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Payback Periods

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by caucapon, Jan 10, 2008.

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  1. eekster

    eekster New Member

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    southeast michigan
    Guy, My grandfather also heated his house all his life. no splitter, axe and maul, he said thats how he got his exercise in winter
    he was 89 when he passed away and my grandmother continued heating w/wood till she was 90 with some help from my folks.
    Hope I can keep up the "tradition". I like to cut wood in the winter and don"t mind it at all.
    Keith

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    My dad just turned 76 and he still cuts and splits all his own firewood by hand, plus sawlogs from the family tree farm spring, summer and fall. He and my mom are in great shape, and I attribute it to the woodcutting.
  3. reaperman

    reaperman Member

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    Central Minn
    A bit off topic, but how about posting a few pictures of your home. Sounds awsome!
  4. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    It would be nice to have an energy audit done on your home first. Infiltration is a big concern on log homes. If you can find an HVAC contractor with a blower door, that would be a great first step. With the info from the blower door you could preform a real accurate heat load calc.

    Projecting any kind of heating cost comparison without knowing the actual loads is like putting the cart before the horse. I have seen 2400 ft homes with loads under 30,000 btu/hr, and worked on leaky log construction homes the required 100,000 btu heaters!

    Once you had some accurate data you could determine your best option. The best money you could spend would b making your home as efficient as possible. then build the heating and cooling system.

    I'd wonder about buying firewood to burn at a 70% (a more realistic gasificiation number in my opinion). Certainly the cost of firewood will increase with the cost of other energy. You need to plug actual fuel costs in your area into a calculator to get the best answer.

    I have been involved in a couple open plan homes that heat and cool just fine with 17 seer mini splits. I hear some of the new inverter technology units approach 21 seer?? resale would b better with an efficient heating and cooling system. I doubt a wood boiler would appeal to most home shoppers.

    I'm a huge fan of efficient wood burners, and all sort of alternate energy. You need to be realistic in your choice. Most of the wood burners here have access to cheap or free wood and the time and age :) to operate the heaters that burn the fuel.

    Run the numbers carefully before you spend thousands of dollars.

    hr
  5. trehugr

    trehugr New Member

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    What is a blower door ? We have a log home. We spent alot of time this last season keeping the outside out and the inside in.
  6. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    A blower door is a high volume fan that is sealed up in a doorway. The fan is turned on and the tech goes around the house with a smoke device and notes the exit points. There is a manometer that registers the pressure in the dwelling. I know that there are certain numbers that denote an efficient house. Some modern construction requires fresh air to be introduced into house through a exhaust heat exchanger. Air infiltration is the greatest energy waster. Where theres a leak on the pressure side there is a leak on the vacuum side. Sealing air leaks is the best return on investment. Can be very inexpensive.

    Will
  7. chrisfallis

    chrisfallis Member

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    Central Colorado
    PaybacK? That is a simple question for me. We are converting an unheated porch into livable space and adding radiant floor heating to the kitchen and former porch space. We have an ancient gas forced air furnace for part of the house annd a gravity feed boiler from the time of Queen Victoria that heats the other part of the house. My thought was to tie the radiant heat lines into the old boiler and call it good. The HVAC guy came out, looked at the cast iron pipes, saifd that there was no way in hell to open them up and suggested a $35K modern, high efficiency gas boiler just for the two new rooms of radiant heat. Well, maybe that included a couple grand for the radiant installation......

    After I reached for the nitroglycerine, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to press my case for a wood boilrer in the garage. For half the price of a gas furnace, I can install a Garn in the garage, put in pumps, pipes, water to water and water to air heat exchangers and still be ahead of the game. Last time I tried to do an apples to apples comparison was 11 years ago when I was replacing an old boiler that was on its last legs. The Tarm I eventuially bought was $6K installed versus $3K for the gas boiler. At a fuel savings of about $1500 per year, it didn't take long to recover the incremental investment.

    I haven't seen the specifics of the $35K bid for the new gas furnace. I can't see how it should cost that much for 600 sqft of radiant heat.
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Paybacks...........
    I'll guarantee right now that this will turn into a RANT of some sort.

    I get weary of the pragmatic, money and cost questions about ROI, (return on investment) . It's soooooo backward and short sighted. The line of thinking goes like this........ If I spend $11,000 of a wood fired system and my annual fuel costs are $2,500, how long will it take before I get my money back. If I didn't buy the wood burner and invested the money instead at 6% interest and continued to burn gas/oil what would the financial's look like then........ and on and on and on. There is far more to the decision than mere dollars and cents.

    Have you ever stopped to think what our current national energy situation would be like if everyone took the most efficient route instead of the cheapest? Let's just take one example that we missed the boat on in the last 30 years. Think about the millions of new homes constructed in the last decade and how much less energy would be used nationally if every one of them had been built with solar heating for the domestic hot water. Forget the energy dollars and think about the reduction on CO2 emissions alone. Why didn't they get built that way? Very simple my dear reader, the ONLY issue considered in the equation was initial investment $$.$$, not dependence on oil from other countries, not CO2 emissions, not sustainability, not environmental contamination from power plant pollution, oil drilling......need I go on? What are the hidden costs of not choosing to heat, cool, power or propel ourselves in the most efficient way available?

    It's time we get off our collective duff and start making decisions based on a more holistic approach rather than just what does it cost me right here and right now. The long term costs of not embracing the best available technology for energy production and consumption are catching up with us in a big way and those costs will become much larger over the next ten years. (you heard it here first) I read an article about a builder who was proclaiming himself to be "green" in one of the downstate newspapers this past weekend. He was right as far as his insulating practices and the rest of the envelope treatment but fell far short of doing all that could be done. No solar, no zoning for the HVAC system, no high efficiency ground source heat pumps, not even a variable speed furnace. They are all "cost prohibitive and take dollars away from what the homebuyer really want's". end of quote. So we wind up substituting granite counter tops, human car wash showers, fancy tray type ceilings etc. for things that would actually make a difference to our national security, the environment, the long term cost of ownership, sustainability.

    It's the American mindset which is programmed to expect cheap endless energy that is a major part of the problem. The sad truth of the matter is that those days are numbered if not already over unless fusion is perfected tomorrow. I got a call from a doctor a few weeks ago regarding high fuel costs for his new home. It's pretty much standard construction. R-17 walls, R-38 ceiling, lot's of glass, cathedral ceilings etc. We installed a condensing boiler and radiant floor in the house for him and he didn't scrimp on that. But he's wondering why it takes 300 gallons of propane a month to heat it. Well it's 6,700 sq ft for one thing. And how about the two person bathtub that gets filled everyday for the little ones daily dunk. 80 gallons of hot water down the drain. I wanted to say "THINK man, THINK!". ..........I'm too polite. That's a classic illustration of what people expect but reality is creeping up on them.

    I'm here to say that every dollar spent on any form of energy conservation will be returned many times over and often in ways that are unseen and not felt by the original spender of those $$.$$

    Sorry............I knew I'd get over revved and wander all over the place on this topic.
  9. eekster

    eekster New Member

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    Loc:
    southeast michigan
    The only thing I can add is look at Europe. Where I grew up they are starting to start wind farms, which is awasom! I have been approached and hopefully, this will workout. We need to think about the future and our childrens future, I feel better every day knowing I"m trying to make a difference. Hope you all agree.
    Keith
  10. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    Hoosier
    Heaterman I noticed a reference to The Oil Drum in one of your previous posts. Have you ever frequented any energy message boards? The old CWEI message board on yahoo (now moved to investorvillage.com)? I think peak oil is here to stay and most of our leaders are in denial mode. The next decade or two will see a whole new outlook on the American way of life. Americans have to be the most ignorant wasteful group of "smart" people in the world. What part of Mich. are you from? If I ever upgrade or build I'd probably hire you for some design or equipment. I'm located in NE Indiana very close to MI and Ohio.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The good news is that we waste so much energy and oil now, that we could comfortably make some sensible adjustments (like solar on every new rooftop) that would buy us a lot more time. Of course, if we keep the blinders on too long, it will be too late. Hopefully that's not the point we're at with energy and the economy right now.
  12. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Atlarge........

    Peak oil..........Just look at the world production charts since late 2004 early 2005. We are at peak production if not peak oil. Personally, I don't think it will be 10-20 years, more like 5-10 before the pinch is really on. $3.00 a gallon for fuel will be the good old days I'm afraid.

    As far as our leaders being in denial............I think they know all to well what is happening but they don't want to address it or say it out loud for fear of creating a worldwide panic and recession. Might as well face the facts in my book. What do they think will happen if we continue to stick our heads in the sand? Doesn't add up using any logic I can generate.

    I agree 100% on the "wasteful group of smart people". Couldn't be more true.

    I'm about 90 miles north of Grand Rapids in the Cadillac area and we have worked from Lansing up to the straits. I've designed jobs for people as far away as Idaho. Al Gore's internet is a wonderful thing.
  13. Jim Post

    Jim Post Member

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    Southern WI
    We need a change of mindset in this country....here is a very well done video that may get the dialog started...It's about 20 minutes long so dial up users may want to download the video for later viewing.

    go to: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

    Enjoy!
  14. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    With oil where it is, and where it's going, we're now at the point where the ROI catches up, anyway. These systems will pay for themselves, now. They pay "dividends" at a better rate than most other investments, after a very short payoff period.

    Joe
  15. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    It looks like alot of ground has been covered with reference to ROI and such so I'll skip that. I live in northern Illinois and so the weather demands both heat and AC with extremes in both making the boiler system a reasonable solution to connect to my GFA furnace.

    One product I looked at and considered was one of the outdoor warm air furnaces they connect to the house with one duct (on the units I looked at) and with an open floor plan and some ceiling fans to circulate the air it could work for your main living areas and use baseboard AC to assist in the loft rooms.
    BTW if you can purchase wood delivered and stacked for a reasonable price you don't have to worry as much about your future ability to collect the wood.
    The cost of the outdoor warm air furnaces were alot less than a boiler and I recall there being a couple of members that priced or used these units hopefully they will see this and join in.
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    ". . . and most of our leaders are in denial mode." I understand that in Japan no one has or dies from cancer. Denial really works! Wasn't it Pres Reagan who said (at least I've heard it attributed to him) that the truth really doesn't matter, and that if you repeat a lie frequently enough, it becomes the new truth? Haven't greed and gluttony been removed from the seven deadly sins? High 5 to that!

    A couple of the 2008 New Year's Resolutions of my wife and I: seek out re-usable or re-fillable consumable products, reduce use of non-essential consumables which have containers of any kind, reduce all forms of waste, and compost.

    The first thing to go for me was all beverages, other than milk and home-brewed coffee and tea. Replaced by the refillable water bottle (usually with a few drops of lemon juice) and good-by to all liquid soft drinks and pseudo-health drinks.
  17. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Payback is an interesting topic, the on line comparisons seem way out on their assumptions, where we are moving to Propane is $3.30 a gallon, I am guessing that is currently on the high side, but I am also assuming it will only go up.

    Hence my interest in wood. No natural gas, oil would have the same issues as Propane and Electricity, well.

    Now there did use to be coal mines near by, they were closed due to a serious of explosions 110 year ago, perhaps I ned to start digging.
  18. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    You can make your own biodiesel and run it in a properly-designed oil-fired system.

    That's why I always recommend oil as the backup heat source, instead of LP.

    Joe
  19. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    People in the know watch what the big boys are doing to spot trends. President Bush has a geothermal set up on his ranch in Texas. His parents had a wind turbine installed this winter at their Kennebunk summer "cottage". Hmmmm. Wonder if they discussed how much oil was left when the big oil cos. met ( in secret) with VP Cheney. Talk about staving off panic. Remember its not how much oil is out there, but how much is actually buyable, at a decent price. Russia took over their oil company. China's energy appetite is growing everyday fueled by all the US $$$$ we send them. We reap what we sow.
    Will
  20. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Actually, the Bush place in Kennebunkport is almost entirely heated by propane. And they have a solar hot water system. Always amused me...

    I don't think there's a drop of oil being used for heating on that entire peninsula...

    Joe
  21. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    What does properly designed system entail? We might have a source for bio diesel.

    In Colorado Propane seems to be king, never see oil. I am guessing because it easier and has been cheaper.
  22. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Certain fuel system components may not be compatible with biodiesel, on a chemical level. When I install systems, I special-order components that are specifically rated for biodiesel. Your system could be fine, as-is. Or not. You should find someone who is familiar with biodiesel and have the system checked to make sure there are no questionable components.

    Joe
  23. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, that makes sense, currently forced air propane which will be switched to radiant, so an Oil or Propane Boiler would be new. Propane has the advantage of we have the tank and we will need it for cooking.
  24. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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  25. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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