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  1. #1
    Moderator Jim in NC's Avatar
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    Propane or Electricity for Heating Water?

    I think my propane water heater is on its last laps. It has a small leak that I cannot find. Thinking it was in the top of the tank where plumbed into the water lines, I have been trying to replace some fittings in an effort to stop it, but so far no luck. I have to use a power vent unit because I cannot run a chimney vent. The heater is in the cellar.
    I'm thinking about going back to electricity, but there is no easy choice because all types of energy will over the long haul continue to rise. The power vented heaters are also more than double electric heaters. Our electric rates are currently around 10 to 11 cents per killowatt.
    A water generally lasts us around 10 years. This will be the fourth new one I have bought since 1978.
    Have any of yall made a switch of energy sources from one to another?
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

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    Moderator John M's Avatar
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    I had thought about changing from electric to gas when mine failed. Well it finally failed, and for what it would have cost to get the heater, and plumb in gas, it was cheaper to just stay electric. Do you already have the wiring and all?
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  4. #3
    Moderator Jim in NC's Avatar
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    There was originally an electric heater here. The propane company from whom I bought gas for curing tobacco ran a promotion yearly that they would give a new propane water heater to customers who agreed to buy gas from the company for 5 years. We wore that one out, and got another one from them at a reduced price.

    I'm with a different supplier now, and like all forms of energy these days, there are so many new fuel and EPA charges (really taxes) that can make one's head spin. I've installed both kinds so that is not a problem. The wiring is still in place so no major changes are needed. The real dilemma in all this is trying to guess what will happen over the next 10 years or so. A propane heater will heat water if electricity is off which is a plus too.
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

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    Moderator wizzard's Avatar
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    if'n it was me id go gas just for the simple reason when he power goes out you'll still have hot water
    Bert.

  6. #5
    Moderator Jim in NC's Avatar
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    Just finished running some rough numbers. 27 KWH approximately equals the btu output of a gallon of propane. At 10.5 cents per KWH, propane is a less expensive fuel as long as its price is less than $2.82 a gallon. Right now that works out. I haven't factored into the equation that the propane water heater I'll need is about $600 more than an electric one. Gas will have to be lower for sometime to make it still pay. I'd have to buy 1200 Gallons at .50 less than $2.82 ($2.32) to make up the difference in heater price. 1200 gallons would last me 6 to 7 years unless current usage increases due to unforseen circumstances. Last fall I paid either $2.25 or $2.29 to fill the tank.
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

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    Super Moderator BigDaveinKY's Avatar
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    I would fuel into the equation that if the power goes out, and you're on a well, you won't have any water to heat anyway.
    No matter where you go.......There you are.

  8. #7
    Moderator Jim in NC's Avatar
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    We should have enuff backup generator capacity to run a well pump. We also have a windless so we could "draw " water for drinking, cooking, flushing toilets, etc. Checked a couple of places today and the type of heater I need is in the $1000 to $1200 range up to $1850 if I want to go to a stainless steel tankless one.
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

  9. #8
    Moderator Ernie N Ky's Avatar
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    I would strongly consider the tankless variety if it's feasible to install. There are a lot of tax credits available and they're more efficient. The natural gas company here even offers a rebate for switching to tankless. The only reason we didn't switch to tankless was the installation would have been very expensive due to the location of our water heater.
    Ernie N Ky

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  10. #9
    Moderator Jim in NC's Avatar
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    First I want to thank everyone for their thoughts on this. I discovered yesterday that new federal water heater regulations went into effect yesterday, tax day. These rules will cause the price of most all heaters to double. They also will eliminate the manufacture of certain styles and sizes of heaters. Added insulation and what is called a "heatpump" will increase the size of current heaters and also where they can be plumbed so a lot of folks will not be able to replace an old heater with a newly designed one in its same location.

    I can buy a 12 year electric heater for a little over $400, and a propane one that I need for $1100 to $1200. There is little difference in the yearly cost of operation. I'm gonna check one other source today and with the electric company, but it looks like a return to electric heating is in my future. Natural gas is not an option. A tankless propane one could be used, but I do not think it would pay for itself.

    Also, I am thinking about buying a second heater and warehousing it for future use. My daughter's home also has a propane heater. One net site advised replacing a heater if it was over 4 years old to provide a time for the kinks to hopefully get worked out of the newly designed ones. The writer thinks that might take 10 years.

    As alot in life these days, it seems that common sense no longer exists when it comes to heating water.
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a cornfield." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." Henry David Thoreau

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