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View Poll Results: Which is more economical long-term?
Fireplace insert 5 33.33%
Solar water heater and tank 10 66.67%
Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 03-10-2008, 03:58 PM
Chad300tdt's Avatar
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Green home improvement question

I'm planning to use my gracious government rebate check to invest in a money/energy saving upgrade for my home. I currently have an oil heater for hot water base board heat and hot water for the house. It's a Dynatherm with a 36" heater coil with a new upgraded burner. It's as efficient as it will ever get. I still use 120 gallons per month during the winter.

I'm considering getting a fireplace insert to make my current fireplace a viable, efficient home heating option with wood pellets or split wood from my property. The other option is to get a solar water heater and tank to supplement my oil burner which produces hot water pretty much on demand but uses oil all year.

What do you think is the smarter choice for long term savings considering the cost of wood as a fuel vs. sun power being free?

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  #2  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:05 PM
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There are some innovative wood furnaces out there for whole house heating. There was a video of one on OD a while back, a search should find it...

hang on a tick.. These guys (I thought I'd saved the link...)

I've also seen some pretty neat solar solutions for hot water.

In either case you need to have a good idea of what kind of heat load your house has and, with wood at least, what amount of wood you can harvest repeatedly. My parents use wood to heat with and for 20 years or so have been able to do so with fallen timber.

Don't forget about the simple stuff like better insulation - the foaming kind - to seal cracks...
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:10 PM
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Get an electric water heater and set it at 120. Augment it with solar if you want. Then shut down the oil furnace as soon as warm weather arrives.
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  #4  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:12 PM
Ta ra ra boom de ay
 
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If you're using wood from your property, cost = labor and you can get more home heating energy out of wood than solar, particularly up here in PA. If you're buying the wood the solar add on will probably return more energy/ dollar.

It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel. -Ben Franklin
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Reading your M103 duty cycle:
http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/831799-post13.html
http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/831807-post14.html
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  #5  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the link, I think that's a bit more than I was planning to spend. The fireplace inserts and solar water heaters I was looking at are less than $2000.

I have enough wood on my property right now to last me for 3 winters and I have other sources for free wood before I would have to resort to buying split wood or pellets. I don't have an unlimited source, so wood cost is a consideration for some time later.
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2006 Nissan Pathfinder LE
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"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

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1986 300SDL - Coda
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad300tdt View Post
Thanks for the link, I think that's a bit more than I was planning to spend. The fireplace inserts and solar water heaters I was looking at are less than $2000.

I have enough wood on my property right now to last me for 3 winters and I have other sources for free wood before I would have to resort to buying split wood or pellets. I don't have an unlimited source, so wood cost is a consideration for some time later.
Think again about the wood and your sourcing. I don't know how much land you have but it's normal to have quite a few trees fall through the year on their own through storms and age. Plus, perhaps some of your neighbors might not mind having deadfall removed from their land as well. It's really about what your situation is though.

Just don't get talked into feeling guilty about all the carbon you'll release burning wood.

Perhaps a mixture of several systems might suit your needs.

Of course, there's always this impact with regard to solar...
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:40 PM
Ta ra ra boom de ay
 
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Another thing to consider, if you should plan on purchasing wood at some point is; is your property condusive {is that a word?} to having a tractor trailer load dumped on it. That is the best price you can get on purchased wood. Also, free wood is not so free if you cant haul it from where it is to where you burn it. On the plus side, nothing beats a wood fire on a winter day.
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Reading your M103 duty cycle:
http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/831799-post13.html
http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/831807-post14.html
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:44 PM
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I think on a cost basis the wood stove is a no brainer you should recoup your investment in one heating season.
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  #9  
Old 03-10-2008, 04:52 PM
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I was also thinking about building a greenhouse over my attached concrete slab patio. I would use glass panels I recently collected from a local greenhouse demolition and used windows I picked up along the way so I could vent it when needed. The floor could be used as a passive solar water heater with pipes under the flooring or pipes in a rooftop reflector box with the plumbing to a well insulated tank in the basement. I could also use a solar powered fan to push the warmed air from the enclosure into the house.

I could do this for the same budget but it would require more of my time than the other ideas. I don't think I could attempt the greenhouse/sunroom project for a couple years.
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  #10  
Old 03-10-2008, 09:00 PM
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Depends on where you live: In the desert? Go for solar. In the rainforest? Go for wood.
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  #11  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:18 PM
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In PA i suspect, without looking at my percentage of sunlight tables, that you may get a similar amount of sun as we do in Indiana. If that is the case, the amount of heat you can get from a greenhouse will be slight for heating the house.

The wood as noted by Howie is a no brainer if you have three years supply. OTOH in a few years with the price of fuel skyrocketing, if there is no relief, the cost of wood will probably escalate.

I imagine the payback will be pretty long too on the solar booster for your WH.

I'll try to look at the sunlight tables tomorrow when I get in the office.

But investing in things to save energy is an absoulutely fantastic way to spend the rebate! If everybody did it it would make a decent impact on our usage, I bet.

Tom W
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  #12  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
Depends on where you live: In the desert? Go for solar. In the rainforest? Go for wood.
This is like perfect advice.....similar to "buy low sell high".

Tom W
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..I also have a 427 Cobra replica with an aluminum chassis.
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  #13  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
This is like perfect advice.....similar to "buy low sell high".

Tom W
Yeah, funny how nobody mentioned it, huh?

B
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  #14  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:30 PM
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Well, it might be because there is neither desert nor rainforest in Pennsylvania....at least not that I know of.

Other than that it is excellent advice.....

Undisputed truths, all!

Tom W
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  #15  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
In PA i suspect, without looking at my percentage of sunlight tables, that you may get a similar amount of sun as we do in Indiana. If that is the case, the amount of heat you can get from a greenhouse will be slight for heating the house.

The wood as noted by Howie is a no brainer if you have three years supply. OTOH in a few years with the price of fuel skyrocketing, if there is no relief, the cost of wood will probably escalate.

I imagine the payback will be pretty long too on the solar booster for your WH.

I'll try to look at the sunlight tables tomorrow when I get in the office.

But investing in things to save energy is an absoulutely fantastic way to spend the rebate! If everybody did it it would make a decent impact on our usage, I bet.

Tom W
That's why I would suggest a well insulated electric tank with solar preheat.
Keeping hot water in the boiler in the summer is inefficient plus it keeps the temp a lot higher than you need it. The electric will assure the water stays hot enough to prevent bacteria growth.

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