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Old 06-01-2009, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Tallahassee, FL
63 posts, read 219,410 times
Reputation: 49
Default Monthly gas bill (forced air heat vs. hot water radiator)

Hi all,

I did a search through the forum but couldn't quite find the answer I was looking for, hopefully someone here can help me.

I currently live in a two story duplex with (gas) forced air heat. In January and February I usually end up with a gas bill that is a couple hundred dollars. I will be moving into a very similar style house in the same neighborhood that is heated by (gas) hot water radiators.

I was wondering if anybody knew if hot water radiators would be "cheaper" than forced air heat? I don't think I've ever lived in any place (parent's houses included) that has had radiators, so I am unfamiliar with how they heat and any costs associated. I don't need specific prices, but any sort of insight about cost would be great.

Further information: I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and try(ed) to keep the temperature around 65-67 in the winter months.

Appreciate any and all answers! Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:34 AM
 
41,702 posts, read 46,172,177 times
Reputation: 27274
I live in Pittsburgh AND have hot water heat!

The cost isn't much different. It mostly depends on the efficiency of the boiler, just like the cost of forced air depends on the quality of the furnace. In that regard, you can't really compare the two becasue it's all relative. However, having lived in many different rentals with forced hot air thoughout my life prior to buying house with hot water heat, I've found that heating a house with hot water isn't more expensive than forced air.

That said, replacing a boiler is expensive. When I replaced my boiler, I had an opportunity to install forced air -- heat, air conditioning and all of the duct work -- for the same price as merely getting a new boiler. I chose to stick with hot water heat. It's less drying for the skin in the winter. As a Pittsburgher, you know how important that can be!

Keep in mind that a higher heating bill could have nothing to do with the type of heat and everything to do with old windows and no insulation.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Philly
1,776 posts, read 2,494,891 times
Reputation: 800
I think radiators are more efficient- while it may not be immediately recognizeable in terms of money spent- radiators are more effective because once they are heated- even after the room has reached the desired temperature, the heat lasts as long as the water's warm, compared to forced air - which you can lose once you open a door.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 30,195,002 times
Reputation: 11712
Radiated heat is more efficient, but more expensive to instal. It is difficult to compare however since radiated systems are often in older homes wiht poor insulation, or super high end homes with outstanding insulation. A lot of other things have more impact on your heating bill than whether ou have forced air or radiated heat. Insulation, sealing of doors and wondows, amout of use of doors, efficeincy of your boiler/furnace, temperature setting, programmable thermostats turned way down when the house is empty, in a forced air system the number and location of your return air vents is critical.. . . there a a multitude of issues to consider.
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
11,200 posts, read 9,353,217 times
Reputation: 10157
My hot water system is a lot more expensive than forced air in my old house. But, my boiler is also 92 years old.
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:29 PM
 
41,702 posts, read 46,172,177 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
But, my boiler is also 92 years old.
I'm jealous! I miss my old boiler!
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:04 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
8,765 posts, read 21,689,520 times
Reputation: 4709
If the boiler has about the same efficiency as the furnace, (probably true if the same vintage) the houses are similar size, and have the same overall insulation, there probably won't be a very significant change in bills.

The current owner can provide you a bill history or get it from the gas utility.
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:40 AM
 
Location: Tallahassee, FL
63 posts, read 219,410 times
Reputation: 49
Thanks all.

I just had a general curiousity and I was having a hard time finding what I wanted to know through a google search.

The landlord had provided us with "averages" (per the mouth of the current tenant, so we can take that with a grain of salt) and I was blown away by what they claimed a "bad" month for the gas bill was.

I do appreciate everyone's input, so thanks again!
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 30,195,002 times
Reputation: 11712
By the way. Radiated heat is considerably better for your health than forced air. It is also more comfortable and less prone to drafts (because it does nto depend on air moving around to provide heat, the heat comes from your walls, floor, curtains, etc which in turn are heated up by the radiators).

I never understand when someone rips out a radiated heat system and replaced it with forced air. The only advantage is that you can only run air conditioning through forced air ducts. We kept our radiated heat and added space pack high velocity ducts for AC. That is cheaper than ripping your house apart to put in full sized forced air ducting, but the spacepack machine is pricey (we still have not put it in).
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:07 AM
 
41,702 posts, read 46,172,177 times
Reputation: 27274
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhen View Post
The landlord had provided us with "averages" (per the mouth of the current tenant, so we can take that with a grain of salt) and I was blown away by what they claimed a "bad" month for the gas bill was.
You can call the gas company directly! I swear! You don't need anything but the address!
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