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1970 Home that needs a new heating system?

carljhoover Member Posts: 4
Good morning!

My wife and I are looking to purchase a home that was built in 1970, is 2700 sq ft in size, and does not have ducts already installed located near Seattle, WA. I have done my best to comb the web for information and I am having difficulty figuring out what will be best for our situation. I have been getting in touch with some contractors related to specific questions I have, but I still haven't been able to wrap my mind around what will be the best solution. I have provided some additional information below if anyone has a couple minutes to examine our situation and any help is greatly appreciated!

The lot size is just under an acre, which includes a septic system. The current heat is all generated from two wood burning fireplaces and a few wall-unit electric furnaces (likely need to be replaced at minimum). There are some upgrades we would like to complete to better insulate the home, but we are attempting to ascertain the most fiscally responsible approach for installing a new heating system and new floors. We are very interested in geothermal heat and hydronic radiant heat, but we know the initial investment for either (or both) is quite large. We would like to do bamboo flooring in the home and we are trying to avoid a more conventional approach of installing ducts and an electric furnace as gas is not available. The electric water heater only has about two years of life left.

In this situation what would be best? I'm sure this isn't nearly enough information, but a general idea would be very appreciated. Our limit at about $30,000 for a new heating system, some new flooring and maybe some appliances if at all possible. Would something be possible on that budget? Will we need to just go with duct installation and a standard electric furnace? I apologize if noting the amount we have available for budget is against the rules, but I was sure since it isn't exactly pricing information.

Thank you very much for your time and I hope everyone had a great weekend!



  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Heating System

    Hi- Perhaps you could tell us a little more. What do most of your neighbors use for heating? Depending where you are located electric heating can be a very expensive option. What about oil heating? Is it likely that natural gas might be available in the near future? (If so, an oil system that can easily be switched to gas might be what you need)   Insulation is by far "the best bang for the buck". Better insulation means less heat loss therefore less fuel /cost to heat.

    - Rod
  • carljhoover
    carljhoover Member Posts: 4
    Heating System

    The other homes in the area seem to all be electric. There is not natural gas available and won't be for a long time. I've also heard a little about ductless mini-splits, but they don't seem very popular. Are any of the ductless systems worth investigating for a home of this size? We know that we are looking at a huge price tag to install ducts into the home and I haven't done much research into oil heating as an option.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,710
    First insulate the house to the hilt

    that will let you buy smaller models of whatever equipment you choose. This reduces both the up-front costs and the operating costs.

    Then compare the costs per BTU of electricity, propane and oil in your area. This will tell you what would be best to use for your new system.

    A water-based system will give the best comfort. If radiant is too expensive, there are many other types of heat emitters you can use.

    Have you tried the Find a Contractor page of this site?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • carljhoover
    carljhoover Member Posts: 4
    We will definitely insulate as much as we can.

    I have started to contact some contractors in the area and presenting the general situation. The ideas they've given have been relatively similar to those that have been mentioned here since I can't get a contractor in the house yet.

    Thanks for the help!
  • bld999
    bld999 Member Posts: 47

    I know cost discussion is verboten here, but the budget you mention is very likely insufficient for the scope mentioned. Also, different regions of the country vary in cost for the same built work, so you would be better served by dealing with local people who understand how to optimize to local conditions. There are many stand-up, top notch people in the puget sound basin.

    Not saying this isn't a superb place to get info on technical and relative life-cycle cost issues in general.

    I would be inclined to rough out the budget with a high level of confidence locally before attacking the details.
  • Limamikemike
    Limamikemike Member Posts: 28

    Daikin Altherma would be a excellent alternative to geothermal in your area.

    With panel rads or convectors sized for low water temps.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    One or two stories?

    Raised foundation or slab on grade?

    Type and condition of windows?

    Lot orientation, how much window area facing which directions?

    What are your electric rates?  Any time of use options?

    Lots of possibilities here.  Your best bet would be to find a pro with extensive hydronic expertise who really knows the area, but we will try to get you pointed in the right direction.
  • carljhoover
    carljhoover Member Posts: 4
    Sadly the house didn't go through

    We investigated the home again today and were able to determine that some of the previous remodeling work was done quite wrong. Too many possibilities and unknowns to continue to pursue the property so we had to refrain. Thanks for all the assistance and I will definitely be sticking around here and learning. Sorry for any wasted effort!
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    New House

    Sorry to hear it didn't go through but I'm sure something better will come along. You might want to take a look in the Resources and Systems section at the top of this page. Dan has a lot of good info on different heating systems there which might be of help to you.

    Good luck with your search!

    - Rod
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