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  1. #1
    Gold Member El Wood's Avatar
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    Default New Home Heating Ideas

    Hey guys!

    My wife and I are in the processing of building a new home out on 20 acres in southeast Michigan. Currently we use natural gas and electricity for utilities in town and our monthly bill is about $200. Out at the new place natural gas is not an option so we're stuck with propane at $1.89 a gallon. The size of our house is going to be 2800 sq feet with 1400 sq feet in the unfinished basement (9 foot concrete walls). My neighbor across said his monthly utilities bill is $600. Ouch! And his house is about the same size as ours (new one). I've been doing some reading on Geo Thermal as an option but up front costs are big. I can probably roll it into my mortgage though which might work. I was also thinking about only using propane for heat in the winter and then all other appliances could use electricity. Maybe a pellet burner?? I'm not sure what to do. Can anyone offer any advice?

  2. #2
    Silver Member
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    mendon,mass.
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    new holland and a ford

    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    There has been a a lot discussion on the TBN forum lately about outdoor wood boilers; you may want to look into burning wood as an option.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
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    under the elephant\'s tail [ ontario can.]
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    john deere 3130, universal

    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    I burn wood and enjoy it but if you have the option of putting the cost of the geo thermal into your mortgage then I don't think that you would ever regret it. Low monthly upkeep, central air in the summer. That's what I would do in your spot.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member nybirdman's Avatar
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    north of upstate ny
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    Kubota L4240 HSTC,L3000DT

    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    Make sure to super insulate your new place.You may want to look at passive solar.I am not a fan of pellet stoves,too much variation in pellets(BTU potential).Plus they look cheasy when running.I also would recommend an outside wood boiler,radiant infloor heat.Too bad you can't get natural gas,prices will contiue to drop.Propane is still tied to oil prices.

  5. #5
    Gold Member El Wood's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies. How often do you need to feed a wood boiler? Also, would anyone mind sharing their current utility setup, monthly cost and square footage of house for some comparison. Currently with electricity and natural gas my bill on the low end is $150 and high end is $300. My wife likes the house at 70 degrees year around. Square footage is 2400.

  6. #6
    Silver Member
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    Allis Chalmers B

    Default

    I would at first make sure you insulate with the best product available! My father built our first house that was a ranch in 1975 and they would go through a tank of propane a month in winter. So they had to start burning wood to offset the propane cost. Then around 1987 they built a two story that was bigger then the first house right next door but had the foam insulation sprayed in and since then only go through around a tank and a half a year. And haven't heated with wood since the first house. I tried to call him for detailed info but he was gone hunting. We live in west MI.

  7. #7
    Super Star Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    As your wife likes 70* all the time, the heat/ac combination seems like a good choice. It's good to identify what you want up front, it will narrow the choices considerably.

    Have you checked out the mini-split ac and heat (I think) units? You could also have different zones or areas in a new house that are treated differently for heating and cooling. If you can close off a smaller section of your home, or think of compartmentalizing, that is to be closely controlled to 70*, it would help reduce your overall energy use. I am not sure if you mean 2800 sqft plus a 1400 sqft basement, or 1400 sqft on top of a 1400 sqft basement. 2800 sqft plus basement is enough to allow a couple of zones that are treated differently.

    No matter what you do, super insulation makes any solution much easier and cheaper. Check out things like PassivHaus, a very low energy home building approach. This is the time to think outside the box, something that building new makes possible.
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."
    When there is a huge solar energy spill, it is called a "nice day"!

  8. #8
    Gold Member El Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Bilko View Post
    I would at first make sure you insulate with the best product available! My father built our first house that was a ranch in 1975 and they would go through a tank of propane a month in winter. So they had to start burning wood to offset the propane cost. Then around 1987 they built a two story that was bigger then the first house right next door but had the foam insulation sprayed in and since then only go through around a tank and a half a year. And haven't heated with wood since the first house. I tried to call him for detailed info but he was gone hunting. We live in west MI.
    Thanks Bilko. Please let me know what he says when you talk to him.

  9. #9
    Gold Member El Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by dave1949 View Post
    As your wife likes 70* all the time, the heat/ac combination seems like a good choice. It's good to identify what you want up front, it will narrow the choices considerably.

    Have you checked out the mini-split ac and heat (I think) units? You could also have different zones or areas in a new house that are treated differently for heating and cooling. If you can close off a smaller section of your home, or think of compartmentalizing, that is to be closely controlled to 70*, it would help reduce your overall energy use. I am not sure if you mean 2800 sqft plus a 1400 sqft basement, or 1400 sqft on top of a 1400 sqft basement. 2800 sqft plus basement is enough to allow a couple of zones that are treated differently.

    No matter what you do, super insulation makes any solution much easier and cheaper. Check out things like PassivHaus, a very low energy home building approach. This is the time to think outside the box, something that building new makes possible.
    Dave, thanks for the info. The house will be 2800 sq feet on top of an unfinished 1400 sq ft basement, so 4200 total. The zoning idea is good. I'll discuss that idea with our builder along with PassivHaus. He's big on the newest technologies so that is a plus.

  10. #10
    Super Star Member dave1949's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Home Heating Ideas

    I lived in NW Ohio (Toledo, Bowling Green, Fremont) until I was 36 years-old. I would definitely need AC if I lived there. My Mom, who still lives in BG, just had a hot and miserable summer, so I suppose you did also.

    The upfront cost of geothermal is high, but a standard air heat pump is very workable in your area. Plus, the ducting and mechanical systems in the house are close to being the same for geothermal or standard air heat pump. You could start with a regular air heat pump and if that doesn't suite, continue on with a geothermal-supplied unit later. Just reserve space in the yard for the type of geothermal system you would choose.

    I am not knowledgeable enough about heat pumps to know if your best choice is to pair the AC heat pump with a furnace or use one of dual-purpose heat and AC units. I think a lot must depend on the heating/cooling degree days for your location.

    Right now (and planned through 2016), you can get a 30% federal tax credit on geothermal systems. It is worth checking. Perhaps Mich. has it's own program too.
    Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency : ENERGY STAR
    "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..."
    When there is a huge solar energy spill, it is called a "nice day"!

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