Author Topic: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.  (Read 7635 times)

Zoe

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Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« on: October 23, 2014, 07:39:11 AM »
I need help picking a heat & a/c system.

I want efficiency and lower cost. Maybe those two don't go together?

Our house is about 1200 sq ft give or take just a little. Closed floor plan.

Anyway, I have gotten one quote for a 2.5 ton 14 seer heat pump package with UV light for $8,330. I will get more quotes for a central system. I've always thought they were kind of inefficient though. And the temperature fluctuations drive me crazy. I'm constantly fiddling with the thermostat.

I just saw a thread on here about geothermal, which I'm interested in, but it is definitely expensive, even after you DIY some parts of it.

And I did ask the HVAC guy about the mini split systems and he said it would cost us more than $8,330 and they aren't very efficient at heating. Fine for cooling though.

What other options am I missing?


Greg

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2014, 08:28:40 AM »
I would talk to a different HVAC person about minisplit heat pumps.  Super efficient.  But, if you have a bunch of rooms, you might need more head units than makes sense.

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2014, 08:59:42 AM »
Yeah, he said that's where my cost would come in. We would need 1 per bedroom (3 bedrooms), and one in the living room, and one in the dining/kitchen. And maybe one in the bathroom (it's really small).


RichMoose

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2014, 10:14:09 AM »
I'm assuming that A/C is important based on your location (I'm from Alberta where it's not needed). The most efficient option would be a heat pump and I would lean to a central unit. The important thing with central units is making sure your ductwork is planned properly, installed properly, all the ducts are sealed to prevent air leakage / loss of pressure, and your air returns are properly placed.

If your floor plan is closed, its important to leave doors open to allow proper air circulation to feed the system.

Also, buy a programmable "smart" thermostat. They are leaps above what thermostats were just 10 years ago and will go a long way to reducing the thermostat fiddling.

Mini-split systems are good for renovations where homes don't have ducting systems, sunrooms, home additions or homes where everyone has widely different temperature preferences. That being said, for most people they are not worth the extra cost at all.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2014, 10:55:34 AM »
That seems like a crazy amount of money at first glance, but should I take this to mean your home currently has no central air system, or that it's extremely old and uses non-insulated metal ductwork or something that has to be replaced?  I guess $8300 might be reasonable if that includes converting the house from individual room A/C units to central air.  I'd certainly get multiple quotes though and maybe sign up for an Angie's List account to find the highest rated HVAC contractors in your area.  That's a huge investment and I'd want to get it right.

I don't understand the comment about "I always thought they were inefficient."  You already said it's 14 SEER.  That's the efficiency rating.  As long as the contractor knows what they are doing and builds an insulated air distribution box, properly balances the flow through the house, and uses insulated flexible ductwork, like the stuff that's rated R6 or R8 and does a good job to make sure the return is insulated and has no leaks, then you should be in great shape.

In Phoenix the general rule of thumb is 1 ton per every 400 square feet for a heat pump system but SC shouldn't be quite as hot in the summer and if you've got brand new insulated ductwork and a well insulated home, I'm sure 2.5 ton is sufficient.  You'd be at 480 square feet per ton, which is likely reasonable.  The other thing they might recommend however is a supplemental heat strip which improves heating in the winter with a heat pump, especially on nights where it drops below 30 degrees or so.  In fact with outside air temperatures below 20 degrees a heat pump may really struggle to comfortably heat the home if you do not do any kind of supplemental heat strip.

A good HVAC contractor should be able to explain all this.  I generally write off those UV lamps as a total waste of money, but I realize you get a lot more humidity there in the Carolinas and the UV lamp is documented by independent research to reduce common gross stuff that is found a lot more frequently in humid climates than in dry desert climates.  Feel free to read the linked NIH article above if you're on the fence with regards to the UV lamp.  I'd probably do it if I lived somewhere humid.

Final note: I'd avoid Goodman.  I've got two family members in HVAC and although Goodman is very common out here, the failure rate is disproportionately higher than other brands, even given Goodman's commonality. 

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2014, 12:27:06 PM »
That seems like a crazy amount of money at first glance, but should I take this to mean your home currently has no central air system, or that it's extremely old and uses non-insulated metal ductwork or something that has to be replaced?  I guess $8300 might be reasonable if that includes converting the house from individual room A/C units to central air.  I'd certainly get multiple quotes though and maybe sign up for an Angie's List account to find the highest rated HVAC contractors in your area.  That's a huge investment and I'd want to get it right.

I don't understand the comment about "I always thought they were inefficient."  You already said it's 14 SEER.  That's the efficiency rating.  As long as the contractor knows what they are doing and builds an insulated air distribution box, properly balances the flow through the house, and uses insulated flexible ductwork, like the stuff that's rated R6 or R8 and does a good job to make sure the return is insulated and has no leaks, then you should be in great shape.

In Phoenix the general rule of thumb is 1 ton per every 400 square feet for a heat pump system but SC shouldn't be quite as hot in the summer and if you've got brand new insulated ductwork and a well insulated home, I'm sure 2.5 ton is sufficient.  You'd be at 480 square feet per ton, which is likely reasonable.  The other thing they might recommend however is a supplemental heat strip which improves heating in the winter with a heat pump, especially on nights where it drops below 30 degrees or so.  In fact with outside air temperatures below 20 degrees a heat pump may really struggle to comfortably heat the home if you do not do any kind of supplemental heat strip.

A good HVAC contractor should be able to explain all this.  I generally write off those UV lamps as a total waste of money, but I realize you get a lot more humidity there in the Carolinas and the UV lamp is documented by independent research to reduce common gross stuff that is found a lot more frequently in humid climates than in dry desert climates.  Feel free to read the linked NIH article above if you're on the fence with regards to the UV lamp.  I'd probably do it if I lived somewhere humid.

Final note: I'd avoid Goodman.  I've got two family members in HVAC and although Goodman is very common out here, the failure rate is disproportionately higher than other brands, even given Goodman's commonality.

Good stuff! My comment of central units being inefficient was more along the lines of having to heat/cool the entire house even if only a few rooms are being used. Although, it's not that big of a deal now that we're in a much smaller house. So, I guess that comment can be disregarded. You're spot on about our current "system". The old furnace and metal duct work has to be removed and the duct work replaced.

I'm leaning towards the UV light for the reasons you mentioned. It kills the icky stuff :) We have a 3 year old so it's only a matter of time before he starts bringing germs home with play dates and whatnot.

Weird about Goodman. I've heard good things about them. American Standard is the unit that the HVAC company I got the quote from from installs.

I've also contacted Costco for a quote. They install Lennox.

kimmarg

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2014, 12:43:58 PM »
I would talk to a different HVAC person about minisplit heat pumps.  Super efficient.  But, if you have a bunch of rooms, you might need more head units than makes sense.

Just got a mini split - love it! Projected to save over $1000 in heating costs. You may not need one per room. We got one and it handles the main downstairs area kitchen, living, bedroom. I've only had it a month so we'll see in winter. The new ones are super efficient and work down to -15. (we retain our propane system for when it gets below zero and for the rest of the house) look for 'hyper heat' models which are more efficient. Ours is a Mitsubishi ductless mini split 15k BTU.

Edited to add, you may be able to get the ones with one external unit and multiple indoor units. They only work down to 5F but I now we you're in South Carolina so that probably isn't a big deal. I'm in maine, so I got the hyper heat model. It does AC too but that's just a bonus for us for the one week a year we might bother to turn it on.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 12:45:49 PM by kimmarg »

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2014, 01:09:32 PM »
I would talk to a different HVAC person about minisplit heat pumps.  Super efficient.  But, if you have a bunch of rooms, you might need more head units than makes sense.

Just got a mini split - love it! Projected to save over $1000 in heating costs. You may not need one per room. We got one and it handles the main downstairs area kitchen, living, bedroom. I've only had it a month so we'll see in winter. The new ones are super efficient and work down to -15. (we retain our propane system for when it gets below zero and for the rest of the house) look for 'hyper heat' models which are more efficient. Ours is a Mitsubishi ductless mini split 15k BTU.

Edited to add, you may be able to get the ones with one external unit and multiple indoor units. They only work down to 5F but I now we you're in South Carolina so that probably isn't a big deal. I'm in maine, so I got the hyper heat model. It does AC too but that's just a bonus for us for the one week a year we might bother to turn it on.

Thank you! I'm going to investigate these more and see if we have an installer (or several!) in our area to come out and take a look at our house. I was under the impression that each living space, bedrooms, living room, would have to have a "heat source". We're trying to refinance and have to have a heat source. And a "heat source" was described to me as each "living" area having a way to be heated. Like, just a wood burning stove wouldn't count even though it could heat the entire house.

Do you mind sharing how much it cost? If not, I understand.

kimmarg

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2014, 01:25:14 PM »
I would talk to a different HVAC person about minisplit heat pumps.  Super efficient.  But, if you have a bunch of rooms, you might need more head units than makes sense.

Just got a mini split - love it! Projected to save over $1000 in heating costs. You may not need one per room. We got one and it handles the main downstairs area kitchen, living, bedroom. I've only had it a month so we'll see in winter. The new ones are super efficient and work down to -15. (we retain our propane system for when it gets below zero and for the rest of the house) look for 'hyper heat' models which are more efficient. Ours is a Mitsubishi ductless mini split 15k BTU.

Edited to add, you may be able to get the ones with one external unit and multiple indoor units. They only work down to 5F but I now we you're in South Carolina so that probably isn't a big deal. I'm in maine, so I got the hyper heat model. It does AC too but that's just a bonus for us for the one week a year we might bother to turn it on.

Thank you! I'm going to investigate these more and see if we have an installer (or several!) in our area to come out and take a look at our house. I was under the impression that each living space, bedrooms, living room, would have to have a "heat source". We're trying to refinance and have to have a heat source. And a "heat source" was described to me as each "living" area having a way to be heated. Like, just a wood burning stove wouldn't count even though it could heat the entire house.

Do you mind sharing how much it cost? If not, I understand.

It was $4300 installed (note it's not a great DIY install because while mounting it on the wall is easy enough putting the refrigerant in the lines requires a special machine)

I would clarify the 'each room must have a heat source' thing.  Heating the whole house with a woodstove is common up here and I imagine things get refinanced no problem. Technically our upstairs has no heat - it just rises and we turn on a space heater if we need it.) seems crazy that you would need more heat further south.

Also note the savings would depend obviously on your current costs. We heat with propane to the tune of $3k/ year, so the heat pump should take around a third of he the heating load for $1k savings. YMMV

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2014, 01:38:21 PM »
I would talk to a different HVAC person about minisplit heat pumps.  Super efficient.  But, if you have a bunch of rooms, you might need more head units than makes sense.

Just got a mini split - love it! Projected to save over $1000 in heating costs. You may not need one per room. We got one and it handles the main downstairs area kitchen, living, bedroom. I've only had it a month so we'll see in winter. The new ones are super efficient and work down to -15. (we retain our propane system for when it gets below zero and for the rest of the house) look for 'hyper heat' models which are more efficient. Ours is a Mitsubishi ductless mini split 15k BTU.

Edited to add, you may be able to get the ones with one external unit and multiple indoor units. They only work down to 5F but I now we you're in South Carolina so that probably isn't a big deal. I'm in maine, so I got the hyper heat model. It does AC too but that's just a bonus for us for the one week a year we might bother to turn it on.

Thank you! I'm going to investigate these more and see if we have an installer (or several!) in our area to come out and take a look at our house. I was under the impression that each living space, bedrooms, living room, would have to have a "heat source". We're trying to refinance and have to have a heat source. And a "heat source" was described to me as each "living" area having a way to be heated. Like, just a wood burning stove wouldn't count even though it could heat the entire house.

Do you mind sharing how much it cost? If not, I understand.

It was $4300 installed (note it's not a great DIY install because while mounting it on the wall is easy enough putting the refrigerant in the lines requires a special machine)

I would clarify the 'each room must have a heat source' thing.  Heating the whole house with a woodstove is common up here and I imagine things get refinanced no problem. Technically our upstairs has no heat - it just rises and we turn on a space heater if we need it.) seems crazy that you would need more heat further south.

Also note the savings would depend obviously on your current costs. We heat with propane to the tune of $3k/ year, so the heat pump should take around a third of he the heating load for $1k savings. YMMV

Wow. That's HALF of what we were quoted for a central unit. Here's what my mortgage guy said "each room in the heated living space needs to have itís own heat source, typically."

I have no idea what our actual current costs would be. We are using one 1800 sq ft capable infrared space heater in the living room and one regular space heater in our son's bedroom at night, and I pull it into the kitchen if I need it during the day.

Hmm.

kimmarg

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2014, 02:13:42 PM »
I think you should find a better mortgage broker. Amazon says your current heating system is around $200 and I can't imagine the operating costs are very high or you'd notice them. Are you really saving over $5k/$8k/ cost of heating system by refinancing?

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2014, 02:57:37 PM »
Yeah, he said that's where my cost would come in. We would need 1 per bedroom (3 bedrooms), and one in the living room, and one in the dining/kitchen. And maybe one in the bathroom (it's really small).

That's BS.  I just installed a 24k BTU single head mini split in my 1400 Sq Ft raised ranch home.  It does a fine job keeping things cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  You might need a small supplement (window air/space heat) if you like to sleep with your bedroom door closed.  My unit was $1100 bucks but I installed it myself.

We live in TN.  Our highest electric bill this year was $100 and we keep the house at 75 in the summer.

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2014, 06:46:18 PM »
I think you should find a better mortgage broker. Amazon says your current heating system is around $200 and I can't imagine the operating costs are very high or you'd notice them. Are you really saving over $5k/$8k/ cost of heating system by refinancing?

We've only been here a month. We are paying 8% interest right now to a seller who is an ass. I'd like to stop lining his pockets.

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2014, 11:59:32 PM »
This may not be feasible, but baseboard heaters run around $50-$200 each at Home Depot, and you could use a portable air conditioner, plus a mini split for your main central room?  The cheap builders install the baseboard heaters for new construction, because of the savings, and lately they are trying to say that it saves heating costs too.

We put in baseboard heaters where our central system would not reach, and they are individually controlled, so we only turn them on when we REALLY need heat there.   

I typically don't need AC in every room, but I am not familiar with SC climate or if this causes nasty condensation issues or ??
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 12:06:04 AM by goldielocks »

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2014, 06:54:59 AM »
I think you should find a better mortgage broker. Amazon says your current heating system is around $200 and I can't imagine the operating costs are very high or you'd notice them. Are you really saving over $5k/$8k/ cost of heating system by refinancing?

I woke up this morning thinking about this. My initial reaction was just to get out of the 8% and down to a better rate. But, the facepunch is that we will have to either finance the HVAC or finance it in with the refinance. So, it doesn't make any sense to go into debt for the unit to save such a small amount of money.

We will continue to save money and keep getting quotes and figure out what system is best for our house.

Zoe

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2014, 07:05:35 AM »
This may not be feasible, but baseboard heaters run around $50-$200 each at Home Depot, and you could use a portable air conditioner, plus a mini split for your main central room?  The cheap builders install the baseboard heaters for new construction, because of the savings, and lately they are trying to say that it saves heating costs too.

We put in baseboard heaters where our central system would not reach, and they are individually controlled, so we only turn them on when we REALLY need heat there.   

I typically don't need AC in every room, but I am not familiar with SC climate or if this causes nasty condensation issues or ??

I'm going to look more into the baseboard heaters. The new ones might be pretty energy efficient. We have a portable A/C unit that we used when we first moved in since it was still hot. It did a pretty good job of keeping the house comfortable. It can get wicked humid here so we might get either another portable or a newer window unit. We had two window units but they both broke! Hah!

Does anyone use radiant heat? I was looking at that a while back. Heats the stuff in the house instead of the air.

Takk

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2014, 09:43:47 AM »
In general for any payback for residential AC, you're looking at either a full ducted system cheap as you can find with a SEER about 14, or a Mini-split system that conditions individual rooms that you're in.
Heating: in general a heat pump is about 3-4x as efficient as "electric" (resistive) heating. Radiant heating is awesome, but the install costs usually dissuade.

If you will be running more than two mini-split systems at once, I'd say the cost payback will probably never pan out even amongst high lifespans and should probably just look into the central system. Central will be the cheapest option for residential with ductwork room, because it takes about the warrantee period to make back the savings from the minisplits.

Most of my Cost analysis for Florida mind you, but for the City of Orlando requires a 7 year payback for retrofits, we use SEER 14 units, as the savings isn't there compared to the increased equipment cost for anything above it (SEER 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 were studied two years ago, prices may have changed and regional variations).

I personally love mini-splits, as It can condition only the room I am in, are hyper efficient, it makes me feel like I am wasting much less and also is measuring the temperature in the room I am directly in and keeping it the appropriate temp, rather than measuring the kitchen when I'm in the bedroom.

The other main detail is making sure the system is properly sized for your building, use, and equipment.

That will wear down the units faster, minor increase unit energy usage from cycling on and off, as well as decrease comfort due to humidity buildup in these environments.

If you'd like me to go into a bit of detail on that front, PM me.






hodedofome

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Re: Heating and Cooling Systems. Help me pick one.
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2014, 10:05:52 AM »
We replaced our old central air unit 4 years ago in our 1500 sq ft house with a Payne PN15NB (Carrier generic brand) heat pump and I've been really happy with it. It cost us $5500 to get it installed and our bills are pretty reasonable these days for central Texas. We keep our a/c at 75-76* in the Summer and ~70* in the winter. Our highest bill is no more than $200 in the peak of summer, and I think we pay about $.08-.09 a kilowatt. We don't have gas so electric powers everything in the house. All in all, for the money that it cost us, and our monthly bills, I'm glad we did it.