# Thread: Higher rates - not sure heatpump will be cheaper

1. Efficiency is always a very attractive solution. In the PA climate, is air sealing the same sleeper issue it seems to be in the hot-humid South? More insulation is great when the house is well sealed, in a prior Texas house I had more insulation installed and did not see *any* difference in electric consumption. I believe that house was very leaky and that more insulation will do little good until the house is better sealed -- in my experience anyway, being a homeowner who didn't know the basics in Texas.

Sounds like this forecasted rate change, besides irritating millions of homeowners, is going to light a fire under some to improve energy usage.

Best of luck -- Pstu

2. Originally Posted by Whiskey_Sour
This should be fairly easy for the professionals to figure out, 1 therm is 100,000 btu, assuming 80% AFUE i would assume is 80,000 btu. What would it cost for the same amount of heat to be produced with a heat pump and a given temp and humidity? There must be a sweet spot there somewhere. FYI, my highest electric bill was \$172.77 for 1640 kwh of electricity, gas here is \$1.46/therm. Yes the electric rates are regulated by the state, the conspiracy by the way is by the companies, it's called profit for the shareholders. I'd look real hard at ways to insulate that house, I'd go nuts with electric bills like that.
At your postet electric bill at 1640KWH.
Your electric rate comes out to \$0.1053476 per KW.

80,000BTUs by electric resistance heat =\$2.47
80,000BTUs by Nat gas, at your rate, and 80% efficiency=\$1.46
80,000BTUs by heat pump at a COP of 3=\$0.82
80,000BTUs by heat pump at a COP of 1.7=\$1.45

Now you have to determine at what outdoor temp the heat pump has what COP, and at what outdoor temp your home needs aux heat.
Plus how many hours you will be at those temps.
And what type of aux heat your going to use. To determine which is cheaper to use with the heat pump.

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Originally Posted by heatpumpguru
So if we get the RH rate 6 cents from Oct 15 to May 15 are they just going to take that away and raise us from 6 cents to 30% higher then what people are paying without a heat pump (alittle less then 15 cents a KW now 12 months a year) so the would be an increase over a 100% and all the GEO's us electric also.So oil or propane will be the fuel of choice?
There was speculation that they would do away with the electric heating rate but I don't think that makes sense. I think they will keep the rate but it will be raised so that it is closer to the almost 15 cents non electric heat customers pay now. Besides this if you look at the rates between regular customers and electric heat customers you see that they are all over the place. Electric heat customers are charged more during the summer than regular customers even though everybody pays more after using over 500Kwh, and then electric heat customers pay less during the winter so the company is making up for what they don't get in the winter from heating customers by charging them more in the summer.

By the way I found the rate tariff that is effective June 1, 2009 and they are increasing the distribution rate approximately by 1 cent. They say this is to cover the cost of educating consumers about their phase in plan and competition. So they are even charging customers for telling them about the programs. I am not under any illusion about the utility having pure intentions.

If I am going to pay extra for close to 2 years I would like more than a \$10 monthly credit the first year so I will probably not sign up for their phase in plan.

Looking at beenthere's example it still may make sense to have a heatpump in a dual fuel situation but I guess I will need to wait until I see what the rates and any ADDITIONAL charges actually are.

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Originally Posted by beenthere
Lot of people going to be calling for new heat pumps when they get their electric bill for Jan 09.

And people with electric baseboard wil be calling asking about heatpumps, or gas, or oil furnaces. So they can heat cheaper.

Only a few companies are capped until 2011.

And those poor customers will get hit harder when the cap is gone.
The first heat pump I used was in newer construction and it was able to provide adequate heat until down in the low teens, without aux heating windows and doors where also tight.

The second heat pump was older and it was no good when the temp reached 30F...what a disappointment I had with that...so yeah folks having existing heatpumps would be wise to get the most efficient one they can find i I guess this is geo? - but the installation costs are high.

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Originally Posted by beenthere
This has been coming for about 10 years now.
Rate hikes start Jan 2010.

Remember when you first saw about being able to choose your elecgric provider.
Its part of that arrangement.

Because some electric companies couldn't make money at the rates they were restricted to by the PUC.

So now, with deregulation. The power companies can raise the electric rate without PUC approval.

So now those companies that couldn't make money at the lower rates. will be able to charge higher rates, and make money.

Don't worry. The gas companies will chatge more for the gas that is used to generate the electric, and of course. Raise their rates to residential customers too.
I picked one energy supplier and had lower rates for a while , then the company left my area. I picked another supplier and they stayed around for 1 more year and then they left. So perhaps some of them will return and we can actually get competition. The problem is that on my bill the distribution and transmission costs are unbundled from the energy costs, so I will still have to pay my original "home" company for these.

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Originally Posted by rbeck
I think all these rate hikes is a government ploy to push residential customers to solar and windmill use for power and heat.
There is a big push for using solar in Germany I think domestic hot water. How do the PROS feel about getting into HVAC solar power? What do you think of using a combination of solar something..with gas, or heatpump with some type of backup fueled by solar?

Maybe this is a topic for it's own thread but I am wondering what you all think and how you all feel about this.

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Last edited by Whiskey_Sour; 05-11-2009 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Removed system price

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Originally Posted by Whiskey_Sour
I thought about solar as a first alternative, but came to the conclusion that increasing efficiency first was more cost effective. That's why I first had the glass in my dual pane widows replaced with low-e, low shgc glass. I live in Arizona, so obviously sun is the problem here. Made a nice difference all by itself. Next I'm having a Carrier Infinity 21 system installed later this month.
The last thing I'm going to even think about is PV cells, they're still expensive.
Here's one bid I got:

This system is good for about 475 kwh per month. So going with insulation, and more efficient HVAC seems to be far more cost effective. Going with solar up front is kind of a "brute force" method I think.
I don't think listing prices is allowed on the site so you might want to remove them before the moderators do.
Last edited by beenthere; 05-11-2009 at 06:24 AM. Reason: Removed system price from quote

9. It is my pet idea that a solar power app that can use BTUs as heat energy, will require a smaller collector surface and be more economical. Hot water heating does that. Photoelectric of course does not. Perhaps someone inventive can come up with a way to better utilize heat BTUs, such as an assist to space heating. It is my understanding that an evacuated tube type of solar collector can produce meaningful energy even at freezing temperatures. I am not saying such an application will be a winner, just suggesting the possibility.

In areas dominated by cooling, we are left with hot water heating and not much else... anyone want to revive the old technology of AC powered by a flame? How about heating synthetic oil to hundreds of degrees and using it for cooking?

For immediate benefit it is hard to do better than upgrading our houses to require less energy for heating and cooling. In an era where PA electric rates will be higher and hard to predict (and understand), surely lots of people will pay a lot of attention to upgrades.

Best wishes -- Pstu

P.S. about the Pennsylvania nuke plants supposed to protect the consumer against fuel price increases... when was that plant built, like 25 years ago? The very last 4 nukes finished in the USA were all in Texas and that was around 1987. Seems the magic of their protection cannot be expected to last forever. But on the cheery side, there have been massive new discoveries of natural gas within the US lately, and that would tend to tilt gas prices downward for the future.

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Originally Posted by pstu
It is my pet idea that a solar power app that can use BTUs as heat energy, will require a smaller collector surface and be more economical. Hot water heating does that. Photoelectric of course does not. Perhaps someone inventive can come up with a way to better utilize heat BTUs, such as an assist to space heating. It is my understanding that an evacuated tube type of solar collector can produce meaningful energy even at freezing temperatures. I am not saying such an application will be a winner, just suggesting the possibility.

In areas dominated by cooling, we are left with hot water heating and not much else... anyone want to revive the old technology of AC powered by a flame? How about heating synthetic oil to hundreds of degrees and using it for cooking?

For immediate benefit it is hard to do better than upgrading our houses to require less energy for heating and cooling. In an era where PA electric rates will be higher and hard to predict (and understand), surely lots of people will pay a lot of attention to upgrades.

Best wishes -- Pstu

P.S. about the Pennsylvania nuke plants supposed to protect the consumer against fuel price increases... when was that plant built, like 25 years ago? The very last 4 nukes finished in the USA were all in Texas and that was around 1987. Seems the magic of their protection cannot be expected to last forever. But on the cheery side, there have been massive new discoveries of natural gas within the US lately, and that would tend to tilt gas prices downward for the future.
I agree that perhaps solar is not quite there for real heating needs so probably the best we can do is upgrade our houses and try to conserve energy. For this last year I raised my Tstat in the summer and lowered it in the winter. I compared the hottest months in these two years and it turns out that they both had the same average temperature according to the electric company. Reducing my Tstat lowered my KWH from 1779 to 1693 and lowered the bill about \$20. Problem is that no matter what I do energy costs are there to defeat any savings I get.

If I remember correctly the last Nuclear power plants were built in the mid 80's. I was just newly out of my parents house and there were two plants built one after the other. We the rate payers paid for them through cost increases every June for the next five years. But because the rate increases were phased in, the utility commission allowed the company to recoup the money they would have gotten if the rate hike was made all at once. This resulted in the rate payers paying higher rates each of 5 years, and after that we had a unrecoverable rate factor added on to our bills for the next 3 years. This is how we came to have the highest energy costs in the entire state. We turn on our lights, turn on TV's, run air conditioners - just like everyone else but we pay more thanks to our nuclear power plants that were supposed to help us. Now here comes an increase of at least 20%, so I feel like looking at what ever I can to reduce costs.

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Originally Posted by jerrod6
If I remember correctly the last Nuclear power plants were built in the mid 80's. I was just newly out of my parents house and there were two plants built one after the other.
Limerick Unit 2 was built in the late 80's. I worked there for almost a year back in the day. I checked my resume - it said 1988.

12. Three mile island has only had 1 reacter since 79.

if the second one hadn't partially melted down. The rates would be cheaper.

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Originally Posted by gary_g
Limerick Unit 2 was built in the late 80's. I worked there for almost a year back in the day. I checked my resume - it said 1988.
Thanks Gary. I knew it was in the mid or late 80's, but since we continued to pay for the things for what seemed like forever I wasn't sure.

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