Advice Needed

sherilynnMay 22, 2008

We GC'd the building of our retirement home here in NE Florida, which has about 4,400 sf of finished/heated/cooled space. We made sure we insulated well and used a radiant barrier. We have electric heat and a 500 gallon propane gas tank for our water heater, dryer, gas range top with electric oven, grill, back-up generator.... and fireplace. (Pilot light is off on the fireplace.) We also have deep porches, which helps with the heat.

I have 11 interior water sources in our home. (Five baths, extra sinks, two sinks in a salon, laundry sink, etc...). I also have two washers and dryers in our laundry room.

The cost of propane is going through the roof. I am hardly using the gas dryer at all. Maybe a half a dozen times a month for about 5~8 minutes at a time. I only dry sheets, towels, and whites in the electric dryer. I hang everything else up to dry. Our propane gas bill was running about $100/month three years ago, but is now rocking at $300/month now! As the gas prices go up for the cars, so does the propane gas. Keep in mind, we still have an electric bill on top of the gas bill.

We need to do something to cut out the majority of the propane use. I believe a huge culprit is the hot water tank.

Do you have any suggestions as to what we can do to save money, heat the water, get rid of the majority of the appliances that siphon off the gas?

All suggestions would be helpful. Thank you,

Sheri Lynn

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As in my post below, start with a HRU on your A/C. By electric heat do you mean a heat pump or is it straight electric heat as a backup for gas? The size of your house is a problem you won't be able to overcome. We GC'd our retirement home here in cent fl, kept it to about 2000 sq ft. and also used radiant barrier roof sheathing. We have a 6/12 pitch roof to maximize convection cooling of attic. How many of you live in that house? Two washers and dryers? We have two portable gens for power failures. A 8000 watt that will run the house and a small 1000 watt stashed away with a small 'window shaker' to utilize for sleeping at night. The size of your house no doubt dictates a very large stationary genset. The whole house propane units are obscenely costly to don't realize how cheap you can buy electricity until you have to make it yourself. How often does it run automatically in 'maintenance mode'? That can consume a heap of gas. We incorporated any ideas we could think of in the planning to minimize solar heating...garage on west side of house, minimal west windows and doors, low-e glass, 24 inch overhangs plus 6" gutters, and a 10' ceiling to let the warmer air stratify above our heads. When we started the planning of our new house about a year and a half ago, we had no idea of the wild runup in energy costs. If we had we probably would have opted to build even smaller. As it is, we ended up with a house that runs about $120 monthly electric bill. We are out in the country and this includes our water pumping expense. We keep the air at 78 and all lighting is CF. Large windows and sliding doors help minimize the need for turning on the lights. Would have loved to had a gas range but even when we built we were concerned about the cost of propane so went all electric.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 4:56AM
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Have you thought about a geothermal heat pump with a desuperheater? This would provide the cheapest heating and cooling. Your domestic hot water would be essentially free whenever youÂre using the A/C (the heat extracted from your home heats the hot water instead of being exhausted into hot atmosphere) and greatly reduced when heating.

Geothermal would certainly be expensive to install, but considering where energy prices are today and where theyÂre going to be tomorrow, this could be the Âcheapest option when you do a cost analysis over the next 10~20 years!

ItÂs also the greenest choice for active space conditioning.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:31AM
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I'm concerned about future electric surcharges being applied to tankless electric water heaters. Power companies are concerned about the heavy instantaneous draw they put on the grid. I find the claims about energy savings somewhat overblown...maybe compared to a 20 year old tank heater...current tanks have VERY good foam insulation..put your hand on one and you'll see it's not even warm. Also I have a concern that although tank heaters are required to have the yellow energy label, I have yet to see a tankless with one. Are they slipping through some regulatory crack that's hiding their minimal savings over a tank unit??? The 85% efficiency they trumpet applies equally to a tank's a property of an electric element submerged in water...

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 4:16PM
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