We have recently updated this page to current energy prices in the St. Joseph, MO area as of March 2014
We rate cars in MPG Miles per Gallon. Knowing your cars MPG and the current cost of fuel you can calculate how much it will cost in fuel for each mile you drive. We understand that the higher the MPG the better, because it will cost less to operate.
Furnaces, heat pumps, electric heat, etc… are rated differently. Their ratings are in AFUE, SEER, EER, HSPF, etc… But what does that mean in dollars and cents to heat my home?
Let's level the playing field and make it understandable which system is best for you to operate. First we will assume an across the board comparison of 1 Million Btu’s of heat output, the usable heat produced by various types of heating equipment. Second we will determine how much energy it will take to produce this 1 Million Btu's of heat, and third we will calculate the cost of that energy. The results will show us the Cost Per Million Btu's of heat for each system at today's energy prices. And finally the Chart above is the result of these calculations and clearly shows which system is the most economical to operate and which system you should avoid due to the high cost of operating it.
Now let’s look at the different types of heating systems used.
Electric Resistance Heat Electric furnaces, water heaters, dryers, hair dryers; Incandescent Light Bulbs and toasters are examples of resistance heat. One watt of energy flowing through a resistance load equals 3.412 Btu’s of heat. The electric company charges us by the Kilowatt or 1,000 watts of electricity used. In our area a Kilowatt cost 12.7 cents and contains 3,412 Btu's.
Natural Gas produces 1,000 Btu’s per cubic foot. The gas company charges us for each 100 cubic feet of gas used or CCF. In our area 100 cubic feet of gas costs .79 cents and contains 100,000 Btu's
Liquefied Petroleum Gas produces 95,500 Btu’s per gallon. The Propane Company charges us by the gallon. In our area 1 gallon of L.P. gas is $2.25.
Wood Pellets produce about 7,800 Btu's per pound or 312,000 Btu's per 40# bag. In our area a 40# bag of pellets costs $4.32.
Corn produces about 314,000 Btu's per bushel. In our area a bushel of corn costs $4.88.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. OK what does that mean? Simply put an 80% AFUE gas furnace Natural or L.P. will produce .80 cents worth of heat for every dollar you spend, and .20 cents of your dollar goes out the flue to the birds. Imagine driving to the gas station and buying $10.00 worth of gas, pumping $8.00 in your cars tank and $2.00 on the ground! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? The lowest furnace allowable by law is 78.5% AFUE. Most gas water heaters are about 70% AFUE.
Heat Pumps are 200%-450% efficient which means that they will produce $2.00-$4.50 for every dollar you spend on electricity. This chart doesn’t include the free hot water that geothermal heat pumps produce. Learn more about Heat Pumps & Geothermal Heat Pumps
What is a BTU? BTU is an acronym for British Thermal Unit and 1 BTU is the equivalent of the heat produced by burning 1 wooden kitchen match.
The above chart is based on using the actual cost of Natural gas and electric energy used in our home for the months of January & February 2014. These two months were very cold months in North West Missouri, with lots of snow, sub-zero temperatures. It was the coldest winter in our area in several decades. Both the Natural gas and the electrical bills including all service fees and taxes where used to create the above chart and is an average of these two months. We have a 95% natural gas furnace with a 16 SEER 2 stage heat pump, zoning and a 70% natural gas water heater, Cook top and clothes dryer are electric, we are on a heat pump electric rate. We chose to NOT run the heat pump this winter because keeping track of the cost of energy has shown us the 95% gas furnace was less expensive to operate than the heat pump. Our 1950's home with 2400 sq. ft. used 134 CCF in January and 121 CCF in February of gas costing $103.87 and $96.01. Our estimated January electrical bill was 770 KW and 338 (actual) in February costing $93.53 and $47.51 for a grand total of $197.40 for January and $143.52 in February and a two month average of $170.46.
Check out www.onlineconversion.com where we obtained some of our information.