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Replacing oil burner water heater with electric water heater?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by kingston73, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. kingston73

    kingston73 Member

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    We recently had our oil-burning water heater serviced and the technician recommended replacing it with an electric water heater. Some quick background, our current setup is an oil furnace for heat plus a separate oil water burner, both from 1979. We also need new oil lines put in as the current ones are the old style without liners, and we need a new oil-shutoff valve. The quote we were given for the water heater itself was $1507, plus an estimate of between $600 to $1000 for the electrician work, so basically a total of about $2500 to replace our current water heater. Does this seem in line with current prices?

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    For an extra $1-1.5k you can get a heatpump based unit (assuming this is a large, semi-conditioned space like a basement), that will save you several hundred dollars/yr on operating costs.

    Google: GE Geospring or AOSmith Voltex
  3. kingston73

    kingston73 Member

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    I definitely need to call the guy back and get some more details, looking at prices online the most expensive I found is that heat-pump you're talking about and that cost $1500, all the others I'm seeing are only $300 to $600.
  4. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Compared to the oil, any elec system will also have slower recovery (e.g. several hours), so you need a big enough tank. How many people in the household? Conventional shower/tub, or multi-head and jacuzzi?
  5. kingston73

    kingston73 Member

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    Just my wife and I, and it's just a conventional shower/tub, nothing fancy.
  6. Huskyforlife

    Huskyforlife Member

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    I have a GE Geospring heat pump water heater. It works great, we have never run out of water. We run it in heat pump-only mode as well - if you did have a problem running out of water, you can run the thing in resistance-heating mode as well (like a traditional water heater, uses more electricity). Installation was easy, only required a 30A circuit ($10 breaker, $50 for wire, $40 for pipe/fittings). And there is a $300 tax credit this year as well.
  7. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Around here, heating water with oil is much cheaper than using electricity. Look at the long term costs. As mentioned, the recovery time for electric is much longer, too.

    I'm no expert, but those prices seem very high for our area, yours may vary. At least get a minimum of three quotes from various companies, don't just take the one. This "offer" is raising my suspicions.

    Do you really need oil lines with "liners"? What are they - I've never heard of them. An oil shutoff valve can't cost much.

    See what other companies have to say about the need, and the cost.
  8. Huskyforlife

    Huskyforlife Member

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    Actually, oil would have to be under $2.00/gallon for it to be cheaper than running the Geospring.

    12M BTU/yr household usage

    Geospring
    [(12,000,000 BTU)/3412]/2.35 EF = 1496.6 kWh, $.15/kWh is $225

    Oil HW Heater
    [(12,000,000 BTU)/138,800]/.70 EF = 123.5 Gallons, $2/gal is $247
  9. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Right, I'm referring to resistance heating only. At $3.50/gallon current pricing per gallon, the Geospring is a money saver!
  10. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Have you considered a tankless electric unit.
  11. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    From all the reviews on electric tankless, they're not worth the money--trouble heating water quickly enough as well as reliability/longevity issues.

    I've heard mixed reviews on the Geospring--even This Old House suggested it was a 'break even' deal. It costs about $1k more than a standard water heater and, at least by my current pricing, it would take about 8-9 years to make that back. And given that the heat-pump portion of the heater is slower than the electric portion, I wouldn't be getting any quicker refresh rate. Am I missing something, or have I been seeing the wrong reviews?

    S
  12. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    $2500 seems like a awful lot for a hot water heater. To give you the other end of the spectrum I replaced my tank-less oil fired DHW water heater with an 80 gl. electric water heater for about $200. I got the heater used form Cl ($50) and installed myself.

    "Do you really need oil lines with “liners� What are they - I’ve never heard of them. An oil shutoff valve can’t cost much."

    Oil lines now need to have plastic protective coating, and flared fittings. HD has the line, $85 for 50'.
    The shutoff is about $13.

    "Have you considered a tank less electric unit."

    In previous discussions I think the general consensus was that a tank less electric water heater would not offer any significant payback for the added cost over a tank unit.
  13. Huskyforlife

    Huskyforlife Member

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    Electric tankless is definitely not worth it, the amp draw is huge so you will probably have to upgrade your service coming into your house which is $$$.

    Regarding the Geospring, if you factor in the $300 tax credit, the difference is about $700. In a normal household the Geospring will save about $350/yr over a standard electric, break even would be at the two year point (you can calculate using the above formula, substitute a .90EF which is about what a standard electric water heater has for an energy factor). The Geospring also has traditional resistance heating elements just like a normal electric water heater, that will kick on if the demand goes high enough. I have mine purposely locked out in the programming and have never run out of hot water in a household of three, but you can leave them on if you find you are running out of hot water.
  14. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I had gas tankless and it was nice. Didn't know that much about the electric, but from the numbers he was talking I thought it might be an alternative.
  15. Huskyforlife

    Huskyforlife Member

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    The gas tankless on the other hand is definitely worth it. Gas tank units lose a lot of efficiency due to flue loss, tankless solves this problem, plus has no problem making the BTUs to get instant-on hot water.
  16. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Just to make sure i am reading this right $1500 to install and plumb and electric water heater and 600-1000 to wire the thing?

    A new 40 gallon electric heater is $218 at home depot. Approx 300-500 for a licensed electrician to wire it up, and a competent plumber should be able to install the thing in 2-3 hours (remove the old and install the new) @75/hr plus parts call it 300-500.
    Rough back of the napkin math $1218 on the high end to 818 on the low end.

    Get some other prices.
  17. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    We installed an EHW (Homeboy Depot) For $375 - $250 for the heater + $100 for the install. I did have water lines in the area, as the house had a seperate OHW many years ago.

    The electric bill went up $30 - $40 per month (showers & dishes, most of the laundry is done in cold water), but with the oil burner down, and heating with wood, I used no oil, and saved between $600 - $800 per month over 5 months, less the cost of some of the wood, etc.
  18. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello Huskyforlife

    The Geospring sounds great but how is the warranty?? What type of tank? Glass, stone, Stainless Steel? Does it have an Anode rod that only lasts a few years?

    Geospring savings >> http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater/water-heater-faq.htm
    The DOE test procedure mentioned above is the same test procedure used to determine the Annual Operating Cost printed on the product's Energy Guide Label. A standard electric water heater using 4,881 kWh per year at 10.65 cents per kWh would cost $520 per year to operate. The GeoSpring hybrid water heater costs $198 per year to operate. Subtracting the two Energy Guide label values equals $322 in energy cost savings.

    Does it last a lifetime like the Marathon electric water heaters?
    http://www.marathonheaters.com/

    YOUR MARATHON TANK IS WARRANTED NOT TO LEAK FOR AS LONG AS YOU OWN YOUR HOME*…
    Marathon offers this no-leak promise because of its superior, non-metallic PermaGuard tank construction - a seamless blow molded polybutylene tank with a filament wound fiberglass outer tank for maximum strength. Superior performance, high-efficiency, and low operating cost…for a lifetime*!
  19. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Kingston -- Our household is just wife and I, just like you, plus a dishwasher. Our electric use is right around 80 kwh/month for all normal months. We have an 80 and 50 gallon hot water heaters with a control to sequence heat off of one circuit. The reason for two is to cover the times when up to 11 family members visit, like over the 4th of July, and we use more kwh then. We have never run out of hot water.

    Our kwh used to be double the 80 kwh until we did four things, at about a total cost of $40: 1) raised both hot water heaters off the basement floor by building a 2x4 box frame and then insulating the frame and thereby the bottoms of the hot water heaters; 2) wrapped 6" of fiberglass insulation around the tanks and on top, covering with a plastic wrap for appearance and to protect the fiberglass; 3) insulated all the hot water pipes we could get to with typical foam water pipe insulation; and 4) installed plumbed heat traps on both the cold water and hot water supply lines to prevent thermo-siphoning.

    If you are conservative in your use of hot water, like we are, our usage should be a good number for you. Multiply 80 x your rate + taxes and other adjustments and you should get real close to your monthly electric hot water bill for hot water. Ours is around $4.00 month, but we get a special rate because of off-peak supply (electric for hot water only between 11:00 pm and 7:00 am) and our normal non-discount rate is $0.11/kwh.

    A unique thing about electric hot water heaters (not sure about the heat pump style) is that you can fully insulate every surface (top, sides and bottom) without any vent areas needed. Put on as much insulation as you want, makes a really big difference.

    Two other important things, regardless of which hot water heater you choose, add the heat traps (we found siphoning even with the hot water heat traps built into the newer hot water heaters) and insulate hot water pipes. The thermo-siphoning is a huge wasted draw on hot water.

    I wish you economical success on your choice.
  20. Huskyforlife

    Huskyforlife Member

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    Geospring has a 10 year warranty, replaceable anode rod just like the majority of electric water heaters. Marathon water heaters are nice, but more expensive than the Geospring and nowhere near as efficient as a heat pump unit. In my opinion if you are going to go the conventional electric heater route, you'd get a better deal for your money by getting a cheap water heater and insulating it (like others have suggested in this thread). Even a cheap conventional will last a long time if you properly maintain it (replace anode rod, etc).
  21. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

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    If you already have a boiler, you could add something like a superstor. It is basically a zone off of your boiler and is well insulated. It is supposed to only lose 1/2 a degree per hour (from what I remember). My unit is about 10 years old but I just found some on e-bay for $1400. This is a pretty efficient unit if you already have a boiler.
  22. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I think the OP wanted to ditch his 30 yo boiler...

    I agree with Husky...the HP water heaters are new tech, and do need a large conditioned space (like a basement), but they have a lower operating cost
    than oil or conventional elec that offsets the additional upfront. In my case I estimated a payback of a few years, and a way lower cost of ownership over a 10+ time frame.
  23. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I switched over from getting my DHW from the oil boiler to a stand alone propane hot water tank with a direct vent . . . pretty happy overall . . . never run out of hot water and no more cold showers . . . only negative is the high price . . . guess I'm spoiled from heating with wood for the past three years and getting used to not having much of a heating bill.
  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    80 kwh/month is quite low with electric water heating.
  25. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    That's what my fridge uses.
    and it's about the smallest standard size fridge they make.
    With no one opening the door for a month.

    (went on vacation and shut off all the circuit breakers but the fridge and that was put on the lowest settings)

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