Author Topic: Are heat pumps out of style?  (Read 4124 times)

iamsoners

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Are heat pumps out of style?
« on: February 27, 2018, 12:23:57 PM »
The refrigerant on our 2005 heat-pump/air-conditioner sprung a leak so we're looking at getting a new system.  All of the guys who have come out to give estimates have told us how we don't need a heat pump any more, we should just run our heat on gas because it's cheaper. I get that but at the same time, isn't the environmentally forward looking thing to try and electrify? Would love to know what best practices are from someone who's not trying to make a sale.  We have a seperate mini-split system for the upstairs that we love so I'm a bit in love with the heat pump technology.

As a side note, I don't know whether it's being a mustachian or being a millennial but I HATE shopping for something like this--having a guy come out and tell me what he's willing to sell me and leaving me with one quote. I wanna shop this like amazon where I can look at the different SEERs and furnace combinations and figure out what's most cost effective for me.

Cranky

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2018, 05:24:34 AM »
I don't know where you are, and I think that makes a big difference in the utility of a heat pump system.

Here, natural gas is a lot cheaper than electricity, and electricity is mostly coal generated, so it's not especially clean energy.

YMMV.

GuitarBrian

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2018, 07:19:51 AM »
Buy the system you want online or on eBay or Amazon. Once it arrives, hire an AC tech at their hourly rate and have them install it.

You'll get what you want and probably save money.

Figure out the size system (tons) you need. If you go with natural gas, you'll probably buy/have a furnace and a straight cool AC unit with a cased evaporator coil.

This has a horizontal coil, and is a very good deal https://m.ebay.com/itm/GMC-Goodman-3-Ton-14-SEER-A-C-Condenser-VSX140361-w-Horizontal-Slab-Coil-CSCF/173175890969?

Here is one with a standard cased coil. https://m.ebay.com/itm/3-Ton-14-seer-Goodman-A-C-Condenser-Cased-coil-GSX14037-Coil-SOUTHWEST-COMPLIANT/131868054847?

I have had good experiences with Goodman. They are well made and you can always find parts.

You can also find Gas Pack units.. These are package units, mostly installed on the roof, vs split systems that have the condenser outside and the air handler and evaporator coil inside. Gas Packs use natural gas for heating, so are an all in one system. But if you have an indoor air handler now, and want to use natural gas, you need a furnace, and a cased evaporator.

lthenderson

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2018, 07:29:24 AM »
isn't the environmentally forward looking thing to try and electrify?

In the U.S. 65% of electricity is generated from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear and only 15% from renewable energy. The environmentally forward thing would be to mount solar cells to your roof or erect an wind turbine behind your house to run your heat pump.

nereo

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2018, 07:37:48 AM »
As a side note, I don't know whether it's being a mustachian or being a millennial but I HATE shopping for something like this--having a guy come out and tell me what he's willing to sell me and leaving me with one quote. I wanna shop this like amazon where I can look at the different SEERs and furnace combinations and figure out what's most cost effective for me.

Like others said, it depends on your area whether it is most *cost* effective to go with a new heat pump or use a traditional gas heater.  Which is environmentally friendly also depends on your location. Where I live 90% of electricity comes from hydropower.  At my previous home it was coal fired plants.

Regarding your shopping experience - you are paying someone to give you an estimate on a job. If you don't know the variables involved (house size, insulation, existing ductwork, layout etc) that's what you are going to get... Standard practice is to get 3-4 quotes and ask for the best 'bid'.

if you DO know these things (or are willing to learn) you can do what GuitarBrian suggested - buy the furnace or heat-pump you think you need for your situation and install it yourself and/or pay an independent contractor to do it for you at an hourly rate.

But part of why these guys make money is because they figure out all these details for you. That's a service and you pay for it.

Livethedream

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2018, 11:14:50 PM »
We built a new house (2016) with a heat pump. The only reason we have a heat pump is because we built the house all electric to be solar. If we did not have solar this would be very expensive compared to using gas.

Performance wise i donít think you can tell a difference for our weather.

MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2018, 07:04:07 AM »
I would go with heat pump.

I pay 11 cents per kWh and currently 85 cents per therm of gas and an inverse heat pump - like the mini split systems - would be more efficient. Do not forget that those heat pumps have a coefficient of 4 where 1 unit of electricty used, produces 4!

In my case, knowing that 1 therm of gas is 30 kWh, then we know that for the same amount of energy:

Gas 30 kWh = 85 cents

Heat pump 30 kWh / 4 * 0.11 = 82.5 cents.


Heat pump is cheaper and knowing that natural gas is at a very low price, i could see NG prices go up making the heat pump even a better deal. Also, I could save the 17 dollars/month that I pay just to have an account to the gas supplier ... so in essence, I could have essentially almost 620 kWh of energy ''FREE" if I were to drop out the gas supplier and be all electric.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2018, 10:59:57 AM »
In my area, new construction is often done with heat pumps. They make sense here.

SquareD_01

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2018, 08:10:03 PM »
I think it depends a lot on your location. Heat pumps are very prevailant in the south where temps generally stay in the sweet spot for a heat pump to be efficient. Here in northeast Ohio they donít do so well because they struggle to maintain heat when the temps drop into the 20s and below.  At that point the aux heat strips kick in and the electric meter really spins.  I supplement mine with a wood insert which saves thousands each winter.

maricela

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2018, 09:18:58 AM »
We have a heat pump and I think it used to make sense, but weather is changing and I’m not sure our winters are still warm enough for it. If you live somewhere that it gets below 35-40 too often, it’s not going to be comfortable. Ours was going into defrost frequently and blows pretty cool air when it does. We’d have 10 degree temp swings when it got really cold out. When it dies, I’m going back to a furnace and will have to decide then if it’s worth it to run gas to the house.

BTDretire

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2018, 07:46:53 PM »
Very location dependent. I'm in Florida, I suspect a heat pump would always be specified.
 But if you are in an area where you need to heat more of the season, then the line starts
moving towards natural gas.
 The  line has moved with Natural Gas prices, over the last 30 years, we have had less
than one year with prices as low as they are today.

MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2018, 10:21:22 AM »
Attention that efficient heat pumps are not weather/climate dependent...

Split systems work as low as -20F of ambient temperature. This makes them a no brainer vs Natural gas especially considering that they have a COP of 4.

The average price per therm of NG in the US is about 1$ (generation+distribution).

Average price of electricity is 11 cents (generation+distribution)

Let's make the case for a monthly bill of 150 therms of heat.

150 therms in cost = 150 * 1 USD + 18$ (monthly fee with supplier ... it could be more or less. In my case it's 18$) = 168 USD

If I had an inverter heat pump - I would need the same energy to heat the place up everything else considered.

150 therms * 29 (kwh in a therm) = 4350 kwh

An inverter heat pump has a COP of 4, therefore 4350 / 4 = 1087.5 kWh of energy

At 11 cents, 1087.5 * 0.11 = 119.62 dollars of added cost to the electricity bill. A savings of 48 dollars per month.

In practical terms, you could probably save more since a split system enables you to heat only the areas of the house you are in.

sol

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2018, 11:05:43 AM »
We recently installed a heat pump, with a gas furnace instead of an air handler.  Here in the northwest, power is cheaper (and cleaner) than gas.  And I have solar panels anyway.

My amateur research suggests that heat pumps are cost competitive in most of the country, unless you live in a place with very cold winters and high electricity prices.  The new ones are better than 100% efficient down to like 15F, so the old concerns about them not working in cold climates are largely overblown. 

Just Joe

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2018, 08:19:18 PM »
Heat pump / gas furnace hybrid. Heat pump down to freezing and then switches to gas heat. Heat pump side also does a/c of course.

sol

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 09:56:29 PM »
Heat pump / gas furnace hybrid. Heat pump down to freezing and then switches to gas heat. Heat pump side also does a/c of course.

Why do you switch at 32F?  At least around here, the heat pump is more cost effective down to well below 20 degrees.  Maybe if you had a really old drafty house?

triangle

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2018, 10:31:36 PM »
Get a second opinion for sure. I had a problem with my furnace and got different recommendations from different service companies. One recommended replacement along with promises of big electric & gas savings that seemed out of line.  A second company gave a more believable perspective of potential savings with new technology and opted to repair the existing system instead of replacing it.

I do not think heat pumps are out of style. I cannot comment on 2005 technology, except to note the obvious that it does not seem too old. Based on new 2016 systems which I was considering I believe all of them functioned as a heat pump/exchanger for the first 20 degrees of F at least (heating home when outside temps were 45F-50F or more, while AC was essentially heat pump in reverse whether the outside temp was in the 80s, 90s, or 100), then adding efficient natural gas burners to produce heat when the temperature was very cold.

LPG

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2018, 09:44:34 AM »
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned is gas distribution piping. Since you currently have an electric heat pump, I'm guessing there's no gas service to the heat pump, or even close to it. If you switch to a gas furnace, installing a new gas line to serve it could cost a small fortune.

big_owl

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2018, 07:50:51 PM »
Heat pump / gas furnace hybrid. Heat pump down to freezing and then switches to gas heat. Heat pump side also does a/c of course.

Why do you switch at 32F?  At least around here, the heat pump is more cost effective down to well below 20 degrees.  Maybe if you had a really old drafty house?

I have two heat pumps.  The first level unit which is 2004 builder grade trane...and then the second story which is 2014 vintage rheem installed following the failure of the first story 2004 builder unit trane.  The builder unit is a POS which couldn't heat a cup of coffee on a 20F day, despite sounding like a V22 undergoing engine trials.  The new unit is a gift from heaven...quiet, fan run on vfd, and it heats down into the teens...model vintage makes all the difference. 

Just Joe

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2018, 06:33:09 PM »
I listed 35F just in case someone bought a builder grade POS as previously detailed by big_owl. A lousy heat pump might run forever to heat in 20F degree weather.

Our heat pump heats well into the low 20s. The contractor chose 35F as the temp to switch. I went back in and switched the thermostat for 30F and later 25F as I learned to trust it. 

Contractor prob thinks everyone complains about cool heat from a heat pump to they recommend switching at 35F to gas heat (warmer at the heat register). I've heard people complain about heat pumps moving coolish air compared to gas heat.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 06:36:12 PM by Just Joe »

Papa bear

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2018, 08:03:08 PM »
We call the "heat" from a heat pump the wind chill effect...

Love my gas heat. Only use the heat pump for light AC use.

Though in my neighborhood, we had people with $500-600 winter electricity bills switch to gas and have total utilities around 200/month.

For me personally, we were around 300-350/month for electricity during winter and now spend 100-125 electricity and 75-85 for gas. But we keep the house 4-5 degrees warmer now that we have toddlers and infants.

I know the math says heat pumps are more efficient, but we don't see that with current rates. And our electricity is around .07-.08/kWh.




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sol

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2018, 08:54:03 AM »
I know the math says heat pumps are more efficient, but we don't see that with current rates. And our electricity is around .07-.08/kWh.

What rates are those?

My electricity is also about 7.5 cents per kWh.  Natural gas hovers around $1 with the delivery charge.  I cut my winter heating bill in half by switching from natural gas to a heat pump.  I have graphs I can share, if that would help make the case.

Of course, I also created a brand new summer cooling bill to eat up the savings. 

Do you, perchance work in the natural gas of home heating industries?  I sometimes hear opinions like yours from people who have a vested interest in supporting a particular industry, and "don't believe the math" is always their rallying cry.  Well, I always believe the math.  Math doesn't lie.

Papa bear

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2018, 10:18:15 AM »
I know the math says heat pumps are more efficient, but we don't see that with current rates. And our electricity is around .07-.08/kWh.

What rates are those?

My electricity is also about 7.5 cents per kWh.  Natural gas hovers around $1 with the delivery charge.  I cut my winter heating bill in half by switching from natural gas to a heat pump.  I have graphs I can share, if that would help make the case.

Of course, I also created a brand new summer cooling bill to eat up the savings. 

Do you, perchance work in the natural gas of home heating industries?  I sometimes hear opinions like yours from people who have a vested interest in supporting a particular industry, and "don't believe the math" is always their rallying cry.  Well, I always believe the math.  Math doesn't lie.

I can look everything up if you're curious. I don't disagree with you that the math works with your inputs and assumptions. Just sharing the anecdotes from my neighborhood. I'm guessing that the 700/month electric bills are from heat pumps from 1985 and my old 300 bills were with the newer more efficient 2007 heat pump. So efficiencies may not be the same.

Plus I have heat pumps in other locations that work out great and use a heat pump h20 tank.



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Papa bear

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2018, 11:09:07 AM »
I know the math says heat pumps are more efficient, but we don't see that with current rates. And our electricity is around .07-.08/kWh.

What rates are those?

My electricity is also about 7.5 cents per kWh.  Natural gas hovers around $1 with the delivery charge.  I cut my winter heating bill in half by switching from natural gas to a heat pump.  I have graphs I can share, if that would help make the case.

Of course, I also created a brand new summer cooling bill to eat up the savings. 

Do you, perchance work in the natural gas of home heating industries?  I sometimes hear opinions like yours from people who have a vested interest in supporting a particular industry, and "don't believe the math" is always their rallying cry.  Well, I always believe the math.  Math doesn't lie.

Current natural gas rates .508 per ccf.
Monthly total service fee $30.

Current electricity rates .056/ kWh


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MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2018, 02:48:06 PM »
I know the math says heat pumps are more efficient, but we don't see that with current rates. And our electricity is around .07-.08/kWh.

What rates are those?

My electricity is also about 7.5 cents per kWh.  Natural gas hovers around $1 with the delivery charge.  I cut my winter heating bill in half by switching from natural gas to a heat pump.  I have graphs I can share, if that would help make the case.

Of course, I also created a brand new summer cooling bill to eat up the savings. 

Do you, perchance work in the natural gas of home heating industries?  I sometimes hear opinions like yours from people who have a vested interest in supporting a particular industry, and "don't believe the math" is always their rallying cry.  Well, I always believe the math.  Math doesn't lie.

Most likely his heat pump has a very poor COP coeeficient. This might be the reason...

Most high efficient heat pumps and newer ones have a coefficition ratio of 4 ... 4 kWh of energy per 1 kWh of usage ... if indeed is lower, then the savings might not be that great.

Also, take into account the temperature point where the heat pump works... some heat pumps dont work well in temps lower than 30s ... A good heat pump though such as those that you find in Mini Split systems, they work well into the negative territory. Mitsubishi and Daikin split systems work well until -25F

Highbeam

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2018, 05:56:30 PM »
Everything you thought you knew about heat pumps has changed in the last several years. Better efficiency, better low temperature performance, quieter, inverters, stages, VFDs, etc. You must educate yourself about what is now available for this decision.

Burning fossil fuels is so "new England".

MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2018, 11:14:13 AM »
I am always surprised on how inefficient most appliances and big ticket items are in the US when compared to Europe.

AC/Heater inverters with COPs of 4 are the norm in Europe for MANY MANY years... fridges are super efficient there too ... but the most striking difference is clothes dryers ... I was surprised when I first got to the US and I saw all clothes dryers being vented. My family has had dryers since the 90s in Europe and never we had any type of venting as far as I remember... only recently I learnt that its because European models are in actuality heat pump dryers so they dont need to be vented... and of course are an order of magnitude much more efficient.

Those dryers in Europe can be had for as low as $200-$250 and top of the line dryers for 500-600 dollars... Here in the US a heat pump dryer is about 1500+ !!!

grantmeaname

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2018, 02:39:46 PM »
The condensing dryers in the UK are so much worse than the ones I’m used to in the states. Maybe the continent is different...

MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2018, 04:07:13 PM »
in what degree are they worse?

The only drawback is they take longer if I remember correctly... most cycles go for 90-100 minutes while the american ones usually 60 minutes will do

grantmeaname

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #28 on: March 21, 2018, 05:30:48 PM »
Also they get the clothes hotter and more wrinkled and don’t actually dry things.

nereo

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2018, 06:02:12 AM »
My main dryer cost me about $3 new.  Takes a heck of a lot longer than 60 minutes though... usually 6-8 hours. Doesn't add to our electricity usage though :-P

grantmeaname

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #30 on: March 22, 2018, 07:47:39 AM »
I think I have the same one!

MrSal

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #31 on: March 22, 2018, 09:08:12 AM »
Also they get the clothes hotter and more wrinkled and donít actually dry things.

if they get hotter how on earth they dont dry things?

That has not been my experience with the ones in the continent...

grantmeaname

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2018, 09:20:38 AM »
I suspect it's because while it's running it's not really taking much if any moisture out of the air (because the "condensing" bit doesn't work so well). Because the air is so humid/saturated, it has to keep the clothes at a higher temperature for longer than a US dryer would in order to remove the same amount of moisture. But that's a total guess, I do funds' taxes for a living.

TomTX

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Re: Are heat pumps out of style?
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2018, 12:12:21 PM »
isn't the environmentally forward looking thing to try and electrify?

In the U.S. 65% of electricity is generated from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear and only 15% from renewable energy. The environmentally forward thing would be to mount solar cells to your roof or erect an wind turbine behind your house to run your heat pump.

You could do that, but it's cheaper per kWH to use utility scale wind and solar. Many places (like where I am) have renewable energy options, where the power company must by enough additional wind/solar (beyond their normal mix) to offset your use.

Everything you thought you knew about heat pumps has changed in the last several years. Better efficiency, better low temperature performance, quieter, inverters, stages, VFDs, etc. You must educate yourself about what is now available for this decision.

I think this is well worth repeating. Sure, you can get crappy heat pumps that suck huge amounts of electricity for little effect and do nothing below freezing.

The answer is to buy a decent heat pump. Far more effective. Read the CoP chart for various temperatures.

I've been thinking of doing a heat pump when we replace our AC - but I would also need to replace the stove, oven and water heater (which would also be a heat pump.) And I would need to have an electrician run power for them.