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What is most cost effecient form of heat out there these days?

Plumdog_2
Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
I researched the feasability of grey water devices several years ago in order to offer up help for the extreme drought conditions we in the west are faced with. The International Code has an Appendix concerning the devices, and it makes it somewhat complex to construct; requiring level control, disenfectent, dye, filtering system, seperate supply lines for the water closets (as it should be), and proper sizing of the storage tank. There is such a device being sold on the internet, but I don't believe it is going to meet code.
I'm still going to construct a prototype as time allows, but first I gotta re-arrange the boiler room to make space.

Comments

  • toddj_5
    toddj_5 Member Posts: 11
    Most effecient fuel source these days for multi units



    Hi guys,

    Just wondering if any of you out there know of any competively priced system to heat old New Englander in New England? Specifically I would love some type of "flex fuel" system that doesnt take a degree in engineering and can easily switch from one fuel source to the next if necessary?

    If this doesnt exist what is the most cost effecient systems these days for old houses in New England....oil, natural gas, solar,electric?

    I do wish someone could harness all the hot air and verbal fecal material from the politicians...it would be plentiful and renewable.

    Todd
  • Ron Schroeder
    Ron Schroeder Member Posts: 998
    Best bet

    Isulation and caulking no better bang for the buck
  • Brad White_87
    Brad White_87 Member Posts: 24
    Bruce is right

    Tighten up the boat first, then look at fuels.

    All fuels are expensive for all the reasons we can imagine. Sometimes it is production related (Katrina but are they not done milking that excuse?), sometimes what the market will bear. When enough switch from fuel A to fuel B, the price of fuel B will rise by price and demand.

    When you go to dual fuel (most commonly gas versus oil), often the gas utility says you have to have an interruptible service so they can cut you off in times of "shortage" because you have an alternative... Other times the gas company will not bring gas into an oil-heated house until you remove the oil tank- dump the lifeboat!

    Best bet? Whatever works in your area. Wood is renewable and if you have enough of a local supply or a good hardwood woodlot... An old woodlot management rule of thumb is that you can get a cord per acre or woodlot without depleting the lot.

    Solar is tough in NE for reliability but can fill in when it can. Not cost effective except when part of a passive solar plan. IOW: if your orientation does not naturally and currently support it, you are not going to rotate your existing house.

    Electricity is making a comeback. Being a semi-regulated industry (for now....), the grid has a mix of coal, gas, oil, hydro built in. With development of new nuclear plants -some years away from being on-line I admit- there is a more dependable future. (Nuclear is now being touted as a "green" technology, whodathunkit?)

    But start where Bruce said. Tighten up the boat of heat leaks first.
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Passive solar

    for a sunny day source. A wood stove in the middle of the space would be efficient and possibly inexpensive to fuel.

    I think a lowest possible temperature, radiant system would be the best "medium" to move heat into the space.

    Hard to sy which fuel source will be the least expensive to operate.

    Under the right conditions ground source heat pumps look pretty impressive. The ability to heat, cool, and produce DHW is something to consider.

    I think it would be hard to beat a gas or LP fired 90%condensing boiler if it could heat the space with temperatures 120 and lower.

    I'd like to see more waste heat recovery devices. Don't we all have refrigerators running 24/7 365/ Be nice if all those had desuperheaters to preheat DHW instead of adding to the cooling loads all summer long. Acouple small copper tubes, not unlike the icemaker connection at the back side and a small indirect tank would be fairly simple to include.

    Recovering BTUs from wash machine, dishwashers and shower water would be another small but realistic place to shop BTUs.

    May as well use flourscent bulbs everywhere to cut electrical consumption and lessen cooling loads.

    I think SDHW (solar domestic hot water) should be required on all new homes. It's proven and affordable.

    hot rod

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  • waste heat recovery

    I'm thinking of addding a waste heat recovery tank, using the water from the showers, to pre heat the cold water before it goes through my solar tank. The tank may only get to 70 - 90 degrees, but the cold coming in can be down to 36 degrees in the winter from the frozen merrimack river, so it's a good delta t. I also want to use the waste water for a gray water system to flush my toilets. The water is real expensive around here. If I filter the water and add dye and bleach will that be O.K.? I spend about $400 a year for hot water, so it will help me get a quicker payback. has anyone worked on gray water systems, do they work O.K.? Bob Gagnon

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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Grand Pah

    Mr Yates wrote about grey water systems that he checked out at the Euro ISH show. Sounds like a pretty common appliance in other countries. Maybe search the archive over at Contractor mag for his article on these.

    I'm not sure what it would take to filter grey water, depends a lot on what you are putting in the other end :)

    And of course plumbing codes need to be considered. You would want a completely separate and backflow protected grey water circuit. You are going to be "king of the tanks" in your neighborhood with all these systems :)

    hot rod

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  • grey water huh

    I thought that was how it was spelled, spellcheck steered me the wrong way. The Int. plumbing code made it seem easy and the local inspectors are not a problem, at least on my own house. I'm wondering if it would stain the bowls. I'm sorry I missed Dave's article, I'll have to look for it. King of the tanks- I like that, my friends thought I was crazy a long time ago when I put my first solar collector up. Wait till they hear about this. They tell everyone if I sold my house, I would get more for the scrap metal than the house. It just seems like a relatively easy and inexpensive way to pre-heat my domestic and cut way down on my water bill, for a quicker payback. Bob Gagnon

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  • Ron Schroeder
    Ron Schroeder Member Posts: 998
    He says potato she says potatoe

    Both are correct, don't feel misguided Bob, oops I didn't spell your name backwards did I?? ;-) The wonder of the English language
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    Good Points...

    That which is not lost does not have to be replaced.

    Passive solar heat, done right, is about as simple and inexpensive as it gets. Just be sure to keep out the summer sun or you'll waste a lot of energy trying to cool the place down. Home siting, orientation, window overhangs, etc. are the name of the game.

    Lighting and electrical needs can also be minimized by putting the right envelope around a house, choosing efficient appliances, and optimizing the heating and cooling systems. There are many grid-tied solar options to consider, though the current market prices for PV systems are skewed by extreme demand, government grants, etc. So, even though I'd like to install a PV system, I will wait until prices re-enter the stratosphere.

    Reclaiming heat from "waste" sources in the home is also a great idea, whether you install a desuperator or a GFX technology heat exchanger. I personally like the GFX better, as it can give you some pretty amazing ΔT's and it works all year. Desuperators come pretty-much standard on ground source heat pumps but require some additional work with standard condenser packages to make it work.

    As for gray-water reclamation, I looked into it, the building inspector freaked out, I dropped it. There can be some issues, such as smell, that develop as the gray water sits in its tank. I would look across the web, there are a lot of good resources out there that describe what does and does not work, and why.
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    Think I'd consider rainwater before

    grey or gray water collection. Cisterns were fairly common where I grew up in western NY.

    And possibly it could be converted to grey water when the proper filtration becomes available.

    I think with any dual system I would want to label all the secondary rain or grey water piping for any future owners.

    hot rod

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  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I wholeheartedly agree...

    ... though to keep things simple, I elected to use a cistern solely for the benefit of watering the garden. The local plumbing inspector just about burst an artery when I mentioned the possibility of installing faucets in the garden with water from the cistern.

    Between the required "NON POTABLE WATER" signs and the tamper-proof, removable key on each faucet (to ensure that a random kid cannot run up and take a drink despite the sign), I gave up on that thought. Now, the cistern merely feeds the garden sprinkler system, which is allowed.

    I have read several web sites from installations out west that use rain water for everything in the house. 10k+ gallon cisterns make it possible, along with a modest amount of water treatment (UV, bacteria filters, etc.). Even the utilities are fans of the approach because it lessens the storm surge in their sewer systems.

    Frankly, considering how dry southern CA is, I am surprised that garden water is not required to be rain-water only. Then again, there are all sorts of water-rights issues out there...
  • more tanks?

    I'm not going to be able to get into my basement. It's a good idea to use rainwater I never thought of it, but if I put in a domestic pre heat tank, I'm already halfway there. And sure, I would paint all gray water piping and leave the potable water at the toilets, just capped off. Do you think I would get more BTU'S from a tank with immersed coils, or from a GFX type heat exchanger?

    Con is right about passive. I think in the short term passive could be the easiest and cheapest. When you think about it everyone has solar collectors all over their houses, in the form of windows. I reached this conclusion last winter when I shut my boiler off and could really feel how much passive comes in through my windows. I was a little disappointed with the amount of solar energy I could collect to heat my drafty house with my active system, but I was encouraged by the amount of passive coming in. I think they just need to figure out how to make a window with an automatic shade that opens when the sun is shining, and closes and insulates when the sun goes in.

    But passive can't do it alone. America's energy consumption is like a runaway train, no one thing is going to stop it. we are going to need thermal systems to take showers and heat our houses at night, but it will also take conservation, PV, ethonal, heat pumps and anything else we can think of. Bob Gagnon

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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    same water

    you drink it over and over again. The Cliff Dwellers had it figured out about keeping warm and cool. Some say they vanished because of an ancient drought; hmm.
  • Solarstar
    Solarstar Member Posts: 82


    My 8 year old gfx performing almost as efficiant as new. Paul
  • Paul

    how much of a domestic water temp rise do you get out of that GFX? Bob Gagnon

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  • Solarstar
    Solarstar Member Posts: 82


    Hi Bob ..I think my unit was recovering about 30 deg of the heat going down the drain. (shower application). I'll double check and repost back with the actualls later. Unit advertised as 60% eff.. My first numbers years ago tested out in the 80% range but I'm sure its scummmed up a little so I'd like an access port to re brush the unit every few years to regain eff. In fact I was so impressed at first I was going to get a second unit. I'm using the S-3" 60" long. Paul
  • 30 degrees

    thats pretty good. Is it just a piece of copper dwv pipe with water pipe wrapped around the outside? Would I be better off running it horizontal and trapping it so water stays in the pipe? Thanks, Bob Gagnon

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  • Solarstar
    Solarstar Member Posts: 82


    the idea is not to trapp water but have it cling to the inside walls as it travels downward(prefferably slowly ie: low flow showerhead) Horizontal mounting is not recomended at all. Search GFX on the web theres some good articles. .... I do Know when my fids are in the shower upstairs it is impossible to get a cold water off any upstairs tap since it is being preheated So I know its still working. All new houses should have. and No I do not work for these guys...some days I wish i did !!!! Paul
  • Rich W
    Rich W Member Posts: 175
    Bob

    I built this in early '86 and used it for six years. I used fabric screen for filters. 2 55gal plastic tanks connected by 1.5" PVC for the lower tank. 55gal plastic for the upper tank. Tanks were vented outdoors and a sump pump drain hose cleared the sludge from the tank bottom.The filter cleaning was a pain in the winter- OK, it was always a pain. The wife didn't like the thought of using the dishwasher...some people.The well was giving us trouble at the time. It truly is a mother...necessity that is. It also had a float-type bleach dispenser that I saw in M.E.News. You might be able to search their site. Also had a 20' coil of 1" copper for pre-heat of DHW - That would be around a 30 year payback now ;) Some kind of auto backflush for the filter would be a nice upgrade if you have the time.

    P.S. This set-up only collected the bathroom sink and tub water.Overflow went to the flower garden. Lucky for me her flowers looked as good as ever.
  • Rich W.

    Why did you stop using it after 6 years? Was it too much maintenance? Was the grey water O.K. to flush your toilets? Or did it smell and stain the bowl? How much of a pre heat did you get with the submersed domestic coil? Do you know what temperature the tanks would maintain? Thanks for your help, Bob Gagnon

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  • Rich W
    Rich W Member Posts: 175
    I'm lazy Bob

    The fact that our well was slowly failing was the reason we started.We had a new/better well dropped. It fills the tank 5 times faster now. We were worried about the wear on the pump. We never had a problem with the toilet/greywater. Once I rigged the auto bleach dispenser the smell was ok. I did not track heat gain. I figured anything I gained was a bonus to saving water. The tanks were the same temp as the basement within a short time after a shower and a lot warmer than the well water. The lower tanks held a total of about 90 gal. The room at the top was for filters and over-flow drains. Shortly after we had good water flow I got lazy- someone ought to come up with a self cleaning filter. The filters did smell pretty bad after a few months and had to be replaced. A buddy collected the kitchen sink and washer water too...that got smelly real fast. He opted to save a little less water.

    Now that you have me thinking about it...What about some type of paddle in the drain going to the storage tank. Mixing the bleach ahead of the filter might help...Maybe a hacked/used M.M. flow switch to physically open a drip spout...let me know if you move forward with this. I read a good article a few years ago. I think it was in Home Power magazine. They have pretty good archives.
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