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What about us guys that don't have forced air

Posted by big_al_41 (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 9:38

Just wondering, I live in New England and the winters here are cold. I have a oil fired furnace that feels baseboards 2 zone. I see a lot on here about A/C etc and greenspan infinity and how this will save over oil fired units and all. BUT, what about us guys that don't have A/C ... what can we do to save over oil heat? I tried going the route of Nat. gas but they want my first male born plus $15,000 ( plus cost to install and pipe ) .. not going to happen.

My present furnace is about 12 yrs old and there will come a time when I need to replace it ( plus the cost of oil is nuts ) ... what should I be thinking about .. can't use a HP no duct work . Thanks all


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Al,

I remember you posting about your dilemma in the past. I agree spending $15,000 is cost prohibitive.

Can you share the cost of the gas pipe with your neighbors? I suggest you arrange a meeting with all the neighbors and see how serious they are about switching to gas. I am hearing reports on the news that residents on Long Island are paying over $4.00 a gallon for fuel oil.

If you can get enough neighbors on board you may be able to negotiate a better deal with the gas company.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Yes, there’s another option.

You can install a geothermal liquid-to-water heat pump, keep all your hydronic radiators, add supplemental hydronic fan coil units for both heating and air-conditioning and never have to install ducts or mini-splits.

This system would be energy efficient, require very little maintenance, greatly increase your resale value and not alter the heritage value of your home. Heating, cooling - no ducts, no mini-splits on the walls.

Would be more expensive up front but may also be WAY less expensive over the life cycle of the system.

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Mike.. yes I have spoken with my neighbors they were all quoted the same price ... right now if I shop around and pay COD I can get oil $3.65 a gal with 150 gal min dely.

Fsq...@ my age i wont see the pay back on geothermal but good suggestion.

I guess I am stuck with oil it seems... thanks for the replies


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

fsq4cw, How to add fan coils for cooling (or heating) without changing the appearance of the interior?


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

ionized:

The appearance is essentially not changed in that the old cast iron radiators are not ripped out and ducts are not installed. Fan coil units can be quite discrete if need be but I think you already know that.

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

2nd post deleted.

This post was edited by fsq4cw on Fri, Feb 22, 13 at 0:21


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

No,I have no experience with fan coils.How are they hidden?


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

They would be recessed in the ceiling and look like commercial recessed linear units. The other choices would be hi-wall (just like mini-split), wall mount extending up from the floor just like a conventional radiator or ceiling mounted square cassette. Very often 1-unit per level of the home is enough depending on life style and layout.

Here is a link that might be useful: Multiaqua - Think Water!


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

That looks pretty much like mini-split equipment.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Except for the 'Ceiling Concealed'!

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

How is what you are suggesting different from this beyond the heat transfer substance?

http://www.mitsubishielectric.com.au/386.htm


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

There are differences. As previously mentioned the geothermal system is a central system. It can utilize the original hydronic system even if it is 100+ years old. It heats, it cools, and it heats your domestic hot water. Unlike a mini-split system geothermal COP remains constant irrespective of outdoor temperature, +40F -40F COP is essentially the same. There’s nothing outside to vandalize, nothing exposed to the elements that will degrade in either our lifetime or our grandchildren’s lifetime. While many mini-splits are very quiet there is zero noise or eye pollution outside from geothermal.

Let’s not forget those energy robbing defrost cycles if we’re comparing mini-split heat pumps.

If your pockets are deep and you want to get fancy - and some people do, you can also use the same heat pump to heat your in-ground pool in the summer and melt the snow and ice on your walkways and driveways in the winter.

A central system is usually more desirable in large multi level home. Geothermal systems will add considerable resale value to a home, a mini-split usually will not. Geothermal is the least expensive active heating and cooling system to operate and maintain when properly installed.

If you have a heritage home that you’re lovingly restoring you would not want to degrade the exterior appearance by mounting crap outside it that didn’t exist when it was built. Geothermal is THE way to do that. I have seen heritage projects where this was a big factor.

Personally I dislike the look of all mini-split hi-wall units with perhaps the exception of the LG Art Cool series. I know I’ll not convince you and I know you’re playing me but there you have it. Everyone one does what they feel is in their own best interest the end.

‘Vive la difference!’

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

"Geothermal is the least expensive active heating and cooling system to operate and maintain when properly installed."

This comment (together with many others in the same posting) has been voted the winner of this week's Balderdash Award.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

“Geothermal is the least expensive active heating and cooling system to operate and maintain when properly installed.”

“This comment (together with many others in the same posting) has been voted the winner of this week's Balderdash Award.”

Fine, if this statement is untrue let’s see your proof.

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

SR,

You've got it backwards, my friend. You've made a number of wild assertions. Let's keep it simple: you don't know where big al lives, the size, age or construction of the house, or how much he pays for electricity. His house has no ducts. With no information, you've proclaimed that a ground source heat pump system would be the cheapest way for him to go. What leads you to that conclusion?

Or, are you saying that once it's installed, the operating costs are lower than what he has now? That's swell, who pays for the installation?


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Snidely,

My statement is accurate and you have presented nothing to disprove it. Whether it’s the OP’s home, yours, or mine, the statement, “Geothermal is the least expensive active heating and cooling system to operate and maintain when properly installed.” is true.

There’s nothing wild about it. Regardless of location, size and age of the home, cost of energy, ducts, no ducts, etc., when properly installed geothermal is the least expensive active system to operate and maintain.

Please propose another active heating and cooling system that would cost less to operate and maintain?

I did not comment on the cost of the installation. Geothermal almost invariably has the highest installation costs. These costs can be greatly mitigated by incentive programs bringing the installation cost differential within reason for many homeowners. That coupled with lower operating and maintenance costs have made the difference for many homeowners enabling them to choose geothermal.

As I previously stated, everyone does what they feel is in their own best interest in the end. Nothing wild about that!

SR

This post was edited by fsq4cw on Sun, Feb 24, 13 at 1:38


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

"There are differences...."

In my last two posts, I was concentrating on the interior aesthetic aspects that you brought up, not the technical. In that respect, I don't see any difference between mini splits and hydronic fan-coils that you kindly pointed out.

Some of the fan coils look interesting. The two-coil models might work for dehumidification if the controls were built right. To work best, they would probably have to be variable-speed blowers.

I am sure that ground-source heat pumps are great in a large number of homes, but I don't see it as a universal solution from cost or comfort standpoints. For an extreme example, if your house is built on a rock in a moderate climate, it is not a good choice.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

" Geothermal almost invariably has the highest installation costs. These costs can be greatly mitigated by incentive programs bringing the installation cost differential within reason for many homeowners."

In my area (pnw)where geo is ideal, the installation cost, with incentives, far outweighs the cost of operation for almost the first 15 years of use. And, at that point, you're looking at partial equipment replacement. Even helping the environment might be debatable due to manufacturing impacts on the environment.

The only possible return of initial investment would be where you are planning on living in the same home for roughly 20 or more years.

Here is a link that might be useful: geothermal calculator


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

SR, your comments are nonsense. These systems are outrageously expensive and that cost is an essential part of how much is paid to heat and cool a dwelling.

I have a friend who built an upscale vacation house in a cold weather location a few years ago. Natural gas wasn't available so a ground source system was the only reasonable alternative. While it "works", he still complains about how unreasonably expensive it was to acquire and install. It's not cheap to operate either. The incentives come no where near offsetting the high cost. A conventional AC + natural gas system would have cost a small fraction by comparison and he'd be many, many dollars ahead for the foreseeable future.

Ground source heat pumps are fine for a very small niche market. With low gas prices and rising electricity prices (as coal is phased out), it's frequently an economically unattractive choice.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

If you're truly looking to save over oil and want to stay with hot water heat - look at an anthracite automatic stoker boiler/system. Significant cost savings over oil and very little attention required; these systems are not at all like heating with wood or other solid fuels, there is very little effort involved and those that have chosen them almost universally love their system and their decision. If you're interested in entertaining that option, check out the forums at : http://nepacrossroads.com/


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

ionzed:

“In my last two posts, I was concentrating on the interior aesthetic aspects that you brought up, not the technical. In that respect, I don't see any difference between mini splits and hydronic fan-coils that you kindly pointed out.”

With regards to aesthetics you’re right, there’s not a big difference. From a technical point of view 1 geothermal liquid-to-water heat pump can drive both cast iron or metal fin radiators and these fan coil units, which adds to the possibilities for the homeowner. The same geo unit can also supply in-floor radiant systems as well as provide domestic hot water. The fan coil units have 3-speed blowers, are very quiet, come with a remote control for each unit so that each unit is effectively a separate zone. They do provide excellent dehumidification and comfort.

No one system can be a universal solution for various reasons. With geothermal it’s usually cost and sometimes related to lack of real estate for a large enough borefield. Sometimes it’s the inability to bring the appropriate drill rig on site.

Snidely:

“These systems are outrageously expensive and that cost is an essential part of how much is paid to heat and cool a dwelling.”

The cost of energy is also ‘outrageous’. What many people do is roll the total cost of the project into their mortgage at today’s low rates and with the money saved on energy have a positive cash flow from day one. I know there are as may ways to spin the argument against this logic as there are stars in the sky - but this is what many people do.

It’s hard to comment on your friend’s situation. ‘Not cheap to operate’, compared to what? We don’t know anything about the design or installation of the system. Is it well designed and running properly? We don't know.

You say, ‘A conventional AC + natural gas system would have cost a small fraction’ after having said, ‘Natural gas wasn't available’. I’ll imagine you meant propane, which is not that cheap either.

Bottom line is if the numbers don’t work, if you don’t like it for any reason - don’t do it!

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Just to add fuel to the fire. In much of the US, NG is cheaper to heat with than geothermal due to the higher cost of electricity. That combined with generating electricity from coal, means that NG is the far greener choice.

There is no single answer that fits every locale. It is really hard to compete with a $3k NG 90% furnace. Even $15k to get NG to the site is probably cheaper than geothermal both in install and operating. The OP may pay $.15 a kwh and $.80 for a therm of NG - there is no geothermal system out there that can run cheaper than NG at these hypothetical (but common) NE prices.

Now if you live in Canada or the PNW where there is more flowing water than people, the equation is different. But in the NE, there isn't enough flowing water to go around.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Don't we all wish we had a crystal ball? Will gas prices stay low and electricity prices stay high? If so, a $15K investment to bring in gas would make sense. My understanding is that gas turbine generation is relatively inexpensive to build so electricity prices should plunge along with gas prices. That is a lucky break for CA given their emphasis on gas turbine generation, but somewhat unlucky for wind and photovoltaic.

Then again, fracking could quickly turn into an environmental debacle and reverse all of that practically overnight.

big_al_41, have you and your neighbors gone to the gas company as a group to negotiate a gas line extension, or only as individuals? A group approach might be worth a significant price break if you have not tried it.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

It will take over 20 years to recoup the $15,000 for the gas line plus the cost of additional plumbing costs inside the house. Few homeowners are willing to make this investment.

I think gas prices will stay low relative to fuel oil as long as hydraulic fracturing is allowed in the US. I also think electricity prices will rise if and when the recession ends. Utility companies in NY and NJ will be spending a huge amount of money on electricity transmission infrastructure improvements. This has been brought on by the problems caused by super storm Sandy. These costs will at some point be added to the electric rates.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

I hope that other utilities don't get gutted to foot the bill for NYC/NJ (and other) metro areas to upgrade. My impression is that NYSEG, for example, is pretty well run compared to the them. Big city denizens, however, are pretty good at getting other people to pay for their services.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) claims the costs will not be passed onto the consumer. Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) have already asked for a storm related increase on top of a previous increase. LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) is so mismanaged that PSE&G is being brought in by the state of New York to manage the operations.

On the flip side all gas lines are underground and have had little damage from storms.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

"On the flip side all gas lines are underground and have had little damage from storms."

Except that gas is routinely turned off after major storms to prevent it from leaking from damaged structures.

And every once in a while flooding erodes enough soil to expose gas lines near streams.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Personally I would prefer to put the $15k into drilling than on the gas line. A calculation should be made as to the cost per kW of heat delivered into the envelope for each source of energy taking into account the efficiency of the appliances. Besides, you can’t air-condition with gas (efficiently) unless you have an ‘absorption’ geothermal heat pump. Google it.

In our region there is a monthly cost to being hooked up to the gas line grid even if you use zero gas, not to mention the taxes on top of these charges. This charge includes maintenance of the gas line and delivery of gas from Alberta in western Canada to eastern Canada. I hate paying these charges during the summer when heating is not needed. I used to live in a home that had only a gas stove. The monthly gas line fees and taxes were always greater than the cost of the gas itself. What a nuisance!

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

If a homeowner brings in a new gas line into their house, then I would expect gas would be used for domestic hot water. In the Northeast it is much cheaper than using electricity or fuel oil. This would justify the monthly gas charge. The same is true of electric stoves and clothes dryers.

A lot more people would consider geothermal if the drilling cost was $15,000. From everything I have read the price is at least double that amount after the tax credits.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

SR,

Most of the readers in this forum don't live in Canada as you do, don't deal with such long and cold winters, and don't have cheap electricity.

In dozens of posts, I think you've more than adequately described what works in your region given your very different circumstances. Do leave it at that. Understand that in regions where many of us live, ground source heat pump installations are ridiculously expensive to buy and operate compared to available alternatives and the cost differences are huge. Cheaper prices would lead to more popularity, but until and unless that happens, such equipment will remain a small segment of the hvac market.

Contribute your knowledge here but give the advocacy a rest. OK?


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Well said, snidely.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

agreed, well said.

I am in total agreement with snidely's comment:

"Understand that in regions where many of us live, ground source heat pump installations are ridiculously expensive to buy and operate compared to available alternatives and the cost differences are huge. Cheaper prices would lead to more popularity, but until and unless that happens, such equipment will remain a small segment of the hvac market."

in my 15 years in the efficiency business, I have had many clients who started their building process who wanted ground source heat pumps.
By the time they figured out the actual costs & reliability of install, air source heat pump was the upgrade they chose.

here in La. in my part of the state, the nearest ground source heat pump hvac company is 75 miles away. as they only do the install of the equipment, other parts are sub'd out locally.
one company digging loops or verticals, the installer is over an hour away. cost of gshp is comparable several air source heat pumps. gshp@ $8,000 per ton...puts this install out of range of many homeowners in La.

in my 15 years, not one client has chosen this equipment install. not that it isn't good equipment, performance & savings...but install cost is outrageous.

I have a friend in Ok who's gshp install was $4000 per ton.
for her 2 ton system..it was affordable with a reasonable payback. and installer was local to her, and experienced.

just my experience with gshp vs ashp in La.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

If everybody signed up NG service should not cost nearly so much. Consider forming a co-op with your nieghbors and putting in your own lines with money borrowed at todays low rates and purchasing the gas only from suppliers. The gas company may buy the lines from you at a later date.. This is the method used by people in rural Alberta where customers often live miles apart. NG is normally so cheap in this area that no other option makes serious sense.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alberta gas co-ops


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Thanks all... just to make this clear .. myself and my neighbors ALL applied together with our NG co. and we ALL got the same cost of $15.000 just to run the line up the street and to our homes. This does not include what we would have to pay for the internal hook up and conversions etc..

Mind you we are on a cul de sack with an existing gas line about 900 hundred yards away at the cross road from where they would have had to tap in. We all call them and asked why so high, we were told that we have slate rock in our road. Guess they don't want our money.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

So what's the plan now?

SR


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

No further plans at the moment .. just hang there I guess.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Other than taking a look at anthracite, the only other thing that will save you money that you haven't ruled out is making sure your boiler is properly cleaned and well-tuned. A thorough cleaning and proper adjustment can make a substantial difference. Also, you may be firing at too high a rate; oil equipment is very easy to reduce the btu input on. If you find a good tech, this is something you may want to discuss based on the heat loss of your home, make sure the nozzle gph is no higher than it needs to be; I've had substantial improvements in fuel usage when de-rating equipment by going to a smaller nozzle size.

Don't fret too much about nat. gas being so much cheaper; power generation, industrial fuel switching, and export will take up the slack over the next ten years and nat. gas will track at its much closer ratio with oil as it has historically done.


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RE: What about us guys that don't have forced air

Berlin.. thanks but at my age coal and lifting those bags out of the question for me any ways. I did just have the furnace cleaned and tuned about a month ago and I had the tech drop it a half gallon in cap. on the nozzle. Even had a set back thermostat installed this past Xmas. I swing it between 63 and 60 ( @ night ).

Trying what I can to save $$$$ . BTW I did have a wood stove ended up giving it to my son cuz of my back etc .. that saved me a a lot. Like to thank all that responded .


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