Heating season (Northern hemisphere, 2019)

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Sep 14, 2019.

  1. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I spent my morning stacking firewood. About 38 million BTUs worth. My woodburner is capable of 71% efficiency in the right conditions.

    I don’t know how to work out the efficiency of my very ordinary oil burning furnace, for comparison’s sake.

    I know that on a simple cost basis, the wood I stacked this morning is about $0.94/100k BTU. The oil I buy is about $1.66/100k BTU.

    If I can figure out (or even guess) the efficiency of my oil furnace, I’ll have more of the puzzle done. Any takers?

    I can also heat a portion of my home with a heat pump, but I’m not sure where to start on that.
     
  2. dig4dirt

    dig4dirt MoonGlow

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    Fuel Comparison Calculator

    That link should get you started.
    There are preset efficiency ratings (75% for oil) but you can change it.
    Kinda depends on your model and age of oil burner etc.
    I think some newer ones are 80%+ if im not mistaken
     
  3. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I like how they’ve included US Currency as a fuel source.

    Thanks for the link!
     
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  4. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I did a similar calculation in the past. I didn't keep any record of them but I do remember at the time of calculation about 10 years ago, coal was the most economical fuel source followed by wood. We didn't have the natural gas option in our region, and still don't have that option. Seems like the number has not changed much in the last 10 years. Still the coal is the cheapest?
     
  5. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    From that chart it appears to be cheapest, though I have no corroborating experience. I’ve never heated with coal & wasn’t planning to start.

    I used the “Wood” line in the table and adjusted it to the price I actually paid. Then I adjusted the BTU/unit to reflect the heat content of the actual wood species I bought, entered the efficiency rating of my specific woodburner and came back with $1,278 per 100MBTU. Fuel oil at my local delivery price and the default 75% efficiency setting works out to $2,307 per 100MBTU.

    So, my wood rig clearly saves money and also isn’t fossil-sourced. I’ve gotten pretty good at stoking it the right way such that the afterburner lights up and kicks the thing to max efficiency and almost smokeless output.
     
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  6. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Might come in handy after recent events over in the sandbox....
     
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  7. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Might come in handy after recent events over in the sandbox....
     
  8. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Might come in handy after recent events over in the sandbox....
     
  9. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    @ETC(SS) Might could maybe.

    I only know bits and pieces about oil production. I know that most US home heating oil comes from a single Canadian refinery, but I don’t know where that refinery gets its crude stock or how flexible it is about inputs.
     
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  10. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Sorry about the “full auto” post.

    They really ought to ban these keyboards.....
     
  11. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, after much research and visit to local stove shops, I decided not to switch our good old Lopi wood-burning stove with highly efficient Anthracite burner. I never sourced where I can get a truckload of coals, so I don't know what the cost was then and what it would cost now. Back then, we were going through six cords of wood every winter. But I was getting tired of cutting, splitting, and stacking, then digging it out from under the ice and snow, bringing them into the house while kicking off all the snow and mud and repeating this every few hours for six months of the year. It was simply not worth the effort anymore. I may have saved money by burning wood, but I decided to save my sanity instead. We now use the oil-burning boiler for the main heat and two propane-fired room heaters for rooms without a radiator. Good old Lopi wood-burning stove now sits in the garage, and have not been fired for years.
     
    #11 Salamander_King, Sep 15, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  12. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Single sourcing sounds monopolistic as well as expensive in shipping. There’s a lot that can go wrong at a refinery, and this isn’t rocket science:oops:.

    Link to the source:whistle:?

    Depending on the feedstock, fuel oil is a separate distillation cut off the back end;).

    I wouldn’t be surprised in your neck of the woods if some of this came from the Philly refineries(y).
     
  13. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Wikipedia- Home Heating Oil

    Further reading from there suggests that Irving uses its own ULCC tankers to bring crude from Venezuela, the Persian Gulf and the North Sea.

    What Philadelphia refinery? We’re all out.
     
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  14. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    The struggle is real. Our winters aren’t as harsh here, and our stove is only capable of heating part of the house. And while I do get more days at home in the winter, I’m not home to feed the thing every day. Add that up and I can’t really use wood for more than about 1/3 of my total season demand. That has worked out to 1.5-2 cords per year.

    Two years ago I installed a mini-split heat pump system for the upstairs bedrooms, and that has worked out pretty well for cheap reliable heat in the spring and fall. Like most heat pumps it is less good in the depths of winter. I am interested in installing a similar system for the rest of the house as well.

    I also want to switch my domestic hot water to something electrically-sourced. Right now I’ve got an old-school indirect loop in the oil burner, which performs beautifully but isn’t a very cheap or clean way to heat water.

    Much of the point of my recent research is to decide which project I should do first: the downstairs heat pump, or an electric hot water heater.
     
  15. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    We had an estimate done last year for installing a mini-split for our main living-dining room where we spend most of the time when at home except during night when we are sleeping. After doing some number crunching, it was apparent that there was no money-saving in that system for us. We would have added comfort for using it for cooling during short summer and having it on as auxiliary heat for spring and fall. But as you said, it would not do much for most of the winter for us. We don't use any air conditioner in summer and use very little heat in the fall and spring.

    I was looking into a vacuum tube type solar hot water system also. But again for our climate, the winter is a big problem. To keep it functioning throughout the winter months even during a long spell of cloudy days is challenging to say the least. Additionally, we all like to have a hot shower first thing in the morning, but that habit must change if switched to 100% solar.
     
    #15 Salamander_King, Sep 15, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  16. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    I remember reading that very little heating oil comes from Southern refineries, because there are bottlenecks in getting it north, as in needing to use actual ships. But that info and the Wiki may be out of date, as several states, including NY and Pa, have switched to ULSD for heating. Sulfur content of heating oil to be reduced in northeastern states - Today in Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

    Without running the numbers, I'd say water heater first, but you really need to figure out what furnace you have now. Upgrading it might be an option, as condensing types are reaching 95% AFUE.
     
  17. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    [QUOTE="Trollbait, post: 2942741, member: 12239”]...Without running the numbers, I'd say water heater first, but you really need to figure out what furnace you have now. Upgrading it might be an option, as condensing types are reaching 95% AFUE.[/QUOTE]

    Not sure how I’d go about that. It’s obviously boiler x with burner y strapped onto it, but how would I go about working out the net efficiency of the combination as-built?

    Of note, I have contemplated an eventual replacement with an automatic wood pellet furnace. I don’t think that field is mature yet, though. There aren’t many bulk suppliers near me, I’m not going to haul 40lb bags, and the level of automation and reliability in the furnaces seems to be advancing rapidly. Given that, I’d like to keep the oil rig until it croaks, and then possibly switch fuels.
     
    #17 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Sep 15, 2019
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  18. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Start with the boiler/furnace. I think the pump would only make a difference when not properly maintained, or it's too powerful and spraying oil onto the sides of the firebox before it can all burn. I believe a service company can actually make an efficiency measurement of the system. But for the mini-split or water heater question, you just need to know fuel usage during each season to figure which would be best to start with.

    edit: fix the quoting
     
    #18 Trollbait, Sep 15, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  19. vvillovv

    vvillovv Senior Member

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  20. Ronald Doles

    Ronald Doles Active Member

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    We have a small home in Columbus, Oh. We are on our second heat pump in 20 years. The first was a Rheem 2 1/2 ton single stage unit. It was still working fine after 13 years but when they offered a $1500 tax credit to update, we decided to take advantage of it. That was 7 years ago. It was replaced with a Westinghouse scroll compressor 2 stage 3 ton unit and matching air handler. I suspected that this unit was actually too large for our home but the installer assured me that since it can operate most of the time on the low 1.5 ton speed, dehumidification in the summer would be better and the larger size will allow it to run efficiently further into the winter months.

    Surprisingly it does provide all the heat the home requires down to about 5 deg F. where the compressor locks out and the electric strip heaters in the air handler kick in. The unit runs continuously on high as the temperature drops to near 5 degrees but the compressor motor current drops off significantly the colder it is outside (43,000 btu and 13.1 amps at 65 deg F to 13,100 btu and 6.7 amps at 5 deg F ) so the longer run times in colder weather doesn't consume that much more electric. Even at 5 degrees, the heat pump is twice as efficient as strip heaters. There is a crossover point where the declining btu output from the heat pump can't keep up with increasing losses by the house. For our home, that was around 5 deg F. The installers sizing expertise was right on the money.

    We have AEP for our energy supplier. I have been tracking price and monthly KW usage for the last 20 years on an Excel spreadsheet. Our annual use of electricity was around 18,000 kw/ year with the old heat pump. With the new heat pump our consumption was:
    2014 - 14,600, 2015 - 13,600, 2016 - 11,200, 2017 - 10,300, 2018 - 11,300.

    Our budget billing amount is $101/month at 5.2 cents/kw. This is our only energy bill. Of course the 5.2 cent/kw is only half the bill as all the other fees that are added in more than double that actual cost per kw number. All the telemarketers that call and try to get us to switch to another electric supplier never speak about those other fees.

    We have a BuckStove in a basement fireplace but only use it when the temperature is below 5 degrees and are on electric strip heaters.
     
    #20 Ronald Doles, Oct 18, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
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