View Full Version : best way to heat your home, starting in 2008. recommendations?

12-31-2007, 03:59 PM
How would you heat my house, if you had the opportunity to choose. The "heater" thread has made me rethink some of my current views on the best way to heat a home. We're planning on expanding our house, which is currently about 1100ft▓, by adding another ~936ft░ of living space, on top of a 24x26 garage that will be dug into the existing driveway. So I'm interested in what anyone's recommendation is, for how best to heat the new addition. The three main criteria are:

1. Must be reasonably priced for installation, can't be crazy expensive to do.
2. Must be relatively economical to operate in the coming years
3. Must be low maintenance.

We prefer to heat our house to be around 62░F during the winter, maybe 65 if we're feeling wild. We also have a wood stove, that will easily heat all of the living areas of the home (if we're there, with a fire going), but the downstairs bedroom and new master bedroom will still be a little cool.. if heating with wood-only. I need to heat the garage because I'll be bringing in the water pipe from the well through there.. somewhere in the 45░-50░F range would be dreamy, a little less is fine.

We have propane, can't get natural gas. A sub panel will be brought over to service the addition, so 220 stuff would be ok. My current plan and best idea so far is hot water radiant floor, serviced off a new hot water heater that will be inside the new laundry room. Not an on-demand one, just an old school 40-50 gal. tank, then have an upstairs zone and a garage zone, set to different temperatures.

Our current forced air furnace is pretty pathetic.. it does ok keeping the existing house warm, but wouldn't be able to handle any more. It should be replaced anyway, but I think it would be inefficient to run more forced air ducts way over to the new addition. (it's currently left of center, under the existing house in the crawl space). Other options would be hot water baseboards, again serviced from a new hot water heater. The Edunpure idea got shot down this morning... :rolleyes:

Below is a quick model of the house. The left, darker portion, is the existing house, and to the right is the new addition. The current outside wall that faces the driveway will be torn down, putting the wood stove in the center of the new big room that will be in the center of the home, with bedrooms on either side. so would you go with electric water radiant floor? Or something else?

12-31-2007, 04:09 PM
If I was building, I'd put in radiant floor heat.

12-31-2007, 04:18 PM
Either what the Green one said, or baseboard hot water, or both. I would also use either a 90% efficient boiler, or use a flash heater (same as I use for my hot water now). The only reason I went with forced air, was that we wanted air conditioning. Probably not applicable to your needs. We had a low efficiency boiler system before and loved the heat: even, low dust, not as drying.

Our current system is 90% efficient 120K BTU two-stage forced air with a humidifier and 15 Seer 3.5 ton A/C to cover 2800 ft2 (Trane). We like that fine, but be SURE to have the calculations done by a qualified contractor! That is probably what is going on with your current system. We had calcs run by several contractors and had figures all over the map. One did not even correct for altitude, which is even more critical in your application than it was for us.

We are very pleased with Horizon Heating and Mechanical. First rate.

12-31-2007, 04:49 PM

12-31-2007, 04:55 PM
I'd buy a 15-20k windmill. you could then run anything you want full blast and get paid to put current back in the grid. It's a little longer to pay it off but that's my .02

I'd love to find a place where I could have one and start being self sufficient. I could make biodiesel. Have the kids run half naked ;)

12-31-2007, 05:08 PM
And from there they would bug you about buying a dirtbike or ATV. It's all a downward spiral...

12-31-2007, 05:13 PM
Mike I thought you were kidding, but that article is intriguing. I cleaned up the formatting best I could..

Homeowner Gains Year-Round Comfort, HighEfficiency. BY GREG MAZURKIEWICZOF THE NEWS STAFFNboddy has to ask contractor Mike Sumple to take it out-side: He's already there, digging in with a direct-access geothermal system that transfers energy from the earthover to an air handler that provides the conditioning for the home. Sumple, president of C.H. W., LLC, Danbury, CT, installed a 5-ton Earth-LinkedTM direct-access ground-source heat pump, fromECR Technologies, Inc., Lakeland, FL, together with a Model ESP-V air-handling system, from SpacePak, Westfield, MA, in a cus-tom-designed 3,600-sq-ft home in New Milford, CT.

This three-story home features cathedral ceilings, an open floorplan, challenging angles, and a walkout basement with sunroom. The steady heat delivered by the ground-source heat pump and the location of the high-velocity air outlets in the ceiling, walls, and floors, noted Sumple, is designed to deliver comfort to all three levels of the home. The house is located in a high elevation of Connecticut where the temperature often dips to zero. With the thermostat set at 68░F, the homeowner saves energy and there are no cold spots. Shown left to right are Kurt Snyder, a homeowner in New Milford, CT, and Mike Sumple, C.H.W., next to Snyder's 3.5-ton Model ESP-V air-handling system, which also works in combination with the direct-access ground-source heat pump.

THE GEO WAY" Instead of burning fossil fuels to make heat, we simply use a ground-source heat pump to transfer heat that already exists in the ground into the home or building;' Sumple explained. "We bury copper ground loops and fill them with refrigerant. The ground-source heat pump, along with the copper loops, transfers the heat from the ground into the home."

In the summer, this process is reversed, and the heat is moved from the home into the ground, which is cooler than the outside ambient temperature. We also take some of this heat and use it to generate free domestic hot water during the air conditioning season. He added, "The geothermal process eliminates the need for a chimney since there is no combustion taking place. Also, there is no production of carbon monoxide gases in the home"

The direct-access system's copper refrigerant loop, Sumple stated, only requires a 3-in. hole vs. a 5-in. hole with a water-loop geo-thermal system. He said the copper loop only needs 100 ft per ton of capacity, compared to 150 ft per ton with a water loop, and a hole depth of 100 ft instead of 150 to 200 ft. This results in a 75% savings on drilling. The system uses R-22 presently, but the manufacturer is testing R-407C. "Any hvac technician can service this ground-source unit because it's just like an air conditioning unit," he said.
Page 2
This home in Danbury, CT, uses the combination system, which is designed for maximum comfort and efficiency. SpacePak plenum with 2-in.-id flexible ductwork delivers conditioned air to the living space. buildup in the ducts' he said. There is one central return grille on each floor. As for energy savings, "With a direct-access ground-source heat pump, for everyone unit of electrical power, you get four units of heat energy. With an air-source heat pump, it's about 2.8 units;' Sumple said.The annual savings for heating and cooling are in the range of 40% to 60%, putting money in the bank for the homeowner. For more information on these combined direct-access ground-source heat pump/air handler systems, please contact Mike Sumple at 203-798-7689;advgeothermalsys@aol.com (e-mail) or contact SpacePak at 413-564-5530,www.spacepak.com.

A 5-ton EarthLinkedTM direct-access ground-source heat pump, from ECRTechnologies, transfers energy from the earth, while a 5-ton Model ESP-Vair-handling system, from SpacePak, heats and cools the home. AIR MIXINGThe air distribution system uses the principle known as aspira-tion, so that as the airstream enters the room, it creates a gentle mix-ing of air, providing for more thorough air circulation. This helps to eliminate stratification, minimizing the floor-to-ceiling temperature difference and supplying an even temperature in the room. Air in this system is moved at 2,000 fpm compared to the 500fpm of a conventional system, Sumple noted. This "avoids dirt copyriglil--Jlepri˝fro mAir Conditioning I Heating I Refrigeration

12-31-2007, 05:14 PM
hah... touche... Me thinks she would want a horse anyway.

12-31-2007, 05:15 PM
Also I like the windmill approach, also would entertain solar down the road. That's why I have been leaning towards something electric, since it allows for alternate power sources, even a gas powered generator.

12-31-2007, 05:22 PM
I don't know if a heat pump would be ideal at your altitude, but yeah, they've been around a while. It would sure help the propane bill. Maybe your solution is like a three legged stool: not relying on just one leg.

That philosophy has served me well with my truck. Except when I forget to carry gear oil. :rolleyes:

12-31-2007, 05:28 PM
I dunno how heat pumps run out here but they are big in Va. and they suck ass. Not cold enough in summer and not warm enough in winter. Maybe they've undergone radical improvement in the last 10 years. I dunno.

My folks also had solar panels. It was manly for heating water. They did a good job but when it came time to repair it was either way too much $ or the company and parts were no longer available and it ceased to operate at our house.

I did house sit at a place in Aspen that had auto roll up and down reflectors facing south . It was ok. I dunno how much benefit there really was though.

12-31-2007, 05:33 PM
My plan is to eat bacon till I weigh like 350+ lbs and then turn off the heat for the rest of winter...

12-31-2007, 05:45 PM
I dunno how heat pumps run out here but they are big in Va. and they suck ass. Not cold enough in summer and not warm enough in winter. Maybe they've undergone radical improvement in the last 10 years. I dunno. Yeah, kinda why I suggested it as an aux system.

My folks also had solar panels. It was manly for heating water. I agree, solar heat for water is quite manly! :lmao: Seriously, worth looking into, again as an aux system. We had a silicone-based system that worked great in our first house. There was a major hailstorm that expired it after the next owner bought the house though.:( Silicone EVERYWHERE. They are much improved now.

12-31-2007, 05:46 PM
My plan is to eat bacon till I weigh like 350+ lbs and then turn off the heat for the rest of winter...
Ya know, that could have application for a retirement plan too! Spend the retirement on an 80 to haul one's fat arse around!!

12-31-2007, 06:41 PM
The silicon pv panels are, from what I hear, pretty bullet proof these days. However, there is a world wide shortage of silicon, driving the price up.

I like the radiant/baseboard idea, like you said it allows for alternative energy supply down the road. You could do a hot water baseboard off a boiler, backed up by electric radiant floors, yeah that would be cheap. :D

Personally I hate forced air, it dries everything out and makes sure the dust is everywhere, all the time. Since you won't need a/c, I say stay away from that.

What about a gas fireplace in the new bedroom? Pretty and functional. I don't know, just thinking out loud.

Seldom Seen
12-31-2007, 07:21 PM
GEOTHERMAL (http://www.econar.com/index.htm) :thumb: Give me a call and I'll set you up with a tour of a recent project.

Jenny Cruiser
12-31-2007, 07:35 PM
Radiant floor is prolly the way to go. Geothermal is pretty expensive FWIK.

01-01-2008, 08:19 AM
Radiant floor heat is a nice way to go as you do not have any vents or baseboards to worry about. You can use different ways to heat the glycol if you want to stay green. One thing to remember about the radiant floor heat is that it will make you feel tired if you spend some time on your feet. Believe it or not, as your feet are heated the blood flowing back to your hart is warmer making you feel drowsy. Changing temps in the house will take a lot longer.

Water baseboards would be my next choice, efficient depending on your heat source and a lasting heat once turned off.

Both forms of heat are quiet unlike forced air.

My favorite is still wood, it gives you a different kind of heat. Hard to describe but since you have wood now I am sure you know what I am talking about. Drawbacks are the noise and having to refill in the middle of the night. One option to wood could be pellet. With the newer systems you fill the hopper set the temp and off you go, you do have the cost of the pellets. Of course no matter what you choose there will be a cost associated with it.

01-01-2008, 11:13 AM
Radiant run with on demand heater. Thats what by buddies run in their new construction in Eagle. Run on propane no problem

01-02-2008, 03:46 AM
We went with a high efficiency dual fuel furnace. Basically we have a heat pump to about 32 and after that a propane furnace kicks in. However, we use a pellet stove most of the time. It adds a real warm heat to our house. Plus it is nice to look at. This was supposed to be the hot ticket 3 years ago. If I had it to do over I'd look at geo thermal. At the time we didn't know our well water was going to be so warm.

01-02-2008, 09:48 AM
our well water is pretty cold, haven't measured it but I'm guessing low 40's. We're at 8000', and I don't think it's been above freezing in probably 3 weeks.. But this is winter, so what do you expect. I'm definitely intrigued by geothermal idea though, Brian I hope to talk to you a little bit about it at the meeting tonight if you're there. :cheers:

01-02-2008, 10:20 AM
How about passive solar heat?

01-02-2008, 10:57 AM
Passive solar is great, but we're not in the sun much in the winter. :(