Agreed, I just recommended an add on heat pump. If he has a similar age a/c the coil may be a heat pump coil and he might be able to merely switch outdoor units (contractor) if its a match. His payback would justify the cost and he might get a rebate for it from the electric utility.
Thats what I would do. Or then again get on the budget plan with the gas co. and grin and bear it when the settlement bill comes.
You are right Doc, I don't have much experience with electric heat other than electric reheat in VAV systems although I have enough heat pump experience to run circle around most people. My point is that gas heat produces a much more comfortable and quieter system than electric ever could or will so is the 25 % worth the headache to most people it would not be.
I know where your coming from but lets review this. His question was geared to efficiency and reducing his monthly bill. A heat pump will do just that.
Frankly any forced air system that is installed correctly with proper distribution system will maintain the temperature just fine in the home regardless of enrergy used. I almost bet that at 6 cents per KWH he would save 25% or more each month in the winter but thats not my point. Drafty systems are an indication of a poorly desinged duct system. The reason I hear complaints is generally the fact that the rule of thumb used to install a gas furnaces duct system is the same rule of thumb they use when installing a heat pumps duct system.
Unless you put your hand down at the register in my home, you cannot tell weather its operating on HP or Gas at the time (or look at the thermostat - no cheating). Dont let me take credit here, it is an exsisting system that was installed by the people who owned it before I bought it. I only replaced the furnace itself to go from an 80 to a 90+ 2 stage.. The HP was fairly new and the duct system was near perfect in design.
Thanks to all who replied. That was a wealth of information. I think I will go for it. I will replace the 2 a/c systems with heat pumps and keep the gas as a backup instaed of electric strips. The a/c units I have now are the cheap builders grade units (Goodman 10 SEER) anyway. They make LOT'S of noise. That brings up yet another point..... I need two very quiet units because my neighbor's house is on the same side as my outside units and I don't want to keep them awake in the winter like I do now in the summer! They don't complain, but I know it has to bother them at night. Any suggestions on quiet units? Thanks again for the advise.
Avoid the lowest cost units, these units are price driven and do not incorporate added sound reduction features, then be sure its installed right. Good luck
"Unless you put your hand down at the register in my home, you cannot tell weather its operating on HP or Gas at the time (or look at the thermostat - no cheating)."
Interesting. For me and other people I know, the hp never delivers that warm and cozy feeling that people love.
We talk about efficiency, and most of us agree that hp are cheaper than straight gas (to what degree depends on your location). But comfort really is part of the equation. The setting you choose on your thermostat is ultimately tied to comfort and efficiency both. I've noticed that most people, including myself, use a significantly lower thermostat setting for gas heat than for hp. This changes the heating requirement of the home between gas and electric. This is something often overlooked when doing straight 'math' efficiency comparisons.
I've had both hp and gas. I honestly never minded my hp. The reality is though, most people are very unhappy when going from gas to hp. Having to jack up the thermostat, use a blanket, a portable heater, and still not feeling cozy is not acceptable is some people's book. You tell these people 'you could save 25% by converting to a heat pump' and they will laugh at you.
Your right, if you replace a gas furnace with proper sized duct with a heat pump on the same duct you will get a drafty home because a HP requires more airflow. Who justifies installing equipment on a duct that was desinged with another application in mind and expecting the equipment to somehow deal with it?
Poor register placment, velocity and throw all play into the drafty feeling. Thats a distribution issue. On a forced air system, the goal is to not make it apparent the air is blowing around the house.
Your right also in that the true cost includes satisfaction with what you have. The man simply wanted to lower his heating costs and that is what we addressed here.
I should add this... He/she can set the changover stat to whatever temperature she wants (or hit the old emergency heat switch) and can then make the choice of when to switch to gas and have control over the comfort versus cost thing. The drafty complaints come when its cold out, he/she will be on gas at that point anyway.
It really is the best of both worlds.
Remember you hear the complaints way more often than the satisfactions.
[Edited by docholiday on 02-17-2005 at 02:54 PM]