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FAO of my Canadian Homies

  1. citizenrich

    citizenrich Metal Mixer! Jan 29, 2015

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    Coming in from left field…

    What is your primary source of energy used for the heating of your primary residence?

    I have friends in the home heating heating oil business who've had a tough time over the last 10 years as it seems most folks have converted to Natural Gas. Especially with 1 to 4 family homes. Albanian-Americans seem to be he only operators left in NYC. They've bought out the contracts / clients of a lot the older outfits.

    Here in New York City, we've a lot of older apartment buildings (say like 48 families). Gas conversion is difficult if not impossible in a lot of these older tenement type building ("H" shaped 5 story walkups). Although I'm being told that work-arounds are...working. As as I drive along one of the elevated highways early @ sunrise on a cold winters 'morn, you can see that disgusting, dirty number 6 home heating oil pumping out of the main chimney like black clouds of death.

    4 years ago, I decided to take advantage of the very generous federal tax credit scheme and covert one of my townhouses from an ancient oil burner with twin 275 storage tanks (thankfully they were above ground because buried tanks basically require a 25 man hazmat team to remove the in ground tanks. After the tanks are split in half like an avocado, they very literally have to wipe the interior of the tanks with paper towels under the supervision of local EPA inspector. The existing chimney must be cleaned with equal care. Any leaks or spillage and you're FCUKED. Your property becomes a HAZMAT site. Basically, you lose almost all your private property rights.

    I've wandered off into the really deep woods here, sorry.

    These European (and now American and Canadian) NG condensing units get as high as 99+% efficiency. Just for reference, older American oil and gas boilers were lucky to run at 50 to 75% efficiency.

    So here's my anecdote: long story boring…I removed a 25 year old 185,000 BTU Oil Burner - Boiler (steam) and replaced the system with (2) separate BAXI (Made in England!! how's that?1!?) condensing units which provide hot water for heat (most of the system is radiant meaning it's in the floor where possible - the rest is traditional baseboard) and potable drinking water for showers, etc. There are 14 or 16 separate zones between both independent systems. These units are 96% efficient and perhaps a little higher because I installed a holding / feeder tank which allows the very cold water coming in from the street to practice the iron law of physics (thermodymanics) and do a heat exchange with the surrounding utility room which is usually 70 degrees or so. If you lower the Delta which is the temp difference between the water coming into the looped system by 35 degrees or so (In NYC, our reservoir water arrives in NYC and @ the house around 45 degrees or so). It takes a tremendous amount of energy to heat water from 45 degrees to ~120 degrees for potable water; 70 degrees to ~120; not so much. I'm told if I put a few solar panels on the roof that I can get the water in the tank up to 80 - 85 degrees or so. I'm not sure it would be worth the sunken cost…but, maybe? I'll definitely consider.


    So, here's the brass tacks: For this location, I probably spent around 35,000 to 40,000 USD to convert from a big inefficient steam boiler to (2) completely separate operating condensing units. The units themselves only ran about 3 grand a pop but this thing looks like NASA built it. I had to do extensive general remodeling just make sure we were code complaint. "B" vents don't work well in New York City…lol

    The sunken cost was high bout the cost recovery has been mind blowing. The cost of heating oil final year of just oil to make steam was $7500. There was a little overlap for inspections which forced to use some electric heaters for part of the heating season and a very inefficient 50 gallon electric hot water heater (what a pig!!) We pay close to 30 cent per KWH in NYC all-in. It's not practically criminal, it's very criminal. NYC ran better when the MAFIA ran things and everything was much cheaper (all utilities and especially private commercial sanitation) Ever since Giuliani ran the mob out of the carting business, prices have quintupled. I'm not kidding.


    The first full year of the new system cost $1820 all-in for both systems. That represents an approx $5600 savings, year over year.

    35,000 CAP EX (this number doesn't factor in tax credits, which were pretty substantial)
    2011 <5600> 29,400
    2013 <5600> 23,800
    2014 <5600> 18,200
    2015 <5600> 12,600
    2016 <5600> 7,000
    2017 <5600> 1,400
    2018 <5600> -4,200

    ~around a 6 year full cost recovery! That's remarkable.

    There are other tangible and non tangible advantages such as not having to a dedicated "boiler room" and "oil tank room" which stunk like skunk anal glands,,, In a city where square foot prices approach $1500 p/sq ft, the space savings can be substantial and meaningful.


    No wonder you Ontario folks are having a property boom of epic proportions up there. Canadian Residential Real Estate is sizzling hot! It used to cost a small fortune to heat a home in Toronto. Not any more.

    No wonder oil is dancing around $ 45bbl.

    I'm happy that my fellow ugly Americans are losing that mentality of screw you - I'll drive whatever I want and burn as stuff as I want to keep comfortable.


    Good work, Canadians and Northern Europeans, for showing us the way!
     
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    Edited Jan 29, 2015
  2. JimInOz

    JimInOz "Helpful Hints from Heloise" of bracelet cleaning. Jan 29, 2015

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    Wait.......you actually have to............ heat .............your homes? :confused:

    Sorry, bad joke for all of you US East Coasters at the moment. Stay safe all of you and hoping no harm comes your way.

    But it's times like this I don't envy my Northern Hemisphere buddies.

    I think my heating bill for last winter was about $350, and that gas bill includes solar hot water backup and gas cooktop use!
     
    STANDY likes this.
  3. STANDY

    STANDY schizophrenic pizza orderer and watch collector Jan 29, 2015

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    Pay for heat ?
    Winter ?
    Pay about $1200- 1600 a year for power bill ( half if didnt use air-con) solar hot water but have never needed to switch it on to keep water hot.

    Do get days when you try to turn the hot water off after jumping in the shower and only the cold tap is still warm
     
  4. base615

    base615 Jan 29, 2015

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    Sucks to be you guys. I have more problems finding ways to cool down. Generally that involves spending all day at the beach. Even our roos spend all day on the beach.

    [​IMG]

    ;)
     
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  5. Darlinboy

    Darlinboy Pratts! Will I B******S!!! Jan 29, 2015

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    Of course you enjoy the beach.

    On the beach (not in the water) it's much easier for them (and you) to spot the numerous small & and large critters crawling about trying to sting or kill you. Basically, it's the only safety zone between the numerous dangers on land, and those at sea. :p

    Cold weather keeps such nuisances (and kangaroos) at bay.

    @citizenrich That's one helluva project and had to be a real PITA to get it done in NYC. Worth the effort sounds like, many energy projects still lack a decent ROI, although the curve is changing rapidly in some areas.
     
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  6. base615

    base615 Jan 29, 2015

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    Darlinboy likes this.
  7. marturx

    marturx Jan 29, 2015

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    What are your cost for AC then on a yearly basis? Can´t be a negligable amount...
     
  8. JimInOz

    JimInOz "Helpful Hints from Heloise" of bracelet cleaning. Jan 29, 2015

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    For just aircon?

    Probably about the same.

    If we know a stinker is coming we close all windows/drapes and put the shutters down early in the morning before it heats up. That way the house is reasonably cool when we get home in the afternoon/evening and the A/C only has to keep the temp to "liveable" conditoions.

    And when it's 38 degrees (and up to 47!!!!!) outside, 25 degrees inside is quite tolerable.
     
  9. marturx

    marturx Jan 29, 2015

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    Some years ago I installed a system, also with tax subsidy, which uses excess heat from the ground. Quite a revolution, my house has never before been so conveniently and evenly heated. On top of that, my bill for electrical power was cut in half.
     
    Edited Jan 29, 2015
  10. JohnSteed

    JohnSteed Jan 29, 2015

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    Wow! Amazing, thats a heck of a conversion & NY would be the place to educate oneself of all those regulations

    Well done
     
  11. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 29, 2015

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    I have forced air gas fired system here - high efficiency of course. For hot water I still have a traditional tank unit, also gas fired. The hot water on demand units require a lot of maintenance still, so I have not made the switch....yet. Maybe when the tank goes I'll look at it all again.

    Most people here heat with natural gas, where oil is much less common than it used to be. But in remote locations people have to use use oil, or propane. Very small number use electricity these days, but it was popular once.

    I grew up in a house with an oil fired furnace, because we had no gas supply on our street, and yes we lived in the city (small city, but in the city). Not sure if they have ever put gas supply into the old neighbourhood where I grew up...

    In terms of our housing market, it's mostly Toronto and Vancouver driving the national average increases. Vancouver's housing has been ranked the second least affordable in the world - only Hong Kong is worse.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/briti...using-2nd-least-affordable-in-world-1.2505524

    The rest of the country is fairly sane when it comes to housing prices and the so called bubble. Bank of Canada just dropped the prime rate, and banks sort of followed suit, shaving a little off the top for themselves, so that may drive even more sales.

    Hopefully the lower dollar will bring back some of the manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec, so we don't rely on "digging stuff up and selling it" for too much of our economy...

    Cheers, Al
     
  12. oddboy

    oddboy Zero to Grail+2998 In Six Months Jan 29, 2015

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    Natural gas heats the boiler and warms the rads in my house. Would like to put heating coils in the floor eventually. I grew up in a house with oil too. That tank was a great place to hide when playing hide and seek (behind it not in it!). I remember when my folks had it removed. It was a big, ugly, dirty job, but no hazmat. Maybe they did it off the radar...

    Water, still and old school boiler as well heated by natural gas.

    Like NY, we get it both ways... very cold in winter, very hot and muggy in the summer. In Toronto, there's 3, maybe 4 weeks a year of really nice weather - or so it seems.

    Great project CR! Those units are very cool.
     
  13. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 29, 2015

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    In Ontario, tanks used to fall under the Gasoline Handling Act, but now are under the Technical Standards and Safety Act of 2000. The requirements are very stringent (likely more so than in NY). Above ground tanks are certainly easier to deal with, but still require specific things to be done when they are removed. Depending on when the work was done, it was likely not done to code if they just had "bob's tank removal" come in and do it without any testing or permits. It would be TSSA folks doing the inspecting now, not the Province directly - used to be the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

    I have a lot of experience with this actually - in my former life as a project engineer one of my many jobs was upgrading the systems for the underground storage tanks at the factory where I worked, so starting from zero knowledge I had to figure out all the regs and make sure things like the cathodic protection systems were up to date and inspected regularly, and I also installed leak monitoring systems on a bunch of underground tanks. I also installed a new diesel tank and pump system for the company vehicles.

    I dealt with tanks under both regimes, and most of the old MCCR inspectors were hired by the TSSA.

    We also had a 100,000 gallon above ground tank, but I pushed for and eventually had that removed.

    Anyway tanks for the interesting thread, CR!

    Cheers, Al
     
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  14. TNTwatch

    TNTwatch Jan 29, 2015

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    I did not check the code so did not know if anything was wrong when I removed our tank last summer, but it seemed a piece of cake for me. It was 9 years old about 240gal above ground in the basement type. They wanted to charge close to $1000 to remove and dispose of it - that would be a lot of watch money wasted, so I just did it myself, literally. It was somewhat lucky that we ran the furnace last year until the last drop of oil so when the pipe was disconnected from the valve, not a single drop came out. I was able to move it around the basement alone on my own and would have had no problem bringing it upstairs and outside by myself if there had been no one to help. I could have brought it to the scrap yard to get a few bucks, but thought it may still be usable being just 9yo, so I left it intact, no chop-up, no scratches and within few hours of putting it on the driveway, it was gone, hopefully to a good use as promised.

    From CR's BTU number, I guess your house is 3 times bigger than ours, so I guess we'll spend about 1/3 of what you do (but could be a bit more being in Ottawa which is supposedly colder and more snow). But your old number was outrageous. We spent about 1/5 of what you did and were already scared to cold death with the oil price. Must be that our oil furnace was much newer and pretty high efficient at 86%. Now with the lower oil price, I wonder if we could save anything by switching...

    About the black smoke from chimney you saw, was it possible something was wrong with the burner to cause it not to burn all the fuel? I've never seen black smoke coming out of residential chimneys before.
     
    Edited Jan 29, 2015
  15. CdnWatchDoc

    CdnWatchDoc Jan 29, 2015

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    So from the land of wind chill, I can tell you that insulation and natural gas are the two best parts of a house in Central Canada. Our temperatures fluctuate wildly here, from a routine low of -30 or colder (C) to a high of 30+ in the summer (albeit that is for about 3-4 mo only). As per Al, the wonders of a high efficiency furnace can really drop your costs; we changed over in 2009, and dropped about 50% in gas costs. And that is for 4 people (well, 2 of us with 2 teenagers at the the time...). We have seen costs vary over the subsequent years; these last couple have been cheaper again with the kids at school in Alberta. The drop in oil prices also will benefit us, as natural gas prices will follow. As for insulation, the R value system is being overhauled here and will better reflect the actual benefit of the thickness of the compound used (Al probably knows more about this than me). Yeah, I know, those Aussies are shaking their heads saying what the hell is that?!
    I will make a point that if you are raised or live in mid-Canada for any length of time, you can live anywhere...the adversity builds character! And a thick skin!!
     
  16. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 30, 2015

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    Toronto was just named the best place in the world to live in a study done by The Economist. Montreal came 2nd.

    http://safecities.economist.com/wp-.../EIU_Safe_Cities_Index_2015_white_paper-1.pdf

    Overall ranking for the top 25 is on page 20. From that page:

    "The average rankings for the 25 best-performing cities are set out below. Toronto (8) in Canada is a consistent performer across the five other indexes, putting it top overall. The complete Index of Indexes is available in Appendix 3."

    So even with our falling dollar, reliance on oil, and the housing bubble, we do okay here, eh. :)
     
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  17. bill5959

    bill5959 Jan 30, 2015

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    I also remember Toronto having the largest Italian population outside Rome. Que Bellisima (or words to that effect). :)