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  • Oil boiler - energy conservation

    Hi,

    Not sure if this is an appropriate forum to ask this question, figured I would try.

    I am located in Canada and my wife and I are trying to conserve energy to save on costs for our family. I am having difficulty comparing some of my options and was hoping to get some feedback if anyone had some guidance.

    To start I will give you a breakdown summary of fuel costs:

    Electricity - 12.41kWh
    Furnace oil - 4.08 USD per US Gallon (converted CAD to USD)
    Annual oil consumption - 740-790 gallons


    Boiler is from 1994 (on demand/tankless) and kept in my unheated garage (split entry home) for a young family of 4.

    In an effort to reduce our costs, I recently had an Air source heat pump to cover off the heating requirements for my upstairs (single heating zone). My oil boiler now is responsible for my downstairs heating zone and my domestic hot water.

    I am wondering if switching to an electric hot water heater could save me money? I am frequently told they are more efficient, but I have the following questions. Avg price supplied and installed is about $1,100 in my area.

    1. If I leave my boiler in place is there much of an advantage since it has to keep it's core temp anyways even if I offload my hot water heat to an electric hot water heater?

    2. If I bypass my hot water heater will my boiler decay? (I was told this by a plumber today that it could cause problems with my boiler down the road). Would this just be for it's ability to provide domestic hot water heat or my home heat as well.

    3. If on an electric hot water heater could I in theory shut off my boiler in the summer without negative effect (condensation?).

    4. Some people recommend wrapping/insulating the outside of the boiler. Considering mine is in an unheated garage, I thought of hiring a pro commercial insulator to do this for possible cost savings.

    If an electric boiler sounds like a good idea, any brand recommendations. GE, Rheem and Kenmore power miser are common around here. I can also get Giant and some others.

  • #2
    Re: Oil boiler - energy conservation

    Originally posted by srgallan View Post
    Hi,

    Not sure if this is an appropriate forum to ask this question, figured I would try.

    I am located in Canada and my wife and I are trying to conserve energy to save on costs for our family. I am having difficulty comparing some of my options and was hoping to get some feedback if anyone had some guidance.

    To start I will give you a breakdown summary of fuel costs:

    Electricity - 12.41kWh
    Furnace oil - 4.08 USD per US Gallon (converted CAD to USD)
    Annual oil consumption - 740-790 gallons


    Boiler is from 1994 (on demand/tankless) and kept in my unheated garage (split entry home) for a young family of 4.

    In an effort to reduce our costs, I recently had an Air source heat pump to cover off the heating requirements for my upstairs (single heating zone). My oil boiler now is responsible for my downstairs heating zone and my domestic hot water.

    I am wondering if switching to an electric hot water heater could save me money? I am frequently told they are more efficient, but I have the following questions. Avg price supplied and installed is about $1,100 in my area.

    1. If I leave my boiler in place is there much of an advantage since it has to keep it's core temp anyways even if I offload my hot water heat to an electric hot water heater?

    2. If I bypass my hot water heater will my boiler decay? (I was told this by a plumber today that it could cause problems with my boiler down the road). Would this just be for it's ability to provide domestic hot water heat or my home heat as well.

    3. If on an electric hot water heater could I in theory shut off my boiler in the summer without negative effect (condensation?).

    4. Some people recommend wrapping/insulating the outside of the boiler. Considering mine is in an unheated garage, I thought of hiring a pro commercial insulator to do this for possible cost savings.

    If an electric boiler sounds like a good idea, any brand recommendations. GE, Rheem and Kenmore power miser are common around here. I can also get Giant and some others.
    Fuel oil has roughly 144,000 BTU per gallon. 1 KW of electricity has 3,414 BTUs. You will need a huge number of KWs to equate to 1 gallon of fuel oil. Also, while electricity is about 99% efficient, it takes a much longer time to recover the hot water. You WILL run out. Oil can recover much more quickly.

    The boiler will not decay any more than it normally would if you bypassed the indirect tank or the internal coil. Some internal rust and moisture in the liner (if applicable) is normal and will not hurt it under normal conditions. Condensation will form if the room it is in has a large air turnover and becomes hot/cold frequently. This water can combine with combustion deposits to form acids. These acids can chew up the metals in the boiler. Most people don't have too many problems shutting it down for the season. Clean it well right after shutdown.

    Do not wrap the boiler. Boiler antifreeze is an option but it may cause corrosion of rubber and metal parts over time. Insulating the pipes is a good idea.

    An electric boiler is a huge waste of time and energy in my opinion. In addition to needing a huge power supply - around 120 amps or so - it has the same faults as an electric water heater. It just uses more juice. You may need to upgrade your service wire to the house and also the main panel to accommodate an electric boiler.

    The air to air heat pump was a good idea. Modern units can run down to 0 degrees F efficiently. The other benefit is AC in the summer. If you want to use electricity to heat the lower half, ask your contractor to provide you information on air to water heat heat pumps that can supplement or replace your boiler system. I remember seeing one before, can't remember where or who made it, but it was pretty efficient.

    In my personal opinion, if you are going to switch fuels, I would switch to LP. It's a decent middle of the road fuel between electric and oil. You can switch your boiler to a high efficiency unit with very few changes in anything else. Also, future stoves, ovens, and dryers are options. LP has approximately 91,400 BTUs per gallon of fuel.
    ~~

    ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

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