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In need of heating system help

IMJ Member Posts: 2
Hi - new to the forum and heating systems in general and trying to digest as much of the great information as possible.

We are planning an extensive renovation on a 3300 sq ft house built in 1950s in CT with an oil hot water boiler and fin/tube radiators; entire house is currently one zone/loop. From Dec 20th of last year through the end of the heating season I think we burned ~1,500 gallons of oil. (Current boiler is a Burnham V8 series PV85WT - TBWF from 2003 and was rebuilt? recently according to our service provider) House currently has separate multi-zone central AC installed by previous owner ~2yrs ago. As part of the renovation of the house we will be removing the radiators, but are unsure of what changes to the heating system to make. In addition we will be replacing all windows, foaming the house and making other improvements to tighten the envelope. In the end we will be around ~4500 sq ft after an addition and bringing the attic into the finished space.

Our options for fuel source are:
oil - current source; existing boiler and 330 gallon existing tank in garage
oil - with new and more efficient system/install? 3 pass design? outdoor reset? (trying to learn what that all means)
lp - 500gallon tank already buried in the yard running whole house generator; could drop another 1000 gallon tank for heat and appliances
nat gas - have been quoted ~$30K from CNG to convert due to needing to move the main several hundred feet down our street before running the service line

Natural Gas, while our preferred source, doesn't seem to pencil on a payback analysis with $30k+ upfront costs.
From reading the articles here and other sites, LP seems to be more expensive than oil per BTU. Either way we will use LP to run a range after the renovation so we can move away from electric stovetop (unless we went with nat gas for some reason)

Stick with oil, but install a much more efficient/modern boiler/furnace and controls?

Apologize in advance for any misuse of the terms above as I get up to speed on heating systems. I would appreciate any suggestions from the forum on recommended fuel source as well as specific systems to consider (e.g., low mass, 3 pass design, modern controls, outdoor reset etc.)

Thank you very much


  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    I'd consider adding radiant heating or wall panel radiators where the baseboard was removed. Or for any additions. Since major changes have been made to the envelope, fuel costs will drop significantly no matter what fuel is used. If staying with oil, try a Viessmann Vitorond which can be outfitted with a Vitotronic control to manage multiple temperatures and an indirect DHW tank. The System 2000 is a decent appliance. Condensing boilers would be more efficient, either propane or NG, and silent compared to an oil burner. However the ROI would be negligible, depending on local fuel costs. Consider an indirect DHW tank attached to the boiler as a priority zone. Local contractors will have their own preferred choices for equipment. That may be the determining factor.
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    You need to be very careful and I'm not trying to scare you.

    You are changing the entire home structure when you are going to be doing the extensive work like insulating with foam, windows and changing the square footage, this isn't a
    "get an opinion on line and do this do that" type of thing. There is only one way to do this right, planning.

    You need to get with a good contractor in you area and explain what you are doing and have plans, they will need to do a heat/cool load calculation based on what the house will be, not what it is, you are adding 1200 sq ft, this may throw your current heating and cooling system out the window even with new windows and insulation, you won't know until you plan and calculate.

    Once you know the btu's required for the new home then you can choose equipment.
  • IMJ
    IMJ Member Posts: 2
    GBart - thank you for your advice. I agree caution is in order. My gc and hvac contractors are developing their plan for the house taking into consideration all of the things you mention. What I am trying to do is become an educated consumer so that when they make their recommendation I am informed and can make the ultimate decision on what system to implement.

    I imagine in these situations I am buying the installer and the system design much more than I am buying the equipment.
    GBartdelta T
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,902
    @IMJ , whatever you do, you don't want to distribute heat using ductwork. There are plenty of nice hot-water heat transmitters such as panel radiators or cast-iron baseboard, which will be far more comfortable, healthful and efficient than forced-air.

    Start with the heat-loss calculation as @GBart said, and choose equipment based on that.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,262
    Is the ducted AC system staying in place? It too needs to be looked at when the building load decreases with upgrades.

    You want to look at the total comfort system, heat, AC, air quality & humidity control also
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • willasdad
    willasdad Member Posts: 23
    Much like yourself, I just had to go through the process of educating to make an informed decision. You definitely came to the right place. You will find a theme here, and it verifies your assumption that you are buying the installer. Someone posted here once, Cost is what you pay, Value is what you get. Nobody knows everything, and even if they did, each situation is unique and therefore should have its own consideration. I like the fact that my installer posts on this site ;) His posts further convince me that he was an excellent choice. Knowing that your installer is well versed in his field is the key to a confident choice. For who will you call to fix the system if there is a problem. This is not an area to be price shopping, as it is more like trying to find a good doctor who will care about your systems health. You wouldn’t price shop when it came to your heart doctor, right?! Your boiler is the heart of your home, the pipes are the veins. Choose a good doctor before you have one crack open your chest!.. I mean install a new boiler. All that said, I went Viessmann with indirect tank, oil heat. The paint is still drying, but I’m confident bc of the installer. Technically speaking, all I can offer is that if you are sealing up your house really well, be sure to consider a fresh air system ( not your heating system)that will exchange your homes air. Passive homes, which are super sealed, utilize units that will preheat incoming fresh air to ensure a healthy living environment. Good luck and may the BTUs be with you!
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    edited July 2018
    Yeah, you really have a clean slate to begin with, part of the problem with Ct ( I live here too) is ENRON sold us into deregulation which made our electric rates very high which makes me hesitant to recommend heat pumps although the very high end equipment that Daiken has is pretty awesome, it has to be variable speed to have an edge in Ct.

    The way things are going oil is probably going to spike again and LP is a product of crude so they both go up together, Nat gas doesn't seem to be a viable option for you so you can take that off the plate.

    Whatever you decide get the most efficient you can that is available in 2018, this equipment should last 20 years, if you start out low now you'll be really wasting energy in a few, with the best now in 5-10 you might be just slightly under the efficiency curve. Foam insulation is a great way to go because it also seals but be careful with windows, the difference in efficiency from double to triple pane is marginal but the price is not, it's not worth the money. What's most important about windows is the sealing around them, that's where they leak and the most expensive window is garbage if it isn't installed properly.
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    oh and that 1,500 gallons of oil for 3300 sq ft.........ouch, that's about my sq ft and what they burned when I bought the house, first I redid the boiler, burner, controls and got it in the 700 range, then System 2000 for heat and h/w, I'm doing 400-550 depending.