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Heat reccomendations

I bought an 80 year old 4sq home back in september 2007 in Rockaway NJ. In the past 4 months I have spent $1200 in oil!! I am converting to gas. Gas line is run to house and meter is set. The big question now is....

How to heat?

Boiler, on demand?

I have closed radiator system right now. The house is approx 1800-2000 sqq feet, counting the basement which I want to finish.(22X28 footprint)

There are 2 bathrooms. We will be renovation the upstairs bathromm sometime this year, bigger.

I read up on the Bosch and Paloma water heaters and I like that they are small. It is just me and my wife so tons of hot water are not needed.

I also looked into the weil mclain Ultra series because they are also smaller. The smaller the better, and more room in the basement when I finish it.

I have had 3 estimates so far $5k, $6k and $7k. All three gave different types of equipment. I dont trust any of them.

Like I said, the house is 80+. all the window are new except the 2 main ones in the living room and dining room...they are about 2.5 ft sq with a stained glass window above. Hardwood floors, insulated attic, Plaster walls, basement height is about 7ft(nice!), 1st floor is 9ft, second is 8ft.

I think it is an old ALLADIN HOME based on the floorplan but I hear it could also be a tweaked version of an Alladin that builders sometimes did. It is an old Iron Mining town and some of the old miners homes are sstill around.

Any help would be appreciated. If you want to see pics they are at my myspace (WASICU) is my name there.

Re: Heat reccomendations

new system or not you need to verify your insulation and energy loss areas. Have it looked into.
Call your local utility or energy audit company.

Re: Heat reccomendations

I have to agree with Infrared, you didn't mention insulation in the walls or how much insulation you have in the attic. The size of the boiler you will need will depend on the heat loss and heating zone you are in. Seal the house first then size your unit. I'm sure JacktehShack or resident boiler expert will be along shortly to give you some pointers on specific equipment and add ons including some sugestions in case you have an old gravity fed system.

Re: Heat reccomendations

Ditto what the other posters said about insulation.

It would be well worth it to have someone do an infrared survey of the exterior walls to see how much heat is bleeding out.

At the very least, if you don't know if you have any exterior wall insulation, drill a few inconspicuous 1/8" holes in the exterior walls and stick a length of hanger wire smeared with glue to see if you pull out any signs of insulation.

If the hanger wire noisely rattles around the wall cavity, there's little if any insulation.

There is an excellent service where the insulation co. blows in cellulose from the outside usually within one day for a few hundred $$$.

Insulation pays for itself very quickly in saved heating and cooling bills

Once you get the house as tight as possible, you can do a heat loss calculation (Manual J) that will tell you how many heat btu's an hour are bleeding out of the exterior walls and attic of your house; this may be an important reason why you've been burning a lot of oil.

You can then order the proper sized boiler to equal that number.

The boiler installer, btw, should ALWAYS do a Manual J, based on the insulation info you give him/her.

There are some free HLC sites below where you can get a ballpark figure of how big a boiler you'll need.

A VERY BASIC way of estimating HLC is to take the square footage of the heated space and multiply by a given number between 25 and 60 (25= very tight house; 60 = very drafty house).

Thus,for a northern U.S. city, & a reasonably insulated house, 2000 sq.ft. X 30 = 60,000 btu/hr for the amount of heat your losing per hour each winter's day, and the size of the boiler needed.

For a house w/o exterior wall insulation & minimal attic insulation, it might be 2000 sq.ft. X 45 = 90,000 btu/hr.

These, of course are wild estimates; a good HLC, especially like the free Slant Fin HLC below, will give you a much more accurate picture.

It's not always the type of fuel that you're burning, although there are a lot more boiler choices with natural gas.

The "energy star" site below put out by the EPA has several hundred energy efficient boilers.

Because of the meteoric rise in oil & gas prices, most of the boiler mfgs are scrambling to put out cutting edge boilers that are condensing units, variable/modulating output, have a stainless steel or aluminum combustion chambers, and consume fuel with a 95% heat efficiency (which means only 5% of the fuel is wasted in the heating process).

These tend to be the highest priced units, so how long you intend to stay in the house has a bearing on how much you spend now.

There are other boilers that have a cast iron combustion chamber, have a 3-pass design & get 87% efficiency; more standard cast iron CC's get ~83% efficiency.

These are all good efficiency numbers & the cast iron units cost a lot less, are a tried & true technology & tend to last for 30-40 years; the trade-off is not that great, especially if you buy a 3-pass unit.

If it was MY house, & I was going to stay there a while, I would try to find a condensing/modulating stainless steel boiler with outdoor reset.

Other important factors are the expertise of the installer; a knowledgeable installer will get the most out of the equipment, the piping arrangement he/she installs around the boiler, if done right, will save heat, & he/she will select a unit that is compatible with your house & your radiator system, and will quote a reasonable price.

Get at least 6 estimates, the brand of boiler and the price quotes will vary widely.

Radiators are good, but if you have very large radiators that hold a lot of water, it may cost you more in fuel usage.

Cast iron rads are designed to operate at 180 degrees, the newer boielrs are going into radiant floor and baseboard designs that use 120 degree temps & have a few gallons of water.

On the other hand, there's nothing like the comfort obtained from cast iron radiation.

Do your research on the "energy star" list.

Go to the website of each mfgr you're interested in by typing in their name between the www and the .com.

Thus burnham would be at www.burnham.com., etc.

There are good gas-fired condensing wall-hung units by Baxi Luna, Biasi Riva, Buderus GB142, Burnham CHG/FCM, Dunkirk Quantum, Munchkin, Hydrotherm,NTI Trinity, Peerless Pinnacle, Triangle Tube Prestige, Utica UB, Viessmann Vitodens. & Weill-McLain Ultra.

I have a lot of favorites on this list: Triangle Tube, Peerless, Buderus, Burnham, Dunkirk, Biasi Riva, Viessmann.

Many of these boilers are either made in Europe, or rely almost completely on the boiler technology developed there.

The exchange rate between the Euro and the U.S. dollar make the european brands pricey, & many U.S. local boiler distributors don't carry them; but some do, & the U.S. boilers can usually match the european ones, at less cost.

The "furnace compare" site has a lot of good info on the warranty each boiler mfg offers for their product; there are also tips on choosing a boiler, and product reviews.



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