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Thread: RE: Heating Redux

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Unity, Maine
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    Default RE: Heating Redux

    So it's the middle of July, it was in the 90s yesterday and humid . . . and I'm now really thinking about the long heating season ahead of us (as opposed to before where it was a fleeting thought) . . . namely because my oil/propane company sent me my usual budget contract and this year they're not even giving me an option of locking in a set price per gallon -- only says they will charge me 5 cents below the current cash price of the day.

    With prices now around $4.70 or so I am giving some serious thought to alternative heating (as I suspect a lot of folks are doing.) I know this topic has been bandied about before, but I figured I would bring it back up and see if anyone has any new views or input . . . plus I have some questions. Here's a few of the options I'm exploring.

    Solar Heat: I haven't done much with this since it seems fairly expensive and limiting.

    Coal: I haven't explored this option much since I've read that coal can be hard to start (but burns well once going) . . . plus it seems as though the shipping costs may negate any potential savings.

    Woodstove: I've looked some at this, but I'm not too crazy about having to build a chimney, don't really have a lot of space in my house for this and don't particularly care for the mess.

    Wood boiler (old tech): I'm giving this some serious consideration since it seems as though the price of hooking on a woodboiler to my existing oil boiler wouldn't be too bad and I would get central heat out of the deal. However, due to the aforementioned lack of space in the house I would have to house this boiler in a nearby, insulated shed and run the pipes to the house (another added cost.) Has anyone done this . . . and/or does anyone know of a good, solid add-on wood boiler? Another issue is that I believe this will require a good charge of wood which means cutting, splitting, storage, etc. and time is getting short (incidentally I'm not worried about supply since I have access to a wood lot.)

    Wood boiler (gassification-style): I like these boilers, but they're pretty expensive, would require an insulated shed, require well seasoned firewood and they seem to work best with a heated water/storage tank. Anyone have any experience with these -- i.e. Tarm Solos, Garns, Ekos, Econoburns?

    "Hallowell Air Conditioner": I explored the heat exchangers made by the company in Hallowell . . . but it seems as though this is still fairly new for Maine and I wonder about the costs of electricity. I know folks in the south use these . . . and by south I mean Haffy-south not Hiram-south (i.e. Haffy-south = Carolinas, Hiram-south = Portland.)

    Geo-thermal Heat Sinks: Haven't explored this option much.

    Propane space heater/fireplace: Seems as though the price is right up there alongside the price of heating oil.

    Wood/corn pellet stove: I'm giving this option some serious consideration since I think I could put an insert into my living room (with the bulk of the backside of the stove jutting into my den wall) and it should effectively heat our main living space. Installation seems to be a mite easier . . . but the cons would include the fan noise, finding a stove and pellets (forget about Harmans now . . . at least until March) and the potential problems with the added mechanical features found in the pellet stove. While I like the convenience and cleanliness that is purported with these stoves, it does rankle me a bit to know that I have access to "free" wood and would end up buying pellets. Anyone have any experience with pellet stoves . . . other pros/cons, recommended brands?

    Oil boiler: This is what I have currently. Last year we updated to a newer, more efficient boiler. It definitely helped as we burned about 100-125 gallons less of fuel from the previous year . . . however I'm looking for ways to reduce the usage even less.

    ----------

    On other heating fronts . . . My wife and I have insulated/replaced several windows in our 70's vintage house and we are planning on doing some more insulating of the crawlspace/basement (it's a basement with cinderblock walls, but only about 4 1/2 feet high), fixing some windows and insulating the attic a bit more. I believe this is one area that should pay back fairly quickly.

    I also have a propane gas heater . . . I'm considering an on-demand Rinnai system. Would this save me much in propane gas costs? Currently using about 200 gallons each year. Anyone have one of these?

    Thanks to any and all inputs.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  2. #2
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    Jun 2004
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    As I am typing this, the Home Depot guy is loading 9 tons of pellets in our "spare" work bay out back. I looked at Harmon and Quadrafire stoves, couldn't get a Harmon, so we got a Quadrafire for the house and my store. The fan noise is a non-issue, you can stand right next to it and not hear noise. Other than that, we'll see how it works this winter!
    I like the fact that I locked in my price now and used my 6 months-same as cash Home Depot card so I don't have to pay until after Xmas.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterjake View Post

    and by south I mean Haffy-south not Hiram-south (i.e. Haffy-south = Carolinas, Hiram-south = Portland.)
    .
    Ha, Hiram in southern Maine, that's funny. See Bowdoinham is in Maine afterall.
    Home Depot delivered our 5 ton of wood pellets last week. I plan on burning more pellets and turning the heaters right off. In the past we used the oil for morning back up if I didn't load the stove at night but I'll just be more careful. We have an Englander stove from Home Depot also that we bought 3 yrs ago. The fan is quiet but the auger was a bit loud. The company sent us a new one with a differnt design and it is quieter now. Its a good stove at a good price. Ours is in the basement so it heats the house through the floors and vents. In the past we had a wood stove but we were using the same chimney as the furnace, and Fudd didn't like that, being a fireman. Ther was also that black dust coating everything in the basement from the smoke. The pellet stove is vented out a basement window and they have a kit to do it. T2H just told that Hancock lumber has a better deal on pellets now. But if you are going that route, don't wait till the stove actually comes in. Get your pellets while you can because the demand is huge
    Slowly but surely

  4. #4
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    Sep 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterjake View Post
    but it seems as though this is still fairly new for Maine and I wonder about the costs of electricity. I know folks in the south use these . . . and by south I mean Haffy-south not Hiram-south (i.e. Haffy-south = Carolinas, Hiram-south = Portland.)
    wait a minute jake... we live further north than you!

    now who lives in northern mass!!!
    Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2005
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    Unity, Maine
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudonim View Post
    As I am typing this, the Home Depot guy is loading 9 tons of pellets in our "spare" work bay out back. I looked at Harmon and Quadrafire stoves, couldn't get a Harmon, so we got a Quadrafire for the house and my store. The fan noise is a non-issue, you can stand right next to it and not hear noise. Other than that, we'll see how it works this winter!
    I like the fact that I locked in my price now and used my 6 months-same as cash Home Depot card so I don't have to pay until after Xmas.
    If you don't mind me asking . . . and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't . . . where did you get the Quadrafire and was it available right away or in a few weeks/months time.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiram357 View Post
    wait a minute jake... we live further north than you!

    now who lives in northern mass!!!
    I'm still north of Augusta!!!
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuddsGirls View Post
    Ha, Hiram in southern Maine, that's funny. See Bowdoinham is in Maine afterall.
    Home Depot delivered our 5 ton of wood pellets last week. I plan on burning more pellets and turning the heaters right off. In the past we used the oil for morning back up if I didn't load the stove at night but I'll just be more careful. We have an Englander stove from Home Depot also that we bought 3 yrs ago. The fan is quiet but the auger was a bit loud. The company sent us a new one with a differnt design and it is quieter now. Its a good stove at a good price. Ours is in the basement so it heats the house through the floors and vents. In the past we had a wood stove but we were using the same chimney as the furnace, and Fudd didn't like that, being a fireman. Ther was also that black dust coating everything in the basement from the smoke. The pellet stove is vented out a basement window and they have a kit to do it. T2H just told that Hancock lumber has a better deal on pellets now. But if you are going that route, don't wait till the stove actually comes in. Get your pellets while you can because the demand is huge
    Other than the loud auger motor no other issues with the Englander? From what I've read at Hearth.com (I like to research things) the Englander is well-built and sold at Home Depots, hardware stores, etc. . . . my only concern is if it needs servicing . . . is it pretty easy to clean/service?
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  8. #8
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    Jun 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterjake View Post
    If you don't mind me asking . . . and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't . . . where did you get the Quadrafire and was it available right away or in a few weeks/months time.
    We got two, one for the shop and one for the house. 8 week ordering time from Finest Home and Hearth, next to Applebee's in Bangor. They gave us 10%off the smaller one for ordering 2.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2007
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    Manchester, Maine
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    We put an insert in last December. We got a napoleon and we hardly notice the noise....no louder than our air conditioner anyway. We have had no trouble and it heats our main living area. We did not use our oil furnace hardly at all after we got it. Saved a lot of money last year! Glad we got it when we did though.

  10. #10
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    Jake, I think as far as the noise concern, my oil furnace, even in the basement, can be pretty loud. And you can ask pedalchick, when I get my oil bills, there is kind of a whining noise too!

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