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New to oil fired steam heat

I'm sure that has been asked before, but i didn't find it yet. I'm buying an ancient home that has single pipe steam heat. I see the line coming off going to a tempering valve to supply the domestic hot water. I don't understand the reasoning for this system, that is running the boiler all year round. It seems to me that a separate electric water heater would be more efficient, am I correct? Is there any reason to not bypass the boiler and add a water heater? Thanks in advance for any insights!


  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Many people install a tankless coil in their boilers to supply the hot water for the house. Probably more do not. You probably need to look at the cost of an electric relative to the cost of the oil. Personally, I think a standalone water heater makes more sense than running a boiler year round, especially when oil is the fuel source but I'm sure you'll get a lot of different opinions here.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    A lot of older systems did use tankless coils in the boiler. Some newer ones do, too. It is somewhat less efficient than a stand alone water heater -- but not as much less efficient that one might think, if the boiler is a good one.

    That said, my preference is for a stand alone water heater -- and, since my boiler is oil fired, so is my water heater. Partly because oil is a good deal less expensive than electricity where I live, and partly because the oil fired water heater has much better recovery than an electric one would have, and there are times when I have as many as 10 to 12 people in the house who all seem to want a nice hot shower at the same time!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • BostonSteamer
    BostonSteamer Member Posts: 3
    Look into a hybrid water heater. They are great when used in correlation with a steam system. The heat pump uses any heat in the basement such as from boiler and piping and supplements it with electricity to heat water.
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 951
    Better have radiators in the basement to provide heat or that heat pump water heater will have that level nice & cccold.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Does anyone ever use that cool air to duct into the living space?
    I have them on my first floor as well as rads, and wonder about the feasibility of it.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Some of the newer HPWH's actually include duct provisions.
  • Underdog
    Underdog Member Posts: 16
    edited April 2015
    A 2014 study showed that a ducted HPWH reduced whole house energy costs by 4% with and average ten year energy savings of $1,982. (compared to an non-duct HPWH)