Electronics > Power/Renewable Energy/EV's

More or Most efficient hydronic heating basic unit? (natural gas)

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I live in the US and like us all, I am anticipating a huge increase in gas and electricity rates due to export capacity coming on line. and anticipate really needing to save money on heat in the coming years. We have a gas boiler that heats water which is circulated through radiators. If we kept the heat on though the winter to keep the house toasty warm, it would probably cost us around $350/month now. We mosty use gas, unless its just one room we are heating (offices we spend most of our time in) To use our electric heaters now would cost a lot more) If we attempted to heat with electricity or gas it could easily cost three times as much for the same amount of heat. Triple paned windows, helped a real lot.We usually use a mix of the gas fueld hyronic heat and heating wherever we are (ceramic or oil filled electric heaters) But the cost of using electric heat adds up fast.   I think that even if the price of gas triples, it will still be much cheaper than electric which is also supposed to double (the official EIA prediction) or possibly triple within the first 5 years or so depending on whether the weather is warm or cold.

Are there any gas boilers (for heating water radiators) that are particularly efficient as well as durable and long-lasting? A neighbor who sson sold her home bought a newer boiler a few years ago and the couple that are now living in that house are already replacing it because it seems to be too inefficient, and too expensive to run. It is a Rheem or American Standard unit that I think she bought and left the new owners with. The one thats sold at Home Depot.  The previous owner had also made changes to her house that made it much less efficient to heat, "opened up" the living room to give it a semi cathedral ceiling, connecting both top and main floor as far as air circulation. Adding a balcont on the second floor, eliminating the room that used to take up that space, which connected the to floors as far as airflow. She also added many nice skylights.. That looks great in photos and likely aded money to the sale price substantially, ut now that house is like a furnace in the summer. but made it a LOT hotter in the summer (really really hot) and colder in the winter. So it may be the homes fault and not the heaters in this case. And they recently had a child. I should also add that it seems that my home has a very low heating bill, relative to my neighbors. Wehave also insulated our roof very well, so well when snow falls the snow on the roof does not melt. So as it stands now we are doing fairly well for energy efficiency.. We have all LED lighting the only incandescent lights are on our vent hood and in the refrigerator.

Thankfully I live on the (relatively mild climate) East Coast, (near to NYC) but, I am still a bit inland not right on the coastal plain so it still gets into the subzero temperatures sometimes. What can we do to heat more efficiently?  We're currently using hot water heating with cast iron radiators and a 230 volt water pump by Bell and Gosset which I like. Its quiet and seems to me to be a good way to heat. We have an American Standard boiler from the 70s.

But now they are selling off the natural gas, and a large increase in the price of gas is expected. Everybody says prices are about to rise a lot.(~3x to start and then maybe more.) for both gas and electricity. This is because electricity's price tracks that of natural gas's. GAS will remain the cheapest source of raw energy. I'd like to stick with the hot water heat, if I can, and just get a better boiler if I can find a unit I'm confident will be worth the upgrade. My current boiler is old but reliable. It would probably last another decade or two, just left alone. But the price of all that gas is going to be going up pretty fast.

As far as efficiency Ive been told its inefficient. Ive been told its probably around 60% efficient (the one we have now) What I would like to know is if any other boilers are much more efficient. What are the technical differences between boilers that impact efficiency in turning gas into heat?  My house is very small for this area, and probably less than 1500 square feet.

60% sounds low unless it is ancient, look up what it actually is. Modern condensing boilers are close to 100%

Have you considered air to water heat pump? Thats what everybody here seems to be replacing expensive oil heating with.

It (the furnace) IS fairly ancient. The house was converted from oil to natural gas in the early 1970s. Some people around here those with big old houses built before World War II seem to (judging by trucks I sometimes see) still use oil. They sometimes have underground tanks which now they are supposed to remove. (which can be expensive if they have leaked)

I dont know how much using oil costs in comparison to natural gas, It might be cheaper or get cheaper in the coming years. But I would guess its burning pollutes a lot, like diesel engines, and that is not good and also might not even remain legal . So I guess that nomatter what kind you use the coming changes are going to be costly, perhaps very costly. Especially in the colder areas.


--- Quote from: Nauris on October 23, 2021, 03:23:56 pm ---Have you considered air to water heat pump? Thats what everybody here seems to be replacing expensive oil heating with.

--- End quote ---

The units look to be a lot more expensive than replacement boilers Ive seen so far. They also look a lot like the popular mini-split AC units.

Am I correct that they both cool and heat? Where does the heat energy come from?

If it's electricity, using electricity for the actual heat is just insane with the price increases that I understand are coming. We have natural gas  running to our house and oil would have to be a lot cheaper to justify installing an oil burner. But if it saves a lot I could consider that. I hate being cold.

We already have an HVR and it saves us a lot on AC so we dont need an added cooling capability except on the fairly modest number of very hot days we have each year. (realistically) This last year we used AC maybe a total of 30 days, probably less. We have other neighbors who use it continuously through the summer, but our house is much better insulated than theirs, and with the whole house ventilation we have its very rarely needed. In our previous space we had a climate cool enough to almost never use AC - we were only a few miles from the Pacific and had a constant sea breeze during the hot months of the year. (and very often, fog just rolling in) and we didn't even own one.  So we are not in the habit of using air conditioning like many are.

One thing that bothers me about AC units is the dust that accumulates in them, sucks up water and then nasty mold grows. One really needs to filter the air thats going into them of dust well to prevent lots of it from collecting and growing nasty ocher-colored  (light brown, caramel colored) mold. I use very fine filters to keep it out. But to be effective at this, there are so many little things to do and keep doing, that for me, because I have health issues because of this, ACs are high maintenance. But if you dont do it they can destroy your health.

for a similar reason, condensation and mold at least here in the US with the kind of constructions most houses here have you must heat them warm enough so that condensation is not a constant problem on outward facing walls from moisture. I bet that if the cost of heating goes up a lot many Americans will get ill from mold growing due to lack of enough heating being used.


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