Natural Gas for Whole House Heating

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Tooly

New Member
Nov 1, 2019
3
Massachusetts
Hello Everyone
I’m new to the forum and one of the reasons to join is finding others that actually use
or have used the types of heating discussed here—A great resource of information not sales hype. That being said I’m trying to get the straightest answer to the question “Can I heat my whole house with__________” In my case it’s a natural gas stove. The more I read the more confusing the answers get-From BTU calculators to stove brands-I would like an answer I can understand and from people that have been there and done that.
I’ll throw my basic info here and see what happens. An absolutely big THANKS in advance for any information anyone gives
House size ~1200 sq ft/7 ft ceilings on 2 floors (3 beds. and office on 2nd and kitchen, laundry,bathroom,living room on 1st) with an open stairway. There is a basement. There’s some insulation in the walls and ceiling. We have an ancient Thatcher oil to gas conversion boiler and radiators that are on their last breath, and a new tankless water heater. We are located in Western Massachusetts.
Again THANKS for any and all info.
 

DAKSY

Full Time RVer
Staff member
Dec 2, 2008
9,206
Wherever we're parked
A stove, no matter what it burns, is nothing more than a space heater.
Sometimes that space can be LARGE, if the heat movement is
assisted with fans or blowers, & if there is sufficient insulation
to keep the heat INSIDE the envelope of the house.
I use a Harman P61A (61K BTU) to heat my lower floor, where the
kitchen & dining room are. I use a gas fireplace (40K BTU) in the great room
on the main floor when it gets really cold & the radiant flooring from
the oil boiler doesn't quite cut it.
 
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blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,694
WI, Leroy
Considering what a gas stove would cost including the Flue assembly one likely could purchase and have installed a package boiler for your radiant heat units. the efficiency of the package boiler assembly would far out weigh the stove. as mention ed above the stove is a space heater not really designed as a whole home heating unit particularly with 2 floors. heat rises, cold sinks and what happens is you get a nasty cold air current flow down from the up stairs- very uncomfortable.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,797
Northern NH
Just to kick things off take a look at what incentives are available in Mass for energy efficiency.

Then see if your utility has a free or reduced cost energy audit. Radiators are rarely on their last breath unless they are rusted or dented. if they are the slant fin type you can get new sheetmetal as rarely are the coils or copper pipe trashed. You then would be looking at conversion to gas boiler with an outdoor reset control and you will gain a lot of efficiency. If you do need new radiators then its worth looking at low temperature radiant options. if you have old fashioned cast iron radiators, they can be reconditioned to look like new.

One of the things you may not have considered is if you have mortgage you need to have heating system and rarely would a space heater like a gas stove be regarded as a primary heating system. Therefore you will most likely need to spend money keeping the old system running. BTW if you need to sell, you are knocking out a lot of buyers without a conventional heating system.

Back to your original question, if you have tight home (get an energy audit and have the recommendations done), then yes you could keep the house heated with properly sized gas stove but just because you can doesn't mean you would want to. If its an older home the hot and cold water piping may be in the walls and in cold weather the pipes could freeze even though its warm inside. Radiators tend to be located where its coldest on exterior walls usually with multiple zones so you put the heat where you need it. The problem is with just one space heater you are going to need to overheat one area to get the heat into the coldest spots. Realistically I expect your electric bill is going to go up big time as its highly likely you will be needing local electric space heaters to warm up the cold spots that appear.
 
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Tooly

New Member
Nov 1, 2019
3
Massachusetts
First let me just say you guys know your stuff. Everything makes perfect sense and is easy to understand. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t get a straight answer at the stove shop. I have an energy audit for next week and lined up some estimates for the gas boiler with everything it needs. I will keep you guys informed as to the progress. Thanks a million.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,797
Northern NH
I dont live in Mass but folks I know have told me that the demand for heating contractors is very high and therefore the contractors are charging a high premium. Apparently getting actual gas piping done is real tough as there is high demand for it. Definitely get multiple estimates. Its the busy time of the year for this work.
 
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Tooly

New Member
Nov 1, 2019
3
Massachusetts
Peakbagger, Thanks for the feedback...Fortunately before we had the thought of the gas stove we were able to schedule the estimates——Your friends are right you can’t find anyone to do anything, but I guess if they aren’t busy there is a reason.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,797
Northern NH
If you want to find a Mass tradesman head up to Northern NH ;) many Mass contractors bring their company truck and trailer up every weekend during ATV season and then take a break for hunting and then switch to snow machines during snow season. A lot of them head up Thursday night and they also are buying houses in the towns that allow ATV traffic for use on weekends.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
7,217
Eastern Central PA
Hello Everyone
“Can I heat my whole house with__________” In my case it’s a natural gas stove. The more I read the more confusing the answers get-From BTU calculators to stove brands-I would like an answer I can understand and from people that have been there and done that.
Keep in mind gas is not the cheapest forms of heat. Where i live its just under electric resistance prices. Your gas co could be different. With UGI of Pa. its way more than pellets and even more than heating oil.
 
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