Heating Options in Newcastle

The greenest watt is the one you don't have to create. Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit of greening our homes. Ask your questions or post your energy efficiency tips in here!

Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Kombinations » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:46 pm

[ Moderator - split from energy-efficiency/topic5559.html ]


This is an interesting discussion - and when I realised that it was actually still current/active (unlike many discussions on forums found via google searches) I had to sign up and add my query. By the way, as a maths teacher I quite liked the 'spambot' question that was posed when signing up.

I hope this isn't considered hijacking of this thread, but I'm in a situation where our old school (but not particularly old in terms of age) electric hot water system in our post war weatherboard cottage (in need of extension) is not big enough for our growing family. Particularly in winter, when I think the poor insulation of the system lets it down and we have very short showers and a small bath for the kids to share, and we're still boiling water for washing up (previously the house was owned by a single elderly lady, and I'm sure the system was fine for her use). We're looking at the pros and cons of electricity vs gas for both hot water and heating the house.

In terms of heating, we have a natural gas connection that is unused (so currently no service charge). We had inherited a newish unflued gas heater with the house and not having used gas previously, thought we'd start using it for a couple of months during the winter following our December purchase of the house a few years ago. Not long after, I read about the dangers of unflued gas heaters to young children and sold the heater and turned off the gas at the meter.

We then received the shock of our lives when the bill came as the service charges were backdated to the time of purchase of the house - I quickly learned that I should have first rang the gas company and set up an account instead of just turning on the gas heater when it became unbearably cold. We sold the gas heater (health concerns) and had to pay a few hundred dollars for a couple of months heating of a small house... Our electricity bill is never over $400 even in winter with our current inefficient heating, so at the time gas seemed to be a waste of money despite the extra warmth it provided.

We'll be extending our house in a few years and are currently reevaluating our heating needs. I guess because we would be looking at hot water and heating the house it's a good time for us to look at the pros and cons of electricity vs gas. Our gas meter also takes up some valuable width in our narrow (<2.7m/9ft) driveway and I'd kind of be happy to get rid of it altogether for easier access to the garage.

If a heat pump hot water system is not too expensive to run - seems to be the easiest to replace what we've got in terms of installation fees etc as - then probably reverse cycle air con for heating would be best as no service charge for gas would be required.

Sorry about the essay: to get to the point, it seems that reverse cycle heating has quite a few 'votes' for it in this thread; I'm interested in people's thoughts on using this in conjunction with a heat pump hot water system or possibly solar - I believe it should work ok as we're located near newcastle; but it would depend on install cost. We would also then pay to get the gas meter removed altogether for better driveway access. Has anyone else removed the meter and/or regretted it?
Kombinations
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:03 pm

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Warpspeed » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:55 am

Its a rather complex problem....
But the consensus here seems to be, if you are already using a lot of electricity, using even more may get you into a lower tariff and be cheaper than having to pony up cash for gas service charges for minimal gas usage.

On the other hand, if you go absolutely nuts on fitting modern highly efficient gas appliances everywhere you possibly can, for heating purposes, it should beat electricity hands down for energy cost.

A lot depends where you are, and the particular mood swings and policy perculiarities of your particular supply utility.
Warpspeed
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 432
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:18 pm

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:07 am

Welcome to the Energy Matters Forums Kombinations :)

I've split your post off, as it can happily stand alone as a separate thread.

Glad you liked my spambot question :) The Captcha that was there previously didnt stop the hordes of them, even when it was unreadable for humans!
http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5739
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Kombinations » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:26 am

Thanks warpspeed - that makes sense re: higher energy use bracket. I'd need to look at our bills to see how ours works. The gas heater really worked well in the short time we used it, compared to the resistive type heating we have currently. Probably reverse cycle air com would heat up the house in a similar manner though. In all honesty, we only need heaters 3-4 months per year here, and the cooling ability of reverse cycle air com would mean getting rid of our (rarely used) 'window rattler'.

I noticed it was mentioned in the other thread that you can't predict what each fuel/energy source costs might end up being in the future, which only makes choosing between them more difficult, however, for us it is worth a thought before we replace our hot water system and heating. I would really like to at least move the gas meter to the 'service' side of the house to get it away from the edge of the driveway but if electric options are on par with with gas for hot water and heating, removing the meter altogether might be the easiest option.

The other advantage of electric options I guess is that down the track solar panels can be added to help reduce electricity bills - generating/collecting natural has would be a bit harder!

Gordon-Loomberah: after typing it all out I thought it should probably have been on its own, but it still sort of followed on from that thread so I wasnt sure. Thanks for fixing it up. And I think I might use your question (or some derivative of it) as a welcome on the first day back for some of my classes. I might throw in one that lands on a century for further discussion... 1700 vs 2000...

Thanks for your input.

Cheers

Nick.
Kombinations
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:03 pm

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Quokka2 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:27 am

Welcome Nick,
My sentiments are well known (even though I found I was a bit out of date when it comes to gas).
A reverse cycle system works all year; you can't ignore the capital costs when comparing it to something that you only need for 4 or 5 months of the year and don't really need at all if you have an air conditioner (which you certainly need in Newcastle).
We have an ageing electric hot water system like yours and have considered most replacement options, including a heat pump system. Apart from being horrendously expensive I was worried about the longevity of these, because of all the moving parts and the fact that the heating coil is usually a part of the tank. Eventually I decided to apply the KISS principle and supplement the existing HWS with a solar evacuated tube system, using the existing cylinder for storage and electric boosting in winter. That is an easier plumbing option and far cheaper than replacement; it also increases effective storage capacity because the water is stored at a higher temperature. It is still on my "to do" list at the moment; others may be in a position to advise both of us :D
Quokka2
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:39 am
Location: Darkest (but sunniest) rural SW Australia

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Kombinations » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:25 pm

Thanks for the reply. I have actually turned up the thermostat on the hws to see if that helps the situation a bit (less hot water needed for the same temperature shower) but we won't be able to really tell until winter when it becomes a problem. I also had a look for an insulating type blanket; I'd heard hue gees can help somewhat but couldn't,t find one easily last time I looked.

I didn't realise that potentially you could use a combination of the existing hws and solar. Sounds interesting. I just went and had a look though - it said it was an 80L system on there side; we're currently a family of 4 with one more (last one) on the way. I imagine as our young girls get older, the hot water situation will only get worse!

There was at some stage a gravity fed hws in the house, so I don't know if that means you could mount a storage tank for solar hw where the remains of the gravity fed system is - that might reduce installation of solar hw which I imagine would require bracing of the roof normally? We'll probably replace the old terracotta tiles with colourbond though, so I'd hate to install something on the roof and then have to remove it for that in a couple of years.

I just rang AGL to enquire about the cost of removing the gas meter - $1012!! I guess they aren't keen to have them removed... They said that they could temporarily turn off the gas at the mains so it could be relocated by a plumber; depending on what a plumber's costs would be that could at least get it out of the driveway before it was concreted/paved/whatever... Not sure why they would have chosen that side of the house for installation...

And yes, efficient air con for summer will be an added bonus of rc air con for heating - we have ceiling fans throughout so don't need it often, but there are enough hot days around here for it to be needed. To be honest, with the layout of our loungeroom, and heating not being required for large portions of the year, a fireplace type gas heater would just get in the way. Wallmounting of a split system - and I read somewhere that some can be ceiling mounted - seems quite convenient.

Thanks again

Nick.
Kombinations
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:03 pm

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Tracker » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:40 pm

Warpspeed wrote:Its a rather complex problem....if you are ..using a lot of electricity, using even more may get you into a lower tariff and be cheaper......On the other hand, if you go absolutely nuts on fitting modern highly efficient gas appliances everywhere you possibly can, for heating purposes, it should beat electricity hands down for energy cost.


Sorry - I disagree.. We now see GAS being sold as kWH, and this can ONLY be because they are trying to compete against electricity..

Also, I remember that warning by an energy industry person... "Energy is Energy, and you will be buying just that.."

So, when it comes to room heating, an Air conditioner could have a efficiency of say 4 minimum on a terrible day.. That would mean that IF gas continues to price-rise, towards parity with electricity, then Electricity will be a quarter the cost of gas - for the same effective heat value..

After that.. it becomes a case of considering that SOLAR is free..

We are of an age, where most appliances need replacement, and whilst I move further towards SOLAR-Self-Sufficiency, I replaced the Natural Gas appliances with LPG ones..
Soonish, I hope to report that our Hot Water tank is being heated by Solar (EV) technology and boosted by LPG instant heating (if needed).

I anticipate that we will heat in winter using a combination of LPGas space heating and Reverse Cycle Heat-Pump..

We are happy with the current economics, but admit that the demands of a young family could be harder to justify what we are doing..
..
.
Retired Engineer and keen PV experimenter - Always ready to learn and share.
2 x CMS2000 (fan cooled) GCI and SE 170W panels
1.7kW First Solar/Outback Island circuit - Peak Replacement Power
Governments won't save the world :-) They will just TAX it :-(
Tracker
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 5107
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:54 am
Location: SYDNEY --- EA - Network, Retailer - EA

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Warpspeed » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:14 pm

Tracker wrote: So, when it comes to room heating, an Air conditioner could have a efficiency of say 4 minimum on a terrible day.. That would mean that IF gas continues to price-rise, towards parity with electricity, then Electricity will be a quarter the cost of gas - for the same effective heat value....
.

Yes that would be true, if...........
But right now here in Melbourne today, electricity is almost exactly 8 times as expensive as gas on the basis of heat energy .

Those are hard figures off my actual bills, and include service charges.

Thirty years ago when I worked at the research labs of Gas and Fuel Victoria, it was x10 price difference for raw heat energy per dollar.
Nothing much has really changed over those thirty years, and it is not likely to change greatly.

I would not be basing my planning on what might (?) happen in the future.
The dreamers say we are going to have zero point energy, cold fusion, perpetual motion, and limitless free energy almost any day now. Oh, and the aliens are coming...

A heat pump in Melbourne would need a COP of 8+ in winter to just break even with gas heating.

But in other (northern states) the situation is very different.
Much more cooling, and less heating is required, and the costing structure is different.
Electricity looks like a much better deal up further north I agree, but not in Melbourne.

So you cannot generalise on all this, circumstances change hugely with climate, usage, and costing.
Warpspeed
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 432
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:18 pm

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Quokka2 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:46 pm

Kombinations wrote:There was at some stage a gravity fed hws in the house, so I don't know if that means you could mount a storage tank for solar hw where the remains of the gravity fed system is - that might reduce installation of solar hw which I imagine would require bracing of the roof normally? We'll probably replace the old terracotta tiles with colourbond though, so I'd hate to install something on the roof and then have to remove it for that in a couple of years. Nick.

My point was that you already have a tank, which has a boost element and may be perfectly serviceable for a long time to come. A tank at 80 degrees gives you one and a half times as much hot water as a tank at 60 degrees if (for argument's sake) you use the water at 40 degrees and your cold water is at 20 degrees. The evacuated tube systems are supposedly far more efficient than the old flatbed collectors, and you don't need to reinforce your roof or waste any heat, because you don't need a tank up there. You can even use a solar (20W PV powered) circulating pump, which dispenses with all the expensive control hardware in one fell (rather elegant) swoop!

You sound like you are where I was 25 years ago. You will find that by the time you get all this sorted, your daughters will have got used to using less hot water if they haven't already flown the coop; an 80L tank may seem quite adequate by then :D Feel free to PM me.
Quokka2
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:39 am
Location: Darkest (but sunniest) rural SW Australia

Re: Heating Options in Newcastle

Postby Smurf1976 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:32 pm

Kombinations wrote:Sorry about the essay: to get to the point, it seems that reverse cycle heating has quite a few 'votes' for it in this thread; I'm interested in people's thoughts on using this in conjunction with a heat pump hot water system or possibly solar - I believe it should work ok as we're located near newcastle


A quality heat pump works fine in Hobart in the middle of Winter so it shouldn't have any issues in Newcastle given that it's significantly warmer there. Dodgy brands stop working when it gets cold outside however so don't buy one of those.

Note that when I say "heat pump" I mean a reverse cycle air-conditioner used to heat the house and/or a heat pump water heater.

What's quality? For reverse cycle A/C I'm referring to brands such as (and specifically) Daikin and Mitsubishi although Panasonic and a few others also work fine.

For hot water, I'm referring to Siddons, Stiebel Eltron or Sanden units. Don't go near certain other "big name" brands that are notoriously unreliable. That said, I'd also seriously consider solar for your hot water but again it needs to be a good quality system.

Personally, given the climate I'd just go for reverse cycle A/C for the heating. Even if something else is slightly cheaper, you're not going to use enough heating for it to really matter in actual $ terms unless you're running it 24/7 or have no insulation etc (in which case you'd be wise to insulate the place). I can see it would make sense in Victoria if gas is cheaper, but how much heating are you actually going to use in Newcastle?

To compare costs we'd really need to know what your local electricity and gas prices are. The info should be on the bills or available from the suppliers.

As for disconnecting the gas, if you did do that then I'd leave the pipe in place and cap the ends in order to make it easy to reconnect if it's ever wanted in the future. At some point you'll sell the house (everyone sells eventually....) and having the gas pipe already in the ground available for use if required might be seen as a positive by a potential purchaser if they want gas for some reason (eg they like those decorative gas fireplaces or prefer to cook with gas). So I wouldn't physically rip it out as such, just disconnect and cap the pipe leaving it in place.
Smurf1976
Solar Crusader
Solar Crusader
 
Posts: 1037
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:56 am

Next

Return to Energy Efficiency

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 3 guests

new solar power specials