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Old 10-02-2013, 04:27 PM
 
Location: Colorado
2,483 posts, read 3,349,752 times
Reputation: 2668

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
Look at this thread, post #2, for price comparisons. Propane costs can eat you alive.
Great Info. What are those #'s based on? Assuming they're still accurate, the OP should definitely choose...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
Geothermal heat pump $10.14
...if he can. However, my understanding is that its availability and effectiveness varies greatly from place to place. For example, if you live on the south slope of Mauna Kea, it's a fantastic option, but if you in the middle of a dormant prairie, not so much. But my understanding could easily be incorrect, as it often is.

EDIT: I see that my understanding was indeed incorrect. I was confusing 'Geothermal' in this context with the more traditional type of geothermal power, which uses a high temperature subterranean heat source to generate electricity through a turbine. This is the first I've hears of a ground-rem-exchange system, although I knew that the ground temp is always relatively warm and constant at a certain depth, so it makes a lot of sense. Ingenious, really, but it sounds like it's best as a way to increase efficiency of a an existing heater since you're only talking about 50-60 degrees as a heat source. Interesting either way, and I'd like to more about it from anyone who has actually has experience with such a system.

Last edited by otterprods; 10-02-2013 at 04:38 PM..
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:30 PM
 
794 posts, read 1,492,322 times
Reputation: 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloradoalimony View Post
Anyone saying propane is cheaper than electric doesn't have either one.

Propane contains 91,547 Btu per gallon, this is equivalent to about 25kWh of resistance heat. Depending on who your electricity provider is in CO, your cost is 10-12 cents per kWh. Propane is about $3.00 per gallon delivered in my area, so it looks close, ....
I have both. I actually heat with a combination of both and no, it isn't close. Propane heat is far cheaper than electric resistance heating. Propane is the equivalent of almost 27 kwh, and currently is well under $2.00/gal., not $3. The most I have ever paid was $2.40/gal. My co-op charges 12.3 cents per kwh, so propane would have to go to $3.30 to provide an energy equivalent.

Of course you want heat, not btu inputs. The best gas furnaces can achieve a 95% efficiency, or just under 87,000 btu/gal. An air source heat pump can generate up to four btu of heat for every btu of input. So, in theory, at current prices for $1.00 propane can generate 45,780 btu of heat, electric can produce 27,740 btu of resistance heating or somewhere around 100,000 btu of heat from a heat pump.

The problem is that as the outside air gets colder standard heat pump efficiency drops until somewhere in the 10-15 deg. f. range the heat pump becomes no more efficient than resistance heating (although I have seen a model that is efficient down to 0 deg. f. - very, very expensive, though). And, in fact, ducted heat pumps will have a standard electric resistance coil that kicks on when the outside air gets too cold. This is when ground source heat pumps excel.

To add duct work to an existing house would make the payback very, very long. There are ductless heat pumps now on the market that work very, very well and are not expensive to install. The ones I have seen are reversible, i.e. can provide both heat and a/c. Just one unit located in the most used living area might pay for itself in just three or four years.
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:44 AM
 
599 posts, read 802,859 times
Reputation: 579
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrby View Post
I have both. I actually heat with a combination of both and no, it isn't close. Propane heat is far cheaper than electric resistance heating. Propane is the equivalent of almost 27 kwh, and currently is well under $2.00/gal., not $3. The most I have ever paid was $2.40/gal. My co-op charges 12.3 cents per kwh, so propane would have to go to $3.30 to provide an energy equivalent.

Of course you want heat, not btu inputs. The best gas furnaces can achieve a 95% efficiency, or just under 87,000 btu/gal. An air source heat pump can generate up to four btu of heat for every btu of input. So, in theory, at current prices for $1.00 propane can generate 45,780 btu of heat, electric can produce 27,740 btu of resistance heating or somewhere around 100,000 btu of heat from a heat pump.

The problem is that as the outside air gets colder standard heat pump efficiency drops until somewhere in the 10-15 deg. f. range the heat pump becomes no more efficient than resistance heating (although I have seen a model that is efficient down to 0 deg. f. - very, very expensive, though). And, in fact, ducted heat pumps will have a standard electric resistance coil that kicks on when the outside air gets too cold. This is when ground source heat pumps excel.

To add duct work to an existing house would make the payback very, very long. There are ductless heat pumps now on the market that work very, very well and are not expensive to install. The ones I have seen are reversible, i.e. can provide both heat and a/c. Just one unit located in the most used living area might pay for itself in just three or four years.
I don't know where you live, but the national average price of propane hasn't been under $2.00 a gallon since 2007. Propane in rural Colorado, especially the foothills of the front range, usually runs 15-25% over the national average due to delivery distances and difficulties, and lack of competition. In the winter of 2008-2009, propane deliveries were within a few cents of $4.00 per gallon in the front range foothills.

Our power is 10.7 cents.

The EIA tracks propane and fuel oil prices nationally, but I don't know of any entity tracking prices in Colorado.

Weekly U.S. Propane Residential Price (Dollars per Gallon)

The bottom line is that if you already have a propane system, you are between a rock and a hard place. The cost to upgrade to a good heat pump is very high, but propane costs are tied to the price of oil and are never going to be a good choice again for new installations. Propane has tripled in the past 20 years, while my electric power has "only" gone up 50%. With propane at $2.75 and power at 10.7 cents, they may look close to equal, but again, you have to add in the cost of electricity to run a furnace blower or water pumps. Looking into the future, propane will never be a significant bargain over electricity again, and it is very likely to become prohibitively expensive.

You wouldn't find a home heating person who would recommend propane for new construction anywhere in CO unless they had a vested interest in getting you hooked on propane.
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Old 10-04-2013, 11:01 AM
 
794 posts, read 1,492,322 times
Reputation: 1163
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloradoalimony View Post
I don't know where you live,
Teller county. But the original poster need not take my or the EPA's word for prices - a simple phone call will do.
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