Author Topic: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?  (Read 1085 times)

le-weekend

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Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« on: May 11, 2020, 08:49:27 AM »
I'm looking at a condo that has a heat pump as its only source of heat and air conditioning. I live in the northeast, where summers are hot and very humid, and winters are often below freezing.  I've heard that heat pumps kinda suck except for places with milder temps.

Any input most welcome!!

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2020, 09:35:26 AM »
I live in the midwest and used to have a heat pump unit in a condo.  For AC, it works fine.  In the winter it was a little bit more expensive because as you know, the heat pump is only able to produce heat around temperatures around 30-40 degrees.  It's not uncommon for temps to be below zero overnight or have daytime highs in the teens.  Our system had an emergency heat setting that would kick on when it was too cold for the heat pump.  Basically there is a heating element in the furnace unit that kicks on.  It works very well, but is not exactly energy efficient.  My electric bill during really cold months ran up around $200 for my 1400 sq. foot condo.  Contrast that to my natural gas fired furnace for my 2900 square foot home runs me around $100 a month in heating bills.

Ultimately, I came out ahead by the money I saved by living in the condo despite the inefficient winter heating some months.

Papa bear

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2020, 10:02:59 AM »
You probably have electric resistance heat as your backup “emergency heat” which is essentially a giant toaster with a fan. So it’s warm but expensive! So you won’t ever freeze to death with your set up.

Depending how old the heat pump is will determine its efficiency in the cold.  More than 10 years old, it’s going to suck. In the last 10 years? It will suck less and may even be passable.

Personally, I hate air sourced heat pumps for a forced air system for your primary heat. It always feels like it’s blowing cold air, so your perceived comfort level may be lower with the same tstat temp.


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le-weekend

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2020, 11:38:45 AM »
Thank you for these insights. I will press the seller for info. about monthly electric bills and whether they actually have that backup heat-coil thing attached.

With air conditioning, how does it work since you don't have a "real" A/C unit?  The heat pump only "exchanges" hot air...?

nereo

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2020, 11:41:27 AM »
Thank you for these insights. I will press the seller for info. about monthly electric bills and whether they actually have that backup heat-coil thing attached.

With air conditioning, how does it work since you don't have a "real" A/C unit?  The heat pump only "exchanges" hot air...?

The heat pump basically works in reverse, moving heat from inside to the outside compressor.  It also serves as a dehumidifier.

FWIW we had an apartment in Quebec with a heat pump as the sole source of both AC and heat, and it worked beautifully.  Temperatures would occasionally drop to -30ºF and it still kept it warm with the electric resistence coil.




AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2020, 06:25:39 AM »
Thank you for these insights. I will press the seller for info. about monthly electric bills and whether they actually have that backup heat-coil thing attached.

With air conditioning, how does it work since you don't have a "real" A/C unit?  The heat pump only "exchanges" hot air...?

I'm not an HVAC pro, but I'm not a dummy either.  My understanding is that it does in fact function as a real AC unit, and mine used the Rwhatevernumberitis refrigerant that other home AC units use.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2020, 06:44:10 AM »
It depends. How well insulated is the condo? Is the heat pump connected to a geothermal loop? Does the heat pump use a variable speed or dual compressor setup? How much resistive heating do you mind using?
« Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 06:46:00 AM by YttriumNitrate »

Ecky

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2020, 08:41:13 AM »
Not all heat pumps are created equal. Efficiency differences can be 2x or more between different units, and the temperatures they provide heat during can vary hugely as well.

We installed a 3/4 ton Fujitsu mini split in our 1200 sq ft house in Vermont last summer. We use it for heating half of the house, and cooling the whole house. It has an advertised COP of 5.33 and an HSFP of 14.2. There is no resistive heating unit in it.

I want to say on the coldest days this past winter we saw temperatures as low as -15F, and the unit was still cranking out heat. The colder the outside air, the less efficient they are and the less heat they can produce, but individual units vary hugely.

Car Jack

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2020, 08:44:20 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat.  To press this point, when I use the Tesla calculator to see how much money I'd save driving a model S, it comes up with me losing money per mile vs driving my gas car. 

In states where the electric utility isn't strangled in natural gas supply, it's not so expensive, so perhaps it would work.  When I lived in southwest Virginia, I compared electric rates, all in and it was literally half what I pay in New England.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2020, 08:56:17 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?

Ecky

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2020, 09:04:45 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat.  To press this point, when I use the Tesla calculator to see how much money I'd save driving a model S, it comes up with me losing money per mile vs driving my gas car. 

In states where the electric utility isn't strangled in natural gas supply, it's not so expensive, so perhaps it would work.  When I lived in southwest Virginia, I compared electric rates, all in and it was literally half what I pay in New England.

I'm paying 17 cents per kwh in Vermont. With the most efficient heat pump on the market, the cost per BTU works out to be more than natural gas (which we can't get), a hair less than wood, a lot less than oil, and 1/3 the price of propane.

nereo

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2020, 09:27:21 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

big_owl

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2020, 09:33:30 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2020, 09:36:48 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?

Probably the same way certain vehicles are running off LNG. 

big_owl

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2020, 09:38:31 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?

Probably the same way certain vehicles are running off LNG.

Big difference, those vehicles are equipped to handle BOG.  I don't see how a furnace would do the same, not to mention a big tank of cryogenic liquid sitting outside your house. 

nereo

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2020, 09:48:55 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?
There many units which run off Natural gas and propane. Our municipality takes lng and runs gas service to all homes that want it. E started out with propane, then converted.

big_owl

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2020, 09:55:22 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?
There many units which run off Natural gas and propane. Our municipality takes lng and runs gas service to all homes that want it. E started out with propane, then converted.

Got it, you're talking about about conventional natural gas (vapor form), not LNG.  Just an important distinction, your furnace is not running off LNG - the utility is vaporizing the LNG for you.   LPG is easy to deal with, LNG...not so much. 


nereo

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2020, 10:27:26 AM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?
There many units which run off Natural gas and propane. Our municipality takes lng and runs gas service to all homes that want it. E started out with propane, then converted.

Got it, you're talking about about conventional natural gas (vapor form), not LNG.  Just an important distinction, your furnace is not running off LNG - the utility is vaporizing the LNG for you.   LPG is easy to deal with, LNG...not so much.
Correct. I could have been more clear. It starts as LNG at a depot a few miles from my home, gets gasified by my utility and then arrives at my home via gas lines as vaporized natural gas, which my unit burns to heat water which is moved through registers (ironically with pumps powered with electricity) to warm each room.

big_owl

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Re: Is a heat pump adequate in northeast U.S.?
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2020, 02:04:39 PM »
Where in the Northeast?  In New England, I'm paying 20 cents per kWHr all in.  So it makes zero sense to have a heat pump or electric for heat. 

Aren't many in the Northeast stuck in the no-win situation of having to choose between heating oil and electric?
What have you this idea?
Certainly most homes heat with heating oil, but one can just as easily heat with electric ( including heat pumps) wood pellets, propane or wood. LNV is available now in lots of towns and cities

The big hurdle is one of inertia- since there’s already a boiler run off heating fuel in the majority of homes many choose not to change from this due to the high upfront cost. But you certainly can, and service of other field is available almost everywhere. ... we tore out our old boiler and replaced it with a HE that runs on either propane or lng, and we also have a pellet stove and (soon) two new heat pumps.

Please tell me more about how your heater runs off LNG!?  How do you avoid blowing up your house?
There many units which run off Natural gas and propane. Our municipality takes lng and runs gas service to all homes that want it. E started out with propane, then converted.

Got it, you're talking about about conventional natural gas (vapor form), not LNG.  Just an important distinction, your furnace is not running off LNG - the utility is vaporizing the LNG for you.   LPG is easy to deal with, LNG...not so much.
Correct. I could have been more clear. It starts as LNG at a depot a few miles from my home, gets gasified by my utility and then arrives at my home via gas lines as vaporized natural gas, which my unit burns to heat water which is moved through registers (ironically with pumps powered with electricity) to warm each room.

That sounds more like it.  At my place we liquefy enough natural gas to fill an Olympic swimming pool full of LNG every hour or two....LNG is near and dear to my heart.