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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    9

    retrofit HP into a current oil-only system?

    Hello all.. We got approved for a $6k grant to make our home more energy efficient. Currently, the house is heated by a ~1991 Ducane 150k BTU forced-air oil furnace which was checked and was told is in good shape, no cracks, but I do smell some fuel smell when it first lights. Cooling is via 2 through-wall AC units (one 10k and one 15k). We live in the 17821 zip.

    The house is 2,000 sq.ft. total, with 700sq.ft. being on an upper level (MBR and M.bath), the remainder on the first floor. Basement is finished, but heated primarily by electric wall heat. The ductwork throughout the house is OK, though the installer used duct tape to secure the plastic outer, which has dried and is coming off.

    I'd like to update the system and would really appreciate central air, as well as a reduction in heating/cooling costs. Electric costs $.12/kwh (total), and oil was around $3.50/gal at last delivery. We use about 400 gallons a season.

    Obviously I need a few contractors to come out and bid, but i wanted to get a ROUGH idea of what I might expect to be able to swing given the budget. (I checked the contractor map - no one anywhere close!)

    Sorry for being so wordy, but I wanted to provide all relevant info. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
    Posts
    5,060
    Quote Originally Posted by Eskimo1 View Post
    Hello all.. We got approved for a $6k grant to make our home more energy efficient. Currently, the house is heated by a ~1991 Ducane 150k BTU forced-air oil furnace which was checked and was told is in good shape, no cracks, but I do smell some fuel smell when it first lights. Cooling is via 2 through-wall AC units (one 10k and one 15k). We live in the 17821 zip.

    The house is 2,000 sq.ft. total, with 700sq.ft. being on an upper level (MBR and M.bath), the remainder on the first floor. Basement is finished, but heated primarily by electric wall heat. The ductwork throughout the house is OK, though the installer used duct tape to secure the plastic outer, which has dried and is coming off.

    I'd like to update the system and would really appreciate central air, as well as a reduction in heating/cooling costs. Electric costs $.12/kwh (total), and oil was around $3.50/gal at last delivery. We use about 400 gallons a season.

    Obviously I need a few contractors to come out and bid, but i wanted to get a ROUGH idea of what I might expect to be able to swing given the budget. (I checked the contractor map - no one anywhere close!)

    Sorry for being so wordy, but I wanted to provide all relevant info. Thanks!
    There will be some Pa. gentlemen along shortly that might be in your area.

    Address the duct work and energy efficiency of the house first and then ad the heat pump.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    150kBTU in a 2000sqft home. Yikes. That's not helping your effciency. I'm willing to bet the the ductwork is a little undersized. NOt a bad idea ot go ot a heat pump on thsi system and only use the boile in very cold temps.

    But, I agree, sealing the house and improving the areas that need the most insualtion will help the most. Then look at resizing the existing boiler and finally adding a heat pump. I'd shoot for spending maybe 1/4 on sealing around doors, new storm doors, and if needed good low-E storm windows and attic insualtion (if it needs it). You might look at DIY for all of this.

    IF you have basement access to the rim joists on the foundation, Seal those... they are a huge source of air leaks.

    Then spend the rest towards a properly sized oil furnace with a heat pump properly sized for your cooling load now that you've sealed things up.

    Finally, don't waste your money on replacement windows. Even if they are aluminum framed 1960's-80's windows, you'e be better of repairing hte seals and.or adding good storm windows. The payback on most repalcement windows is over 20 years... and soemthimes over 100 years. Both of which exceed the service life of low to midrange repalcement windows. Money is better spend on insualting walls and.or storm windows.


    Yes... as above, reduce energy use first, then improve equipment effciency. IN PA, winter is still longer than summer, so go after the heating system before upgrading the AC. Two wall mounted AC units now allow you to zone you home. SO even if they are 8 SEER, you'd be suprised at how little you'll save with central air.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,841
    I agree with all above. First seal the home as much as possible and don't waste money on replacement windows unless they need 1-inch putty all around. Once the house is tight, then you can focus on the HVAC equipment. Don't be fooled by a company that fails to do a room-by-room energy analysis and full Manual 'D' duct design to check what's there already. There may be the need to have many supply outlets enlarged to accommodate the AC system, which generally need to move more air than heating. A HP is a no brainer for someone heating with oil. You should be able to cut your oil consumption on the order of 40% with a HP properly sized.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    9
    The windows are those casement style that crank out sideways when opened - are these able to be winterized? I bet the 3 skylights don't help things either.

    Sealing the doors better I could see.. the mud room (where there are 2 entry doors) is always colder than the rest of the house, and one of them doesn't have a storm door on it.

    I have access to about 1/3 of the rim joist perimeter due to most of the basement being finished. I'll look up what sealant is to be used.

    I was hoping to kill 2 birds with one stone in going with a heat pump system as the 10k AC needs to be replaced (compressor sticks on), and the furnace smells a bit at start-up, though when it was tuned up last year, the tech swore there were no cracks in the heat exchanger, though the flue does pass through the clean-air side of the air handler.. maybe there's a small leak there.

    Attic insulation is rolled batt and really doesn't extend above the level of the joists, I'd bet there's some benefits to be had there?

    I am taking this advice to heart...Thanks! Sounds like I need to spend the $250 and get the independent energy auditor out to do a thorough evaluation of the house.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    North Huntingdon,Pa
    Posts
    356
    you need roughly half the size of that furnace on a zero degree day to maintain 70 degrees inside,
    PA#9377
    Your Satisfaction...Our Goal.

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