close a couple downstairs in the summer) and as long as I leave the basement door closed, my basement is plenty warm.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 09:54 AM
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There is no ventless option as they are unsafe and probably not allowed. And especially when you mention the safety of your 2 yr old. But I'll let you read Dr Bailes blog:
A Ventless Gas Fireplace Is a Liability

Now, the good news is that basements can be warm with minimal heat, even heat that is vented from the ceiling. Tell us more about what you have done to insulate and air seal that space? How finished is it at present?

Bud
 
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Old 02-06-13, 09:58 AM
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Yeah, the ventless does scare me a bit with the carbon monoxide, etc.

The easiest by far seems to be electric baseboard with a simple programmable thermostat (but in the long-run that seems to be the most expensive).

Anyways - I don't think there are any cold-air return ducts in the basement. Would that really affect the heat though? I thought that without return ducts you would just keep getting hot air blowing into the room, etc.

(NOTE: I didn't install the existing ducts; we just moved into this house and this seems to be how they built it...)
 
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Old 02-06-13, 10:06 AM
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@Bud: I'll have to take some pictures and post them, but here is a short description:

Half of the basement is finished: (~25' x 15' for the finished side). 7' high drop ceilings (so 8' total height) with insulation [not sure how good]).

The HVAC duct is inside the drop ceiling and two holes (vents) were cut to allow air into the basement. I don't believe any return ducts exist.

**Here is a big reason why it's cold, I think: The family room (upstairs) is built on a slab (?). In the finished part of the basement there is a hole with a board over it which leads to the crawl-space under the family room. If I remove the board it's FREEZING under the crawl space. The HVAC guy said that's normal because fresh air needs to circulate under there to prevent mold, etc.

Does any of that make any sense?
 
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Old 02-06-13, 10:12 AM
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Cold air settles to the floor or, if it can, the lower floors of the house. In your case, that's the level we're talking about being cold. If you could have that air picked up by the furnace, it would go a logn way toward warming the space.

Think of it this way, if you kept blowing air into the room without extracting some back out, the atmospheric pressure in that area would skyrocket. Nature won't allow that to happen and so that air has to go somewhere, which means the hot air is trying to go upstairs in your house. Remove the cold air from the floor and more of the warm air will stick around.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 10:14 AM
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Looks like you slipped in another response while I was typing. So the crawlspace is vented to the outside; it's sealed off from the rest of the house (though not by any significantly insulating material)?
 
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Old 02-06-13, 10:24 AM
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Sorry, I'm not used to posting on this forum. Most forums put new posts on the bottom but this one seems to keep them on the top? (that's why my posts seem out-of-order)

Anyways, what you are saying makes complete sense! I never really thought of it like that.

The crawlspace is vented to the outside (which is why it's freezing cold if I pull off that board) from two vents I believe.

Also, the crawlspace is under the family room (which is also quite cold!). The rest of the house is on top of the full basement.

The crawlspace has an opening into the finished part of the basement but is "sealed" with a board. (about 3' x 3') but it's only attached with two screws and has a small piece of insulation on the back of it.

Does that make sense?

(Sorry - I'm trying to provide as many details as possible!)

The room above the crawlspace (the family room) is also quite cold... I'm guessing because the air under the crawlspace is freezing cold and thus the family room floor is awfully cold. There is insulation in the crawlspace (under the family room floor) but I don't know the R value or quality, etc.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 11:08 AM
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You can switch the view on the forums, I have mine set up so the newest post is at the bottom. I'll have to look up how to change that, I don't recall off the top of my head.

OK, so in addition to returns in the basement, you may want to look into changing the crawlspace from being sealed to the house and vented to the outside to being sealed to the outside and vented to the house. It sounds like a big project, though, as you seem like you would need to run HVAC into the space; that the potential airway between the two is insufficient for convection. If you do go down that route, the insulation gets moved from the floor of the room above to the walls of the crawlspace.
 
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Old 02-06-13, 11:45 AM
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Eeek, that does sound like a bit of a project. Hopefully I can do something smaller at least for now...

I ended up calling a local HVAC guy so hopefully he will also give me some ideas but your help has definitely pointed me in the right direction! I'm going to ask about installing a return vent in the basement and what other options we might have, etc.

Thanks again so much!
 
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Old 02-06-13, 01:43 PM
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Ductless split heat pump is the high efficiency solution.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 11:39 AM
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I would not install unvented equipment. Too much of a hazard to building occupants, in my experience doing gas fireplace repairs.

A simple box fan will probably stire up the basement air and mix the air, although you may find you just aren't getting enough heat to keep the space warm.

Personally, I'd look at whether adding aqdditional warm air supplies to the basement is practical with the furnace you have. It's rather common fgor furnaces to be oversized and have spare capacity. How effective is your furnace in keeping your home warm on very cold days?

And keep in mind that furnaces are usually grossly oversized 95% of the time. Only on the coldest days would you expect a furnace to run pretty much continuously to keep a house warm. The rest of the time there is idle heating capacity available to use.

You could let the basement cool off during those few very cold days if the furnace can't keep that space heated.

If you do that, adding additional warm air ducting might be done pretty economically, and you don't have additional equipment to buy or maintain. You might still need the box fan to keep the air mixed up.
 
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