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How are people going to afford heat this year?

426hemi
426hemi Member Posts: 80
With the price of fuel this year and the talk about it hitting $10 a gallon this summer, how are people going to afford to heat? I am in the business so I can modify an oil burner to run on #6 aka bunker C as well as burn used engine oil. For the general public (people not in the oil burner business) this is not an option! I wouldn’t even dream of making this conversion for a customer (the liability makes this a lawsuit waiting to happen). I’m afraid people are going to freeze to death this winter unless something changes soon. Any thoughts about this situation? 
JackWcowdog
«13

Comments

  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,985
    Great question...
    In the past people have switched fuels.
    I bet lots of pellet stoves and wood stoves will go in.
    More space heaters being used.
    I am seeing heat pump water heaters being asked for installs.
    I do know that the local Nat gas utility is advertising more.

  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,590
    Thoughts? Many. But this may be a topic  for a different forum. 
    If the thread stayed on track of the most efficient systems for specific regions, using a specific fuel, with a budget hypothetical or accounted for, great.
    But it'll likely go off the track. 
    How 'bout them Yankees?!?!?!

  • 426hemi
    426hemi Member Posts: 80
    Around here gas doesn’t exist electric is expensive. Wood is expensive and hard to get. Propane has gone way up also. I’m wondering if coal will make a comeback if you community is on a waterway or a rail line the shipping costs are low for a couple barge loads or a few trains? 
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 303
    Futures contracts are $3.77 this morning.
    https://finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?p=d1&t=HO
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    This is NOT a topic for The Wall. The problem and cost is almost entirely political. However, there will be a lot of people who are cold. There will be deaths associated.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 169
    We're moving off of oil and onto gas due to insurance company. But I'm moving on it early because Im picturing a late summer panic for heating system parts and techs by people looking to upgrade efficiencies.
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 191
    yankees suck......go red sox
    PC7060HomeownerDustin
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,880
    edited May 26
    and NG prices are up almost 50% from January as well.
    https://markets.businessinsider.com/commodities/natural-gas-price
  • fentonc
    fentonc Member Posts: 98
    I think the boring economic answer is the same for any other globally-traded commodity:
    • If it's expensive, use less where possible (turn down the thermostat, upgrade your equipment, upgrade your insulation, air seal your house, sell your house and move if it's too expensive to heat).
    • Substitute where possible (burn something else if it's cheaper, use an electric blanket, etc.)
    • When you've accounted for the first two, spend a higher proportion of your budget on fuel.
    The flip side of this is that anyone pumping or refining oil (or extracting gas, or harvesting wood, or mining coal) is looking for the highest bidder, and will sell to whoever wants it the most.
    Everybody around the world is making these tradeoffs constantly, which is how we arrive at the price.

    /go mets!
    In_New_EnglandGGross
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    Someone up there suggested burning wood or pellet stoves. I was just at a conference yesterday with people in the lumber industry in my area (loggers, foresters, that sort) and over half of them have shut down their operations. They can't afford the fuel to keep their equipment running... Wood fuel isn't going to be cheap.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    DJD775kcoppIn_New_EnglandMaxMercy
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819

    Someone up there suggested burning wood or pellet stoves. I was just at a conference yesterday with people in the lumber industry in my area (loggers, foresters, that sort) and over half of them have shut down their operations. They can't afford the fuel to keep their equipment running... Wood fuel isn't going to be cheap.


    Time to get the ol' axe and splitting maul warmed up.
    They do not require gasoline or diesel to operate.

    Another option is steam or water powered mills.
    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
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 114
    WMno57 said:

    Futures contracts are $3.77 this morning.
    https://finviz.com/futures_charts.ashx?p=d1&t=HO

    That's the spot price. You can see the futures prices at https://www.barchart.com/futures/quotes/HOM11/futures-prices. They show the prices decreasing. I know some oil dealers will offer fixed price contracts to the home owners for the heating season.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    Interesting table. One hopes that it translates into the retail market.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,282
    edited May 27
    Sweaters are inexpensive. Not particularly political. Will be a neccesity. Long johns might get expensive.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Back in the 70's, when Jimmy was wearing sweaters in the white house, wood burning made a comeback. I sold and installed a few wood burning furnaces in basements. Looking back, combustion air was not thought of. Most of these had return air fans on the back side of the furnace and you left the stair well door open for air return. Most of these basements had plenty of "breathing air".
    Masonry chimneys were considered good if still standing.

    I would not have any hand in any of these installs today, knowing now possible dangers.

    But the people then were used to burning wood and most realized the potential dangers.

    Today, everyone is at least 1-2 generations away from the good practices needed for burning wood.

    I can see this trend returning and more chimney and house fires in the future.
    bucksnortratioMaxMercy
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    There are several problems with wood heat. First, even with machinery (power splitters, cordwood saws, skidders, what have you) it's labour intensive. Not really a good game for older people. Second, you do have to know what you are doing with the stuff, and what to burn -- or what not to burn. Chimney fires are great neighbourhood entertainment, but can ruin your whole day.

    Third, and perhaps most important, while it is a renewable resource (if you do your forestry properly) it is also a limited resource: if you are burning hardwood (which you should) you can figure no more than 1 cord per acre of woodland in good condition as a renewable resource. Most hardwoods run around 25,000,000 BTU per cord -- which is equivalent to around 180 gallons of oil. Suppose a reasonably tight normal house in the northern US, burning around 1,000 gallons of oil per winter -- that's the yield from 5 acres of decent woodland.

    The problem should be obvious: the vast majority of houses do not have access to 5 acres of decent woodland. They might have 5 trees... total.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 103
    I work a job that pays me money, I then use that money to pay for things like fuel, food etc. That is how I plan to pay for heat.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819

    There are several problems with wood heat. First, even with machinery (power splitters, cordwood saws, skidders, what have you) it's labour intensive. Not really a good game for older people. Second, you do have to know what you are doing with the stuff, and what to burn -- or what not to burn. Chimney fires are great neighbourhood entertainment, but can ruin your whole day.

    Third, and perhaps most important, while it is a renewable resource (if you do your forestry properly) it is also a limited resource: if you are burning hardwood (which you should) you can figure no more than 1 cord per acre of woodland in good condition as a renewable resource. Most hardwoods run around 25,000,000 BTU per cord -- which is equivalent to around 180 gallons of oil. Suppose a reasonably tight normal house in the northern US, burning around 1,000 gallons of oil per winter -- that's the yield from 5 acres of decent woodland.

    The problem should be obvious: the vast majority of houses do not have access to 5 acres of decent woodland. They might have 5 trees... total.


    So...
    We should just give up?
    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
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    GGross said:

    I work a job that pays me money, I then use that money to pay for things like fuel, food etc. That is how I plan to pay for heat.

    I think bartering is also a possible option under many conditions.
    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
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    ChrisJ said:

    There are several problems with wood heat. First, even with machinery (power splitters, cordwood saws, skidders, what have you) it's labour intensive. Not really a good game for older people. Second, you do have to know what you are doing with the stuff, and what to burn -- or what not to burn. Chimney fires are great neighbourhood entertainment, but can ruin your whole day.

    Third, and perhaps most important, while it is a renewable resource (if you do your forestry properly) it is also a limited resource: if you are burning hardwood (which you should) you can figure no more than 1 cord per acre of woodland in good condition as a renewable resource. Most hardwoods run around 25,000,000 BTU per cord -- which is equivalent to around 180 gallons of oil. Suppose a reasonably tight normal house in the northern US, burning around 1,000 gallons of oil per winter -- that's the yield from 5 acres of decent woodland.

    The problem should be obvious: the vast majority of houses do not have access to 5 acres of decent woodland. They might have 5 trees... total.


    So...
    We should just give up?
    no -- just don't count on burning wood, unless you are young and have access to enough woodlot.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • fentonc
    fentonc Member Posts: 98
    Many states do have something like NY's 'Home Energy Assistance Program' (HEAP), which specifically subsidize fuel costs for vulnerable, low-income people (although the subsidies look like they're typically <$1k/yr). There are many people that have room to lower their fuel demand significantly, but haven't bothered because prices have been relatively cheap historically. Adding insulation and air sealing, putting in a Mr Cool heat pump from home depot (I've been seeing those pop up in a lot of places lately), using thermostat setbacks - if those have a payback period of 10 years almost no one will bother. If the payback is like 2 years or less, plenty of people will sign up.
    In_New_England
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,282
    I used to watch a real estate show from England where realtors show 3 homes to a couple trying to match their dreams. Most of the homes had wood pellet burning stoves. Here in NC, Enviva is a major wood pellet manufacturer. They export most of their product to Europe. I could see wood pellet stoves becoming popular here. My brother uses one that just pipes out of the side of his house. A hopper with an auger feeds the fire all night. It makes his small home nice and toasty.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    SlamDunk said:

    I used to watch a real estate show from England where realtors show 3 homes to a couple trying to match their dreams. Most of the homes had wood pellet burning stoves. Here in NC, Enviva is a major wood pellet manufacturer. They export most of their product to Europe. I could see wood pellet stoves becoming popular here. My brother uses one that just pipes out of the side of his house. A hopper with an auger feeds the fire all night. It makes his small home nice and toasty.

    There was one in my house when I bought it.
    I sold it when I put NG in mainly because I needed the room and whoever installed it used screws in the twist lock Simpson vent piping. So I needed to replace all of it and just didn't feel like dealing with it. They had it cockeyed so it was blowing dust in the kitchen........and covered it with aluminum foil to fix the issue.....I guess
    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
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,282
    I have a boiler and a furnace...If I told my wife I wanted a pellet stove too, she'd kill me.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Back when I was young and had a seemingly endless supply I did heat with wood....and got paid to bring it home.

    Working as the local lineman and with a back log of tree trimming to do, that was my fuel source for our wood furnace.

    I would "chunk" off 25" lengths, from the bucket truck, while still on the tree.
    Ground crew would then dump it in my back yard.

    Once I left that job, I went back to the NG furnace in the basement.
    Even as a struggling self employed tradesman, one day's income would pay the monthly gas bill.

    Certainly not as warm though at 10 below.

    And 30 years or so later, one days income (if I go to work) will still more than pay the NG bill.
    But much warmer with infloor radiant heating.
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 169
    HVACNUT said:

    I clocked my 16 year old son in the shower this morning. From water on to water off, 26 minutes, 24 seconds.

    I had one that would start the shower, have a dump, and *then* a long shower. He liked a warm room. Ranted on him many times. One day when I was finally cleaning the mold out of the room corners and behind things, he became aware of what he was doing. Been fine since. He's quite a bit more concerned about mold than the family finances. lol
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 688
    edited May 27
    HVACNUT said:
    I clocked my 16 year old son in the shower this morning. From water on to water off, 26 minutes, 24 seconds. The boiler cycled 3 times. Eliminate the child and save $$$. Shutting off the switch to the boiler after 5 minutes will work too I guess. 
    When I installed my hpwh I installed a shiney new shutoff valve for it too. It works good. The screams are priceless.

    I wonder if I could automate this in Home Assistant. Shower in operation longer than 15 minutes = shutoff valve for hot water tank closed. Could also have it set to turn on a microphone so many seconds after the valve closes and send the recording to my phone.
    MaxMercyHVACNUTIn_New_England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819

    HVACNUT said:

    I clocked my 16 year old son in the shower this morning. From water on to water off, 26 minutes, 24 seconds.

    I had one that would start the shower, have a dump, and *then* a long shower. He liked a warm room. Ranted on him many times. One day when I was finally cleaning the mold out of the room corners and behind things, he became aware of what he was doing. Been fine since. He's quite a bit more concerned about mold than the family finances. lol
    Sounds like you either need a better fart fan or the one you have needs better ducting.
    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
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 289
    GGross said:

    I work a job that pays me money, I then use that money to pay for things like fuel, food etc. That is how I plan to pay for heat.

    I grew up in a **fiscally** conservative household (this is not political..), and my wife and I have always lived well within our means, even though we haven't always made as much money as many folks have. The short version is that this means that even if the 700 gallons of fuel oil I buy this winter cost me $4500 instead of the $1400 it used to cost, it won't affect us one bit, nor will the groceries which will cost 2X what they used to, or the rising electricity rates.

    I'm pretty sure my two sons and their wives will also be OK, but we will help them out if need be, even if it's picking up a full tank of oil for them.

    But not everyone is like us. For good and bad, a lot of people live much closer to month to month than they should, and that can't easily be changed overnight in most cases. It won't be just the heat, it will be electricity, food, clothing, etc.

    As Jamie said, I think a lot of people are going to go without heat at some point this coming winter. This might be ugly. I hope we're wrong.



    SlamDunkHVACNUTIn_New_England
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 688
    JUGHNE said:
     And 30 years or so later, one days income (if I go to work) will still more than pay the NG bill. But much warmer with infloor radiant heating.
    I'm not a tradesman, but one days of work still has covered my monthly heating bills for years now. But if the cost of NG doubles that will no longer be the case. I have an almost 100 year old drafty house. 

    I do have new storms on order that I hope arrive in the next couple weeks and some major repairs in the basement coming up. Once that is done I'm going insulate the basement and I'm also working on clearing all the crap out of the attic so I can insulate that and rewire the upstairs. Which would allow me to insulate the exterior walls. Aiming for r12 on the foundation, r36 in the attic at the very least, and r13 on the walls not accounting for thermal bridging. Plus air sealing. Maybe that will allow me to continue to cover the heating costs with a single days work... I also have thought about a a2w heat pump to supplement the boiler. I do have a wood burning fireplace that hasn't been used in decades. Might get that inspected and have an insert installed. I grew up heating with wood, hated it but... 
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 103
    @MaxMercy
    I was unfortunate enough to begin my working adult life into a monstrous recession. My takeaway from it, for better or worse, was that I as a very poor person at the time, had my life essentially unchanged, I was still very poor. My father on the other hand, was middle class and was ravaged by it along with the many fine small business owners in our county, people who were stretched thin were broken by the recession. My very wealthy friends, were still very wealthy and able to pay the bills. Ever since then I have just lived my life as though I still make minimum wage, everything else goes straight to savings, and my "war chest" not to be touched unless we have another recession similar to what I started my career in. I will not be caught by that like my dad was, he taught me a great many things and that lesson, though unintentional, may have been the most important. We can all complain about it, advocate for our preferred method to fix it, but the reality is that it is up to me and me alone to provide for and protect my family and I will always make sure "ends meet" financially for us, it's my job.
    SlamDunkLarry WeingartenMikeAmannIn_New_England
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 289
    GGross said:

    @MaxMercy
    We can all complain about it, advocate for our preferred method to fix it, but the reality is that it is up to me and me alone to provide for and protect my family and I will always make sure "ends meet" financially for us, it's my job.

    I agree, but my point is that it's not often so black and white. I'm a bit ashamed to say that I used to be far more indifferent if not a bit smug to the plight of people who were in financial binds. Many of them are spend-thrifts, sure - but others might have had a loss of a job, or an illness, or some other unfortunate circumstance that might cause them to lose everything they had, even if they were careful. One of my customers lost all his savings to his long time accountant who "invested" his money for him. He just sold his house to his niece who will house him and his sister for or as long as they live. Those are the people I worry about.

    Physically, I am very fortunate as I come from good stock. I played competitive softball in an industrial league into my 62nd year before retiring to play league golf. Give me four weeks to work out and I'll be back in left field by July. I rarely missed a day of work for anything and was always able to provide. My wife (retiring in three weeks), has fortunately been in good health and had a successful career. But I find now that I'm 64 that I am more appreciative of our good luck as much as our hard work and careful financial decisions and try not to judge people the way I used to.

    SlamDunkHVACNUTLarry WeingartenIn_New_England
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 103
    @MaxMercy

    Yes all great points, re-reading what I originally posted it comes off as pretty cold, which was not my intention. I agree with everything you said
    MaxMercy
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    Which recession was that @GGross ?
    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
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,590
    ChrisJ said:
    Which recession was that @GGross ?
    I think it was when The Charleston was all the rage. Boop-Oop-a-Doop!
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,562
    edited May 31
    Perhaps you should get a backup, a couple of extra dogs in case it's a 3 dog night. hmmm!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,909
    Thank you, @DanHolohan
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,962
    Thank YOU, @Jamie Hall.
    Retired and loving it.