Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New HVAC system?

A few reasons have me considering an upgrade to my HVAC system.

    1) My latest BGE bill. I used a whopping 1578 KWh of electricity in June - almost 3 times as much as I used last year. My A/C unit is running almost constantly, even after I had a guy come out and look at it. This doesn't seem normal. I have some holes in the house due to renovation (like ones into the attic), but I was surprised to see costs up this high. Maybe the 50" plasma and XBox 360 are to blame too?

    2) Natural gas prices are up over 200% since January! (See the table of my energy costs below) Since this is the cooling season most people don't notice, but come winter this will lead to some hefty bills.

    I know something is wrong with my gas meter so I don't think it's recording my full usage. I don't have a problem with this, but BGE has volunteered to come out and fix this issue for me free of charge. I haven't been expeditious in getting back to them. I don't know how this would increase my cost/therm, but maybe this is the case? I doubt it though.

    3) My current A/C and furnace are at least 15-20 years old. I have a home warranty on my house, which has been used numerous times to repair my constantly ailing HVAC system. Each time the warranty company comes out they fix piece parts but it doesn't look like they'll buy me a whole new system. *sigh*

Baltimore Rowhouse Consumption Table*
energy


Energy prices are also motivation to seal up the cracks in the ceiling and to actually insulate the attic. Yes, I have no insulation up there as I've been waiting to redo the upstairs bathroom before blowing it in. I'm a bad person with a carbon footprint the size China.

My buddy Dru works for a big HVAC company, so he's running some numbers for me. My prelim estimates have me thinking I'll need about need about 2 tons of chilling capacity. Pricing out some mail order split systems (both interior and exterior parts) gives me a range of about $1500-2500, plus installation. The $1500 system is SEER 13, while SEER 16 would run about $2500. I'm not sure the extra $1000 up front is worth saving me around $120 a year. I'd like to be green, but I also don't like to throw a bunch of money away. Also throw on maybe $1000 for install (I have no clue) and this is looking to be a pricey endeavor.

After the sizing is run I'll take another look at what the prices are and decide if I really want to do this. While it wasn't in the plan to upgrade this, the costs are making more and more sense.

*Some notes on my calculations. The prices I used are prices for electricity with all taxes and fees added on, and the gas costs are the commodity prices plus the delivery charges. Comparing bills I've noticed some interesting things happening with prices.

    a) Surprisingly, the cost/KWh of electricity has stayed roughly the same. I had thought there would be a massive increase due to high commodities (coal). I wonder why prices have held steady. Any ideas?

    b) While I see the commodity cost of natural gas has gone up 40-50% percent, what I don't understand is why BGE is charging 40% more for the delivery charge. Not sure why this would correlate with commodity prices.

9 comments:

The Baltimore Babe said...

Sounds pretty high. Perhaps an upgrade is in order?

Anonymous said...

Check out Anco's Textrafine Insulation, or Unico special small systems.

Anonymous said...
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becoming-home said...

I would Kill for your energy prices! Our tiny little house (1300 square feet) costs about $500 a month to heat in the winter!! That courtesy of the original windows that we would love to replace if we had the $$.

We had about one month of low prices after winter before it got hot, then our gas went down but electric went up because we run our ac window units at night to sleep. Oh, plus a nice little rate hike by our utility co.

I miss being a tenant in NYC and not paying for heat! :)

THE BRICK HOUSE said...

i thought it was just me not being very good about energy...

We were at $34.69 last billing cycle. Now with heat waves and living in the desert and such - this month $231.49!

I was shocked. I guess I shouldn't be, we have been AC-ing the crap out of everything. Our HVAC is brand new courtesy of the previous owners who fortantely were repo'd about a month into owning the house.

I guess don't spend so much on your HVAC that you default on your mortgage - thats the lesson they left with :)

D said...

Either unit looks fine to me in terms of what they offer. Big note on the 16 SEER is that it has a variable speed fan for the gas heat. This is nice to have to eliminate cold spots in the winter since the fan continuously runs although at a lower speed (no more slamming on and off). Still looking into my people for other "information"

wvpaperwings said...

Hi, I'm linking to you thru Harbor Hon. I have heard lately that unplugging or shutting down all your "instant on" gadgets and toys will give you a good savings on electric. I have all mine plugged into surge protectors so I can click a switch and shut them down.
I'm just a Baltimore born girl trying to get by.

maggie g said...

I know you posted this a while ago... but just an idea... many states and even utilities offer tax credits, loans, and rebates if you buy energy efficient heating/cooling systems, appliances, etc. that meet certain standards (such as the Federal Energy Star Program)... check out http://www.dsireusa.org for more details.

Katie said...

Have you considered installing a wood pellet stove? If your home has good insulation, it can heat up the entire house very nicely. I do recommend investing in a good model (usually around 3000), with a temperature control. We bought a cheap model (thanks to my husband) and it's rather noisy and we need to regularly monitor the heat.

We just went through our first winter using the pellet stove and it cost us about $300 to heat our home from October to March. Not shabby! There are some really good places in the Baltimore area that sell pellet stoves:

http://www.poorboyshearth.com/ - it's in Dudalk and the owner, Mike Tyson, is really awesome and can tell you everything you need to know

http://www.dayornightplumbing.com/ - in Hanover and Richard is the expert staff there and really, really helpful