I Know What I Want for Xmas…

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | November 17, 2006 6:00 pm

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.

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