We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

I Know What I Want for Xmas…

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)
Nov 18, 2006 5:00 AMNov 5, 2019 8:41 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

It's hot, it's hi-tech, and it multitasks: an efficient natural gas heater that also provides electricity. Apparently, it can squeeze 90% efficiency from that fuel, which is about three times as much as you get from electricity over the grid. Is it just me or does that sound really, y'know, amazing?

The problem (or perhaps I should say "obstacle") is that these micro-CHP systems cost a lot on the front end—"from $13,000 to $20,000, installed... that's at least $6,000 more than a new high-efficiency hot-air furnace, even after a gas company rebate"—and the payback period (aka breakeven point) can be from 3-7 years. My question is this: Couldn't the companies selling these things figure out some clever way to finance the heaters by selling them for less up front and then skimming some of the money that people save over their first 3-7 years? It would work essentially as a loan, but if these things really are so efficient, the companies will make their money back.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.