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Name: kartraice d hooper
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993


Question:
What is the average cost of energy in dollars per kW of all sources of heat, such as fireplaces, electric heating, and gas heating. Please include heat pumps as well.



Replies:
Wow, this is quite a difficult question, but also a very good one. My first answer is that I do not know and let me tell you why it is complicated and perhaps I can help you answer the question (at least in part) on your own.

Part of the problem is that there are so many things that enter in when you talk about cost. Time for instance is one factor. If you were interested in putting in a solar heating system, you would quickly find that the initial cost of the system is quite high when compared to a gas forced air furnace. If you were just comparing the initial cost, then you would have only part of the story because the energy cost for the gas would be higher than say the electricity needed to run the pumps on your solar collection and storage system. So then you would have to look at the cost over say a 10 year period. This in turn gets into the question of the value of money over time.

Another thing that enters into the equation, but is many times left out is the ecological impact of using the energy. For instance, if we are using nuclear energy to generate electricity should we consider the cost associat- ed with storing the waste over a period of time. From the examples that I have given it may sound as though I am pro-solar, anti-nuclear (I am not). These are meant as only examples of things that can complicate the calcula- tion. The other aspect that should be considered is the second law of thermodynamics. In simple terms, this law would help us determine which form of energy is best for a particular application. In other words, some energy is more valuable to us than other forms of energy. Electricity is very valuable to us because it can be used directly to make motion (for instance turning a motor), whereas to use solar energy to turn a motor, we either have to design a rather intricate heat engine or convert it to electricity in a photocell. Temperature of the application can be used to determine the appropriate form of energy to use in satisfying the applica- tion.

I suggest that you spend some time thinking about smaller questions that will eventually help answer the big question you have asked.

I ran across some data from the United States Energy Information Administra- tion, a document entitled "Monthly Energy Review" November 1994. If you want a copy you could contact the US Department of Energy and ask for document #DOE/EIA-0035(94/11). The energy costs listed there for the US are:
Finished Motor Gasoline (pre tax): $0.80/gallon
No.@ Diesel Fuel (pre tax): $0.60/gallon
Kerosene/Type Jet Fuel: $0.60/gallon
Propane : $0.45/gallon
No.2 Fuel Oil: $0.55/gallon
Residual Fuel Oil: $0.40/gallon
Electricity: $0.08/kW-hr (residential)
Electricity: $0.07/kW-hr (commercial)
Electricity: $0.05/kW-hr (industrial)
Natural Gas: $6.00/thousand cubic feet (residential)
Natural Gas $4.50/thousand cubic feet (commercial)
Natural Gas $3.00/thousand cubic feet (industrial)

I hope that this is what you were looking for. Remember the other things that I mentioned before. Even though these are the dollar prices for the fuel or energy that we as a society have paid, I do not think that these represent the true costs. The true costs are more difficult to really measure.

david r munoz


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