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  1. #1

    Question

    As far as energy costs which is a better heating and cooling system? heat pump w/ electric backup, heat pump w/ propane backup, or straight propane w/ cooling only outdoor unit? Also, what is the comfort comparison between these systems?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Zelienople, Pa
    Posts
    2,965
    Depends on your electric rate.
    I have an uncle that lives in western PA and they locked him into 2 cents per/KW for 15 years for switching to a heat pump!
    You'll never beat that unless you get free propane.
    How tall are you Private???!!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NE PA
    Posts
    698
    Generally a heat pump will give you one of the highest efficiencies in heating, unless the backup kicks in. In other words, in moderate cold, a heat pump is tough to beat for overall heating cost. As it gets colder, and backup is required, a fuel backup (propane, NG or oil) is generally a lower operating cost, unless you have real cheap electricity.

    Heat pumps by themselves are very efficient, even into the teens. It is due to the lowered BTU capacity and therefore the need for some sort of backup heat that lowers the "overall" efficiency.

    Using a heat pump for moderate cold, and switching it off and going with furnace heat only is another price saving alternative.

    paul

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    244
    Being from central PA myself, it depends on your utility company. If you have Allegheny or Penelec, the electric would probably be the way to go. If you have unilec or Petrolec, the answer would more than likely be LP as the backup. If you are building anywhere near the State College/Bellefonte/DuBois area drop me an e-mail at and I'll help anyway I can.

    SRJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    38

    heat pump

    I lived in nw PA. You wouldn't even consider a heat pump there. I live in NC and I hate my heat pump system. It blows lukewarm air when it gets below 30 deg. They only work good above 30 in my opinion. Of course I am used to the comfort of hot water heat and no scorched air system of any kind will deliver that sort of comfort. but anyway if I was in PA I would go for hot water heat with an air handler for cooling. We used heat 9 months out of the year when we were up north, and only cooled occasionaly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NE PA
    Posts
    698

    Re: heat pump

    Originally posted by brentplumb
    I lived in nw PA. You wouldn't even consider a heat pump there...
    I am always a bit taken back by these comments about heat pumps, but the installation makes all the difference. I have lived for 15+ years with heat pump heating and I am very satisfied (here in NE PA).

    True the exit air temp is not "hot", but if the registers, returns, and airflow was designed and installed well, you should not feel air blowing on you. Down to 20 deg, I have virtually no backup heat use, and my highest electric bill ever was $ 220 when we were in the low teens during the day for about a month. Normally I run $ 120-$150 in winter and $ 100 in summer. That's for 2400 sq-ft all electric with 2 friges+freezer, dehumidifier and AG pool in summer and 3 computers 24/7.

    Bad or marginal installations have given heat pumps a bad name. I hear it a lot. With a 100,000 BTU furnace it is a lot harder to make a mistake big enough to really "feel" it.

    paul



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    PA/DE area
    Posts
    1,535
    In Chester County, pick up my 58mvp120-20 and 38ydb060,2 stage hp with 2 stage propane back up, I would go through 3 tanks propane with a\c system,Maybe 1 with h\p.I keep my RH rate and get warm air when I want\need it.You can always change set point that back up kicks in,but there is not a kit to switch an a\c unit to a h\p unit if propane gets PRICEY!!!
    It's NOT the BRAND,it's the company that installs it!!!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    DeFuniak Springs, FL
    Posts
    990

    of course you know what heatpumpman would say...

    tecman hit the nail on the head with
    'True the exit air temp is not "hot", but if the registers, returns, and airflow was designed and installed well, you should not feel air blowing on you.'

    I bet 85% of heat pump complaints are a result of not paying attention to that statement with the installation.

    Randy Yates

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    395

    Hmm 2 cents per who?

    Originally posted by Yellow Dot
    Depends on your electric rate.
    I have an uncle that lives in western PA and they locked him into 2 cents per/KW for 15 years for switching to a heat pump!
    You'll never beat that unless you get free propane.
    How can utility sell at 2 cents / KWh and then lock it for 15 years. Sorry dude, your going to have to post a copy of that bill right here for me to buy that. 2 cents off-peak maybe? 2 cents with a utility SCADA maybe?

    2 cents / KWH contingent on buying what,.. a 19 SEER air-source?

    md

  10. #10

    Question

    It sounds like most of you are saying the heat pump is one of the most efficient systems there is until the backup heat kicks on. And then at that point the propane backup would be better than the electric heat strip. Is that fair to say? Brentplumb mentioned using hot water heat. How does using a hot water coil on airhandler with some sort of propane water heater compare to a propane fueled hot air furnace. Any differences in comfort or energy dollars?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    58

    Here in the Nashville area MTEC goes gas

    I found it interesting when looking in to a duel fuel system here in the Nashville area, the Electric company actually offers money back rebates to go to a duel fuel system with Propane.. they dont push the Electric back up.. our costs per KWh is only 6.6 cents which for me is pretty cheap compared to what we were being raped for in Southern California wich escelated to as high as 18 cents per KWH and $500.00 electric bills most of the time! So, were going to install a duel fuel system using Propane (Natural gas is not avialable to us).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NE PA
    Posts
    698
    Originally posted by building in central pa
    How does using a hot water coil on airhandler with some sort of propane water heater compare to a propane fueled hot air furnace. Any differences in comfort or energy dollars?
    I have installed systems with a hot water backup. Most were electric heated hot water (sounds stupid, but the local utility had a great off-peak rate and rebated these systems that heated a few hundred gallons off peak as the backup heat). Systems work great - comfort, etc is as good as or better than electric strip. Disadvantage is that it is a bit more complicated, circulator, expansion tank, heat exchanger in the duct, etc. I suspect that the bigger problem is that the back up requirements, depending on the HP sizing, are usually 10 to 15 KW max, which is 30,000 to 50,000 BTUs. This is sized for emergency heat, and the actual backup requirements are generally well under the 30,000 BTU number. Finding a furnace that small might be a bit of a challange. You could consider a propane fired hot water heater that could be the source for the backup heat. It is the right size, lower cost and suits the application quite well. Dedicate the HW heater as the backup, add a circulator loop and heat exchanger and you have a compact, efficient heating system.

    paul

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    146
    Originally posted by building in central pa
    It sounds like most of you are saying the heat pump is one of the most efficient systems there is until the backup heat kicks on. And then at that point the propane backup would be better than the electric heat strip. Is that fair to say?
    No, that would not. With current propane prices (around $2/gallon in PA), electric heat backup will be much cheaper.

    With propane backup, when it gets really cold, your heat pump will be turned off and your propane furnace will be used to provide all of the heat for your home.

    With electric backup, your heat pump will continue to run generating cheap heat and the electric heat strip will be used to provide supplemental heat as needed.

    In past years, when propane prices were much lower, the propane furnace might have been able to provide heat as cheaply as the heat-pump/heat-strip combination when it got really cold. But not anymore. In fact, if your electric rate is at or below $0.09/KWH, even straight resistance heating with no heat pump will be cheaper to operate than a standard propane furnace.

    A gallon of propane contains 91,000 BTU's. At $2/gallon, an 80% efficiency furnance will generate (91000 BTU * 80%)/$2 = 36,400 BTU's per dollar.

    A KWH of electricity has 3412 BTU's. At $0.09/KWH, resistance heat will generate (3412 BTU / $0.09) = 37,911 BTU's per dollar.

    Straight resistance heat at $0.09/KWH is actually cheaper than propane at $2.00/gallon. A heat-pump/heat-strip combination will probably cost less than half of propane. Unless you're betting that propane prices are going to go down substantially ($1/gallon), I wouldn't touch propane.

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