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Old 09-30-2013, 04:17 AM
 
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We have contarcted for a place out in the country a bit that has no natural gas available, so everything is electric. Will we save anything by installing a propane tank for a water heater and cook stove? Are pellets generaly available for pellet stove heaters? Any guidance much appreciated!
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:13 AM
 
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Generally speaking, propane is cheaper than conventional electric resistance heating. Hot water is the big user here, so more efficient water heating can save pretty big. The energy used by a kitchen stove is too trivial to be a factor, but you might want to look at an electric heat pump water heating system. The payback is several years, but then converting to propane will not be cheap either.

If you are thinking about installing a wood pellet stove, the payback there is glacial. A quality stove, flue, and installation can easily run $4,000. And you can spend much more. If you have one already in place and it has been checked by a competent professional, by all means take advantage. You do pretty much want to buy your pellets ahead each season - you'll need good, dry storage (up off the concrete, please) - as they sometimes get hard to find late in the season. A really good source of information on wood burning generally is Hearth.com .
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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Electric is a very expensive way to heat your home here, you will want to supplement with another heat source if you can.
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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Right now? Propane is cheaper.
In the future? Who knows.

If you really want to save money long term and not be dependent on local utilities, then get solar panels and/or a solar water heater. They have their own drawbacks though, and it takes a long time to see ROI.

Either way, it's a good thing to have an alternative heat/cooking source in the form of a propane tank, so I would recommend that before anything else.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:57 AM
 
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The house had solar water heating at one time, but the panels were disconnected and an electric heater installed in their place. I could get new solar panels and hook them up again and see how that works; the plumbings still in place. Does anyone use those refillable bottles like on a gas grill to power a kitchen stove? We did that working in Saudi and kept a couple of extra tanks on hand. I know the electric baseboard heaters will be ruinously expensive, but is propane really that much better an option with the cost of installing the equipment? I guess my best investment will be in good coats and quilts.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:24 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bideshi View Post
Does anyone use those refillable bottles like on a gas grill to power a kitchen stove?
Yes, some people do, but usually not in a year-roud living situation because you have to always be refilling them bottle by bottle. Easier to just have one big tank and a filling service, if it's available. Propane will be cheaper but probably not down to a tiny fraction of electric heating. You'll need to work out the math of electric vs propane and see how long it will take to recoup the cost of an upgrade. I'd say use the electric heating this winter, keep track of the cost (which might not be as high as you think) and then compare it to what you think you would have used in propane. --- maybe there's a neighbor with gas heating that can help you compare. Does the place have a fireplace?
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bideshi View Post
The house had solar water heating at one time, but the panels were disconnected and an electric heater installed in their place. I could get new solar panels and hook them up again and see how that works; the plumbings still in place. Does anyone use those refillable bottles like on a gas grill to power a kitchen stove? We did that working in Saudi and kept a couple of extra tanks on hand. I know the electric baseboard heaters will be ruinously expensive, but is propane really that much better an option with the cost of installing the equipment? I guess my best investment will be in good coats and quilts.
I did extensive research into the solar panel business. The return on this idea will largely depend on how much of the work you are capable of doing. The return is fairly mediocre if you have to hire contractors because the labor and framework combine to make up a very large portion of the cost. If you have the frame work and just need panels put into it, and are capable of installing them yourselves, you will have a very attractive return. It'll take a payback period from around 13 years to 3 to 5 years, especially if you are using some of the more efficient panels. The best panel quality currently is coming from China because the material they use converts at a higher rate and lasts much longer than the American product. Originally the American company had a huge advantage because the ingredient was vastly cheaper. However, when it went from 300$/KG to 20$/KG it completely changed the situation. Yes there are Tariffs on the products, but they aren't enough to change the game if you can actually use the entire amount of energy you would receive from the higher quality Chinese panels. If you only need X amount of electricity and you can get that with the American panels, they will be cheaper. It all comes down to how much electricity would you be using and how much of the frame work you have available.

BTW, the panels are usually guaranteed to last around 30 years with an allowance for a small amount of wear of each year that would degrade the amount of power generated. Generally speaking, you would expect inflation in the cost of electricity to offset the degradation, so you can cancel both out and evaluate the investment as a 30 year investment that makes a series of equal payments. If it is paid off within the first 5 years, you have a very attractive tax free investment. Since the panel is eliminating a non-tax deductible cost the stream of savings is effectively tax free.

Hope that helps

PS. The first three companies I would look at for panel brands are Renesola, Trina Solar, and Ying li Green Energy.
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:58 PM
 
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Anyone saying propane is cheaper than electric doesn't have either one.

Propane with a forced air furnace is *the* most expensive way to heat at this point. Yes, even more expensive than electric baseboard heat. You can find a bunch of propaganda claiming propane is more efficient, but it is all from propane dealers!

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, but then you have to consider that a propane forced air furnace or a water heat system also uses electricity to run blowers or pumps. The total cost of heating with propane is higher than electric.

If you have duct work, you can get a very efficient electric heat pump at this point that would handle your needs, especially if it has a ground loop or is supplemented by pellets, wood or resistance heat for the very cold periods. You could get away with running only the heat pump much of the time in most places in Colorado.

If you have hot water heat, a few solar water panels are a no brainer.

If the propane furnace already exists and is in good shape, then it is a tough call whether to replace it with electric because of the up front costs of conversion, but for new construction, propane is a very bad idea at today's prices, and it is only going to be more expensive in the future. During the winter of 2008-2009 propane hit over $4.00/gal in Colorado. It will again someday.

Consider also that there are thousands of houses in Northern Colorado right now that can't get propane deliveries due to access issues because of flooding, and may not be able to get deliveries before the snow flies. If you are on propane, you are at the mercy of the weather, roads, and other unforeseeables that may prevent deliveries. I have seen more than one propane provider go under, leaving customers in a lurch. Your Xcel or co-op power is not going away.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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I think most of us assumed that e OP had older electric baseboard type units not a forced air system with an electric heating core. If the latter is the case, then Alimony is probably right, but if the former is the case then the rest of us were. But I have never done a direct comparison between the two. I was only doing a comparison between my gas and electric bills each month, which is of course skewed for several reasons. But in either case, there are so many factors at play, like availability of gas vs electric in the area, how old the appliances are and how big the place is. So the only one that can really make an accurate comparison is the OP, and even he can't do that until after he's tried some different methods for a while.

In case it wasn't clear, my suggestion to the OP was to go for one season with whatever heating system he already has and then compare that to someone in the area that has gas heating (keeping in mind that there is more at play than just electric vs gas). Also, if you don't have a good fireplace (something like this http://liftupthyneighbor.com/impress...or-living-room) that may be a better upgrade right off the bat. Just maker sure you get some good CO2 detectors to go with it.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:49 PM
 
20,304 posts, read 37,784,136 times
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Look at this thread, post #2, for price comparisons.

Propane costs can eat you alive.
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