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  1. #1

    Want most efficient heating/hot water system.. Need options and info

    Hi there, I just registered a few minutes ago because I've been doing some research in a heating/hot water system and would really like some more information.

    My oil boiler which provided hot water and heat to my home is on its very last legs. We obviously need to replace it with something that will provide hot water and/or heat to our home, but with oil so expensive and us being environmentally conscious, we would like to do it the most efficient manner.

    Here's what our system is now: Oil tank, oil burner with builtin coil for hot water, and our home uses radiator heat. Unfortunately natural gas is not available here, so I believe our only options for a primary heating system are propane or oil.

    My question is which is safer/more efficient, boiler recommendations would also be great, and what should I be looking for when picking a boiler?

    I would also like to add a supplement to the heater like solar hot water panels, geotermal or something of the like. We would like it to pay for itself in at most 10 years in terms of energy savings.

    Another thing to possibly take into account would be that we will probably be putting in C/A in the house next year, not sure if that could plan a roll and what kind of heating system is best. Although I'm told that the same vents for C/A and heat shouldn't be the same because of positioning.

    We live in Connecticut, and also have a hot tub, which I imagine that if we hook up to solar water panels, it could really save us a ton.

    Any recommendations would be great. My house is a ranch with an open attic to all rooms.

    Sorry for all the questions, but any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    DFW
    Posts
    684
    Make the house energy efficient, and the heating system will be a LOT easier.

    Start off with an energy efficiency audit. That will have the fastest payback.

    I also recommend having a blower door test done, and fix whatever air leaks that you find with that.

    Geothermal and solar panels tend to have a long payback period.

  3. #3
    Thanks Paul,

    Any thoughts on propane or oil heat, and could either system be used with solar water panels in the future?

    The house has new windows but I'm sure the insulation is subpar with the house being 30 years old. Do I have to wait until cooler weather to do the energy audit with the blow test or is that something I can have done now (80ish degrees here now)? Also, can anyone recommend someone who does this in CT?


    Quote Originally Posted by paul42 View Post
    Make the house energy efficient, and the heating system will be a LOT easier.

    Start off with an energy efficiency audit. That will have the fastest payback.

    I also recommend having a blower door test done, and fix whatever air leaks that you find with that.

    Geothermal and solar panels tend to have a long payback period.

  4. #4
    A Condensing Boiler would be my suggestion.

    Here is a example of one.
    http://www.burnham.com/PDF/Freedom%2...ure%203-07.pdf

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,841
    There are many options to improve your energy use and greenhouse footprint depending on what your priorities are. First, I've been doing this for 35-years but frankly haven't a clue what C/A is. So I'll just ignore that for now.

    A good basic boiler (you'll get thousands of opinions on this and other websites so do your homework) that will immediately cut your oil consumption is the System 2000 by Energy Kinetics. Some will disparage it because they don't know how to work on them (piece of sheet) and yes, there have been a few that have leaked but in 35-years, I've seen plenty of boiler leak prematurely by all manufacturer's so that's just not a valid criticism. They do not fail prematurely with any higher rate than any other boiler, unless they're over fired!

    If you're home heats with cast iron ratiators, you could also benefit from a Buderus or Viessmann oil boiler operating on an outdoor temperature reset. With cast iron you can run down into the condensing temperatures during the shoulder months and warmer days needing heat. If you've got copper finned baseboard, you need a high temperature application and you'd be wasting money on a heavy boiler in that case. Again, for copper finned baseboard I'd recommend the System 2000, low mass oil boiler.

    If you've god central AC, you could put in a HP instead, one of high efficiency, sized for cooling the home and realize the benefit of using the HP and lower cost electricity to heat your home whenever the outdoor temp (OAT) is a 35F or above. That will normally knock about 40% off your fossil fuel bill and if you use a good, high efficiency (16-18 EER) HP, your electric bills won't be huge either.

    If you've no central AC in the home, it could be added in as HP dual/fuel or Hybrid Heat system as stated in the previous paragraph. As an alternative, you could have a geo-thermal system put into your home (ducted, water-to-air system) and eliminate the oil system entirely. For domestic hot water I'd put in a gas fired tankless water heater (Noritz, Rinnai, Bosh) and use propane in your case. As an alternative to the tankless, you could install solar hot water and use the desuperheaters from the geo-thermal HPs to help you through those cloudy days.

    Each of these systems requires great expertise for proper sizing, installation and continued maintenance and service. Choose the company carefully. Everyone wants the business but few can deliver the options and reliability you'll need the long run. Read the attachment, it'll pay dividends in the long run. Good luck. It's a jungle out there with lots of monkeys. You need to track down the lion!
    Attached Files Attached Files
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,607
    What is your cost per gallon of each fuel?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    DFW
    Posts
    684
    you do not need to wait for cooler weather for the energy audit or blower door test.

    If you are really planning on adding A/C, do not rule out a heat pump. It may be the cheapest way to heat your house.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    68,981
    Solar would be an inexpensive way to take care of the domestic water heating but geothermal sounds like the best bet for overall heating and cooling at the same time.

    If you have a geothermal heat pump system installed for heating and cooling, you could have one installed with a hot water generator which could be used for your domestic hot water as well as feeding your hydronic heating system.
    Government is a disease...
    ...masquerading as its own cure…
    Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
    Posts
    769
    Quote Originally Posted by skippedover View Post
    With cast iron you can run down into the condensing temperatures during the shoulder months and warmer days needing heat. If you've got copper finned baseboard, you need a high temperature application and you'd be wasting money on a heavy boiler in that case. Again, for copper finned baseboard I'd recommend the System 2000, low mass oil boiler.
    This makes zero sense to me.

    What is the fundemental difference between FTR and radiators?! Whats good for one is good for the other - meaning outdoor resest and taking advantage of lower supply/return temps with a condensing and modulating boiler is benificial in either case.

    Care to explain what you mean?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,782
    As paul said. Your first step should be to improve your homes infiltration and insulation first.
    Reduce the amount of energy to heat or cool it.

    If you go to a LP system, you want to get a tank that is large enough that you don't need to fill it in the middle of winter, when the price is at its highest.

    A LP mod/con boiler can provide you with higher efficiency then oil. But some ares, have LP prices so high, that oil is cheaper even though its not as efficient.
    So check prices first.

    Sorry, but hot tub an green, don't belong in the same sentence, if your using water heated by any thing that consumes fuel.

    As others have stated, a HP, can be more efficient in the shoulder seasons.
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  11. #11
    Thanks for everyone's replies. I used C/A, but maybe it's not commonly used, but stands for Central Air. Which we're thinking about putting in. We're receiving a quote, but they want to put 1 central suction areas, then one vent in every room's ceiling that delivered cool air. This may be a different issue, but is only 1 return the best way to go? The house is about 1700 feet all on the same floor. And if the vents are in the ceiling, can it be tied to heating in any way?

    We have baseboard radiators, they don't seem copper finned though. A copper tube with maybe aluminum fins?

    I think I've decided to take propane out of the equation since it would require losing out on all the oil I have left and getting a new tank etc.

    What could I expect to pay for a geotermal system, does it even compare to installing anew boiler ($9k) or is it in the $20ks? And would that just be a supplement heating source or would it be enough to provide all th eheat in Connecticut?

    How much cheaper would a propane tankless hot water system be compared to an indirect oil hot water heater. Also would a solar hot water panel be able to be hooked up to the indirect hot water heater?

    How could a central AC system be able to help heat your home? Are there specific models?

    Sorry, there seems to be so many options, and I'm just trying to learn about all of them and make sure I make the best decision in terms of saving money and using less fuel.

    If any of you guys do this for a living and are willing to talk in person/give estimates, I'm about an hour south of Hartford.


    Quote Originally Posted by skippedover View Post
    There are many options to improve your energy use and greenhouse footprint depending on what your priorities are. First, I've been doing this for 35-years but frankly haven't a clue what C/A is. So I'll just ignore that for now.

    A good basic boiler (you'll get thousands of opinions on this and other websites so do your homework) that will immediately cut your oil consumption is the System 2000 by Energy Kinetics. Some will disparage it because they don't know how to work on them (piece of sheet) and yes, there have been a few that have leaked but in 35-years, I've seen plenty of boiler leak prematurely by all manufacturer's so that's just not a valid criticism. They do not fail prematurely with any higher rate than any other boiler, unless they're over fired!

    If you're home heats with cast iron ratiators, you could also benefit from a Buderus or Viessmann oil boiler operating on an outdoor temperature reset. With cast iron you can run down into the condensing temperatures during the shoulder months and warmer days needing heat. If you've got copper finned baseboard, you need a high temperature application and you'd be wasting money on a heavy boiler in that case. Again, for copper finned baseboard I'd recommend the System 2000, low mass oil boiler.

    If you've god central AC, you could put in a HP instead, one of high efficiency, sized for cooling the home and realize the benefit of using the HP and lower cost electricity to heat your home whenever the outdoor temp (OAT) is a 35F or above. That will normally knock about 40% off your fossil fuel bill and if you use a good, high efficiency (16-18 EER) HP, your electric bills won't be huge either.

    If you've no central AC in the home, it could be added in as HP dual/fuel or Hybrid Heat system as stated in the previous paragraph. As an alternative, you could have a geo-thermal system put into your home (ducted, water-to-air system) and eliminate the oil system entirely. For domestic hot water I'd put in a gas fired tankless water heater (Noritz, Rinnai, Bosh) and use propane in your case. As an alternative to the tankless, you could install solar hot water and use the desuperheaters from the geo-thermal HPs to help you through those cloudy days.

    Each of these systems requires great expertise for proper sizing, installation and continued maintenance and service. Choose the company carefully. Everyone wants the business but few can deliver the options and reliability you'll need the long run. Read the attachment, it'll pay dividends in the long run. Good luck. It's a jungle out there with lots of monkeys. You need to track down the lion!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,782
    A. Edit out your pricing. Its not allowed on this site. Its in the rules.
    B. Geo could be more then your guess.
    C. Using LP only for your hot water, you would pay a very high per gallon price, may not be worth it.
    D. 1 return works. Are your bedroom doors under cut. If not, jumper ducts can be installed. Or returns can be installed in the bedrooms.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    68,981
    Geothermal will cost more then you anticipate and will do much more then you anticipate. At today's oil prices, geothermal savings for cooling, heating and domestic water heating are getting the pay back in comparison to the differernce for a new oil system at between 7 and 10 years.

    A central return for cooling only is acceptable. Multiple returns, reducing the amount of distance between the conditioned air entering the area and the cold air returning to the system is the best bet for heating.
    Government is a disease...
    ...masquerading as its own cure…
    Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV


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