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Age old question updated - gas vs. electric hot water heating?

Hi, it has crossed my ming as I look to mt "older" age that PG&E in California has raised their gas rates so high (about $1.35 per therm baseline - to 10 therms, and $1.90 per therm thereafter) that it could be time to re-evaluate gas vs electric in this state. Gas is slated to continue to rise, electric not so much. At these ratess (and projected increases), is gas worth the bother here anymore? I can't do much about residential heating that I know of, but hot water seems to be a losing proposal.

When I hear of rates in other states, it is clear that we are being selectively ripped off. Why feed the monster anymore? Any experience with both?
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Comments

  • ZmanZman Posts: 3,341
    This spread sheet will give you the conversions for virtually any fuel source at any efficiency.
    Always keep in mind with the hybrid heaters go pretty quickly into resistance heating mode when under heavy load.
    Also consider that they take their energy from the space where they are located. That is a good thing when the home needs to be cooled. It stealing from Peter to pay Paul when in heating mode.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    Welcome to Kalifornia. I'm afraid you're stuck between a rock and a hard place, and neither electric nor gas is going to get any cheaper for you folks. You have my sympathy. Short of doing something about your politics... I'd work with @Zman 's spreadsheet to work out what is best at this time -- but keep in mind that both electric and gas are going to go up, and the questions is which one goes up more, and how fast. To which I have no answer for you.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22

    Welcome to Kalifornia. I'm afraid you're stuck between a rock and a hard place, and neither electric nor gas is going to get any cheaper for you folks. You have my sympathy. Short of doing something about your politics... I'd work with @Zman 's spreadsheet to work out what is best at this time -- but keep in mind that both electric and gas are going to go up, and the questions is which one goes up more, and how fast. To which I have no answer for you.

    Yes, you are right about California. The politics here are convoluted and corrupt. I get angry when it affects so many people with so much hardship. It makes me realize that I am fortunate enough to not lose sleep over it, but many people do. I guess I am not surprised as the drought brought permanently enormous water price increases. Its just very wrong, and I dont want to feed these corrupt people any more than I have to.

    If I were to guess about gas vs electric, I would assume that solar is bringing electric prices in check. But that gets complicated by these solar system lease companies that turn you into an indebted slave for life. But California wont stop people from falling prey to that - they only care about endangered fish around here.

    Either way, in the next 50+ years, electic power will be held as a cheaper resource. Gas has been turned here into a very expensive commodity. There are further rate increases that are passed, but not yet in effect too. I'll take a look at the equipment mentioned above. It clearly sounds like the way to go. If Tier 2 rates are at $2.00 a therm now, a lot of people are going to get cold fast.

    I will look at overall power requirements. The one thing PG&E controls is that very few people can easily get over 200 amp service. Even if they made it easy, the cost of adding that to a house is very expensive. Our title 24 requirements let use get away with a lot more gas use than electric. I need to take a look if these hybrid heat pumps are even O.K. under Title 24. Its kind of paradoxical to be forced to sip the one resource that is most abundant - at least in terms of cost. I can use all the gas as inefficiently as I want, as long as I pay extorted prices for it.
  • newagedawnnewagedawn Posts: 118
    i prefer gas to electric much much more energy efficient !!!
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,552
    Rate changes don't seem conducive to promoting Title 24... Glad I don't live there.
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22

    i prefer gas to electric much much more energy efficient !!!

    As do I. Unfortunately thats why (at least in California), gas is primary price gouging territory these days. As a result, efficency isn't always the best thing to look for.

    Rate changes don't seem conducive to promoting Title 24... Glad I don't live there.

    Yes. Very true! If this was not "home" to me now, I would leave California easily. Most electricians go nuts from Title 24 which mandates so many technologies that are not ready for prime time. While LED bulbs are readonable these days, the full blown LED fixtures are often incompatible with each other, switching, or dimming. To top that, smart meters really cant handle them. My house pulls about 250-300 watts with everything disconnected but my fire/burglar alarm (low voltage - less than 5 watts)., which I cannot disconnect. So I use 7-8 kwh/day when nothing is on or connected. no one can explain it.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 8,026
    jonquiljo said:

    i prefer gas to electric much much more energy efficient !!!

    As do I. Unfortunately thats why (at least in California), gas is primary price gouging territory these days. As a result, efficency isn't always the best thing to look for.

    Rate changes don't seem conducive to promoting Title 24... Glad I don't live there.

    Yes. Very true! If this was not "home" to me now, I would leave California easily. Most electricians go nuts from Title 24 which mandates so many technologies that are not ready for prime time. While LED bulbs are readonable these days, the full blown LED fixtures are often incompatible with each other, switching, or dimming. To top that, smart meters really cant handle them. My house pulls about 250-300 watts with everything disconnected but my fire/burglar alarm (low voltage - less than 5 watts)., which I cannot disconnect. So I use 7-8 kwh/day when nothing is on or connected. no one can explain it.
    How many GFCI or AFCI receptacles and or breakers do you have?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    ChrisJ said:


    How many GFCI or AFCI receptacles and or breakers do you have?

    Lots. I'm not sure I could even count them easily. Title 24 calls for receptacles (GFCI) in kitchens and bathrooms every 3-4 ft. I was told they want to remove the need for extension cords - to "protect us." Outside is pretty over-receptacled (GFCI also) - as is the garage. I'd say easily 20-25 total. Kitchen was mounted both regular and under-cabinet GFCI. Breakers about 25 on the main panel outside and another 20-25 inside on the sub-panel.

    I think the electronic dimmers on many of the LED circuits draw power. They have LED indicators (always on) and I think they operate by "electronically" shutting the LED lights off. Most of the dimmers had to be LEV dimmers as the simple (and of course, cheaper dimmers wouldn't work well - mostly causing humming in the can lights.

    That's why I live with that power draw - it's probably real. What I find to be odd is that the baseline allowance for me is 10.9 kwh/day. Title 24 demands I use (mostly LED's), but all this technology eats up about 3/4 of my baseline allowance when I turn everything off. This is why California is nuts. Then again, that baseline allowance is the equivalent of 4 100 watt conventional light bulbs for a day. This is for 2 people in a 3700 sq ft house. That's nuts too. I just don't know if it's PG&E or California that made up that baseline numbers.

    What is a "baseline allowance" supposed to cover? Clearly not the needs of even a single person per day!
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    Lots of GFCI's and tons of breakers. Title 24 seems to specify a high densiry of outlets- to discourage extension cords. All kitchen, bathrooms, garage and outdoors are GFCI's. So easily about 25 GFCI's and 70 breakers spread over two panels.

    I'm pretty surebthe power draw is from the LED dimmers. It was such a pain in the butt getting different thples of recessed LED lights to match. They all say they put out x or y lumens, but you never know until you install them. They are really not the greatest. We had to install lots of dimmers as these lights cannot be easily matched in terms of light output. Anyway, there must be 45 dimmers, proximity and vacancy sensors, etc. I had some sensors removed after inspection, but not all. Since the LED fixtures tend to use complex drivers, we needed Electronic low voltage dimmers (very overpriced!). So the LEDS are switched off electronically, and likely still draw power.

    One question I have is that I finally harassed PG&E to give me a new gas meter. They tried very hard not to, but when the pulse output on the meter said "PG&E 2003", the tech first tried to tell me that it was really installed in 2013 when the electric smart meter was installed. He had already confirmed that the old analog meter was a rebuilt one installed when the house was built in 2003. I told him if that was the case and the pulse output was installed in 2013, it would have been installed in the field. I then added athe question of why the pulse output was labeled "PG&E 2003" if it wasn't intalled intil 2013. He got embarassed and said that there were no smart meters in 2003 - to which I said, 'then why is it labeled 2003"? He got quiet and called his supervisor who told him to install a new meter.

    Were there smart meters as far back as 2003? The pulse output unit looked very worn and weathered - easily 10-15 years old. Even California sun could not have destroyed the plastic casing in that short a period. I really am confused. If it was that old and a older tech didn't know that they used them that long ago, I wonder how good it was.
  • chapchap70chapchap70 Posts: 130
    Just a basic comparison:

    The price point where natural gas would be more expensive than electricity is about $3.23 per therm assuming that electricity costs 18 cents per KwH. This is comparing a direct fired NG water heater with an Energy Factor of 60% to a standard electric water heater with an Energy Factor of 98%

    If an energy efficient NG boiler/indirect combo is used, the EF for hot water can reasonably raised to 78% which raises the price point to about $4.20 per therm. I think I might be understating the California electricity rate per KwH though.
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    edited April 29
    At least in the San Francisco Bay Area (zone x), PG&E charges Tier 1 at $0183 Kwh/day (up to 10.9 kwh/day), Tier 2 at $.0241 kwh/day (up to 10.9 kwh/day additional), and Tier 3 at $.403 kwh/day (any usage beyond that). New rates are about to kick in and really charge a lot higher for additional ties (adding at least 1 more tier).

    Unless you live in or very near San Francisco (kind of unusual weather), I can't imagine you could live without A/C some of the time as it gets into the 90's and 100's during the summer. It can get into the 80's and 90's most of the months other than Dec., Jan, Feb.

    They are changing the rates to 4 or 5 tiers - one of which may be a "penalty tier" for higher users. Like everything else (especially water, tiers are really only relevant for people in small apartments. You could not possibly operate a 3000 sq ft. home and not go into Tier 3. They are getting all fascist about electric usage because smart meter measurement (by PG&E) can now be tabulated easily into 1 hour increments. Even the new gas meters they hand out are converted analog models, not totally digital pulse output as is often used in Europe.

    I'll ask again - does anyone know if smart meters for gas (analog with pulse output transmitters) were implemented by PG&E in 2003? My old meter would suggest that they did, but PG&E emphatically said they did not. They may not want to admit it. The house is in unincorporated Marin County (north bay), where there are large lots (starting at about an acre), and not conducive to being read by meter readers even 15 years ago. There are a lot of gated houses too - a perfect area to try out technology back then which was probably not cost-effective at the time as it was in development. (a snotty area - but worth it if I could get a big yard for my dogs to play in) Asking for a new meter, I first got a 15 minute lecture on how even a 42 year old meter was maintained and refurbished to high standards - and there was reason to replace it (though 14 years on a house is reason to replace it anyway). I'd swear they replaced my meter only when I showed them it's old pulse output device -labeled 2003 and clearly looking very old. If I knew how to post a picture, I could show people that it had been around a while. The tech kept telling me that they did not have smart meter pulse output units in 2003, but there it was labeled as such and impossible to be as worn as it was in less than 10-15 years. After they replaced it, he repeatedly kept telling me that they would keep the meter at the shop for a week if I wanted it tested - even though I repeatedly responded back that I did not want to test it or dispute any bills. It's as if they knew there were problems with old pulse output meters and didn't want to talk about them. PG&E doesn't replace anything at a customer request unless they know it's a problem. All I expressed was that I didn't want it as it was old, looked like crap, and I didn't feel safe with it. I knew enough not to challenge it's accuracy as that made it a billing issue with PG&E if I was right. I didn't know they were transmitting meter use back in 2003, but what do I know?
  • CovexusCovexus Posts: 4
    Great chart from Zman. Correct me if I'm wrong but I tried to do a conversion to see what equivalent electricity rates you would be paying. For these calculations I used a natural gas water heater that was 60% efficient and an electric water heater that was 100% efficient.

    100,000 Btu/hr at 60% efficiency = 60,000 Btu/hr for gas
    60,000 Btu/hr divided 3,412 Btu/kWh = 17.58 kWh to equal one adjusted therm.

    $1.35 per therm divided by 17.58 kWh = $0.08 kWh
    $1.90 per therm divided by 17.58 kWh= $0.11 kWh

    If this is somewhat correct, then an electric water heater is cheaper if your rates are below this range $0.08-$0.11. But if your electric rates are higher than this range, natural gas is cheaper.

    Also to note:
    Electricity from extraction to customer is much less efficient, one study by DTE Energy showed a 73% loss of energy. This is from the source after extraction, conversion, and distribution.

    Natural gas was shown to only have a 10% loss of energy to the customer.

    However, when looking from the customer meter to the appliance, electric is nearly 100% efficient, while natural gas appliances vary in the 90%'s for new high efficiency furnaces and can be in the 60%'s or higher for water heaters.

  • jumperjumper Posts: 919
    Not straight forward. Electric heat pumps continue to become more efficient. If you can switch between air source and geothermal there is even more economy. Electricity also enables baseline heating,say to 55° and then fast ceiling radiant only where one wants it.

    Gas seems to be like lobsters. No matter how inexpensive at the source retail price constantly increases. Customers ultimately pay California PUC & FERC fines.

    The CaliforniaEnergyCommission should have been sunset in previous century. The work was done; new regulations are make work.
  • CovexusCovexus Posts: 4
    Those gas rates are insane. We are at $0.57 per therm in the Midwest. Electric rates are $0.135-$0.195 kWh. Zman's chart showing 240% efficiency for air-source heat pumps and 330% for geothermal heat pumps might help to compare savings.

    There are a limited amount of people that have geothermal heat pumps here, but the initial cost is so expensive that it could take a good portion of their lifetime to make it up. Also, you might pay around $200-300 annually for hot water in a residential unit using natural gas.

    Geothermal might work better in places where the gas price is high and electric rates are lower and climate may also be a factor. Since the system does use electricity to work, your electric bills will go up, but if working properly the overall energy cost should be lower for your home since you got rid of a different energy source.
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    Those gas rates are going up too! There are more scheduled increases already approved. I don't understand this state - liberal, but then supports corporate criminals like PG&E. I don't know how people can afford it.

    Their baseline quantities are absurd too. Now they have a "high energy user" fee - over a certain amount. You can't get a break and it clearly is going out of control.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    jonquiljo said:

    Those gas rates are going up too! There are more scheduled increases already approved. I don't understand this state - liberal, but then supports corporate criminals like PG&E. I don't know how people can afford it.

    Their baseline quantities are absurd too. Now they have a "high energy user" fee - over a certain amount. You can't get a break and it clearly is going out of control.

    Just take a look at where your tax money is going, good buddy. Then you'll understand it.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22


    Just take a look at where your tax money is going, good buddy. Then you'll understand it.

    Yeah, I think it maxes out at 12.3% now (13.3% over $1M). Property tax as a percentage of appraised value is low, but the market is artificially high - so property tax is expensive.

    I can easily see that if you rent (home or apt.) - your energy cost is 25% or more of your rental cost. Summer gas baseline allotment (in SF Bay Area) is 0.59 therms/day. Winter is 1.98 therms/day. Electric is 10.9 kwh/day Winter, 10.1 kwh/day Summer. Tier 2 is 100%-400% of baseline, and "high usage surcharge" is over 400%.

    I have a 3700 sq ft house - relatively new build (actually 2 of them - long story). My (main) house (we have not yet moved in) uses 5kwh/day just to keep the refrigerator on and (it's totally Title 24 remodeled) cover the power draw by the dimmers, etc. That's half my baseline allotment right there. Even shutting everything off but the burglar alarm, the dumb meter sees a 250 watts power draw that could only be coming from the burglar/fire alarm. The rest must come from the Title 24 electronic switching. That's with no occupancy and nothing else on but the heating/cooling system zone control, fire and burglar alarm. The water heater uses about .3 Therms/day just to keep water warm (but not used) - half my summer baseline.

    I've heard that California has an energy (electric) surplus because of all of the people buying solar systems. 1.) Where do they get off giving such unreasonable baseline amounts? and 2.) Why do they charge so much? I'm not that old but a gas/electric utility used to be another bill each month that wasn't crazy expensive. The truth is that I could spend $30K-$40K upgrading to the most efficient equipment available, but still couldn't live in anything but a small apartment and stay within the baseline. Even there, I am not sure it is possible. It makes no sense and people just pay it because the cost of buying solar is still quite high - and leasing solar makes a house very difficult to sell. You just can't terminate the lease.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    I hate to point this out -- but a lot of the high energy cost in California has to do with the subsidies for the solar and wind power, which make that economically feasible. Then there is the economic cost of keeping the baseline power plants in a spinning reserve condition, for when the sun goes down and the wind stops. That's not cheap. There ain't no free lunch... it seems to be what the people want, though -- at least it's what they keep voting for.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 6,715
    class="Quote" rel="Jamie Hall">I hate to point this out -- but a lot of the high energy cost in California has to do with the subsidies for the solar and wind power, which make that economically feasible. Then there is the economic cost of keeping the baseline power plants in a spinning reserve condition, for when the sun goes down and the wind stops. That's not cheap. There ain't no free lunch... it seems to be what the people want, though -- at least it's what they keep voting for.

    There are a number of reasons, depending on who you talk to, or believe.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    edited May 11

    I hate to point this out -- but a lot of the high energy cost in California has to do with the subsidies for the solar and wind power, which make that economically feasible. Then there is the economic cost of keeping the baseline power plants in a spinning reserve condition, for when the sun goes down and the wind stops. That's not cheap. There ain't no free lunch... it seems to be what the people want, though -- at least it's what they keep voting for.

    There's nothing but systemic corruption, if you ask me. We have more give-aways than most of the country. We get taken at tax time for more than any state I have ever heard of (13.3% was the last I heard - and it's not that hard to get up there). People even vote to raise the sales taxes to benefit individual towns or counties. A lot of people have no idea of the cost of all of these state and local initiatives. Around the Bay Area there are so many people who have made far more than they ever expected, the guilt factor takes over and they even knowingly go out of their way to practically give it away by going along with every scheme this state comes up with to take our money. Then they whine when they can't live as well as they thought on $1/2M a year!

    The irony is that we don't get anything extra for what we pay for. A few fish do well - but I'm not sure anyone really cares. Many State and local government employees have incredible pensions that no one generally sees. Many of us in the northern part of the state pay through the nose so that they southern part of the state can take our water and complain that we don't give them enough. But when the cost of energy becomes so high that the everyday people cannot afford to keep paying for it - there has to be something wrong.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 8,026
    jonquiljo said:

    I hate to point this out -- but a lot of the high energy cost in California has to do with the subsidies for the solar and wind power, which make that economically feasible. Then there is the economic cost of keeping the baseline power plants in a spinning reserve condition, for when the sun goes down and the wind stops. That's not cheap. There ain't no free lunch... it seems to be what the people want, though -- at least it's what they keep voting for.

    There's nothing but systemic corruption, if you ask me. We have more give-aways than most of the country. We get taken at tax time for more than any state I have ever heard of (13.3% was the last I heard - and it's not that hard to get up there). People even vote to raise the sales taxes to benefit individual towns or counties. A lot of people have no idea of the cost of all of these state and local initiatives. Around the Bay Area there are so many people who have made far more than they ever expected, the guilt factor takes over and they even knowingly go out of their way to practically give it away by going along with every scheme this state comes up with to take our money. Then they whine when they can't live as well as they thought on $1/2M a year!

    The irony is that we don't get anything extra for what we pay for. A few fish do well - but I'm not sure anyone really cares. Many State and local government employees have incredible pensions that no one generally sees. Many of us in the northern part of the state pay through the nose so that they southern part of the state can take our water and complain that we don't give them enough. But when the cost of energy becomes so high that the everyday people cannot afford to keep paying for it - there has to be something wrong.

    What exactly is "everyday people" ?
    Are there partial day people?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 6,715
    jonquiljo said:

    I hate to point this out -- but a lot of the high energy cost in California has to do with the subsidies for the solar and wind power, which make that economically feasible. Then there is the economic cost of keeping the baseline power plants in a spinning reserve condition, for when the sun goes down and the wind stops. That's not cheap. There ain't no free lunch... it seems to be what the people want, though -- at least it's what they keep voting for.

    There's nothing but systemic corruption, if you ask me. We have more give-aways than most of the country. We get taken at tax time for more than any state I have ever heard of (13.3% was the last I heard - and it's not that hard to get up there). People even vote to raise the sales taxes to benefit individual towns or counties. A lot of people have no idea of the cost of all of these state and local initiatives. Around the Bay Area there are so many people who have made far more than they ever expected, the guilt factor takes over and they even knowingly go out of their way to practically give it away by going along with every scheme this state comes up with to take our money. Then they whine when they can't live as well as they thought on $1/2M a year!

    The irony is that we don't get anything extra for what we pay for. A few fish do well - but I'm not sure anyone really cares. Many State and local government employees have incredible pensions that no one generally sees. Many of us in the northern part of the state pay through the nose so that they southern part of the state can take our water and complain that we don't give them enough. But when the cost of energy becomes so high that the everyday people cannot afford to keep paying for it - there has to be something wrong.

    Brings to mind that O'Jays song For The Love of Money. I think it is the theme song for some reality show.

    Then again California is the sixth largest economy in the world. Possibly passing the UK for 5th according to a Bloomberg View article, larger than all but a few countries. They feed many of us and are still a tech and clean energy leader.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    edited May 11
    Everyday people refers to the average income Californian. This is about ability to afford energy after all. Here there is a wide range of incomes, especially in the Bay area. It is very common for people to have $0.5M-$2M a year incomes, with some far greater than $2M, especially if they work in the tech sector. An energy bill may infuriate them, but it will not change the way they live.

    Then there are the "average- everyday" residents - with incomes in the $50K-$100K a year. These people have to monitor their power usage closely. Many often fall prey to the solar system leasing companies - and do not understand the financial restrictions it places on them, and the restrictions as to selling your home. With the average home in Marin (North Bay) running higher than $1M, and the south Bay easily averaging $2M or more (for nothing great either), you just encumber a valuable asset on which you likely hold a large mortgage.

    It also is much hotter (and colder) in the suburbs - when a good chunk of the people live. San Francisco is somewhat small and it's weather and climate is unique to one of a Pacific coast city. Most suburbs are 15-20 miles inland, which can turn the climate to one of extremes (hot/cold). This gives people high cooling bills in the warm months (easily can go to 100 deg) and high heating bills in the winter (can go to below zero at night). South of Santa Barbara, the ocean warms up and the climate is a bit more temperate.

    So living on in the suburbs (most of which are inland) can run someone a $600+ monthly electricity bill in the Summer and a $400+ monthly gas bill in the Winter. I have had Summer PG&E bills go to $800-$1000 at times. On a $75K a year family income, people can't afford that and tend to move somewhere else. That just isn't right.
  • BobCBobC Posts: 4,336
    edited May 11
    The utilities have a license to steal and the "rate setting boards" are a joke. In the Boston area the best rate I could find after doing a search was 20.7 cents per KWH. It seems i rtead about the wholesale rates going down and ours go up every single year.

    The natural gas pricing is almost as bad, last winter the price was $1.35 a therm and they are telling us to expect a higher rate in the fall.

    It's strange that rates were much better BEFORE they gave us the gift of deregulation. Now the energy companies get us both from the supply and delivery end and point fingers at each other when people complain about the sky high prices.All the while the cross linked boards of directors laugh all the way to the bank.

    a pox on all of them.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    I grew up in Boston, and it's one of the most corrupt places in the world. It seems that these "liberal" states aren't so liberal after all. They just pretend to be liberal and "for the people" so they can take you to the cleaners.

    PG&E here has a bad long-standing reputation for toxic waste and blowing people up. Yet still they overcome all of this.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 8,026
    This entire thread is way too political.




    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • I've moved this thread here since the discussion involves politics.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • Sal SantamauraSal Santamaura Posts: 171
    BobC said:

    ...It's strange that rates were much better BEFORE they gave us the gift of deregulation...

    Nothing strange about it. Corporate America always wants government off its back so it can increase profit. What else would one expect when monopolies are freed from constraint?

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    Thank you for moving this, @Erin Holohan Haskell -- it is political! Also, somewhat philosophical. To one of @Sal Santamaura 's points: of course a business wants to increase its profit. That's what business is all about! That said, there are some areas which should be regulated, something which seems to have escaped the brains of the so-called liberals who want consumer choice. Those areas are what are termed, technically, natural monopolies: that is, there is some aspect of the activity which tends to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for two or more entities to serve an area. The best examples are electric power, natural gas distribution, cable television and, before the advent of the 'cell 'phone, telecommunications (water supply is another, but is usually still treated as a monopoly). In any of these areas, it makes zero sense to build competing infrastructure. Therefore, it also makes zero sense to create a fiction of competition. Back in the bad old days, these areas were regulated -- sometimes well, sometimes exceedingly poorly, but they were.

    Part of the drive for deregulation, however, it must be admitted came from the fact that in many cases the regulatory bodies bowed to political demands, and did not permit a fair return on capital investment, never mind maintenance of the infrastructure -- but that's also a problem with government owned and operated facilities as well.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 8,026
    edited May 12
    Cable television companies as well as communication companies need competition. For both pricing, as well as evolution of the product.


    While power, natural gas and water, it would be nice for pricing reasons, the product doesn't really change or evolve. This is not true for the others.

    I suppose you could use regulations to force companies to improve and upgrade. But, who decides to what and what incentive is there to create better products and invent new ways of doing things?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/ZgpNUTyckkmiEdAf9
    Central air project pictures
    https://goo.gl/photos/4JjnLStEq42sWsQo8
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 3,080

    Thank you for moving this, @Erin Holohan Haskell -- it is political! Also, somewhat philosophical. To one of @Sal Santamaura 's points: of course a business wants to increase its profit. That's what business is all about! That said, there are some areas which should be regulated, something which seems to have escaped the brains of the so-called liberals who want consumer choice. Those areas are what are termed, technically, natural monopolies: that is, there is some aspect of the activity which tends to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for two or more entities to serve an area. The best examples are electric power, natural gas distribution, cable television and, before the advent of the 'cell 'phone, telecommunications (water supply is another, but is usually still treated as a monopoly). In any of these areas, it makes zero sense to build competing infrastructure. Therefore, it also makes zero sense to create a fiction of competition. Back in the bad old days, these areas were regulated -- sometimes well, sometimes exceedingly poorly, but they were.

    Part of the drive for deregulation, however, it must be admitted came from the fact that in many cases the regulatory bodies bowed to political demands, and did not permit a fair return on capital investment, never mind maintenance of the infrastructure -- but that's also a problem with government owned and operated facilities as well.

    I worked on the distribution side of the power, my father on the generation side. We are both still in contact with our former co-workers and I can say with 100% confidence the maintenance was much better before deregulation.

    Now it's about the bottom line short term so they "run it till it breaks". The power plants my father worked at had yearly shut downs for PM, now they don't do that at all. It's crazy. Everything with power was better prior to deregulation (IMHO). Don't even get me started on the door knockers offering me a "deal" on electricity.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    Yes indeed. In some parts of the country -- not where I am! -- the rates were set so that there was enough cash to do proper maintenance on both power and wired telephone (remember them?). It's not that the folks such as you and your dad don't know how to do it, it's that in some parts of the country there simply wasn't enough money permitted.

    Now -- too right. Each company trying to get an edge, and the maintenance gets wiped out.

    With regard to @ChrisJ 's comments. The problem isn't the product (electricity at the generator, cable at the studio, natural gas at the distribution centre), it's the infrastructure. The wires. The pipes. Switchgear. And so on and on and on. Those are the items which I regard as natural monopolies, and in my humble (? :) ) opinion they need to be regulated with the rates set to allow a decent return on capital invested and also on maintenance. No more, no less. They must not be operated by the government, though, as the track record of the government on infrastructure is pretty well known -- and is not too good. To put it mildly.

    Along which lines I am much amused -- since I almost never use it -- by the political screaming about the infrastructure around Penn Station and the Hudson River tunnels. Maintenance has been deferred on that since Amtrak was created and now things are pretty shaky. So what is the political response? Cut off all funding. How's that again? How is anyone supposed to fix anything if there is no money?
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    It may be political, but "heating systems" are mired in the center of a political industry. Those politics dictate the systems that may people implement - as costs generally determine what people do.

    For instance, living in California, the politics of energy very highly influence what kind of systems I add - modify - or implement. I am just about to move into a (sort of) new home - essentially my last home - and the political future of energy costs very much determines how much I want to future-proof the house. It no longer becomes a technical issue only. In fact, technical issues are much more critical when navigating the politics of all of this. One wrong move can drastically affect my future standard of living (as I retire) because the politics dictates what I need to do to stay solvent.

    For instance, these new "hybrid" water heating systems have their merits - and now become, although expensive, a very viable alternative for me. I'd love to upgrade my HVAC to something much more energy efficient and the systems I look at all have to fit in with the political future of energy. If not, I will be 75 ten years from now and paying a good part of my income on energy if I don't think about where things are headed now.

    With these so called monopolies in terms of energy supply - it becomes very hard to figure out the right thing now for what will be a near term reality. I am now seriously considering an array of solar panels in by back yard - as I realize that PG&E has their own agenda and it does not include the customer's welfare first. So those who talk about this thread as if it is "political" in a derogatory sense - please be aware that it is a very valid discussion in a very technical world. Coming from a career as a biotechnology scientist, I can say that what can be done is important, but the politics surrounding it will ultimately dictate if and how it is done. Welcome to the 21st century!
  • jumperjumper Posts: 919
    States with the most powerful PublicUtilityCommissions have highest utility bills. California PUC tries to micromanage everything but the commissioners are political hacks. Not one has a clue about the difference between KVA & KVAR.

    Lowest costs are in south east where courts restrained governments decades ago and in places like Nebraska where all the power companies are municipally owned so that PUC is redundant. In California the junior municipal electrics are not too bad but old LosAngeles's is a fiasco. In Canada one of the nuttiest situations was NorthYork where city used its electric utility as a source of revenue.

    Low energy delivery costs are long gone.In the seventies BostonEdison required,with realistic accounting, ten cents per kilowatt-hour just to deliver power. Nobody gets anywhere with long term thinking. For example where do we see street to house services installed with conduits?
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 6,715
    jonquiljo said:

    It may be political, but "heating systems" are mired in the center of a political industry. Those politics dictate the systems that may people implement - as costs generally determine what people do.

    For instance, living in California, the politics of energy very highly influence what kind of systems I add - modify - or implement. I am just about to move into a (sort of) new home - essentially my last home - and the political future of energy costs very much determines how much I want to future-proof the house. It no longer becomes a technical issue only. In fact, technical issues are much more critical when navigating the politics of all of this. One wrong move can drastically affect my future standard of living (as I retire) because the politics dictates what I need to do to stay solvent.

    For instance, these new "hybrid" water heating systems have their merits - and now become, although expensive, a very viable alternative for me. I'd love to upgrade my HVAC to something much more energy efficient and the systems I look at all have to fit in with the political future of energy. If not, I will be 75 ten years from now and paying a good part of my income on energy if I don't think about where things are headed now.

    With these so called monopolies in terms of energy supply - it becomes very hard to figure out the right thing now for what will be a near term reality. I am now seriously considering an array of solar panels in by back yard - as I realize that PG&E has their own agenda and it does not include the customer's welfare first. So those who talk about this thread as if it is "political" in a derogatory sense - please be aware that it is a very valid discussion in a very technical world. Coming from a career as a biotechnology scientist, I can say that what can be done is important, but the politics surrounding it will ultimately dictate if and how it is done. Welcome to the 21st century!

    All excellent points. Anyone 60 or older would be wise to start considering what it will take to live comfortable for possibly 30 years after retirement. I don't know of any "certainity" in regards to energy cost.

    My thoughts are to live in a moderate climate, small and efficient home and control as much of my energy as I can. I currently have solar thermal and PV to offset some costs, and will burn firewood efficiently as long as I am physically able to.

    PV is still affordable, incentives are still viable, and with a battery bank system you can cover some non sun days. California is still solar friendly.

    A few of my local buddies are prepper types living completely off grid, PV, fire, and spring water. It is still possible, and legal here in SW Missouri. But that lifestyle is not for everyone.

    I think they are getting more sensitive to uninvited guests, in their old age.


    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 6,437
    I've always liked that sign!
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    hot rod said:


    All excellent points. Anyone 60 or older would be wise to start considering what it will take to live comfortable for possibly 30 years after retirement. I don't know of any "certainity" in regards to energy cost.

    My thoughts are to live in a moderate climate, small and efficient home and control as much of my energy as I can. I currently have solar thermal and PV to offset some costs, and will burn firewood efficiently as long as I am physically able to.

    PV is still affordable, incentives are still viable, and with a battery bank system you can cover some non sun days. California is still solar friendly.

    A few of my local buddies are prepper types living completely off grid, PV, fire, and spring water. It is still possible, and legal here in SW Missouri. But that lifestyle is not for everyone.

    I think they are getting more sensitive to uninvited guests, in their old age.

    You see the dilemmas. There are a lot of people like me pushing 65 and then some that face a totally different world than existed when we were young. I certainly could not have predicted the financial situations, and it seems that most of my generation have not prepared at all for "retirement." In 10 years, it will be very grim.

    Retirement is really a process. At 40 or so, many people encounter the "move up or move out" mentality in the workforce. Only 1/10 people really reach their potential after that - for most of us, it is a slow decline as age discrimination starts to show itself. I'm very lucky for a lot of reasons and seem to have found a way to survive that and then some. That's not typical. Most of my friends are suffering, however - and their only crime is that there is always someone younger and cheaper to do what you do.

    When it comes to preparing for the costs of the future, I wouldn't recommend states like California anyway. The costs of housing are probably the highest in any state. After that is probably health care. Next comes the cost of energy - not food. Yes, kind of strange, but true. You can get by on less exotic food, but energy is needed no matter what you do. I think the highly inflated cost of energy is something that has fooled all of us these days. It is not a problem for those getting older - anyone of modest means is being priced out to the market. I guess that is about 95% of the people in this country.

    I would have expected that technology would make the cost of energy less - but it seems not to have affected it much. Every time we invent more energy efficient ways of doing things, generating heat, etc. - the costs still remain the same or go higher. Now that is politics - pure and simple. No matter what we do - as we need less energy, it ends up costing more. To top that, the cost of the major energy efficient systems - heating, cooling, etc. goes up as they become more efficient. The paradox here is that we have to upgrade with time, or the costs of energy will consume us. These hidden costs hurt a great deal of people.
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 6,715
    You see the dilemmas. There are a lot of people like me pushing 65 and then some that face a totally different world than existed when we were young. I certainly could not have predicted the financial situations, and it seems that most of my generation have not prepared at all for "retirement." In 10 years, it will be very grim.

    According to a retirement seminar I attended a large % of the boomers will be dependent on social security as their only retirement income. And our politicians are determined to screw that up also.
    Many of us that have been self employed for most of our lives may not have received the message early enough to build a retirement on our own.You will see more and more people working into their 70's.
    I keep harping on my son to plan now at age 30 when you have time on you side and follow the Buffet formula of compounding.

    I guess I didn't see energy costs being that outrageous in California, I've always understood the New England states to be the highest cost?

    An interesting look here.

    https://wallethub.com/edu/energy-costs-by-state/4833/
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • jonquiljojonquiljo Posts: 22
    edited May 13
    That analysis misses a lot of points. Gasoline is cheap out here, then again - people have a long way to go to get anywhere by car. I've never even heard of heating oil out here, so it's kind of irrelevant to factor in. The biggest thing the article misses is that there have been a number of rates increases in both gas and electricity - likely in retribution for the fines and bad press that PG&E was given after they blew up a large area in San Bruno a while back. That explosion opened up a can of worms, exposing an extremely old infrastructure that PG&E had been letting rot for many years.

    California has two populations - middle class Americans that work hard for a living and are stuck in a very expensive state. They probably account for the lion's share of the people in California. Then there are the "well off" which range from the excessive amounts of $250K households which range to well over $1-10M. The well off have all the political clout (big campaign donors), and out of guilt tend to be very liberal. Unfortunately they are out of touch with how the rest of the state lives and support fish and trees more than they support social programs. If you earn $1m a year, how do you relate to those earning 20x less? It's easy, but they don't. PG&E and the Southern utilities tend to go unchecked for that very reason.

    The same is true with water - very expensive and (against conventional wisdom) very abundant in the northern part of the state. Water costs are as unfair as utilities are. If I get a $1000 utility bill, I just get annoyed. Most people get wiped out. Most people as fortunate as I am do not understand that many people get wiped out. These people cannot afford energy efficient heating/cooling systems too - double whammy.

    So as political as this thread may be - it has a lot to do with heating (and cooling). If you can't afford it, there is no technology that will dig you out of it. And we have a wide diverse climate range in most places. California weather is not all like LA; those who think so watch too much TV.
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