Energy usage and efficiency is a critical element to any green home makeover. Currently, our lovely makeover house is heated by old fashioned steam radiators powered by an oil fired boiler. Ick. Not only is oil the dirtiest fuel source, it's the most expensive and least green. The electric is powered from, what else, electricity, which isn't cheap either in this part of the country.
We have a certain budget toward the upgrade of mechanicals of this house and unfortunately we can't replace both the boiler and add a solar system for the electric. ( Although I really, really, really, really want to.) Is our money spent more wisely on a new gas fired boiler which replaces the crusty oil furnace or do we keep it and add solar panels to pay for a portion of the electric bill?
Let's weigh it.
Solar: Clean, renewable energy. Totally green and conceptually, I love it. Solid up front investment for small system (2k). Must deal with local building departments and boards to get approval, and potentially, neighbors may complain that its ugly, since its on the front of the house. Depending on the new occupants of the house, it may pay for a good portion or a small to medium portion of their montly electric bill. Keep in mind that we are in the Northeast and we don't have full sun all year round like CA or FL, plus we still have oil to heat the house.
Gas: Much cleaner (aka less odors, no soot, major carbon reductions) than oil but not renewable. Still a fossil fuel yet a lot cheaper (for now.) Installation costs about 1/2 of the solar system. Electric remains untouched.
Do we get rid of the oil or go with solar? Feedback anyone? I am completely interested in hearing from you!!!
My thought is to go with gas. The sooner we all get off oil, like the junkies we are, the better off the country and our planet will be. The current oil boiler is older and probably not working at full efficiency anyway. It will be cleaner and cheaper and the new occupants will benefit more this way vs. electric via solar. I really love solar but unless the system covers most of the electric usage and preferably pays me back, I'm not sure its worth the money vs. the alternative. If we went for a larger system that could take care of 100% of the usage, it would become cost prohibitive on this project.
What I could do if money was no object....and if it's not an object to you, call me and we'll do lunch. On you. Read more!