Author Topic: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)  (Read 1839 times)

nereo

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Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« on: October 16, 2019, 07:28:09 AM »
In search of contrarian opinions.

We're close to dropping some coin for two heat pumps, and several friends who have installed them all love them.  In fact, I have yet to hear anyone who has not liked their heat pump.   

Anyone have one installed and regret the purchase?
  Tell me why.


FWIW our home is open plan, has no HVAC system and is in a region with very high electricity prices.  By-the-numbers a heat pump is the least expensive way to heat and cool our home.

Papa bear

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 08:17:41 AM »
Our house was all electric, built in the late 70ís. It was the thing to do during the energy crisis.  So this 1750sf house only has 12 windows (all have been replaced with low e, argon has fillled, double pane windows), has r-13 fiberglass insulation in wall, 1Ē of r-5 xps foam, and then brick and stucco.  It was built to be energy efficient.   

My entire neighborhood was built this way, in fact.  Well, when we moved in 6 years ago, there was no gas line run on our street.  Everyone has a heat pump with emergency resistance heat.  Some people have newer heat pumps, some have original.  Ours? Only 5 years old when we moved in, yippee!

Well, we go through our first winter.  Froze our asses off.  Heat pump heat sucks!  It blows at only a few degrees warmer than your ambient air temp.  And it runs all. The. Time.  So itís a fucking wind chill effect in the house.  Plus itís so dry all the time.  I had to use chap stick! Wtf! Then we get our bills.  Electricity more than 350/month! And our price per kwh is damn cheap. Like $.05 /kWh. 

So now Iím asking around the neighbors.  What gives? This is dumb! Oh, you only have a $350 bill? Ours is usually $600-700!  WTF!

So. Luckily, gas company decides to put in a line. Another new neighbor fronted $6k to have it run, with expectations that he gets it back when people hook up to it. Finally! Fossil fuel heat! 

So in the middle of a major DIY remodel, I ran a gas line, and had a new, 96% efficient furnace installed for 1800.  Bam! Iím warm.  My electric bills are under 100/month.  My gas bills are around 80/month in winter.

So, the neighbors find out how much Iím saving, and within 2 years, most of the street moved to gas furnaces.  Couldnít be happier.  Do we still hear complaints? Yeah. From the people with heat pumps.  I donít want to hear it. I told you years ago to move to natural gas.   Could have a pay back period of 1 winter season. 

I kept my heat pump for AC usage.  But thereís not a chance in hell I want that heating my house.

And this is central Ohio. Not frozen tundra land. 

Now, Iím not anti heat pump, I bought a heat pump h20 tank which is awesome!  And in Florida? Go for it!  Or for a mini split for a garage, workspace, or if you need additional heating/cooling somewhere? Sure!  But for primary heat where Iím at? Never again.




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Papa bear

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Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2019, 08:18:56 AM »
In search of contrarian opinions.

We're close to dropping some coin for two heat pumps, and several friends who have installed them all love them.  In fact, I have yet to hear anyone who has not liked their heat pump.   

Anyone have one installed and regret the purchase?
  Tell me why.


FWIW our home is open plan, has no HVAC system and is in a region with very high electricity prices.  By-the-numbers a heat pump is the least expensive way to heat and cool our home.

But for your particular space? Yeah I would go minisplits if you donít have ducting.  Or go boiler and radiant in floor heat. 

Edited to add:

In my perfect world, I would have no forced air ducting.  Radiant heat with a boiler for heat, minisplits for AC or for fall/spring days where you have to bring temp up a few degrees and itís over 50 outside.  Maybe a wood stove or direct vent gas fireplace if you really want to get toasty.


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« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 08:26:53 AM by Papa bear »

NotJen

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2019, 08:20:33 AM »
I HATE MY ELECTRIC HEAT PUMP.

It canít keep up in the winter if the temperature gets too low.  I live in the south, but extended periods below 40 deg or so still happen.  When running, the air feels cold (unless the emergency heat strips come on).

Heating in the winter costs way more than A/C in the summer (kept around 78 in the summer and 65-68 or so in the winter).

Cost-wise, it might be the cheapest, I donít know.  It came with the house, so I had no choice - would have preferred gas if available.

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2019, 08:28:58 AM »
We have a water source electric heat pump with natural gas furnace backup and live in the chilly midwest.   it has definitely saved us a lot on gas usage but we now use a bit more electric, overall money ahead.   Before it gets bitter cold the heat pump provides all of the heat and it takes some getting used to because the air coming out of the registers is just "barely warm" so house tends to feel cold.   Unlike when the gas furnace kicks on and air coming out registers is real warm.

I probably wouldn't do it again.   I'd just go with conventional gas fired furnace and focus on insulation issues to control costs.

Cadman

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2019, 11:51:12 AM »
I installed a DIY geothermal heat pump system last fall, which I realize is a different beast, but it did lead to some interesting research on air-to-air heat pumps and keeping up with current discussion.

Yes, register air will be cooler than a gas furnace. I measure around 95F in heat mode which a 98.6F body is going to consider lukewarm. It will also run most of the time (by design). If you have extended days below 32F efficiency will really drop off and electric heating will kick on. In fact, a lot of people with heat pumps don't realize their elements are kicking on and are the real contributor to their electric bill. Reason being, a sufficiently large delta between desired temp and actual temp will cause many thermostats to activate the heating elements to 'close the gap'. I keep the breaker on my elements OFF until I know I'll need them.

Secondly, multi-stage systems are more common now, so the compressor will 'downshift' to a slower speed as the desired temp is reached, which is more efficient even running continuously than cycling a single-stage unit. Variable speed ECM's help, too. Thing is, your thermostat needs to be multi-stage capable AND wired correctly. Turns out, many of them aren't and the homeowner had no idea!

Something else to think about. A high efficiency furnace lives in a decent environment and will generally live a long time. An A2A heat pump puts the moving parts outside, so wear and tear is more severe. And a sealed-system has many more points of failure than a traditional furnace.


Sibley

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2019, 01:57:21 PM »
I had a heat pump in Sacramento, California. It did fine as A/C in the summer. In the "winter", it was fine until it went below 40-45 F. When the temps hit low to mid 30s, it froze up and I had to turn it off until the ice melted.

In summary: Fine if it never, or very, very rarely goes below 40. Otherwise, nope.

Duke03

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2019, 02:59:56 PM »
I've had two new houses with heat pumps and hated each one of them.  Our last house would never get warm....  Yes the thermostat would read 72 but it still felt like it was 62.  Hard to explain, but they don't generate that warmth you want to feel in the winter time.  Now my current house which is only 4 years old will get hot, but the only problem is the damn heat pump will frost up and look like a snow cone once or twice an hour and then will have to reverse it's self to defrost and then the house isn't heating at that time.  I've had it looked at twice and each time they claim its working as intended.  Please don't waste your money on a damn heat pump.....

BDWW

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2019, 03:38:16 PM »
PTF, curious to the climate where the OP is.

We're probably going to invest in a mini-split at some point soon, as right now we're using window units for A/C. The debate is whether to spring for one that does heating as well. We definitely won't be getting rid of our primary heat though, as we spend a lot of time below freezing.

So this 1750sf house only has 12 windows (all have been replaced with low e, argon has fillled, double pane windows), has r-13 fiberglass insulation in wall, 1Ē of r-5 xps foam, and then brick and stucco.  It was built to be energy efficient.   

As someone who's spend a fair bit of time researching and planning efficiency upgrades to our house, it's funny to read what was once considered "energy efficient".  This country is so far behind the curve in energy efficiency it's crazy.


Papa bear

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2019, 05:10:30 PM »
PTF, curious to the climate where the OP is.

We're probably going to invest in a mini-split at some point soon, as right now we're using window units for A/C. The debate is whether to spring for one that does heating as well. We definitely won't be getting rid of our primary heat though, as we spend a lot of time below freezing.

So this 1750sf house only has 12 windows (all have been replaced with low e, argon has fillled, double pane windows), has r-13 fiberglass insulation in wall, 1Ē of r-5 xps foam, and then brick and stucco.  It was built to be energy efficient.   

As someone who's spend a fair bit of time researching and planning efficiency upgrades to our house, it's funny to read what was once considered "energy efficient".  This country is so far behind the curve in energy efficiency it's crazy.

Oh yeah. In the 70ís, that was crazy efficient! It basically meets todayís code in my area. (In fact, potentially better with the whole house wrapped in 1Ē foam. And not just R-19 in a 2x6 wall) Houses built 5-10 years before then and youíd be lucky to find any insulation in the walls.  Or maybe some r-9.  Or go back further and Iíve got a place that has 36 windows, originally all single pane, no insulation anywhere when I got it.

Point being, this isnít some old leaky house.

If you think of ďenergy efficientĒ homes today, with minimum R-20 in wall, they tend to have a LOT more windows bringing the effective R value down quite a bit.

Iíve been down the efficiency rabbit hole too.  They did their best with the building knowledge (and cost constraints) of the time. 







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Miss Piggy

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2019, 06:56:05 PM »
Purchasing a heat pump was one of the worst home-related decisions we've ever made, but for a reason that likely doesn't apply to you. We live in the middle-midwest, where NOBODY uses heat pumps. But my Minnesota-based uncle who works in HVAC insisted that we get a heat pump. So we did, since he knows a heckuva lot more about HVAC than we do. The problem is companies around here don't know how to service them because they rarely have to. We ended up getting a warranty replacement within 3 years of installation. It works fine, but I don't believe we've saved a dime by having it.

Jon Bon

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2019, 08:17:34 AM »
As someone who's spend a fair bit of time researching and planning efficiency upgrades to our house, it's funny to read what was once considered "energy efficient".  This country is so far behind the curve in energy efficiency it's crazy.

Curious to know what you mean by this?

I mean its not like we have the same climate as Finland, and those that do (Alaska etc) do have crazy efficient homes.



mozar

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2019, 10:29:36 AM »
 My HOA is offering to install a heat pump a/c heat system using their labor. It would cost me 7k. But I don't use A/c in the summer, and I don't turn on the heat until it gets to below 30 at night. I currently have electric baseboards. My house is pretty cold in the winter but it doesn't sound like a heat pump system will improve that.

nereo

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2019, 11:29:06 AM »
I asked for contrarian opinions and thank you to all who have chimed in thus far.

To address a few questions, we are in New England *but* our primary heating source is hot-water radiators. Our state in particular is pushing heat-pumps very hard, including a generous rebate on a new purchase and they are becoming quite common.

We rented a place which had a heat-pump and are familiar with the "blows-not-hot-air" around manner in which they operate.  Actually, for us we see that as a bit of a feature since our home (built 100+ years ago) lacks any ductwork and so moving air from room to room currently requires ceiling fans; we want something which can blow air from room to room (open plan).  I also know that their efficiency drops from ~300% above 40ļF to around 100% when you get down to -5ļF (-21ļC).  While it occasionally hits those frigid temps here it's much more common to have temps in the low teens, and regardless we will have the radiators whenever it gets truly cold out.

We have a pretty ideal setup according to two installers we've gotten quotes from, including a convenient spot for the compressor protected by an overhang and prevailing winds, but away from any bedrooms and largely hidden from view.

I didn't explicitly mention this in my OP, but we're looking at heat pumps as much to cool and control humidity in the summer as to heat during the winter. It will be used to do both, of course, but it's not just about making our home warm.

For the people who hate their heat-pumps, I'm wondering how old they are.  From my research it seems big strides have been made in overall efficiency and efficiency-at-colder temps in the last 10 years.

Papa bear

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2019, 11:58:56 AM »
I asked for contrarian opinions and thank you to all who have chimed in thus far.

To address a few questions, we are in New England *but* our primary heating source is hot-water radiators. Our state in particular is pushing heat-pumps very hard, including a generous rebate on a new purchase and they are becoming quite common.

We rented a place which had a heat-pump and are familiar with the "blows-not-hot-air" around manner in which they operate.  Actually, for us we see that as a bit of a feature since our home (built 100+ years ago) lacks any ductwork and so moving air from room to room currently requires ceiling fans; we want something which can blow air from room to room (open plan).  I also know that their efficiency drops from ~300% above 40ļF to around 100% when you get down to -5ļF (-21ļC).  While it occasionally hits those frigid temps here it's much more common to have temps in the low teens, and regardless we will have the radiators whenever it gets truly cold out.

We have a pretty ideal setup according to two installers we've gotten quotes from, including a convenient spot for the compressor protected by an overhang and prevailing winds, but away from any bedrooms and largely hidden from view.

I didn't explicitly mention this in my OP, but we're looking at heat pumps as much to cool and control humidity in the summer as to heat during the winter. It will be used to do both, of course, but it's not just about making our home warm.

For the people who hate their heat-pumps, I'm wondering how old they are.  From my research it seems big strides have been made in overall efficiency and efficiency-at-colder temps in the last 10 years.

Iím guessing that youíre looking at ductless mini splits.  With no forced air system now, it would be the most cost effective way for you to get AC and dehumidify during the summer. 

You already have radiant heat with a boiler.  Are you on heating oil?  You may have different payback periods with that than I do with natural gas.  We pay .40 - .50 / ccf for that, which is pretty cheap.

I would absolutely go with ductless mini splits in your situation. You already have a phenomenal heat source and adding central air would be very expensive. 


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BDWW

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2019, 12:48:24 PM »
As someone who's spend a fair bit of time researching and planning efficiency upgrades to our house, it's funny to read what was once considered "energy efficient".  This country is so far behind the curve in energy efficiency it's crazy.

Curious to know what you mean by this?

I mean its not like we have the same climate as Finland, and those that do (Alaska etc) do have crazy efficient homes.

That statement is part of the issue. Insulation and envelope tightness(how air leaky a building is) matter almost as much for cooling as they do for heating. A/C is a huge energy sink in the summer in the southern half of the country.

Second, it does get very cold in parts of the continental US, especially the northern plains. If you look at a heating zone map, you'll see northern Minnesota/North Dakota/Michigan have as many heating hours as Southern Alaska. Montana, where I live, has less overall heating hours, but experiences nearly the same extremes. It fairly often hits -20F/-30C here.

And for a simple concrete example International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) code revision for 2012 specifies a minimum envelope tightness of 3 ACH50. Montana adopts the code, and but then makes a bunch of revisions, case in point they change the requirement from 3 ACH50 to 4 ACH50. The same type of thing happens across much of the country.

That change alone is enough to allow new buildings to get away with cheaper poorer quality materials. Such as cheap vinyl double hung windows, rather than gasketed tilt-turn windows.  And when all the builders compete on price (dictating demand), everything available is the cheap inefficient stuff. You have to special order efficient windows/doors, et.al.

The crazy thing is tightening energy efficiency standards pays for itself fairly quickly in most cases, and certainly within very conservative estimates of building life. Trying to retrofit after the fact is substantial harder, and substantially more expensive.




Takk

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2019, 01:09:34 PM »
TLDR:
So from this, I'd say if you're in a very cold climate, and your NG is piped to your house, use an efficient condensing boiler and be done with it. If you are wavering on it, look at how cold it gets, and see if your heat pump would work during that temp with the right capacity necessary to keep you warm.--


I do a lot of "green" engineering, and heat pumps make sense at times, and don't others.

Natural gas is cheap right now. and likely will be for the life of a heat pump. If you have the option to go to NG it will be cheaper for heating than using a heat pump, but it may not win in first cost if you're also getting AC.

A great way to calculate is dollar per BTU (source).

Just looking up Colorado prices on EIA.Gov for an example calculation for anyone to perform.

Price for Natural Gas (residential) is 13.40/thousand cu ft. (also known as $1.340 per therm)
Price for Electricity (residential) is 12.72 cents/kwh.

1 therm = ~100,000 btu
btu and kwh are units of energy, with a conversation ration between the two being 1w = 3.412btu

$1.34 per therm = 74626 btu(source) per dollar.
0.1272 dollars per kwh = 26,823 btu(source) per dollar.

Now heat pumps have a curve of efficiency, colder it is, less efficient they are (never getting below 1.0) and also the capacity decreases. If you have a lot of cold days, you'll likely make out better with NG than the heat pump.

Now for mild winters, the idea is that you're running an average COP (coefficient of performance, a unitless conversion) of lets say around 3. (it can geat greater than this, but I like being conservative)

74626 btu (source) * NG boiler heater efficiency (95%) = 70,894 btu per dollar of heat for a boiler.
26,823 btu (source) * Average COP of the heat pump (3) = 80469 btu per dollar of heat for heat pump.

with that, you're getting around the same performance as a NG boiler in a heat delivered per dollar standpoint.  When this isn't the case usually it is because the heat pump is not controlled appropriately; it uses the heat strips within the air handler way too often and not only during periods of extreme cold when the heat pump can't maintain temp. When it uses the heat strips, the best you have is the straight conversion of a resistance heater. (COP = 1) Oh, and before anyone gets a heat pump, get the curve for how cold it can operate and the capacities at each temp, so you know if you get below that you are using another heating source. (some only work down to 30, some work down to 10, some to 4, some to -30 or lower)  Always a plus side is that it also cools, and is only one piece of equipment.

Objectively, you know your uses best, but on average I use a chart of locations within ASHRAE 90.1 to determine Heating Degree Days (HDD) of locations to determine what to suggest. Florida and anything south of Tennessee I tend to go heat pump 100%, with a thermostat that limits the emergency heat (Resistance Strips) to a button/switch.  Rule of Thumb is ~3500 HDD I start at least evaluating, under that is Heat Pump. I do requests for researching HDD/CDD in your climate and let you know historically what the lowest temperature you will see 99% of the time, just ask



nereo

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2019, 01:13:58 PM »

Iím guessing that youíre looking at ductless mini splits.  With no forced air system now, it would be the most cost effective way for you to get AC and dehumidify during the summer. 

You already have radiant heat with a boiler.  Are you on heating oil?  You may have different payback periods with that than I do with natural gas.  We pay .40 - .50 / ccf for that, which is pretty cheap.

I would absolutely go with ductless mini splits in your situation. You already have a phenomenal heat source and adding central air would be very expensive. 


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Yes, we are looking at ductless mini-splits.  One for upstairs, a second for downstairs (run off two different compressors, given the square footage involved).
We actually just removed our fuel-oil boiler and replaced it with a HE unit that can run on either propane or LNG.  Currently it's running of propane, but just because getting line service to our home will take a few months.  We are undecided whether to stick with propane delivery or get a gas line.  LNG is (currently) cheaper in our area but the payback would be several years and comes with a monthly service fee whether we are using it or not (so 6+ months of fees with little/no usage).

BlueHouse

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2019, 09:54:40 AM »
I live in a 4 story rowhouse, so two sides of my house are already insulated.  The top two floors are on a heat pump system and I just replaced it.  I'm in a newer development and everyone with the builder-installed heat pump failed within 5-8 years.  It was inconvenient to change because we had to hire a crane to get the compressor up to the roof. 
Then I found out that heat pumps will die faster because they run year round, so it's twice as much wear and tear.  Also, our heat pumps are all on risers (because they need to run when there is snow) and sometimes they get blown off the risers due to wind.  not mine yet, but I see many neighbors who have to right their compressors after wind storms. 

As for the wind-chill effect.  Yes, I'd just check to see where your vents are or will be and plan accordingly.   The only one that really bothered me was the vent in my bathroom which blows cold air directly on my shoulders as I sit on the throne.  I just stuck one of those magnetic shields inside half the vent.  So I didn't close the whole vent, just deflected the air.  Now I don't even notice the wind.




NotJen

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2019, 11:30:39 AM »
For the people who hate their heat-pumps, I'm wondering how old they are.  From my research it seems big strides have been made in overall efficiency and efficiency-at-colder temps in the last 10 years.

Figures.  Mine is 13 years old.  No complaints about the A/C performance, though.

BDWW

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2019, 11:54:45 AM »
snip
I mean its not like we have the same climate as Finland, and those that do (Alaska etc) do have crazy efficient homes.

That statement is part of the issue. Insulation and envelope tightness(how air leaky a building is) matter almost as much for cooling as they do for heating. A/C is a huge energy sink in the summer in the southern half of the country.


As a further aside, coworker and I were just talking about our monthly power usage/bills. We are both below average for our state.  Looking over the state data, the highest electricity consumers are all in the South

Now obviously for comparison purposes, heating is generally not done by electricity alone, but the point is even warm climates can/would really benefit from more efficient buildings.

https://www.chooseenergy.com/news/article/the-states-that-use-the-most-and-least-amount-of-energy-per-household/

obstinate

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2019, 01:57:49 PM »
In search of contrarian opinions.

We're close to dropping some coin for two heat pumps, and several friends who have installed them all love them.  In fact, I have yet to hear anyone who has not liked their heat pump.   

Anyone have one installed and regret the purchase?
  Tell me why.


FWIW our home is open plan, has no HVAC system and is in a region with very high electricity prices.  By-the-numbers a heat pump is the least expensive way to heat and cool our home.
Ground source or air source? From what I've read the downsides to ground source are basically zero. Air source becomes inefficient in the cold.

Papa bear

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Re: Anyone NOT like their heat-pump? (ISO contratian opinions)
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2019, 02:46:37 PM »
snip
I mean its not like we have the same climate as Finland, and those that do (Alaska etc) do have crazy efficient homes.

That statement is part of the issue. Insulation and envelope tightness(how air leaky a building is) matter almost as much for cooling as they do for heating. A/C is a huge energy sink in the summer in the southern half of the country.


As a further aside, coworker and I were just talking about our monthly power usage/bills. We are both below average for our state.  Looking over the state data, the highest electricity consumers are all in the South

Now obviously for comparison purposes, heating is generally not done by electricity alone, but the point is even warm climates can/would really benefit from more efficient buildings.

https://www.chooseenergy.com/news/article/the-states-that-use-the-most-and-least-amount-of-energy-per-household/

I donít disagree that all houses benefit from more insulation. But, for the most part, AC is optional.  We donít need it to live.  Heat, on the other hand, kind of necessary.  So at least traditionally, insulation was much less necessary down south.  This need to cool is relatively recent. 



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