Not all water heaters are the same. There are direct fired water heaters and indirect water heaters. Here’s how each system works:
Direct Fired Water Heater
Direct fired water heaters store 20 or more gallons of hot water in a storage tank. Hot water comes from the top of the tank, while a cold water line at the bottom of the tank replenishes it. Depending on the type of fuel the water heater uses, some form of burner warms the cold water entering the tank.
With a propane system, a thermostat opens the gas valve as the water temperature falls, then a gas burner under the tank heats the water. The valve closes when the temperature rises to the desired temperature. Oil-fired water heaters operate similarly, but they have power burners that mix oil and air in a vaporizing mist, ignited by an electric spark.
Indirect Water Heater
Indirect water heaters work like a direct fired water heater. But instead of having its own burner, indirect water heaters use a boiler to heat fluid pushed through a coiled pipe called a heat exchanger that runs through the storage tank.
Indirect water heaters allow the boiler to turn off and on less often, saving you energy. Because of this, indirect water heaters tend to be the more efficient option.
How do you decide?
There are many factors that you would have to consider for your specific situation, that’s why it’s always important to consult with a heating equipment expert. But the biggest factor to consider is your current heating system’s setup. Direct fired water heaters might appeal to you if you don’t have the correct setup for an indirect water heater. Although an indirect water heater is arguably the most efficient option for water heating, it can be the most expensive to install if your boiler isn’t setup for one because of the additional plumbing and labor that’s required. If you already have a boiler setup for an indirect water heater, you should consult a heating expert about this option.
Heating oil and propane prices are expected to remain at current levels for the foreseeable future, according to a recent EIA report (US Energy Information Administration, Mar 6, 2012). Heating fuel prices are primarily driven by crude oil prices, and the EIA expects crude oil prices to remain above $100 a barrel in 2012-2013.
What Affects Heating Oil and Propane Prices?
The prices of heating oil and propane are primarily driven by crude oil. Extreme weather, seasonal demand, and supply disruptions can also affect short-term heating oil and propane prices.
What Will Affect 2012 Crude Oil Prices?
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the future of oil prices, because there are so many factors that can affect supply and demand.
These events will likely lead to lower 2012 crude oil prices:
These events will likely lead to higher 2012 crude oil prices:
• Lower predictions for global economic growth and therefore lower oil demand
• China’s economic growth rates decrease
• The European debt crisis does not get resolved or gets worse
• Conflicts in Africa and the Middle East get resolved in 2012 and oil supply increases (e.g. Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Iran)
• Higher than expected world economic growth
• Decrease in oil supply from African and Middle Eastern countries due to conflict or economic sanctions (e.g. Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Iran)
• Global economies improve more quickly than expected and oil demand increases
• The European debt crisis is resolved in 2012 and European countries increase their demand for oil
There are a lot of ways to save energy during the colder months of the year. But here are 6 ways that you can save during the warmer months:
Microwave and grill – microwave cooking can reduce energy consumption by two-thirds and produces much less heat than your stove. And, don’t forget to use your outdoor grill since it’ll avoid heating up your kitchen and making your A/C work overtime.
Keep your thermostat clear – avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
Dry your clothes efficiently – do your laundry efficiently by using the warm or cold water setting for washing your clothes. One neat trick is to throw in a large dry towel with your dryer load– this will cut drying time almost in half. Better yet, line-dry clothes whenever you can.
Don’t let dust sit around – vacuum your refrigerator’s cooling coils every three months. Excessive dust buildup will reduce the energy efficiency of the compressor. Simple measures such as cleaning and replacing clogged air filters can reduce cooling costs up to 10%.
Turn down the temperature of your water heater – to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
Plant some trees – for future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home. According to the US Department of Energy, three big shade trees will cut as much as $250 off your annual energy bill.
Be sure to share your warm weather energy saving tips in the comments section below!
Being responsible for heating your home with heating oil or propane for the first time can be daunting. There is a lot to consider not only when choosing a heating oil or propane supplier, but also after you’ve chosen the supplier. Here are some things to consider as a first time heating oil or propane user:
The Right Supplier
Choosing the right heating oil or propane supplier is important to your home comfort. You want a reliable, efficient and friendly provider to heat your home and to be there when you need them the most. And, you want a heating oil or propane provider to give you a wide range of options, anything from price protection plans to service. Be sure to consider these important questions when choosing the right supplier:
Are they reputable and have they been in business a long time?
Do they have flexible payment options?
Do they offer a price protection or cap program?
Do they offer expert heating equipment installation, service and service plans?
Do they have 24/7 emergency repair?
Do they have enough people to ensure that your covered no matter what your need?
Some homeowners choose to be on an automatic delivery plan. This means your heating company calculates how much heating oil or propane you need based on the outside temperature and previous usage. Using this method, the heating provider is able to get a good idea of when you need to be filled up again. Automatic delivery is the hands off approach to heating oil or propane deliveries.
The alternative to automatic delivery is “will call”. With this option, you have to monitor your heating oil or propane levels and call your heating company to schedule a delivery when you need more heating fuel. This approach is good for people who want to control their deliveries. If you choose will call, be careful not to run yourself out of fuel. There are additional costs to get you running again.
CAP Plans and Price Protection Plans
In the U.S. and Canada, many heating providers offer plans that allow you to fix or cap your heating oil or propane price for the entire heating season. With these plans, you’ll need to sign a contract with your heating provider for a specific amount of heating oil or propane. CAP plans and price protection plans are good for homeowners who want to know exactly what they’ll pay or the maximum they’ll pay for their heating costs throughout the heating season. Knowing your costs will allow you to budget your heating expenses.
There are differences between the plans offered in Canada and the U.S. It’s important to do your homework on what might be best for you.
Service Plans and Maintenance
A service plan is like insurance for your heating equipment. If something breaks down or needs replacing, it could cost you hundreds of dollars if you’re not covered by a service plan. Irving offers multiple service plans, and each provides a different amount of coverage. A service plan covers your equipment for a year, and it can be paid in monthly payments. Be sure to take a minute to reviewIrving’s heating oil and propane service plans.
If you think a service plan might not be for you, keep in mind that your heating equipment needs routine maintenance to keep it running smoothly and reliably. Having your system break down in the middle of winter could literally leave you out in the cold.
The rule of thumb is you should have your system cleaned and inspected every year. During your system’s annual maintenance, your heating technician will let you know if there is any issues with your system. Remember, an annual cleaning and inspection is covered under most service plans.
You should familiarize yourself with proper usage and precautions to take with your home heating. Don’t hesitate to contact your heating provider if you have any questions. And, be sure to check out more information on heating oil safety or propane safety.