CT Energy Price Patrol- Oil, Propane, Pellets, Alt. Fuels
We have the permanent pizza thread... how about a permanent CT energy price thread? The goal would be to post and compare prices to help forum regulars find energy suppliers charging lower rates or offering deals in progress. In Connecticut we pay some of the highest energy rates in the country... maybe this is one small way forum members can save some money through the collective wisdom of the group. ------------------------- Energy Formulas:
Oil: 1gal of oil gives ~138,000BTU, if you burn it into an average 83% efficient burner you end up with ~114,500BTU/gal Given a hypothetical $3.50/gal price that is ~32,700BTU/$ ---- Propane: Propane gives 91,500BTU/gal. If you burn it in a very efficient 95% furnace you get ~87,000BTU/gal Given a hypothetical $3.25/gal price that is ~26,750BTU/$.
Northeast Propane: $2.125/gal (including .10 per gallon premium for payment within 10 days, price based on customer-owned 500 gallon propane tank)- Price went DOWN from last fillup!! ----- Norwich Discount Oil: $3.67/gal (125 gallon minimum, no quick payment premium) called to get comparison on same-day as propane delivery.
Bottom line: 40,941 btu/$ for propane 31,198 btu/$ for oil
My current contracts for energy are 3.99 for home heating oil from Peterson in Portland, and 3.49 for propane (120-gal tank) from Daniels in Middletown. I don't expect these prices to drop this coming year, given we're about to see $4+ gasoline and crude will be staying way above $100.
I filled my oil tank at the beginning of December at 3.60 I still have 1/2 of the 275 gal tank. I win.
Enlighten us cowboyro. I know you run a heat pump- can you give us an idea of how you determine pricing with that setup and how much that costs/saves you? Oil obviously is your backup (and maybe for your hot water?!?)
The heatpumps that I have are rated 9 HSPF. Applying the formula average_COP=0.293*HSPF I get a COP of 2.63 That means I get 2.63 BTU of heat for each BTU-equiv of electricity used. 1kWh translates to 3413BTU. That means I get 3413*2.63 = 8976BTU/kWh. My average rate I pay for electricity is $0.16/kWh. That translates to 56100BTU/$
On contrast with oil at $3.7/gal and 83% furnace I get 138,000*0.83/3.7 =~31,000BTU/gal
Oil would have to get in the $2/gal range for advanced efficiency/switchover points to be needed for maximum savings. At the current prices the heatpumps are cheaper to run than oil at any temperature that I've encountered (they switch backup heat automagically below 10F but even at 10F they are cheaper to operate).
System itself was some 18k starting from the scratch. It wasn't made with the primary intention of saving, it was made to 1)have central air and 2)get rid of the ugly baseboards. The payoff obviously depends largely on the oil/electricity price and usage, but based on current prices, the 5900kWh extra I used in Nov-Feb (vs the spring/fall baseline) generated some 53MBTU for a cost of ~$944. If I were to make them with oil that would have been $1710. Give or take, it is important to note that the efficiency of the ASHP depends on the outside temperature and I am *way too lazy* to compute the numbers that I have for an exact answer. It will be close to $1000 by spring. But also we had to keep the house warmer all day long because of a baby... so normally it wouldn't be this much. But then again, in 2008 the price of oil hit $4.30/gal...
I filled up my oil tank in June 2010. Skipped 2011.. Had about 1450 gals left as of last summer. This winter, so far, have used about 45 gallons of oil in the furnace. Normally by this time, a couple hundred. Some factors: finished the roof, which has super insulation now. Installed vent dampers in the furnace and hot water heater flues. They keep the heat in the boilers after they shut down. Really saves on having to reheat the boiler from zero, next call for heat. But this winter's been fairly mild. When the temp is above 30F, the furnace doesn't have to run, as the sun does a pretty good job heating the upstairs. The computers heat the downstairs effectively. I'm still waiting for this peak in oil prices to pass, before ordering again. Depending on how much oil is left when this June rolls around, I will have to decide on whether to buy or wait until we have an oil-friendly president in the Oval Office.
disconnected, do you get a discounted rate because of the size of your tank(s)? How much capacity do you have? I'm curious as propane is priced in large part on capacity of the tank at your home... I'm curious if you can get better prices with larger oil orders for your large tank.
Yes, the PCs in my studio editing suite use about 1490 watts, according to Kill-A-Watt P2, when rendering h.264 streams for BD production. About 1100W idling. The studio is about 980sq ft and it stays about 66F in there without the main heating system's help. Yes, expensive indeed. $430 a month for utility bill. Used to be $590 until I switched all the lighting over to LED.
Our oil tank is 2000 gallons. Back in the day, we used to burn 1200 gallons a season. Then I moved to more efficient oil burner in 2007, smaller nozzle size, flame retention, etc. Then put on a Intellicon Heat Manager. That got us down to 450 gallons a season, both hot water heater and furnace combined. This past fall, I finished my roof, which is now super insulated. The difference is dramatic. Furnace only comes on if the outside temp is below 30F. This fall, I installed a Field Controls Oil Vent Damper. One of the best investments ever. The cellar stays warm now without the air being sucked up the chimney constantly, which was happening before this change. Furnace jacket stays hot between firings and osmosis seems to keep the radiators upstairs hot for hours. I'm thinking of putting an hour meter on the Bock 32E hot water heater, so I can calculate the approx oil usage (hours x GPH) on that. I have a hunch the hot water heater uses the most oil because of the family's heavy use of hot water. It runs several times a day, whereas the furnace may run in the morning on a very cold day and late at night before the setback. The Heat Manager shows low hours for this season's burner run time so far. Anyway, yes, I get significant discounts on large purchases, usually saving 20 cents a gallon or more. I have a list of 20 or so local oil companies and call each one every time I need a delivery. The policies and discounts vary from year to year. With the large tank, I hedge my fuel purchases and buy only when I see the price bottoming out. My neighbors must be panicking every time they buy oil, at these prices. I see the oil truck go down our private road twice a month in January and I know that can't be a modest bill. We originally got the large tank because the road is unmaintained and impossible to negotiate in winter. So need to have enough to last through the winter.
You are aware that resistive heating is the most expensive here, right????
Heat from computers has been used before for heating purposes. With the old bi-polar mainframes throwing off the heat they did, that heat often supplemented heating the office building. Since the computing has to be done to begin with, the heat is essentially free.
We are signing a contract (hopefully today) to build our new home. I'm burring a 1000 propane tank that we will own outright. We plan on using propane for heating, the cooktop (oven will be electric), and hot water and of course running a line for the grill outside. Fireplace will be wood with a stub in the wall if we ever choose to get a propane insert. A line will be run for the dryer as well if a future owner chooses to go that route.
A very wise investment meskinct. A suggestion or two if I may...
1) if you are buying an underground tank (which I would really recommend!), ask for the 3/4 poly gas line from tank to house. It's not much more money (if at all) and can carry substantially more load than the standard copper tubing in case you decide to install a backup generator or other higher BTU device down the road. It also will require an iron pipe at your house regulator... which will be much less prone to weed wacker or incidental damage as well!
2) If you are going forced hot air with A/C, then I strongly recommend a tankless propane hot water heater (199,000btu model is what I have). It saves a boatload of money and has endless hot water (mine is a Quietside, and it has been great!).
And yes, get the dryer roughed in... and have a 110v outlet installed along the 220v for in the spot for the dryer so you have electrical hookups for both (gas dryer uses 110v, not a 220v, but if you have both, you can choose gas or electric, a big selling feature).
I think you are making a wise choice and investment. Let me know if I can answer any questions.
Good Luck! (And tell us what you are getting for your propane prices!!!)
Here are a few shots of my outside setup. Hopefully they might help you in your planning.
A few things to note:
The white pipe is schedule 40 PVC and was used to "back pipe" the regulator vent away from the intakes of my gas appliances (Furnace and hot water heater) and an electrical outlet on my deck. You may not need to do that, but I had to because of my land topography, I had no other place for the regulator to go (plus near the deck gave me a lot of options on future appliance connections, like a generator). This setup fully meets code. Note the iron pipe rather than copper to affix the regulator to the building. That iron pipe meets up with the 3/4" poly gas line underground and runs to the tank.
Also, That white box is my quick disconnect. I have it setup to accept my gas grill and my portable propane generator (one at a time). The short run of copper tubing was sized to deliver the btu's needed for the generator under full load. You may want to think about alternate power generation in the event of a power failure. Buying a main panel that can accept an interlock kit like mine ( »GE Generator Interlock Switch done! ) might make sense now while you are planning. Have the electrician wire an inlet near the propane stub and get a propane portable generator down the road, put a quick disconnect on it, and you'll be ready to rock in a power outage! Just a thought... it's what I did! You could go with a standby setup with your tank, and it doesn't need to be installed now... just plan for the possibility with the propane company if that's what you want... they may have some placement suggestions if you go that route.
Note the shutoff valve right at the start of the copper run on top of the regulator pipe. It's always a good idea to have that in place so you can shut off deck propane in case there is a leak or some other unforeseen problem (very unlikely, but possible). That way, you can still supply your house while the deck is shut off. There is a check valve and shutoff in that quick disconnect box, but the redundancy is a good idea (at least IMHO). Anyway, hope this helps. Let me know!
I will definitely go with the tank less water heater. And like your suggestion about poly and iron pipe. I will talk to the installer and get these things lined up.
Small question as I'm a total noob to propane. Let's say I run out in the 1000 tank. Is there a way I could use a 5gal/20lb gas grill tank to get by while waiting for a fill? I know it'll be sucked dry in a jiffy. But is there a way? -- Rich. My Website
I took a pic of my tankless hot water heater for you- it's a 199,000 btu unit- the largest Quietside makes (at least at that time). It's more or less the size of a bathroom medicine cabinet. I've had 3 simultaneous showers going with no problems... hot water and normal water pressure for all bathrooms.
Unfortunately, you can't use a smaller propane tank to get through a run out (at least that I'm aware of)... it's not like oil where you can dump a 5-gallon pail of diesel to get through... you really need to make sure the tank doesn't get below 20%.
A propane tank can only hold 80% of it's volume- so your 1000 gallon tank can only hold 800 gallons at max capacity. There needs to be space for expansion and contraction of the propane. There will be a dipstick in your tank that will read the liquid volume level in the tank... pressure is NOT an accurate measurement of how much is in your tank- the dipstick is.
The basic idea is that propane boils at about -44 degrees Fahrenheit, so you have pressurized propane liquid in your tank that gives off vapors when it boils. The bigger the tank, the more boiling surface area and the more pressure you can harness. As your devices call for vapor, it creates space in the tank, propane boils, and more vapor is formed, and so on.
In the case of a runout, in the old days of pilot lights... weird things would happen to your system when your tank got to under 20%.. with modern electronic ignition, it's not as big of an issue, but still a good idea to call for a propane delivery if the tank hits that 20% or below mark.
EDIT: The 2 main reasons that the little tank wouldn't work are that:
1) Since it is small, and understanding it can produce a tiny fraction of the vapor that your 1000 gallon tank can, it would freeze as it can't produce enough vapor to keep up with the demands of your propane appliances. The boiling process requires heat to make the vapor... if there isn't enough surface area to meet demand, the temp can get too low and literally freeze the tank... You won't have that problem with a large tank, but you will with a 100 pound or less tank (depending on the temp outside as well!). A gas grill needs only a small amount of propane as it needs a relatively low amount of btu's to operate... and that won't be the case with big appliances like water heater and furnace.
2) Your 1000 gallon tank is physically connected to your system in a permanent manner... it's not practical or really possible to make it "disconnectable" so you can attach a smaller tank.. it would create too many potential fail points and you want to minimize on leak points as best you can.
Hope I explained that well!?!
EDIT 2: Here is a video that might shed some light on the boiling concept. It might make more sense than my explanation (or at least clarify it):
meskinct, one thing that will substantially impact your propane consumption is your home's insulation. What is your builder planning for house insulation (wall size and insulation type)? That's one place where you can potentially get a huge return on investment in energy savings.
We haven't really gotten to that point yet. We are still reviewing the contract and I' trying to get a detailed material list once we have the floor plan set. Looks like 2x8 outside framing with std fiberglass. But they don't use Tyvek. They use some other wrap very similar to the ice dam material they use on the roof. Its rubbery and shrinks to fit the house. They say that Tyvek is not the problem really, it's the installation that is (it's not supposed to be stapled). So I guess this stuff self seal around any staples, nails, etc. -- Rich. My Website
We haven't really gotten to that point yet. We are still reviewing the contract and I' trying to get a detailed material list once we have the floor plan set. Looks like 2x8 outside framing with std fiberglass. But they don't use Tyvek. They use some other wrap very similar to the ice dam material they use on the roof. Its rubbery and shrinks to fit the house. They say that Tyvek is not the problem really, it's the installation that is (it's not supposed to be stapled). So I guess this stuff self seal around any staples, nails, etc.
2x8 is pretty beefy! That'll save you some money in heat losses. I went 2x6 exterior walls with R-19 fiberglass batts and Tyvek wrap and have been pretty happy with it. Given that we live in New England, homes here need that beefier insulation for energy savings. Another resident here went with 2x4 insulation with R-13 fiberglass and has crazy expensive heating bills!! May I make another suggestion:
Before you decide on wall thickness and insulation, look into a product called Icynene ( »www.icynene.com/ ). My neighbor a few homes up the street went with it, and it really is amazing. After your mechanicals are roughed in and approved, this is sprayed in the exterior wall cavities, creating a tight seal (usually you can go 2x4 outer walls because of the R-value of the Icynene insulation. It uses open cell technology, so if you have a roof leak, it will leak through alerting you to the leak spot. It deadens sound, and allows for thinner walls because the R-value is so high. It is expensive (but 2x8 walls will be too). I'd at least get a quote. I didn't go for this option because I couldn't fit it into my overall budget... but it's amazing stuff and will drastically lower your energy bills. payback time on it will depend on multiple factors, but expect it to be years.. If you decide on this, let the framing subs know right away, as there are a couple of things that will be framed differently on an Icynene home (no ridge vent is installed, for example). Good luck! And again... advice is free... ask away
EDIT: Just to give you a price comparison point, I have 3 finished floors that are 28x40 (a bit smaller in reality, but you get the point), and I run every appliance on propane that I can. My propane price typically hovers around $2.10 to $2.30/gal. I budget about $1800 for propane for the year, and because of the mild temps, I expect to come in way under that. This obviously isn't a direct comparison as you will have different square footages, amenities, temp preferences, etc. But for a household of 5 including a little one, and given that that number includes hot water, clothes drying, cooking, BBQ grillin' and heat... that's not bad at all IMHO..
Just had a minute to pull my propane data for this winter to date:
Since August 8th, 2011, I've burned 544 gallons costing $1205. There have been 3 fillups since that date- high price was $2.288/gal and low price was $2.125/gal.
Given our very mild winter here in CT, looks like I'll come in under my yearly budget of $1800 (based on my early season pricing assumptions). Included in that consumption amount is heat, hot water, cooking, BBQ grilling, and clothes drying for 5 people including a baby.
Thanks again. We really just need to see 2x8 vs 2x6 and see if it's worth it. 2x6 will be minimum. Plans are here if you want to take a peak. Again, very rough at this point. »www.thisispico.com/test/ ··· r_plans/
My notes: Ignore the pantry part in the kitchen corner. We asked for a walk in pantry so they tried to draw it in. We are not going to do that. Also ignore the island. Probably going to be an L. We will put a window in the garage as well.
Not too many changes that I see. Just window placements in the Great room, bedrooms, etc. We want to make sure theres enough room between them for the TV. And we may take one out in between the fireplace and the slider to the deck. We arent too happy with the powder room door. Well work n that as well. Also add two feet to the garage width. -- Rich. My Website
That's pretty good. Currently futures are at $.82/gal so I figure adding about $.85 to the futures price gives me the delivered price. So that's $1.67/gal right now. Pretty darn good if you look at the 5 year chart. The 5 year low is about $.60/gal futures. -- Rich. My Website
That's pretty good. Currently futures are at $.82/gal so I figure adding about $.85 to the futures price gives me the delivered price. So that's $1.67/gal right now. Pretty darn good if you look at the 5 year chart. The 5 year low is about $.60/gal futures.
If you don't mind sharing, what's the propane company on your side of the state offering that price? Cowboyro and I have always gone back and forth about propane price vs. location. I checked earlier- today's actual fill-up price through Northeast is $1.619/gal after all discounts included.
If your price of $1.67/gal is correct, you're within a few pennies of me on the other end of the state.