Gas or Electricity for Our Home?

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Abiyah, May 2, 2003.

  1. Abiyah

    Abiyah
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    We are seriously thinking of switching to a gas
    furnace, gas stove, and gas water heater. We
    presently have all electric appliances.

    Our home is 96 years old and small. We have a
    3/4 basement with a generous crawl space and
    plenty of room for the furnace. I hate electric
    stoves; ours is old and large, but it will likely last a
    long time yet. The water heater is two years past
    its expected lifetime. The electric heaters are all
    old, except for two, and hard to regulate. Each
    one is a separate unit with its own thermostat.

    The only structural draw-back is that the dining
    room, back bath, and utility rooms are add-ons,
    and there is a thick cement wall in the basement
    around the main part of the house. Oh, and we
    have an existing chimney, but I do not know its
    condition.

    Any experience? Any advice?
     
  2. Charlesga

    Charlesga
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    I can't help much, but I can tell you that we now have a gas furnace and water heater (still electric stove) and love it. The furnace heats the house better, and our water is hotter. Only drawback is the cost!
     
  3. Abiyah

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    Thank you!

    The cost of the actual switch-over, or the cost of
    the monthly bills? Presently, with electricity, for
    the last three bills, we paid @ $350 for electricity.

    Also, we don't like the humidity; we are hoping
    that gas would help rid the house of that in the
    winter.
     
  4. Frogman

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    Abiyah,

    Are you located in a place where you can access natural gas or are you looking at propane?

    Where we live, propane is what we have and it is much more expensive than nat. gas. We also live in an old home and it only has an old floor furnace. It is not as efficient as modern central furnaces. As far as efficiency electricity is 100% but modern central furnace units are being manufactured now at 90+

    Because of the greater efficiency you will probably enjoy the gas heat much better. On either unit you can have a de-humidifier installed to decrease humidity.

    I would suggest going with the gas; depending on the area (climatically) you could have a heat-pump with a fossil fuel kit installed that would increase efficiency. Whenever temps. are not low the heat pump would operate and save; this would be especially good if you are on propane gas.

    Let me know what you decide. If it were me and I was in a position to install a new system it would be a heat-pump with a fossil fuel kit.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  5. Abiyah

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    Thank you!

    The natural gas line runs right by our house. We
    already investigated this, and the gas company
    offered to run the line into the house for free if we
    had at least two gas appliances. I want three:
    the stove, water heater, and furnace.

    As MtnWalker and I age, that humidity is not a
    friend to creaky bones. I think this will especially
    help MtnWalker, whose back was broken in Viet
    Nam.

    The lady next door, who has a much larger house
    than ours -- by about 300 square feet, plus --
    and whose house is not insulated pays far less
    than we do in the winter -- by about $100, plus.
     
  6. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    Where I live, I would go with gas. We have a lot of storms and if the electricity goes off; we still have heat, can still cook etc. with gas.

    You are right about the humidity. Gas will take it out. In fact, we have to run a humidifier in the winter to keep the furniture from loosening up and to keep from getting so many colds. (The doctor said dry air in a house causes colds) [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Sue
     
  7. Istherenotacause

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    The gas stove would be recommended as to what "I am blessed" said. Also the gas furnace and w/heater are good. One draw back to switching over is "venting" the new gas appliances. Both the w/heater and the furnace can be vented via the same "flue" as long as the diameter is sufficient 50,000 btu w/h and 100,000 furnace would require a 5" flue, but I would advise a 6" flue for better passage of noxious fumes. Also there is the need for "fresh" air for proper combustion.( a place to draw fresh air from outside to the appliance). The need to vent the flue to the outside via roof may be a bit troublesome on such an older home (roof material maybe a factor), then of course there are the "vent thru wall" type, but these are usaully expensive appliances comparatively. If you want my opinion, I would have natural gas over electric any day. One more consideration to gas is that you MUST be careful about combustable materials in the vicinity: gasoline, paint thinner, kerosine, etc.( and no clothes or other combustable materials against the appliance) Humidity is always a factor and can be overcome in either way by humidifier or de-humidifier whichever the case. Gas furnaces make a tremendous diference in lowering the humidity and "drawing up" of wooden materials could be a problem so a humidifier would then be advised.

    As far as the concrete walls and the additions, as long as there are duct pipes in existence to feed these rooms they would be used, if not, then you'll have to get through or around them somehow.( shouldn't be much trouble as long as there are floor joists to go through, cut the outside band to access.) Consider having the furnace in the attic, but then the a/c won't work as well in summer as it would from the basement.

    Get with a local heating and air technician, ask your friends who they recommend as they have used them before, and don't use " my nephew or my ol' uncle so and so" Get a "qualified" heat and a/c-plumber.
     
  8. Abiyah

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    Thank you, everyone, for all the great advice!

    Although we have few storms here, twice a year,
    we have high winds, which often knock our
    electricity off. We had a gas stove in Minnesota,
    where we had storms, and indeed, we could take
    a lickin' and keep on cookin'. I had not thought of
    this factor; I just hate electric stoves!

    Regarding venting, would the chimney be used for
    this or be used at all? There was once a fireplace
    in the basement, now gone, and the chimney is still
    there, but I don't know its condition. Being totally
    ignorant of these things, I have no idea what is
    required in this manner for a gas furnace.

    And thank you for reminding me about
    combustibles. We do have a lot of paint and such
    stored in the workshop down stairs, so these will
    need to be moved to the garage.

    Are there any problems, other than colds and
    drying wood furniture, associated with a dry
    home? The house is old and mostly wood. I
    do remember putting far more pots of potpouri
    on the stove in Minnesota, to bring the humidity
    up a bit on occasion. Is that a viable source of
    occasional humidity?

    I worry about putting a humidifier on the furnace,
    because a major reason for the gas is to get rid of
    the humidity. More than storms in this area, we
    have MAJOR problems with mold. People lose
    their homes over a little mold! A gas-heated home
    will not have this problem, but electrically-heated
    homes are on constant watch! It is horrible!
     
  9. Sherrie

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    Abiyah...I have a gas furnace...but it has an electric starter....so does my gas cooking stove.

    But I love cooking with gas. I have had electric stoves and they really are a nuisance to me. Especially when cooking with the oven.

    Sherrie
     
  10. Abiyah

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    I was thinking about that - the newer models of
    gas stoves do have electric starters. Back when I
    had one, they did not. Ccan one override the
    electrc starter, as in the case of a storm, to light
    the stove safely manually?
     
  11. Jim1999

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    Gas is the most regulated source of energy, and I wouldn't take another step without consulting a qualified person in the gas industry.

    The existing chimney. If it is structurally sound and in a good location for the furnace, then it can be used. It will require a metal liner, however, as required by the gas association.

    The water heater will be vented through the wall......at least all gas water heaters in Canada are.

    Gas cookers are still available working off pilot lights and electric starters are not mandatory.

    The main drawback of power-vent flues is that they do not function when electricity is off. It is a safety feature and mandated by regulations.

    You will need ductwork if this does not exist. Also, going through the concrete wall will require coring, but most contractors will have access to this equipment.

    The alternate to ductwork is having a boiler furnace and hot water heating. It still requires copper tubing and baseboard rads, but often easier to run than new ductwork.

    My first word of advice still stands. We can offer all kinds of advice, but engage a gas appliance technician, and get their advice...you will need them in the end anyway.

    When I am designing a house, I use technicians all the time before I complete the plans.

    Electric heating is excellent when the house is designed for electric heat and people follow the general rules of turning thermostats down in rooms less used. That is where the economics comes in.

    Gas is a very efficient fuel and the furnaces are clean burning. So far as humidity is concerned, often cracking a window in the house will go a long way to solving it.

    All the best to you and yours,

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  12. Frogman

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    I agree with Jim, and anyone else suggesting you speak with a qualified technician in your area. Usually a qualified licensed HVAC/R contractor is sufficient. But be certain you can trust them. In some states they are not required to be licensed and others they are.

    I also agree that gas is the best choice, yet if the unit you are considering is a central system it still has a blower motor which operates off 120 volts of current, so loss of electricity will affect the system. The only furnace unaffected is a pilot lit floor furnace. I don't know as much about water heaters or stoves, but the high efficiency furnace will be vented through thick guage pvc and will go as Jim said through the wall, there will be two, a fresh air intake to bring combustion air to the unit and an exhaust. The chimney may not even be a consideration except in determining the size of the heat unit, you normally lose 500 BTU's through a chimney.

    I have serviced gas stoves and water heaters and have installed gas central systems that were lower efficiency than 90+ and these can be vented together. The water heater is usually installed by a plumber, though a reputable HVAC/R contractor could also handle each of these if he is properly licensed and trained per your location.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  13. Sherrie

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    Hey! I just installed/replaced my "Sears Gas hot water heater before winter...all by myself! Well my sons helped. They did not know anymore than me. tee-hee! But I did do it! And I did a fine job...I hope!

    Sherrie
     
  14. Charlesga

    Charlesga
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    We bought our house with gas already, so I don't know about switch over costs. I guess what I meant was the fluctuation in gas heating costs. Depending on the market, there can be a great difference in cost from year to year.
     
  15. Jim1999

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    Hey! I just installed/replaced my "Sears Gas hot water heater before winter...all by myself!

    __________________________________________________

    Sherrie, in Canada and most states that I am familiar with, that would be illegal to hook up a gas appliance. The supplier of gas would cut off your gas supply, and propane services would refuse to fill the tank.

    Gas is very dangerous if not hooked up correctly.....it is open to "hard starts"....industry term for explosions.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  16. I Am Blessed 24

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    Abiyah: We were without electricity for 12 hours not too long ago. Our gas stove has an electric igniter also. All you have to do is turn the burner on and light it with a match. Same way with the furnace, but it wasn't cold enough to bother with heat. Also, your skin will be much drier with gas heat. I go through gobs of body lotion!!!!

    Jim: In Illinois, (don't know about other states but I think it is the same), it is legal to replace gas appliance ourselves. Replacing a water heater would be no different than buying a new stove and hooking it up. When people move from one house to another, they unhook their old stoves and hook them up again at the new house. You just have to be sure to plug the gas line when you leave the old house and test for gas leaks after you hook it up in the new house.

    Blessings,
    Sue
     
  17. Abiyah

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    Sue --

    I have lotion in my bath room, lotion in my
    husband's bath room (for me, should I use his),
    lotion at the kitchen sink, lotion by the couch in
    the living room, lotion beside the computer, lotion
    at the head of our bed, lotion in the guest room
    (or me when I am cleaning), lotion in the library,
    lotion in my purse, lotion in my Bible case, lotion
    in my car, lotion in my husband's van, and lotion
    in every traveling case. And we have electric heat!
    But if low humidity helps my husband, we will get
    gas heat. I will just invest in more lotion!

    Aaargh!\ 8oD

    By the way, you know that ad for lotion, and they
    show the close-up of an aligator? That is not really
    an aligator -- tat is a close-up of ME!!!
     
  18. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    If that's the case Abiyah; then we must be twins! [​IMG]

    I'm like you, I have lotions EVERYPLACE!!!
     
  19. Frogman

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    Hey! I just installed/replaced my "Sears Gas hot water heater before winter...all by myself! Well my sons helped. They did not know anymore than me. tee-hee! But I did do it! And I did a fine job...I hope!

    Sherrie
    </font>[/QUOTE]Yes, my wife and I just installed a new one in our home, my statement wasn't meant that the 'homeowner' cannot do it, but that most HVAC/R technicians in my area do not have the proper licensing. KY has recently, since 1997 developed a board of directors to regulate code enforcement, all new construction including installs must be by "permit" this is to protect and regulate mostly the Heating and air conditioning installation field. Maintenance of eqipment must be per original install, or the service personell must possess a journey-man's license.

    God Bless.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  20. Jim1999

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    People who do not work directly on gas installations or appliances, but who work in areas where there are implications for gas safety - such as architects, builders and local authorities working with flues and venting - have a general duty of care under civil law. They should refer to the appropriate regulations covering their work.
    The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 place specific duties on gas users, installers, suppliers and landlords, for example:

    Anyone carrying out work on gas appliances or fittings as part of their business must be competent and registered with CORGI (the Council for Registered Gas Installers).
    Only a competent person can carry out work on gas appliances or fittings. Do-it-yourself work on gas appliances or fittings could be dangerous and is likely to be illegal.

    ___________________________________________

    These are USA National Regulations regarding gas appliances. In Canada, insurance companies will cancel home insurance policies where a gas appliance has been installed or repaired by other than a certified technician. Not all plumbers are certified in gas installations. It is a separate licence. As an architect, I can design gas utilities, but cannot connect them, and I must follow the code in my drawings, or I become libel.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     

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