We keep the unit set at 68 all the time. The unit is no longer icing over after he discovered he had wired it incorrectly. When it was icing over before it was the entire inside unit and the line running to the house but that seems to be fixed. My fiancÚ has told me he sees the "aux heat" indicator on our thermostat when the unit cycles on. We have contacted our contractor again and told him to bring in another air temp person, making sure it is a tech this time. I will most likely bring in another contractor to check things as well.
Let me see if I've got some the facts straight.
1) The house was heated by oil until the heat pump system was installed.
2) The previous owners "averaged" about 140 a month electric bills.
3) Your expectations were to have an electric bill of between 200 and 250 a month during the heating months once the new system was installed.
4) Issues were found with the initial installation, but have since been fixed and it "seems" to be functioning properly other than the electric bills are still high.
5) Someone other than the contractor came out and verified that the system was correctly sized for your home.
6) You're not happy nor confident in the contractor you're dealing with.
1) Did the person that came out with the contractor do an actual heating load calculation to verify that the unit was sized correctly? Did you get a copy of that information? Did this person happen to mention whether the HP alone was adequate for your home's heating needs all by itself or did they include the emergency heat in this "capability"? And if so, did they happen to mention at what outside temperature they calculated the emergency electric heat would need to be brought on to help heat the house? Did they happen to mention what the setting(s) were that control when the electric backup/emergency heat comes on?
2) If the previous homeowners had average electric bills of 140/month and you expected between 200-250/month during the winter months, what portion of the 140 the previous owners paid average per month did you figure you are saving by everything you did or do to conserve or more wisely use electricity now that you're living there? What are you doing that you are sure they didn't do to make any comparison between their usage and yours valid? Note: Average bills (the information the power company is allowed to give you that doesn't potentially cross into privacy issues of the previous owner) are all bills throughout the year added together and divided by 12. Only meaning that some could have been 50 and others 250.
3) If I'm understanding the situation correctly, the previous owners heated with oil and you are now heating with the HP and electric resistance heat (for emergency mode, second stage and when the outdoor unit goes into defrost mode).
4) What information did you use to conclude that your electric bills should average between 200-250/month during the heating months? Was this amount derived through calculations or was it an amount someone told you to expect as average for your cost of electricity for the winter months? I'm assuming that you meant 200-250 total electrical costs (not breaking out the heating and other electrical uses into separate numbers) for the home by the way it was stated.
5) Your have no confidence in your contractor specifically because? He made a wiring mistake? Additions/modifications had to be made to the original installation to get the house's temperatures balanced out? Your electric bills are higher than you expected?
You can be assured that you will find no finer group of professionals assembled on the net ready to help you in any way they can within the limitations placed on us by the website rules. What of course limits all of us is the fact we're not there. We can't physically look things over, make measurements and whatever else it takes to confidently say "This is your problem". We rely solely on the information and facts that you provide and then make comments based on knowledge, experience and training. Some read the homeowner's words and go "been there done that!"
What none of us can do is give solid and 100% reliable answers to questions that demand facts to prove them correct. You're the supplier of the facts.
Good point... how much was oil costing you? HEat pumps are not the most effcent cost of heating... below 40F. Natural gas and geothermal are.
$100 @ $0.10/kwhr is 1000kw. Wit han average COP of lets say 2.8, that's 2800 kwhrs of delivered heat or 95,556,400BTU's or an average consumption of 13,272 BTU/hr. That doesn't see too far off.
FWIM, I too kat look at my gas bill from December (Nov 15-Dec 15th) and it was 164 Therms. Take out 20 for water heating, figure an average fo 94% effciency on the gas furnaces, and I'm at 21,277 BTU/hr aveage heat consumption with an average outdoor temperature listed at 46F for that period. Keep in mind, my home is 2 story 3200sqft. We keep it 70F, but I do use large setback downstairs at night and upstairs at daytime (2 furnaces/systems).
My gas furnaces cost me $128 to run that month including electric for the blower. With an average COP of 3, a stright electric heat pump would have cost me $150 to operate. With dual fuel or geothermal, it might have pulled down to $115. Geothermal water to water radiant might get me to as low as $90... and that's about the best I'm going to do without doing a lot fo zoning, improving my building structure with more insulation or further air sealing, removing windows. :grin2: My consumpton goes up by 2-2.5 times in Jan and Feb bills.
No for soemthing really scary.... if I had stright electric resitance heat, I would have had a $450 bill!!! and for the coldest months almost $1000.... and that's even factoring in 3rd tier winter rates of $0.08. That's an average power consumption of almost 7 kw! About the same as running 4 of your 2.5 ton heat pumps continously.
I am in the same general area of the country as the OP is. My house is about the same square footage. With a 2.5 ton heat pump system, my balance point is after the outdoor ambient has been below 32 degrees for 8 hours, give or take a few minutes. (I still have not hooked up my auxilliary hot water coil and have no electric heaters, so yes; I can be that specific! :whistle:)
For most other houses in my area, the balance point is higher because less cooling is needed compared to heating. I just happen to have a small rancher with finished attic rooms, which is very similar in heat gain/loss to what the OP has.
The point being is that over the past month or so, we have had many days where the auxilliary heaters were needed to maintain indoor temps. But, not at the cost of energy that the OP has been seeing.
Post pics off all you can. Call your contractor back and have him check the heat pack with a clamp meter. Ask him to make the system run WITH back-up heat, and then with NO back-up heat. Your heat pack is coming on often or all the time. What size duct goes to the second floor?
How far is the indoor unit from the outdoor unit? Ask him how he charged the system? Tell us his exact answer
I have been checking the thermostat every time the heat kicks on and I have not seen the "aux heat" indicator but it is in the low 50's today, not sure if that makes a difference. We never had to pay for oil, we changed the system over the week we moved in (early November). The previous system had an asbestos shield in it and our inspector told us to change it out immediately, esp. with an infant in the house. I'll try to answer all of firecontrol's questions:
1. I was at work when the rep came out so all of this is secondhand info from my fiance. The person brought out to check the system was introduced as an AirTemp rep (we dont know if it was a sales rep or a tech, as RoBoTeq mentioned). She looked at the outside of the house, looked at the unit and said it was the right size. I don't believe any tests were done, nor did we receive any paperwork or even a business card. She looked at the wiring going into the unit and said it was ok. She also came down into our basement and said to help the unit we should consider better insulation, which we are in the process of doing. My fiance says he doesn't remember her saying anything about emergency heat or those settings.
2. I can only assume about the previous owners energy consumption. They were an elderly couple, retired. We are in our 30s with an infant and we both work. When we moved in we replaced the ancient dishwasher and refrigerator with new energystar appliances and switched the bulbs in the rooms we use most to LED or CFI (in the process of converting to all LED). Since receiving the first bill we have been extremely careful to use only what we really need as far as lights, etc. They had a 12 year old a/c unit, don't know how much they used it but it gets pretty darn hot here in the summer. Since they had oil heat and an electric a/c I would think if they did have high bills they would be in the summer, and still not over $500 if they averaged out to $140.
4. The $200-$250 a month was a guesstimate more than anything. I would not have been shocked to see a bill into the $300 as we learned about the house and its energy requirements. I came to the number by looking up people in this area with similar sized homes, similar family size and heat pump only systems. I was seeing $250 as their highest numbers so that's what I was prepared for. Over twice that was unexpected, to say the least. I should also mention that I really expected our second bill to be MUCH less than the first because we were running on emergency heat for so much of that first month and when we got into the second, everything seemed fixed.
5. I don't want to completely blame this on my hvac guy. I was a little peeved yesterday and I shouldn't have put the fault solely on his shoulders. I do think the insulation does contribute some but with the plethora of issues we have come across since the process started, a lot were silly mistakes. The wiring was one thing. We also decided to replace all of our vent covers as we were told the old ones did not have baffles, come to find out they did indeed have baffles. Having us run on emergency heat for over 2 weeks was probably not a great idea. We were told that a heat pump was the most efficient way to go. I should have done my research a bit more but as he was recommended to highly by our realtor I just trusted him. He also makes comments like, "Well the heat pumps I have put in before were in townhomes." He is a great guy and I like him a lot, I am just beginning to question his level of expertise and experience. I fully admit I could be 100% wrong now at the unit could be working perfectly but this electric bill has me doubting. We did contact him this morning and he had pretty much told us he is done (I would probably feel the same way in his shoes). He said the rep said the unit was fine so his job is done. He feels the insulation is the issue so I have someone coming out tomorrow to do an insulation audit on the house.
I cannot tell you all how much I appreciate everyone's comments. I came here just wanting to know if I was crazy for thinking that this number wasn't right and something could be wrong. We have a lot of great leads to check on now.
He could have something (low voltage) wrong and every-time the outdoor unit starts, the axillary heat may be coming on. If it's not wired correctly that red light not coming on may mean zip. Next time an HVAC tech visits, tell him to pop the stat and take a pic of the connections. Good luck
Sorry to hear that the contractor has "given up" on answering your concerns in a manner that did nothing to answer your questions.
So, the ball now is basically back in your court. I'm going to guess that the cost to install the new system wasn't cheap and now the electric bills are sky high. I suggest you do some research and find a different contractor that is everything the first one wasn't and then some. Check all sources of references and ask for customer referrals and recommendations (current) that are from customers that hired them to fix something others couldn't before hiring someone.
Make it understood that you hiring them to document (I can't stress the documenting part enough) your system's performance, correctness and that's it's applied and sized properly and to give you a price for correcting anything they find that is not correct. You're not hiring nor do you want them to send a salesperson. You want a highly qualified technician with the needed test equipment.
Once you've had the assessment done it's your choice again. If the report comes back that things are wrong and lists what needs to be fixed etc. you can either hire them to do the work right off or share the information with the original contractor and give him the opportunity to make things right at no additional cost. Either way, make sure you get something in writing from the experts that states they can do things A through Z and by doing so will save you or at least "should" save you X amount on your energy bills.
Good luck. Keep smiling.
I'm not sure if we've clearly established if the bills are truely sky high. Something is off however, so I think it's time for a new contractor to take a look. A new set of eyes is never a bad thing. Plus, being a heat pump, jsut keeping it 72F indoors instead of 69F can swing power consmption by 10% of more.