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Old 01-25-2012, 07:58 PM
 
21 posts, read 151,726 times
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I've spent hours reading through this forum regarding people's opinions on supplemental heating sources. However, many of these posts were from a few years ago.

My husband and I are relocating and thinking of purchasing an older home that is about 1800 sq ft (built in 1923). It has oil heat (hot water base board-I think? The long "heaters" at the bottom of the wall). The hot water is also fueled by oil. Sorry, this is all very new to me as we come from an area where everyone has forced, hot air, gas heat.

What are the downsides to oil heat? We gather from our research that we want to supplement because oil costs are so high. What would be a better investment for supplementing--a pellet stove or a direct vent kerosene heater? Any other suggestions?

Right now we keep our gas heat at about 55 and then have a vent free gas fireplace that we bump up to 68-70. It only truly heats the rooms we are using, but takes the chill out of the bottom floor of the house. At night we turn the gas fireplace down to about 63 (for our little dogs who sleep downstairs and are spoiled and like to sleep by the fire) and we go upstairs, where again the gas heat (2 zone) is at about 60. So we don't keep a crazy HOT house, but it is very nice to bump up the fire place when we have chill.

What would match our needs/current usage? What would be the most cost effective way to supplement oil heat? Would electric space heaters for the living room be very expensive?

NOTE: We cannot supplement with wood due to health reasons, so a wood burning stove is not an option.

Thank you!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:05 PM
 
21 posts, read 151,726 times
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Also, what would our heating bills be approximately if we didn't supplement? I know it's all relative to the insulation, etc. We are waiting to hear from the sellers about insulations upgrade and hopefully their recent bills. We want to stay educated.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:15 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,722 posts, read 47,483,706 times
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I think of electric as being expensive.

You can also go with LPG. A 'monitor' heater can be mounted in each room you wish to heat. They come with a thermostat.
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:04 AM
 
1,360 posts, read 1,855,908 times
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One of my relatives has a monitor heater in her kitchen that was purchased for about $1500 and it heats the entire house (2 stories) to her satisfaction. For 1800 sq. ft., maybe you could get by with only two of them if you keep room doors open and let the heat circulate..... Since wood is out for you, I would go with a pellet stove. btw, My neighbor's dog sleeps on a heating pad during the winter months. Some other relatives got one of those big electric "fireplaces" as a gift for Christmas--advertised to run for $1 a day (a claim I find hard to believe); I don't know if they have received their first electric bill yet since pluggin her in, but they tell me their house is extremely warm using it....If you've been reading the forum, you've probably seen the price of fuel oil...$3.79 a gallon...oops... it went up again! Here's a website you might want to keep an eye on. MaineOil
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,093 posts, read 5,422,768 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainegrl2011 View Post
One of my relatives has a monitor heater in her kitchen that was purchased for about $1500 and it heats the entire house (2 stories) to her satisfaction. For 1800 sq. ft., maybe you could get by with only two of them if you keep room doors open and let the heat circulate..... Since wood is out for you, I would go with a pellet stove. btw, My neighbor's dog sleeps on a heating pad during the winter months. Some other relatives got one of those big electric "fireplaces" as a gift for Christmas--advertised to run for $1 a day (a claim I find hard to believe); I don't know if they have received their first electric bill yet since pluggin her in, but they tell me their house is extremely warm using it....If you've been reading the forum, you've probably seen the price of fuel oil...$3.79 a gallon...oops... it went up again! Here's a website you might want to keep an eye on. MaineOil
The electric fireplace is probably a 110volt appliance. It is at most 1500watts. Therefore it with cost about 25 cents an hour to operate. Your results will vary if it is 220 volt. The light bill may surprise them, if they aren't used to this.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:07 AM
 
Location: Backwoods of Maine
6,940 posts, read 7,658,930 times
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Oil heat, providing your boiler is in good condition, is excellent and very effective. It is what we have at our home here in RI (almost as cold as Maine). The only downsides are 1) the cost, and 2) remembering to call the oil company to deliver oil, if you are not on 'automatic'. If you have heavy snow cover, getting the truck in and out may be a problem, so we kinda have to be mindful of the weather, too.

We bought a couple of new, Japanese-made kerosene heaters last year which have been well worth the investment. However they do emit some fumes, so if you have health problems, that may not be the way to go. Before that, we were using a portable propane heater called a "Big Buddy" which I'd start up in the kitchen on winter mornings before DW got up. That helped a lot, as we usually turn the oil burner down at night. We have a wood stove in the living room, which might not be right for you. But we liked the Big Buddy so well, that we also bought a Monitor propane heater with a little more power than the portable one, and that is what we use most, now.

My only caution with the pellet stove is that it requires electricity, and often during bad storms you could lose power. If that is the only other heat source you have besides an oil burner, you may freeze during a bad storm. Think about it. Choose a back-up heat source that requires no electrical power (this would automatically exclude electric heaters, for obvious reasons).
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:45 AM
 
21 posts, read 151,726 times
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Thank you everyone for all of the information. I guess that part I'm still confused on is the price/cost effective. Some people LOVE their pellet stoves, while other's write about how incredibly expensive the pellets are and that it is no longer a cost effective heating source.

Personally, I think a pellet stove looks "nicer," that a monitor or toyo direct vent heater, but I know my husband will want cost effective. I'll be more concerned about the living area looking nice in our new home!

Also, how/where do you purchase pellets? I hear people talking about getting tons--that sounds like so much. I'm assuming you'd need a truck (which we don't have). Where do you store them? Detached garage? Basement? Can you purchase smaller amounts?

I'm very excited for this move, but if you haven't figured it out yet--we've always been city people. So much to learn!

If you were in my shoes (or if you had to do it again), would you go with a pellet stove? Monitor/toyotomi heater? for daily use to supplement your living space. I'm gathering that I need to get some type of propane heater (or non electric using heater) for when the power goes out.

Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,722 posts, read 47,483,706 times
Reputation: 17565
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaxter View Post
Thank you everyone for all of the information. I guess that part I'm still confused on is the price/cost effective. Some people LOVE their pellet stoves, while other's write about how incredibly expensive the pellets are and that it is no longer a cost effective heating source.

Personally, I think a pellet stove looks "nicer," that a monitor or toyo direct vent heater, but I know my husband will want cost effective. I'll be more concerned about the living area looking nice in our new home!

Also, how/where do you purchase pellets? I hear people talking about getting tons--that sounds like so much. I'm assuming you'd need a truck (which we don't have). Where do you store them? Detached garage? Basement? Can you purchase smaller amounts?
Pellets are sold in 50-pound bags. 40 bags fill a pallet. Lots of hardware stores, feedstores, stove stores, all carry pellets and many deliver.

If left outside the rain may ruin them. Pellets are dry and if the bag has holes, rips or tears, they will soak up water like sponges.

One bag of pellets should fit into the stove hopper at a time. Perhaps requiring one bag to be brought in and dumped each day. [Depending on how much heat you use the stove for]

You can buy bags one at a time, same price. But then you do it more often.



My concern is more about the electricity needs. Where you live plays a big role in this.

If your residence loses power once a month, for an average of one hour each time. That is how often your pellet stove will be non-functional.

In my township, we lose power sporadically. Some months we may lose power 10 to 15 times, ranging from 20-minutes to 6 or 8 hours, each time. Other times we may go 2 or 3 months without losing power at all. We have seen power loses that lasted 3 or 4 days, though these longer power outages rarely happen more than once a year.

Where I live we have to be prepared [and expect] to lose power for a day, simply because it happens.

If such a power outage happens during the heating season, then your home would be left cold for that duration [assuming that your heating system relies of electricity].



Quote:
... I'm very excited for this move, but if you haven't figured it out yet--we've always been city people. So much to learn!

If you were in my shoes (or if you had to do it again), would you go with a pellet stove? Monitor/toyotomi heater? for daily use to supplement your living space. I'm gathering that I need to get some type of propane heater (or non electric using heater) for when the power goes out.

Thanks!
With LPG the company comes out every 2 weeks to check your tank level and top it off. So running out is never a concern.

We have LPG, though at current we only use it for our clothes dryer and a water-heater. We do have it plumbed to heat our home if we ever needed it to, but we only use that option as a back-up.

[I like back-up plans]
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,093 posts, read 5,422,768 times
Reputation: 3136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaxter View Post
Thank you everyone for all of the information. I guess that part I'm still confused on is the price/cost effective. Some people LOVE their pellet stoves, while other's write about how incredibly expensive the pellets are and that it is no longer a cost effective heating source.

Personally, I think a pellet stove looks "nicer," that a monitor or toyo direct vent heater, but I know my husband will want cost effective. I'll be more concerned about the living area looking nice in our new home!

Also, how/where do you purchase pellets? I hear people talking about getting tons--that sounds like so much. I'm assuming you'd need a truck (which we don't have). Where do you store them? Detached garage? Basement? Can you purchase smaller amounts?

I'm very excited for this move, but if you haven't figured it out yet--we've always been city people. So much to learn!

If you were in my shoes (or if you had to do it again), would you go with a pellet stove? Monitor/toyotomi heater? for daily use to supplement your living space. I'm gathering that I need to get some type of propane heater (or non electric using heater) for when the power goes out.

Thanks!
Pellets come in 40 lbs bags. I store mine in the basement. Just make sure it's dry, otherwise you get mush.

1 ton, 50- 40lb bags, is about the equivalent btu as a cord of wood. A ton costs anywhere from $200-$250. About the same as a cord of wood, cut/split delivered.

The monitor heater will be much easier for you. Savings? Propane costs more than oil. Pellet stoves require cleaning and filling.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Cape Elizabeh, ME
404 posts, read 642,080 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaxter View Post
If you were in my shoes (or if you had to do it again), would you go with a pellet stove? Monitor/toyotomi heater? for daily use to supplement your living space. I'm gathering that I need to get some type of propane heater (or non electric using heater) for when the power goes out.

Thanks!

I'd go monitor over pellet using K-1 tank. (karosene) K-1 burns more efficiently and I believe there is much less risk of CO2.

My monitor heater is SO much less expensive than the oil was and is quite warm.....how ever all depending on the layout of your house it needs to go on a outside wall and be central....sometimes tricky in some layouts. I have a couple of those Oil filled electric radiators for my bathrooms to keep the chill otu of there and I'm set.

As for a back up for when the power goes out...good point...guess I need to do that too.

Personally I'd do a winter with the way you have things right now and then you'll figure out what makes sense.
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