Energy Costs to Operate Furnace

jaysgardenJanuary 7, 2011

I've posted this topic before but has made some corrections and kind of consolidated all data.

I was trying to gauge the cost(for natural gas) when my furnace has run(consumed gas) for an hour's time. I did it two ways.

First I just took the BTU input rating of the furnace and did the calculations from there. Then someone pointed out that the BTU input rating may not be an actual value.

So secondly I needed to determine the amount of gas my furnace is actually consuming per hour.

Here are the particlars:

1. I have Goodman model GMPN100-4 furnace. (natural gas, single stage, pilotless and an input rating of 100,000 BTU per Hour)


1.One cubic foot of natural gas has about 1,030 BTU.

2.Divide the furnace input rating(in my case 100,000) by 1030 to get the number of cubic feet of gas the furnace will use in one hour. So 100,000(BTU) divided by 1030(BTU per Cubic Foot) is about 97 Cub Feet.

3.My supplier's bill is based on units of one hundred cubic feet(CCF) so I divide 97 cubic feet by 100 to determine how many CCF the furnace will burn per

hour. This turns out to be 0.97 CCF

4.My supplier charges $.745 per CCF so it costs me 0.97 times $.745 = $.72 per hour for natural gas for my furnace to run.


As stated above someone pointed out that the BTU input rating may not be an actual value. So I wanted to determine how much gas the furnace was consuming per hour.

My gas meter has a 2 cubic foot dial. I set a video cam in front of the gas meter in the morning knowing the furnace would be on for at least 20 minutes to bring the house up to temperature from the night's setback. The furnace did run for about 20 minutes but I stopped my readings at 10 minutes. Here are some findings:

In 5 minutes the furnace consumed 7.6 cubic feet of gas.

In 10 minutes the furnace consumed 15.2 cubic feet of gas.

So 15.2 cubic feet of gas in 10 minutes extrapolated out to 60 minutes would be 91.2 cubic feet gas per hour or 0.912 CCF/hr.

At $.745 per CCF the cost is about $.68 per hour.

From the input rating data (100,000 BTU/hr) I calcualted .97 CCF/hr. So the actual gas consumption was a little bit less that the input rating.

Now some Notes:

1. My gas bill is broken down to a charge for gas consumption, a customer service charge of like $21 a month and of course the tax on the consumption charge.

So it's pretty straightforward how much the gas costs per hundred cubic feet. This month gas was $.745 per CCF.

2. No other gas consuming appliances(oven, stovetop or hot water heater) were firing at the time of testing.

3. I understand that outside temp, thermostat setting and how well my home is insulated are factors as to HOW OFTEN the furnace will run. That wasn't my concern. I only wanted to know how much gas was consumed when the furnace ran for an hour. How that hour was achieved was not important. It could of been 60 continuous minutes or six 10-minutes cycles. In my case I took a 10 minute run cycle and multiplied that amount of gas usage by 6.

I have since I've hooked up the following 24V hour meter to the gas valve:

The meter progresses in tenths of an hour increments anytime the gas valve is open. I can tell how long the furnace runs each day, month or season. This helps with filter changes also. I've found that about every 125 hours the filter is dirty enough to be replaced.

I appreciate the comments.

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Wow... I admire your savvy.

We only use our forced-air gas furnace when temperatures are extremely cold for our area (lows in the low-teens or colder), and only as an over-ride heating source to our Sun Cloud Infrared Heater - when it can't keep up with the extremely cold temperatures and high winds, or we are away from our home for longer than 24-hours.

During the coldest days when we have the furnace on, it will come on 3-6 times a day when used in tandem with the Sun Cloud.

We've used the Sun Cloud for the past 7-years as our main source for heat and turn our furnace on less than 14-days total during a winter (an average of 8-days per year over the 7-years), and much of that was when we were gone on vacation over Christmas.

The next few days the furnace will be on with lows expected to be 5 degrees F tonight and -5 Tuesday. Highs in the mid-teens - plus wind 15-25 mph.

I just checked the Watt-A-Meter we put on the Sun Cloud recently - after 112-hours it registers $3.73 for electricity for that period of time. I realize that's not a lot of time, but it is actual use and numbers. It's averaging .03 cents an hour. Over longer periods of time we generally average .02 cents an hour.

Our home may seem a bit cool for most people - between 64-66-degrees F - that's on the coldest days. Our utility costs are one-third to one-half what the neighbors are, living in similar homes with 2-adults.

We think the Sun Cloud is a safe and affordable source for heat - especially after 7-years of service. We paid for the Sun Cloud with savings on utilities the first year we owned it.

It's NOT your usual space heater stuck under the desk to warm feet... Pluses, it doesn't dry the air out. It has zero-clearance and A-1 insurance rating (the highest safety rating means lowest possible insurance costs, and some home insurance will not cover other "space" heaters) - you can safely place it next to a wall, sofa, etc. Safe to use around pets and children. Won't tip over (looks like an oak side table on wheels). No matter where you are in the area we heat - whether it's the farthest point from the Sun Cloud, or next to it - watching TV or eating dinner 18-foot away next to a bay window, around the corner into the kitchen, the area temperature is very consistent through-out. No cold spots.

We DO leave the furnace fan on constantly, and this helps to distribute heat to the 3 bedrooms we close off to the rest of the house, and they remain about 3-6 degrees cooler than the rest of the house.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 4:04PM
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