Home Heating – Fuel Oil vs Radiant Heat

It’s currently a balmy brisk 60 degrees in my part of the world. That’s 25 degrees cooler than yesterday. Which leads me to realize that we’ll soon have to turn on the heat.

Like many others in the North East we heat with fuel oil, which is now $3.779/gal and rising. With the thermostat set at 68 degrees (with a 10-degree setback at night) we go through approx. 600 gallons of fuel oil each winter.

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out that it’s going to cost an arm and two legs to heat with oil during the ’08 – ’09 season.

It’s our good fortune to be related to a plumbing and heating guru. We’re going to act as guinea pigs beta testers for a radiant heating system he’s devised, fueled by a $250 hot water tank, as opposed to a traditional $2,500 boiler. (See, we’ve saved $2,250 already. How kewl is that, huh?)

Installation will involve miles of tubing, several pumps and enough insulating material to cover half of Rhode Island. Hopefully, by the time the water makes it back to the tank, it will only have to be heated a few degrees before re-circulating again. At least that’s the way I understand it, but I may have to edit this information later. I can only absorb so much tech-speak at a time, and it’s quite possible I’ve made up this entire paragraph.

For future reference, my most recent electric bill was $80.73. The radiant heat should be fully installed by the end of the month, so the first electric bill to reflect the change should arrive in early November. At that time I’ll let you know how that bill compares to this one, and to the oil bill for the same period last year. (And if I happen to fall over dead from opening a $3,000 electric bill, I’ll make sure the guru himself posts on my behalf, and lets you know where the plan went wrong.)

In the meantime, if you’d like to do a little reading on in floor radiant heat, here’s an article from Popular Mechanics.

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2 Responses to “Home Heating – Fuel Oil vs Radiant Heat”


  1. Diana Lindeman
    on Sep 16th, 2008
    @ 2:55 pm

    We have radiant heating but had to install duct work in order to have AC in the house. Radiant heating is nice but not without problems especially if it needs to be serviced.


  2. admin
    on Sep 16th, 2008
    @ 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the info Diana.

    Thankfully, here in the North East, central air isn’t a necessity, so we can forgo the duct work.

    I’m curious about what sort of problems you’ve had with the radiant heat though.

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