Just found this site and love it so far! I'm building a home and I want to make sure I make the right decisions on the heating/cooling setup. I'm a newbie but I've spent countless hours online researching things, then found this site and figured this would be a great resource. Here is my information..I figure I'd give you more than less to better help answer my questions.
-Philadelphia, PA area. Number of days that AVERAGE 32 degrees or below..35. Number of days that the LOW temp drops to 32 degrees or below..100 (basically Dec through mid March). On average, the lowest temp of the year is 23 degrees.
-House will be well insulated. 2x6 walls. R19 in walls, R50 or so in attic. I have stressed the importance of insulation to the builder. Short of spray foam, the house should be as tight as I can make it.
-Gas is not available unless I want to spend $60,000 to extend the line
-Propane about $2.80ish a gallon
-My current electric with PECO is $.165 a Kwh
-House is about 3140 sq ft., about 1550 on 1st floor and 1550 on 2nd floor. See attached pictures. Basement is just as big, and will likely be finished in the future.
-I plan to have an efficient woodburning fireplace (RSF brand..heat capacity 1500-3000 sq ft) in the family room, which should be able to heat much of my home..at least the first floor from what I am told by the fireplace experts. I understand I'll be loading this fireplace several times a day.
-I prefer propane for the range and hot water heater, and I plan to install a whole house generator in the future, so I want to have an underground propane tank (500 gallon or so?).
-My contractor is pushing a 85% efficient propane furnace. I want to do an electric heat pump with a propane backup.
-I plan to be in the home 20+ years.
1. Do you agree that the heat pump with propane back up is preferable to the propane furnace?
2. I'd like to utilize the wood fireplace to push heat to the rest of the house. One suggestion is to send it to the basement and duct it directly into the main heating system trunk. This would push the heat throughout the house. Another suggestion is to send it to the basement, duct it across the house to the opposite corner (living room) and have a vent there. This would keep that area from becoming a cold zone when the fireplace is running and keeping the family room/kitchen area toasty. Thoughts on this?
3. Does it sound like I'd need a 2 unit/zoned heating system, one for each floor? The builder says I'm right on the edge of needing 2 units but he'd have to have the York guys run the numbers to determine, I assume using a Manual J. Also, would they take the fireplace into consideration at all for this calculation, or not b/c it still needs to be big enough for cooling? I assume the latter.
4. I've researched like crazy and often read that heat pumps aren't too effective once the temp hits, depending on who you talk to, 35 or 30 or 25 degrees or whatever. But then I hear that something like a 2 stage Greenspeed unit WOULD work OK as temperatures plummet into the teens. So what's the deal with the capability of heat pumps in cold weather, and in my area (see the stats above) and my wood burning plan, is it a concern?
5. Does a heat pump with propane backup, mean that I basically have a heat pump AND a (backup) furnace, or is it one unit? Trying to project the price of it compared to the builder's proposed 85% furnace.
6. If the house turns out to be 2 zones/units, does that mean I need 2 heat pumps?
7. If I get a heat pump with propane backup, should the furnace part be ultra efficient (95%) or is it not worth spending the extra money since it hopefully won't be running that much?
If this is too many questions at once, please let me know for the future so I know to tone it down a bit.
Thanks so much in advance!