heating costs-hydro vs propane - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 

Go Back   Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums > Not the Digital Home > Home Fix-up including Appliances, HVAC and Power Tools

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Old 2011-01-17, 07:46 AM   #1
Glastain
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3
Unhappy heating costs-hydro vs propane

We recently moved from Brockville to a rural home. We are now on hydro meter and last month our hydro bill was a whopping $415. Our rural house is heated by geothermal and we also have a Regency propane gas fireplace that we occasionally use.
I am retired and can't afford these exhorbitant hydro costs. We have the daytime thermostat set at 69 and overnight at 62. We wear sweaters in the house and use the oven/dryer mainly on weekends.

I have noticed that the Geothermal fan kicks in in the middle of the night in order to get up to 69 by 6am.

What can we do to to reduce our hydro/heating costs? Specifically should we switch to a propane furnace or replace our old electric stove/dryer to propane, as the previous owners did (gas lines were capped when we moved in) ?
Would appreciate any advice.
Glastain is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 2011-01-17, 11:12 AM   #2
38racing
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 215
Default

Sounds really high if you have geothermal. First check the meter reading on the meter and your bill and see if the bill one is consistent. I spoke to a friend last night who lives near me whose setup for everything is like me and just 2 in the house. Normal hydro is 120-140. He just got a bill for over $500. We have smart meters which are sending the readings but we are not Time-of-Use until February. I expect hydro's billing system is screwing things up or the smart meter is screwing up the reading it sends.
I've been using electric heat recently while converting from oil to natural gas. I just did the numbers and expect my next bill to be $300 for the month.
Having just done the conversion my research shows propane is almost as expensive as electricity for heating.
Is it possible your geothermal is not working right and you are always using an electric backup ?
38racing is offline  
Old 2011-01-17, 04:10 PM   #3
Jase88
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Kitchener, ON
Posts: 4,492
Default

I don't recommend hydro heating to anyone in Ontario. Ontario is moving towards Time of Use (TOU) billing in the very near future. Many areas are already on TOU (parts of Toronto, for example). Heating with hydro during peak hours will become very costly.

Have you considered installed a wood air tight stove? This may be a good solution in conjunction with propane.
__________________
DMX 68' tower, HyGain HAM 5 rotator, Antennas Direct 91-XG & C5, Channel Master 7777 preamp, Siemens surge protection
Jase88 is offline  
Old 2011-01-17, 05:31 PM   #4
Glastain
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3
Default

Thanks for the feedback. We are already on time of use and why we try to do many things on weekends and off-peak hours.

At my age now, I don't have the stamina to start dealing with wood burning stoves. I was told this morning that a man with a similar size house put in a state of the art geothermal system that also heats his hot water tank. Yet, last month he still paid $468 in hydro!!!

I was advised to not have such a disparity between daytime setting at 69 and nightime at 62, as the geothermal system is using a lot of hydro energy with the fan going from middle of the night in order to bring the house temperature to 69 by 6am.

I also spoke this morning to our propane gas supplier and they recommended switching over to propane stove/dryer and to utilize our existing gas fireplace more often as, in their opinion, it will prove cheaper that hydro. They may be biased, so how do I validate their assertion?

Thanks again
Glastain is offline  
Old 2011-01-17, 06:58 PM   #5
txv
Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,810
Default

Get the ground source heatpump checked - if there's a problem, it could be running mostly on strip heat.

A Ground source heatpump is the best heating system money can buy; they are very economical to operate compared to 100% electric resistance heat (1/2-1/3 the cost) and propane furnaces - do not even consider switching.

Quote:
We are now on hydro meter and last month our hydro bill was a whopping $415.
What's the billing period?

Are you using electricity to heat water? (if yes, how? A standard electric tank can add 20+ kwh per day to the bill)

Does the bill include water?

How much is the bill when the heating system isn't on?

What kind of house is the system heating?

Quote:
I also spoke this morning to our propane gas supplier and they recommended switching over to propane stove/dryer and to utilize our existing gas fireplace more often as, in their opinion, it will prove cheaper that hydro. They may be biased, so how do I validate their assertion?
Post electricity price, rated COP of heatpump, and delivered propane price.

Quote:
I was advised to not have such a disparity between daytime setting at 69 and nightime at 62, as the geothermal system is using a lot of hydro energy with the fan going from middle of the night in order to bring the house temperature to 69 by 6am.
That's part of the problem.

If your system has electric backup, set it and forget it - programmable t-stats and heatpumps do not mix.
__________________
WARNING: The HVAC information I provide is not based on field experience and DOES NOT constitute professional advice.
txv is offline  
Old 2011-01-17, 07:01 PM   #6
txv
Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,810
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jase88 View Post
I don't recommend hydro heating to anyone in Ontario. Ontario is moving towards Time of Use (TOU) billing in the very near future. Many areas are already on TOU (parts of Toronto, for example). Heating with hydro during peak hours will become very costly.

Have you considered installed a wood air tight stove? This may be a good solution in conjunction with propane.
a) Google < ground source heatpump coefficient of performance>.
b) Hydro on TOU is cheapest at night*, when the heating load is the greatest - it should balance out
*Lower than the RPP price of 6.4 cents per kwh + delivery
__________________
WARNING: The HVAC information I provide is not based on field experience and DOES NOT constitute professional advice.
txv is offline  
Old 2011-01-18, 11:39 AM   #7
Glastain
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3
Default Reply to TXV on Heating costs-hydro/propane

Thanks TXV for your detailed response. By way of reply to your questions, the following additional info is provided.
a. We have a geothermal heat pump with a closed loop through the well.
b. Hydro billing period for aforementioned cost was for 29 days from Nov 17-Dec 16, 2010.
c. The hot water tank is heated by propane.
d. We are on a well.
e. Hydro usage averaged 95KWH daily during above period, as compared to daily average of 58KWH during the July 19-Aug 17 , 2010 period (note that pool pump was on 24/7 and AC used as needed)
f. Our house is a 2700 sqft single story with the basement built at ground level on bedrock
g. I am not sure how the following info is used to compare the energy costs when different factors are used (KWH/Litres/BTU/COP)
-Electricity price is quoted as 9.9 cent per KWH at peak, 8.1 mid peak and 5.1 off peak. During the Nov-Dec period we consumed a total of 2,746 KWH at a total cost of $415.81 (HST incl.) thereby costing an average of 6.6 cent per KWH.
-The rated C.O.P for the Climate Master GeoThermal Pump is 2.9 for the closed loop system (also stated on the furnace label is a rating of 42,000BTU).
-Propane cost delivered is 79 cent per litre (HST incl.)
Glastain is offline  
Old 2011-01-19, 03:46 AM   #8
txv
Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,810
Default

Single story houses require more heat than their two story counterparts, square footage being equal.

Your electricity consumption may not be out of line even though it's on the side side. Keep in mind that $100 - 200 of the bill could be attributed to other electrical loads and possibly water (some utilities such as powerstream bill for water on behalf of the municipality); electricity per unit of energy (HP provided 3 units of heat per unit of hydro consumed) is far more expensive than fossil fuel.

How many kwhs per day does the house use when with no a/c or pool pump running?

With a COP of around 3 (low by today's standards), at current electricity prices (distribution charges included, not just generation) your system should cost more to operate than a high efficiency nat gas furnace, but a little less than a standard electric or propane system.

Quote:
Electricity price is quoted as 9.9 cent per KWH at peak, 8.1 mid peak and 5.1 off peak. During the Nov-Dec period we consumed a total of 2,746 KWH at a total cost of $415.81 (HST incl.) thereby costing an average of 6.6 cent per KWH.
That doesn't sound right.

Is water included on the bill?

Electricity (ontario) should be costing you 9-15 cents per kwh depending on your utility and when you use it.

Quote:
Propane cost delivered is 79 cent per litre
Propane = 24 200 Btu / Liter

At 95% efficiency and 79 cents, propane costs $3.44 per 100 000 BTUs

Electricity = 3400 BTUs per kwh

@ COP 3 = $0.98 per 100 000 BTUs during off peak including all charges (10 cents)

= $1.47 per 100 000 BTUs @ on peak including all charges

*Mid peak = somewhere in the middle.

Nat gas = 36000 BTUs per m3, 24 cents

= $0.70 per 100 000 BTUs, but it's dirt cheap right now.

The case for switching from a GSHP to propane furnace can not be made.

To reduce energy costs, consider...

- Maintaining a constant temperature so the heat strips don't have to kick in to bring the temperature up. (if you insist on setting back the stat, set it to recover during the off peak period - ie 4-7am)
- Using the propane fireplace only during peak periods if it's energy efficient (many fireplaces aren't)
- Draft proofing and adding attic insulation if the house is over 20 years old.
__________________
WARNING: The HVAC information I provide is not based on field experience and DOES NOT constitute professional advice.
txv is offline  
Old 2011-01-19, 09:07 AM   #9
dns2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: newmarket
Posts: 43
Default

"-Electricity price is quoted as 9.9 cent per KWH at peak, 8.1 mid peak and 5.1 off peak. During the Nov-Dec period we consumed a total of 2,746 KWH at a total cost of $415.81 (HST incl.) thereby costing an average of 6.6 cent per KWH."

Pay no attention to the bull,,,, numbers like 9.9 etc

Try your calculations again with real numbers. $415.81 / 2746 = 15.1 cents per kwh

Those are some unreal consumption numbers !

Woodstove time......
dns2 is offline  
Old 2011-01-19, 10:18 AM   #10
38racing
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 215
Default

the 9.9 , 8.1 and 5.1 are the correct charges for the commodity component under hydroone rural Time Of Use. , but yes there is more to the charges than those. For comparison I have a 1500 sq foot R2000 bungalow with oil fired heat and hot water. 2 people. I used 800kwh nov12-dec12. Now I just converted my oil heat to gas last week but for a period I was using electric heating to save oil ( didn't want to run empty before gas was available). I estimate that I will have used a total of 1800 KWH for the last 30 day period, still well below the the poster's usage , albeit his house is almost double mine. Seem's to me a lot of money was wasted on that geothermal or it's not running right. Poster should also check his metre reading and see if it jibes with the bill. I just got notice of TOU for feb. and I can now login to myaccount with hydroone and see details of my usage down to the hour. I saw the big drop at 5 pm last thursday as we used electric heat until they fired on the new furnace .
38racing is offline  
Old 2011-01-19, 02:49 PM   #11
txv
Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,810
Default

Quote:
Those are some unreal consumption numbers !
Heating is very energy intensive even if done with a ground source heatpump - to put it in perspective, every cubic meter of natural gas has about 11kwh of energy in it; typical house can use 400-600 m3 during the coldest month of the year in southern ontario.

That being said, the OP has a system which is designed to provide 3 units of heat for every unit of energy consumed; there could be a problem which is causing excessive aux heat use (or strip heat is being used to recover from setback), the heat loss of the house may be particularely high (no insulation in walls? high leakage), and/or other large loads involved.
__________________
WARNING: The HVAC information I provide is not based on field experience and DOES NOT constitute professional advice.
txv is offline  
Old 2011-01-20, 09:21 AM   #12
38racing
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 215
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by dns2 View Post
"-Electricity price is quoted as 9.9 cent per KWH at peak, 8.1 mid peak and 5.1 off peak. During the Nov-Dec period we consumed a total of 2,746 KWH at a total cost of $415.81 (HST incl.) thereby costing an average of 6.6 cent per KWH."

Pay no attention to the bull,,,, numbers like 9.9 etc

Try your calculations again with real numbers. $415.81 / 2746 = 15.1 cents per kwh

Those are some unreal consumption numbers !

Woodstove time......
that calculation looks good. A friend of mine just got a bill for over $500. He has same household as me and I paid $140 for 30 days. Spoke to his wife and she says he confirmed meter reading as ok, but they get it from a 'retailer'. Hope it turns out to be a bill for 90 days.
38racing is offline  
Old 2011-01-21, 01:41 PM   #13
jjyec
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 14
Default

A couple of years ago I switched out an oil fired water heater which supplied a radiant floor and a hydronic air handler. At the time, oil was at an all time high and I calculated that a propane on-demand water heater (85% eff) would save me enough based on efficiency alone, since the oil heater very poor efficiency (50%), and propane seems to fluctuate less than oil. That year I was paying over $1 a litre for oil and I was getting quotes for propane in the high $.70 /l. Of course, the year after oil dropped significantly, so I'm not sure I ended up saving a whole lot.

In any case, for the past 6 years I've been tracking my energy usage from the time I was on oil to today and comparing the BTU used with other heating fuels.

Note that the statements below assume the following: Hydro (100% eff, COP =1) = $.1 /kwh off peak, $.15/kwh peak, propane efficiency approx %85.

I agree that the case for propane doesn't make sense when comparing with electricity. However, off-peak hydro is comparable to propane at $.60/l and much cheaper than the mid-winter propane prices (In January, I pay more than $.75/l). Peak hydro is way more expensive than any propane I ever paid for.

The key may be to get away from the mid-winter refueling at the high prices and take advantage of the time of use hydro prices. Summer has some of the lowest propane prices (approx $2.80 100Kbtu or lower) but it would require a pretty big tank to last the whole winter. A dual-fuel system, with hydro running during off-peak hours ($2.92/100kbtu), and switching to propane during peak times may extend that cheap propane just enough to skip the expensive refills.
jjyec is offline  
Old 2011-01-22, 01:29 AM   #14
57
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Toronto, Rogers, 9865 & 8300-eHDD, Panasonic TCP65S1, Denon AVR4310Ci; Sony KDL40W3000, 8300-eHDD
Posts: 52,214
Default

Quote:
Electricity price is quoted as...
Please be aware of all of the charges that go into your bill. Here's a sample post from last year (no major changes, only minor ones):

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/show...86#post1090886

Quote:
2,746 KWH at a total cost of $415.81 (HST incl.) thereby costing an average of 6.6 cent per KWH."
As mentioned earlier, this is backwards and is actually closer to 15 cents, which is corroborrated by my link above.

A single bill is meaningless, what you need to know is your baseload electrical usage in kWh, what you then use for heating in kWh and what the heating degree day comparisons are for the periods in question. A proper analysis without arithmetic errors will be a good idea before switching, since as mentioned earlier, heat pumps are usually quite economical, although with current very low gas prices they may seem a bit high, but wait a short while and gas prices could rise again and be more expensive than an electrical heat pump.
__________________
57's Optimization Services (Home Theatre Optimization) . . . . 57's Home Theatre (Latest equipment & photos)
57 is offline  
Old 2011-01-22, 09:20 AM   #15
ta guy
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Nova Scotia responsible firearm owner
Posts: 282
Default

don't feel bad you're not alone. i'm always checking for an extensien cord going to my neighbors house I heat with wood,electric hot water,electric cooking stove, and electric heat as a backup that never comes on. My bill is always in the 250 to 300 range for a two month billing cycle.
ta guy is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:44 AM.

Search Digital Home

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.