The Valley, May 2014
Modern Energy and Alternative Heating with Curt Bierly
Next Winter The long, brutal winter of 2013/2014 will long be remembered. We’re hopeful we don’t have another winter like that any time soon. At the moment we’re all enjoying spring and looking forward to warmer weather. That said, I’m sure during those cold winter nights you had time to consider the performance of your current heating system and/or supplemental heater (stove, fireplace, fireplace insert) and possibly want to make a change before next winter tosSave operating cost and increase comfort. Possibly you aren’t sure where to start. First, you need to decide what amount of money you can afford to invest in the project. Is the money immediately available or
will you finance the investment? The beauty of this opportunity is if you make the correct choice, your investment will save you lots of money and make your house more comfortable in which to live. Second, you need to determine what fuel source you will use to power the new HVAC equipment or supplemental heat source? There are numerous possibilities to choose from including heating oil, natural gas, electricity, propane, coal, wood and wood pellets. The best choice (my opinion) is to use a combination of two or three fuels so if one is in short supply or becomes very expensive, you have the choice to move the bulk of your heat-
ing requirements to another fuel. As an example, if you choose to purchase a warm air gas furnace with an electric heat pump and purchase a wood stove, you’ll be set up to burn three fuels. Finally, you need to contract an HVAC professional or an alternative heating retailer to discuss your plans, solicit their suggestions and request a quotation. When upgrading a hot water or steam central heating system to save operating cost, many of our customers are switching from fuel oil (Oil) to natural gas (Nat Gas) or propane. If they have an oil hot water boiler, they may choose to replace it with a high efficiency (93%) Nat Gas or propane hot water condensing boiler or a geothermal (GEO) hot water heat pump (uses electricity). Although hot water heat is tough to beat for comfort during those cold winter months, it has the disadvantage of not providing air conditioning (AC) in the summer; therefore, another option is to keep the present oil system as a backup and install a ducted or ductless heat pump/air conditioning system to help lower the heating cost in the winter and provide AC during those hot summer months. This is a very good option if you have an oil steam boiler as the efficiency of a replacement oil unit will only
The Truth Has No Agenda
A Jotul Oslo Wood or Gas Stove—a supplemental heater for that extra warmth!!
be in the 80% to 85% range, and unless you go to the expense of converting the steam system to hot water, you will continue to incur the inherent inefficiencies of steam heat. If you don’t have a supplemental heating unit, you need to consider purchasing one. Let’s assume you set the temperature in your home to 72˚F and the central system did a fine job holding that temperature this winter. You will enjoy immensely the extra warmth of a wood stove on a cold winter day. Also, it will provide you with an emergency heat source if needed.
I know it is tough to think ahead to another winter right now, but this is a good time to make a decision and schedule a timely, stress-free installation. Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division. He graduated from Penn State with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is the chair of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. a
Published on May 9, 2014