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Say good bye to gas

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Comments

  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,914
    edited October 2022
    Ya! I kinda fell asleep reading into the comments. Brilliant minds think alike, at least funny minds. What this site needs is more humor. Probably, most who comment, here, haven't laughed in the last 10 yrs. If you can't laff at life, you're in for ruff sledding.
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 460

    ...Considering only the most dire possible future scenarios to the exclusion of any and all other scenarios, and then basing policy decisions on that is foolish.

    Yeah, we don't need to pay attention to no stinkin' design day. As long as the occupants don't freeze, who needs comfort. :)
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 298
    JakeCK said:


    Actually it is. Let's start with the oceans. They have worked as massive carbon sinks for the past century, absorbing the majority of the excess carbon and the energy imbalance that the warming planet is subject to. The result is Acidification of the oceans. What does this mean? Coral and phytoplankton suddenly have a hard time growing. How does this affect us? Just think, over three billion people depend directly on the ocean for their food. Disrupt the plankton, and you basically cut the legs out from under the entire marine food chain. Now let's come back on land to our breadbasket. Ever look at the relationship between photosynthesis and temperature? The rate of photosynthesis increases steadily as temperature goes up until suddenly it stops and then begins a very rapid drop down to nothing. This is because the enzymes required to produce the sugars break down above 45c/113f. Now this sounds really hot but when you look at projections for the plains and Midwest suddenly a really big problem emerges. And we haven't even gotten to disruptions to precipitation yet.

    Today there are almost 8 billion people on this planet and we already struggle to feed them all. Just look at what the war in Ukraine has done, a largely regional affair... Now imagine if we cut the world's food production to just 1/3 of what it is now. Plus the billion or so people who are displaced by sea level rise. 

    How do you think governments and people are going to respond as they desperately try to cling to life? 
    Something tells me we aren't all going to sing kum ba yah around the cam... Dumpster fire that is our world 

    Ya'll can keep your heads in the sand.

    Is all of this technically solvable? We can adapt, we have the know how and technology. The question is will we? I have my doubts as I sit here reading so many people throwing fits over the prospect of having to switch from a gas appliance to an electric. 

    You might too if you were building a new house and realized that the gas ban might impoverish you by up to $56,000 over 20 years by my calculations. It's not just the increased construction and energy costs, it's also the opportunity cost. The extra money you are forced to spend on electric appliances and electricity could have been invested, and you will never realize those returns either...and you can't spend what you don't have. That means less growth, jobs, etc. across the whole economy. I've looked for studies that perform a cost-benefit analysis of gas bans. Having a hard time finding any that conclude the benefits far outweigh the costs in every climate zone and in every location in the same climate zone across the whole country. I understand people are worried...but the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    You might too if you were building a new house and realized that the gas ban might impoverish you by up to $56,000 over 20 years by my calculations. 
    Okay this is cherry-picking. Not saying it’s bad, we all do it, but it’s totally unique to your spreadsheet. For many people it’ll be much cheaper to ditch gas (a huge percentage of Americans don’t have gas and don’t care enough to hook up to gas). For many it’ll be a wash not worth worrying about, especially over 20 years when they move in 10. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,401
    At some slight risk of opening yet another can of worms, what about people -- and yes, they do exist -- who can't get natural gas at any price, whether they want it or not? Or at least any reasonable price (I, for instance, am not about to pay my gas company for eight miles of transmission main...). As usual, a minority of the population -- but one might hope that any solution and particularly any mandate might consider the minorities as well as the thundering herd (and before you say "go electric", fine -- who's going to pay to upgrade the grid so they can do that?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    At some slight risk of opening yet another can of worms, what about people -- and yes, they do exist -- who can't get natural gas at any price, whether they want it or not? Or at least any reasonable price (I, for instance, am not about to pay my gas company for eight miles of transmission main...). 
    That’s exactly right! Some people don’t value gas enough to pay  for it and unlike electricity, a rural gasification program didn’t happen. 
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 298
    I wish it were cherry-picking. My town wants to ban gas. I live in a major metropolitan area. There is only 1 gas and 1 electric utility in my town, and that's the way it is in a lot of towns in the Boston area. There are 10 towns that are enrolling in a pilot program to ban gas. I would not be surprised if Boston followed NYC. My situation is not unique. I'm using the NAHB study I linked to and plugged in my most recent local gas and electric rates. Those who build a new house and then sell it, the buyer will still bear the additional cost. Impoverishment of society happens regardless. In other parts of the country where it saves people money to go all-electric, you're right, no one cares about gas, but in cold areas where the electric/gas price ratio is high, it is devastating.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    edited October 2022
    The study seems biased - I’m in Baltimore, one of the case study cities, and it was zero cost to install a heat pump vs the equivalent furnace + AC combination. And now I’m saving 40-50% vs gas. People want AC more than they care about their heating method, for better or worse. The gas value add is lower than proponents believe - otherwise we’d all have gas lines! 
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 409
    Depends where you are, ASHP here seems silly. My design temp is -21f.
    I would need 20 or 30kw of electric heat for when the ASHP shuts down.
    If the power went out for an extended period, I'd be shafted.
    GSHP is a possibility if I ever win the lottery.
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    Actually it is. Let's start with the oceans. They have worked as massive carbon sinks for the past century, absorbing the majority of the excess carbon and the energy imbalance that the warming planet is subject to. The result is Acidification of the oceans. What does this mean? Coral and phytoplankton suddenly have a hard time growing. How does this affect us? Just think, over three billion people depend directly on the ocean for their food. Disrupt the plankton, and you basically cut the legs out from under the entire marine food chain. Now let's come back on land to our breadbasket. Ever look at the relationship between photosynthesis and temperature? The rate of photosynthesis increases steadily as temperature goes up until suddenly it stops and then begins a very rapid drop down to nothing. This is because the enzymes required to produce the sugars break down above 45c/113f. Now this sounds really hot but when you look at projections for the plains and Midwest suddenly a really big problem emerges. And we haven't even gotten to disruptions to precipitation yet.

    Today there are almost 8 billion people on this planet and we already struggle to feed them all. Just look at what the war in Ukraine has done, a largely regional affair... Now imagine if we cut the world's food production to just 1/3 of what it is now. Plus the billion or so people who are displaced by sea level rise. 

    How do you think governments and people are going to respond as they desperately try to cling to life? 
    Something tells me we aren't all going to sing kum ba yah around the cam... Dumpster fire that is our world 

    Ya'll can keep your heads in the sand.

    Is all of this technically solvable? We can adapt, we have the know how and technology. The question is will we? I have my doubts as I sit here reading so many people throwing fits over the prospect of having to switch from a gas appliance to an electric. 
    You might too if you were building a new house and realized that the gas ban might impoverish you by up to $56,000 over 20 years by my calculations. It's not just the increased construction and energy costs, it's also the opportunity cost. The extra money you are forced to spend on electric appliances and electricity could have been invested, and you will never realize those returns either...and you can't spend what you don't have. That means less growth, jobs, etc. across the whole economy. I've looked for studies that perform a cost-benefit analysis of gas bans. Having a hard time finding any that conclude the benefits far outweigh the costs in every climate zone and in every location in the same climate zone across the whole country. I understand people are worried...but the road to hell is paved with good intentions...


    Where did you get this 56k? If it's MORE expensive by 3k a year for electric over gas on a brand new build. You are doing something wrong. 

    It's called insulation dude. 

    Maybe that is the problem. Everyone looks at the residential building code and goes yup this is a good house here's my stamp of approval. The code is the MINIMUM. Build that house so ones flatulence can heat it and you won't need much of any kind of heating system. 

    Also instead of building oversized McMansions build something more reasonable. It always amazes me when I see these half million dollar 3000sq ft+ exurban monstrosities that are barely built to code and half the time have severe deficiencies built on former farm land. Then the new owners drive everywhere in urban tanks and commute 50 miles one way everyday only to piss and moan about energy costs. I'm sorry I have no sympathy. It's almost as bad as the multi million dollar mansions that get built on the coastal sand bars in the sun belt... And then rebuilt.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    At some slight risk of opening yet another can of worms, what about people -- and yes, they do exist -- who can't get natural gas at any price, whether they want it or not? Or at least any reasonable price (I, for instance, am not about to pay my gas company for eight miles of transmission main...). As usual, a minority of the population -- but one might hope that any solution and particularly any mandate might consider the minorities as well as the thundering herd (and before you say "go electric", fine -- who's going to pay to upgrade the grid so they can do that?
    Same as they always have. Wood/pellet, propane, electric, or oil are really your only options. On a new build electric after building a tight enough house that it isn't an issue. On older houses retrofit insulation if possible, if historic and they have banned fuel burning appliances with no exceptions then it sounds like a really good case to litigate. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,401

    At some slight risk of opening yet another can of worms, what about people -- and yes, they do exist -- who can't get natural gas at any price, whether they want it or not? Or at least any reasonable price (I, for instance, am not about to pay my gas company for eight miles of transmission main...). 
    That’s exactly right! Some people don’t value gas enough to pay  for it and unlike electricity, a rural gasification program didn’t happen. 
    It's not so much that some people don't value gas enough to pay for it -- it's that in most more rural settings if has no value over other options, and people aren't dumb enough to pay for it. You have to remember that rural electrification -- a government program set up as part of recovery from the Great Depression -- offered something entirely novel to the people who got electricity. Not just lighting (kerosene lamps are a bore) but all sorts of wonderful appliances which saved a lot of time and effort. It was also cheap -- in many areas it was just a matter of stringing a wire on existing poles. Gas was already available in many more urban areas, with distribution already in place ("town gas" or coal gas), but the pipelines to connect those areas were and remain very expensive and need a large market. In more rural areas, the alternatives (you had electric for your stove now!) were and remain oil and coal, and more recently LP. Why should I run a pipeline at a million or so per mile to serve a few houses 8 miles away? A lot cheaper and easier to load up an oil truck and run it out there. In more urban areas, by contrast, running an oil truck around is difficult, and the gas lines were already there.

    People are generally pretty good at figuring out whether they are getting value for money.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    It's not so much that some people don't value gas enough to pay for it -- it's that in most more rural settings if has no value over other options, and people aren't dumb enough to pay for it.


    I think we're saying the same thing, as commonly happens.
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 298
    edited October 2022

    The study seems biased - I’m in Baltimore, one of the case study cities, and it was zero cost to install a heat pump vs the equivalent furnace + AC combination. And now I’m saving 40-50% vs gas. People want AC more than they care about their heating method, for better or worse. The gas value add is lower than proponents believe - otherwise we’d all have gas lines! 

    Most studies are biased in some way. Your electric price is less than half as much as ours.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?id=APUS35E72620,APUS11A72620,APUS35E72511,APUS11A72511,APUS35E72610,APUS11A72610,
    JakeCK said:

    Where did you get this 56k? If it's MORE expensive by 3k a year for electric over gas on a brand new build. You are doing something wrong. 

    It's called insulation dude.

    It's a fair point about insulation, but I don't have the numbers for that. I have no idea how much more expensive a passivhaus would be compared to a 2021 code minimum house. My understanding is that not too many builders know how to do this. I used the NAHB study as a guide.

    The construction costs are $11365-12937 higher for the electric house. Total electric usage of 12395-13844 kwh/yr, and total gas usage of 1641-1659 therms/yr. The energy costs for me would be $671-1174 higher/yr. with prices of $0.3219/kwh and $2.00/therm. Add it up over 20 years, that's $26357-$34845. Except you could have invested that money in a Roth IRA as an example getting 3% real returns, that's $41937-$53019. I was off by a little. Using the GREET model from Argonne National Laboratory with the NPCC power mix, the GHG emissions are 73909 g of CO2e/mmbtu of electricity. Using EPA GHG value of .0053 tons CO2/therm and adding 20% for the upstream emissions gives .00636 tons/therm. Total GHGs electric house is 3.126-3.491 tons/yr, for gas is 10.44-10.55 tons/yr. Avoided emissions is 6.95-7.43 tons/yr. Assign US government social cost of carbon (SCC) with their associated discount rates and the damages over 20 years are $2837-$28680. The high value there is for damages in the 95th percentile. Using the official federal SCC, the damages are $8843-$9453. According to this study and for me, this doesn't pass a cost-benefit analysis even when you assign the highest value possible for the SCC.

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,909
    If CO2 is so nasty ought not think about removing it?
    Irrigate wasteland to grow algae & sea grass & stuff?
    Then bury that carbon deep.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,401
    On the question of a passive house. I've designed or built or both several in New England. They aren't significantly more expensive than a well built ordinary house, nor do they look funny. They are more expensive than a throw it up and walk away developer special, and they do take more than ordinary care in the details.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    JakeCK
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 298

    On the question of a passive house. I've designed or built or both several in New England. They aren't significantly more expensive than a well built ordinary house, nor do they look funny. They are more expensive than a throw it up and walk away developer special, and they do take more than ordinary care in the details.

    But having read your posts, I bet you probably know what you're doing. Does the average developer know how to do this well and without running into problems with humidity and air quality and who knows what else?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,401

    On the question of a passive house. I've designed or built or both several in New England. They aren't significantly more expensive than a well built ordinary house, nor do they look funny. They are more expensive than a throw it up and walk away developer special, and they do take more than ordinary care in the details.

    But having read your posts, I bet you probably know what you're doing. Does the average developer know how to do this well and without running into problems with humidity and air quality and who knows what else?
    nope...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 460

    On the question of a passive house. I've designed or built or both several in New England. They aren't significantly more expensive than a well built ordinary house, nor do they look funny. They are more expensive than a throw it up and walk away developer special, and they do take more than ordinary care in the details.

    But having read your posts, I bet you probably know what you're doing. Does the average developer know how to do this well and without running into problems with humidity and air quality and who knows what else?

    nope...

    However, if statues/regulations were implemented that forced those throw-it-up-and-walk-away developers to it Jamie's way, instead of ordinary houses we'd have passive houses for not significantly more money. Even less of a premium than what Jamie suffered because what he did that was non-standard would be the new normal, i.e. benefit from economy of scale.
    All that's necessary is a willingness to stop reflexively opposing "mandates."
    JakeCKLarry Weingarten
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    The study seems biased - I’m in Baltimore, one of the case study cities, and it was zero cost to install a heat pump vs the equivalent furnace + AC combination. And now I’m saving 40-50% vs gas. People want AC more than they care about their heating method, for better or worse. The gas value add is lower than proponents believe - otherwise we’d all have gas lines! 
    Most studies are biased in some way. Your electric price is less than half as much as ours. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?id=APUS35E72620,APUS11A72620,APUS35E72511,APUS11A72511,APUS35E72610,APUS11A72610,
    Where did you get this 56k? If it's MORE expensive by 3k a year for electric over gas on a brand new build. You are doing something wrong. 

    It's called insulation dude.
    It's a fair point about insulation, but I don't have the numbers for that. I have no idea how much more expensive a passivhaus would be compared to a 2021 code minimum house. My understanding is that not too many builders know how to do this. I used the NAHB study as a guide. The construction costs are $11365-12937 higher for the electric house. Total electric usage of 12395-13844 kwh/yr, and total gas usage of 1641-1659 therms/yr. The energy costs for me would be $671-1174 higher/yr. with prices of $0.3219/kwh and $2.00/therm. Add it up over 20 years, that's $26357-$34845. Except you could have invested that money in a Roth IRA as an example getting 3% real returns, that's $41937-$53019. I was off by a little. Using the GREET model from Argonne National Laboratory with the NPCC power mix, the GHG emissions are 73909 g of CO2e/mmbtu of electricity. Using EPA GHG value of .0053 tons CO2/therm and adding 20% for the upstream emissions gives .00636 tons/therm. Total GHGs electric house is 3.126-3.491 tons/yr, for gas is 10.44-10.55 tons/yr. Avoided emissions is 6.95-7.43 tons/yr. Assign US government social cost of carbon (SCC) with their associated discount rates and the damages over 20 years are $2837-$28680. The high value there is for damages in the 95th percentile. Using the official federal SCC, the damages are $8843-$9453. According to this study and for me, this doesn't pass a cost-benefit analysis even when you assign the highest value possible for the SCC.
    We don't even need a passive house to achieve these goals. Law of diminishing returns and all.

    And I don't know if I believe those numbers. How can an all electric house be more expensive to build? You do not need any of the plumbing for the gas for starters. You are most likely already going to be installing AC so instead of that just install a heat pump with backup. Heating coils are expensive to run but not install. If one goes for a hybrid heat pump water heater and heat pump ventless dryer the operating costs are next to nothing. I will grant an additional grand for the water heater over a traditional electric. However the cost savings from the HP will offset that in less than 7 years. Actually the savings are so great that if take care of it will even offset the costs of a gas water heater. I have a hpwh, it uses 100kwh a month for a family of four. No joke. My dehumidifier uses more energy.

    And for the concerns about builders not knowing how to build efficient homes with out causing mold and moisture issues? Well that's funny because they already do... But neither are good excuses. 
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    @JakeCK exactly the biggest impact for the least money is switching AC for a heat pump. If a place charges $.3/kwh but only $2/therm, it’s not the gas that’s making electricity expensive - likely the distribution. Those charges can go down as electrification increases - like they have since the very start. 
  • random12345
    random12345 Member Posts: 298
    @JakeCK and @Hot_water_fan I would agree that switching AC for heat pump could make sense. In moderately cool weather, like upper 40s to 50s, heat pumps are fantastically efficient. I've been staying in hotels the past few days, and had to use the room's PTAC unit. I don't like it compared to steam. I find that I have to increase the temperature higher than I might like because the air circulation makes me feel cold, and then I feel like it overshoots and the room is suddenly too hot and I shut it down... :/ And the air gets so dry too right when the air is already too dry...It's like the opposite of what you need to feel comfortable. In hot, humid weather, I think AC does its job well because it circulates the air and dehumidifies, which is exactly what I want in the Summer. I think to make heat pumps as comfortable as hydronics takes some real attention to detail. Adding humidification, not blowing air directly at people in the living space...
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    edited October 2022
    Here are my numbers. I included 2020 because that was the last full year I did not have solar or make any other energy efficiency improvements.

    Past 13 months gas 10/22 1073ccf @ $0.899/ccf -
    1094.46 therms
    Past 13 months gas 8/20 1239ccf $.0418/ccf -
    1263.78 therms

    Past 12 months electric 10/22 10400kwh(Note: extrapolating my usage to the end of the month when it will be one year since solar was installed. Since the solar was installed I can no longer use the metrics on my electric bill and must use the meter on the solar system.)
    Past 12 months electric 8/20 10478kwh

    Notice how my gas usage dropped by almost 270 therms yet my electric usage remained about the same even after adding a heat pump water heater @ 100kwh a month. While I have added insulation to the foundation and replaced the storm windows both of those are with in the last two months. The largest change was swapping out the water heater and removing the third chimney that was used only by the old gas tank in October of 2021. 

    Since shutting off the pilot on the boiler in June, the last four billing cycles I have only used 2ccf of NG each month for the dryer.

    Also notice the change in the cost of natural gas per therm which has more than doubled. And because we are exporting more LNG then just a few years ago and due to global issues this is not going to reverse any time soon. My electric rates have gone up as well but not by nearly as much as a % and my solar system offsets my usage by 120%. 

    Edit: One other change from 2020 to today is back in 2020 this was a family of three. It is now a family of four and I still managed to reduce consumption of energy. 






     
    Hot_water_fan
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    @JakeCK and @Hot_water_fan I would agree that switching AC for heat pump could make sense. In moderately cool weather, like upper 40s to 50s, heat pumps are fantastically efficient. I've been staying in hotels the past few days, and had to use the room's PTAC unit. I don't like it compared to steam. I find that I have to increase the temperature higher than I might like because the air circulation makes me feel cold, and then I feel like it overshoots and the room is suddenly too hot and I shut it down... :/ And the air gets so dry too right when the air is already too dry...It's like the opposite of what you need to feel comfortable. In hot, humid weather, I think AC does its job well because it circulates the air and dehumidifies, which is exactly what I want in the Summer. I think to make heat pumps as comfortable as hydronics takes some real attention to detail. Adding humidification, not blowing air directly at people in the living space...
    This is a common problem with any forced hot air system, regardless of energy source. This is why radiant is superior, and air to water heat pumps do exist, just not for steam.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,000
    In moderately cool weather, like upper 40s to 50s, heat pumps are fantastically efficient.
    @random12345 ha they’re also efficient into the single digits ! Maybe not fantastically so
  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 989
    @random12345

    I agree regarding the distinction between radiant heat and circulating warm air from a low temp coil that does not have the capacity to more significantly ramp coil temperature as outside temperature drops.

    @JakeCK

    I'm a little confused on the two numbers for gas you post, both for the last 13 months. or maybe one was for the 13 months before? I think that is what I take. I remain ambivalent about the cost and relative complexity of heat pump hot water heaters. They are a good technology for taking advantage of heat pumping technology although they have the effect of cooling the space they are in by the extent to which they raise the water temp. I do have one friend who likes the technology for its dehumidification/cold store prospects where he keeps root vegetables in his basement. But heat pump hot water heaters cost like 3 or 4 times the alternatives. And then there is installation costs. According to your figures, if you literally added nothing to your electric, which by COP measures of about 3 suggest you are saving about half the CO2 (.5 efficiency for electric gen vs. .8 for non-condensing hot water and not weighing tank losses in either case, although the traditional gas tanks are more, on demand is virtually none). So heat pump hot water is an interesting incremental tech. If these systems last 10 to 20 years I can see it but we literally don't have the industry manpower to be replacing them every 5 if we have all this other work to do on buidlings.

    And as to its relation to air conditioning (in the heat pump sense, heating and cooling) the water you are heating only goes down in temp like 10 degrees at the outside, if that, in the winter.

    So that doesn't go to heat pump heating for home heating or saying goodbye to gas and other fossil backup for the vast majority of applications, nevermind that ondemand gas gets rid of tank losses and delivers precise hot water on demand (to be fair, it's widespread adoption can have system effects on peak gas demand, albeit stochastic management seems to be the saving grace of utility demand management as much as particularized reductions. And in propane situations it is even a nobrainer with present utility rates a 32¢ a kwh, I just make sure to upsize storage for evaporative keepup, which also allows more purchase when prices are low) But who wouldn't rather install a 40 lbs on demand than a 200 lbs. heat pump tank heater. maybe that's the old man in me talking. . . .

    I'm glad to see you making the economic argument when I can also see that your tendency sometimes when folks bring up the economic argument is to jump to an exaggerated vision of trade-offs. While it is true that the pricing does not perfectly reflect the trade-offs, the Ukraine War has given us a very good opportunity to test the willingness of our fellow citizens to endure the privation of a higher percentage of their income going to energy and gives a test of what significant carbon discouraging pricing might look like and what the response would be. I would argue that folks have clearly signaled regardless of so-called "science" what their carbon preferences are.

    You respond usefully by proposing longer term investments that would reduce carbon consumption and of all those ideas tried to date in terms of appliances, heat pump hot water heaters (and on demand gas heaters) are an interesting proposition whereas condensing boilers and air source heat pumps are a much less convincing bit of subsidy at least to the geographical and climate extent they are pushed in the absence of backup.

    My issue with the subsidies is also that the homeowner ought to pay them back over the course of utility savings. The government belief in these tehcnologies and their savings ought to limit the government interest to financing, not paying for these technologies.

    Ditto insulation which is the best investment of all, beyond simple leak sealing. The magic bullet focus and whether the house directly consumes fossil fuel is the most wrongheaded policy I can imagine vs. instead of the longer term interest in the improvent of the housing stock itself.



  • cowdog
    cowdog Member Posts: 83
    California has much biomass that can be processed into fuel. Wood chips and biomass pellets can replace natural gas.
    WMno57
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    edited October 2022
    What are you confused about? One was from 2020 the other from the last 13 months.

    So I forgot I did replace my largest window ac at the beginning of 2021. My old one was mid 90's vintage and I could hear the compressor working harder then it used too and the inside was pretty fouled up with nastiness. As a result I checked my usage for 2021 as well. Total over a 13month period from 10/2020 to 10/2021 was 10939kwh. More than the previous year in fact! O.O Hot summer maybe.
    So in all I'm betting the electric usage remaining flat is due to humidity. I run a dehumidifier all spring, and summer. This heats the basement up quite a bit too. This heat would then migrate upstairs where the window AC's would have to work harder to remove it. Now with the hpwh it is both cooling and dehumidifying the basement while running, but also the removal of the flue means less outside air is being drawn into the basement as well. Most of the moisture load is from the excess air exchange.

    My basement is currently unintentionally heated by the boiler and all of the piping for that. A lot of loss was through the uninsulated basement walls as well, that is one change that was made this past summer. And that project is still on going actually. If I can capture that heat with a hpwh before it makes it outside all the better. Stand by loses of the tank do not concern me much, the heat is still all in the house. 

    I installed the tank my self. So installation costs with paid with sweat in this case. That said the installation costs should be the same if the owner already has a standard electric. If the owner has gas then a new 30amp circuit will need to be ran. There are now new 120v 15amp tanks coming to market that will work very well in warmer states too. Yes it is 3 times more for the tank, which works out to about a grand. My old tank was 15+ years old and had never had the anode rod replaced, I was replacing it preemptively. 

    The issue with on demand water heaters is that they require a lot of power to heat that water in the time it's in the exchanger. If you have cold water it might be beyond what it can do. 

    The water temperature at my house fluctuates a lot between summer and winter. Late summer it'll be 60f, by late winter it'll be down to the upper 30's. Our supply comes from lake Erie which fluctuates and the reservoir that supplies my house is above ground and is actually right across the street from me. 

    Look I'm not advocating everyone go out and replace good working equipment, however as equipment ages and needs to be replaced the additional costs of these advanced heating systems is really negligible, even before federal tax credits. And I do not see these heat pumps failing en mass after only 5 or so years. The only window ac I've ever had fail on me was my 25+ year old Panasonic. It was the temperature controls that failed. I ended up bypassing the failed part and installed a relay and transformer and controlled it from my wall t-stat for another 5 years. I've only had one fridge fail on me and it was also over 15 years old, manufactured in 02 or 03 and it died last year. It was my basement fridge and I lost some food because of that. I replaced that with a massive deep freezer. Two years ago I replaced my dehumidifier that was only 10 years old not because it had failed but because it was really fouled up and made the whole basement smell bad when I turned it on in the spring. I did not feel like tearing it apart to clean it. I've done it before and it was a pita. 

    Bottom line these appliances should be able to survive 15 to 20 years if taken care of. A heat pump for a house I would expect to last a bit longer. As long as the condenser and evap coils are kept clean.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,853
    A good hermetic system should be able to last decades easily.

    HOWEVER.
    The current equipment I've seen typically lasts 10 years and many evaporators etc leak even before that.

    Expecting a modern heat pump to go 15-30 years is really, really, asking way too much especially minisplits.

    Is it possible? Yes, very but it's highly unlikely with the current way things are being done.



    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
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    edited October 2022
    ChrisJ said:
    A good hermetic system should be able to last decades easily. HOWEVER. The current equipment I've seen typically lasts 10 years and many evaporators etc leak even before that. Expecting a modern heat pump to go 15-30 years is really, really, asking way too much especially minisplits. Is it possible? Yes, very but it's highly unlikely with the current way things are being done.
    Then maybe some QC and longevity should be put into these energy efficiency requirements. This isn't an inherent issue with the technology but an issue with greed and maximizing profits for shareholders. And it isn't isolated to just heat pumps. Why don't the CI exchangers in new boilers last as long as the ones from decades past?

    @ChrisJ Also I didn't mean 30 years. I mistyped when I said 29 years. I meant 20. 30 years is a tall order.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,853
    edited October 2022
    JakeCK said:


    ChrisJ said:

    A good hermetic system should be able to last decades easily.

    HOWEVER.
    The current equipment I've seen typically lasts 10 years and many evaporators etc leak even before that.

    Expecting a modern heat pump to go 15-30 years is really, really, asking way too much especially minisplits.

    Is it possible? Yes, very but it's highly unlikely with the current way things are being done.





    Then maybe some QC and longevity should be put into these energy efficiency requirements. This isn't an inherent issue with the technology but an issue with greed and maximizing profits for shareholders. And it isn't isolated to just heat pumps. Why don't the CI exchangers in new boilers last as long as the ones from decades past?
    No,
    It has absolutely nothing to do with the technology.
    But, what you're suggesting people use for heat is more expensive to install, more expensive to repair and much more likely to fail and need repairs.

    And that's likely not going to change. If you want it even cheaper, it's probably going to fail more often.



    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: 20,401
    There is an interesting tradeoff between three sides of an engineering triangle regarding machinery (and, perhaps, anything else man-made). The three sides are low cost, durability, and performance. It turns out that you can only maximize two of the three at a time -- indeed, some would argue you can only maximize one at a time.

    To get out of heating, perhaps a few other examples. I can build you an engine (top fuel dragster) which produces several thousand horsepower from a stock size Chrysler block. Wonderful performance. However, both durability (they last about 5 seconds before needing to rebuilt) and cost (they don't come cheap) suffer. I can also build you an engine (my Ferguson TO20 tractor -- Continental four cylinder) which is still going strong 70 years out of the factory and who knows how many hours. Superb durability. Weight for power -- performance -- (the thing is a boat anchor) not so much, and it wasn't cheap. Or I can build you a lawn tractor for cheap -- it's not going to last, and the performance is no better than acceptable, but it's cheap. Or I can build you a car -- say a pre-war Rolls-Royce -- which is going to run forever and has excellent performance, but was extremely expensive.

    Take your pick.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Hot_water_fanWMno57Solid_Fuel_Man
  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 989

    On the question of a passive house. I've designed or built or both several in New England. They aren't significantly more expensive than a well built ordinary house, nor do they look funny. They are more expensive than a throw it up and walk away developer special, and they do take more than ordinary care in the details.

    But having read your posts, I bet you probably know what you're doing. Does the average developer know how to do this well and without running into problems with humidity and air quality and who knows what else?

    nope...

    However, if statues/regulations were implemented that forced those throw-it-up-and-walk-away developers to it Jamie's way, instead of ordinary houses we'd have passive houses for not significantly more money. Even less of a premium than what Jamie suffered because what he did that was non-standard would be the new normal, i.e. benefit from economy of scale.
    All that's necessary is a willingness to stop reflexively opposing "mandates."
    but sal, this is the gravamen of the complaint. we're in the middle of a housing crisis–at least so they tell me. that is different than a homeless crisis which i tend to agree with Shellenberger does not arises as a matter of lack of housing or principally in that way.

    so regulations that increase immediate costs and add to construction time and complexity exacerbate the housing crisis as a measure to address some purported future atmospheric carbon excess crisis. Even if I took both crises to be true and accurate that does not say the proper policy emphasis to be placed on each. Yes, we can do 2 things at once but we are responding to an envronmental movement that has often reduced its efforts to rearranging angels on the head of pin instead of admitting victory.

    You and @jakeCK seem convinced we are faced with some existential crisis from carbon emissions. I completely disagree with that assessment, but we have an actual existential issue with housing, in no small part exacerbated by previous environmental regulations that vastly increase the cost of building material, esp. smart building material, and limit housing density, complicate its construction. And the kind of absurd french revolutionary solutions proposed in contravention of the obvious needed solutions is to make housing a human right. brilliant. while we're at it let's make various envrionmental quality metrics a human right and see how the two are compatiable or not.

    The rest of us get up go to work and make houses liveable. I think we need more of that and way less regulations that aren't directly related to immediate health and safety thresholds. The rest of the stuff can work itself out long arc because we will never be weaned of carbon until its more affordable not to use it. Give all the x-prizes you want to open choke points for adoption of low carbon tech (and i'm no reverse NIMBY who concentrates on the negative externalities of various 'renewable' tech while denying same with regard to fossil fuel, but it ain't all unicorns and fairy dust for the environment either.)
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    edited October 2022
    I choose to spend more on quality. But there are things companies today are doing to eek out minuscule savings or efficiency gains. Like using a lighter oil in the compressor of a heat pump that combined with tighter tolerances and cheaper raw materials leads to premature failure. How much extra did that lower grade steel really save the consumer and was it even passed on to the consumer? Or take the transmission in a certain vehicle from ford. It really is rock solid, but it's known for exploding over a certain amount of power. Tear downs reveal it is because of a single plastic part that heats up and melts, a guide I believe. That if it was metal wouldn't have a problem.

    And we still spend too much money on these appliances. They jack up the prices over gimmicks like screens built into the door with a camera inside the fridge. :S lol
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,853
    edited October 2022

    There is an interesting tradeoff between three sides of an engineering triangle regarding machinery (and, perhaps, anything else man-made). The three sides are low cost, durability, and performance. It turns out that you can only maximize two of the three at a time -- indeed, some would argue you can only maximize one at a time.

    To get out of heating, perhaps a few other examples. I can build you an engine (top fuel dragster) which produces several thousand horsepower from a stock size Chrysler block. Wonderful performance. However, both durability (they last about 5 seconds before needing to rebuilt) and cost (they don't come cheap) suffer. I can also build you an engine (my Ferguson TO20 tractor -- Continental four cylinder) which is still going strong 70 years out of the factory and who knows how many hours. Superb durability. Weight for power -- performance -- (the thing is a boat anchor) not so much, and it wasn't cheap. Or I can build you a lawn tractor for cheap -- it's not going to last, and the performance is no better than acceptable, but it's cheap. Or I can build you a car -- say a pre-war Rolls-Royce -- which is going to run forever and has excellent performance, but was extremely expensive.

    Take your pick.


    You forgot efficiency.
    It's only reasonable to make a machine so efficient before the cost and effort as well as other cons outweigh the benefits.


    I have a copy of a 544 page report written for GE regarding developing the Monitor Top titled "Report on Domestic Refrigerating Machines 1923-1925).

    It has a lot of statistics and such like how long a machine should be last, how much power consumption would be acceptable, cost to buy the machine etc.

    I also have a few engineering manuals on steam engines which also discuss longevity and efficiency vs cost. Efficiency was just as important on an engine in the 1800s as it is now, only it wasn't sold as a feature like it is now. The way Titanic's engines were setup was very efficient but large and needed water, while a steam train was aimed more at power and being compact but fuel wasn't free in either case and the less fuel they used the more profit they had.

    Fuel was never free, or cheap. I guess companies didn't learn to use efficiency as an excuse to sell equipment until recently.
    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: 13,853
    edited October 2022
    JakeCK said:

    I choose to spend more on quality. But there are things companies today are doing to eek out miniscule savings or efficiency gains. Like using a lighter oil in the compressor of a heat pump that combined with tighter tolerances and cheaper raw materials leads to premature failure. How much extra did that lower grade steel really save the consumer and was it even passed on to the consumer? Or take the transmission in a certain vehicle from ford. It really is rock solid, but it's known for exploding over a certain amount of power. Tear downs reveal it is because of a single plastic part that heats up and melts, a guide I believe. That if it was metal wouldn't have a problem.

    And we still spend too dollar on these appliances. They jack up the prices over gimmicks like screens built into the door with a camera inside the fridge. :S lol


    The tolerances in the compressor of a heat pump aren't tighter than in a 1930s Monitor Top.
    I promise.

    To put cost into perspective.
    A 1933 Monitor Top would run around $3500 today for 7 cubic feet and no actual freezer for food storage. It's manual defrost, has one 15W light and 2 sliding shelves, 1 fixed shelf.

    But it will outlast your children and maybe their children and maybe their children.
    They're almost cheaper to run than a modern refrigerator, even now. Because efficiency isn't all of a sudden important, in fact I'd say it's less important now than it was during the Great Depression.
    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
    WMno57
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    So the machining of components such as bearings today is the same as it was in the 30's? 
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,853
    JakeCK said:

    So the machining of components such as bearings today is the same as it was in the 30's? 


    This is certainly not an argument I'm going to have on HH.
    What I said was accurate.
    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
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,115
    Just want to add the issue of refrigerant leaks is 100% a quality control and corner cutting issue. 

    How much did a fridge cost in say 1950? And were they much more prone to failure than a 1930's monitor top? A fridge that can last multiple life times is a bit excessive tbh. Unless you are building for a generational bomb shelter that is unnecessary.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,853
    JakeCK said:

    Just want to add the issue of refrigerant leaks is 100% a quality control and corner cutting issue. 

    How much did a fridge cost in say 1950? And were they much more prone to failure than a 1930's monitor top? A fridge that can last multiple life times is a bit excessive tbh. Unless you are building for a generational bomb shelter that is unnecessary.


    I actually don't have the original cost of a 1950s refrigerator handy but may be able to find something.

    My personal opinion is refrigerator reliability and efficiency peaked in 1935, stayed about the same until the late 30s and then slowly started declining some. Cost was very important, and stupid features started catching on more and more. A good 1950s GE etc in my opinion isn't quite as good as the older ones, but is still going to be a very solid long lasting machine. I would avoid anything after the mid 50s.

    The quality dropped off a cliff some time in the 80s or 90s.
    I have multiple 1930s Monitor Tops with their original charges, never leaked. I'm in the process of restoring a 1935 that has it's original charge.

    My 1933 doesn't have it's original charge but it never leaked. I had to bypass the float valve so I used new refrigerant when making the modification but there were no leaks.
    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
    WMno57