Ditching gas furnace for heat pump - insane? - Page 3
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  1. #27
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    Sep 2005
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    Insulate and upgrade windows etc first, then look into using a cheaper energy source.
    This is a two year old house with what I assume are good double pane windows, I already am very careful about door seals. What additional insulation can I do to a two year old house?

  2. #28
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    Mar 2002
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    Concord, CA
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    A ten fold increase in anything will not happen overnight Phil. It would literally take a disaster like the world has never seen to cause such a phenomenon. Since a new unit can be put in very quickly after you've decided to do so, there will be little "gotcha" if you decide to stall. That was my point in that statement and it remains valid.

    However, if a ten fold increase can happen overnight then please provide exhaustive peer-reviewed research to support your assertion. That would be in the slightly more credible field of economic research (which isn't very) instead of the fear monger dominated, highly speculative and left-wing agenda oriented field of fossil fuel demonization. I'll read anything you got. I've been researching common sense for several decades now.

    One other request: Continue to point out my grammatical errors. I'm curious to see if you're capable of being even more pretentious.

    [Edited by Irascible on 10-03-2005 at 12:10 PM]

  3. #29
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    Sep 2005
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    24

    Red face

    oops. Double post.

    [Edited by philbiker on 10-03-2005 at 01:26 PM]

  4. #30
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    Sep 2005
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    It would literally take a disaster like the world has never seen to cause such a phenomenon.
    Two of the most ferocious hurricanes ever recorded have just wreaked havoc on a gigantic part of the USA's natural gas infrastructure. According to Matthew Simmons, a major energy investment banker and renowned energy expert, who I saw speak last Monday at an energy discussion sponsored by congressman Roscoe Bartlet transcript http://www.bartlett.house.gov/Suppor...Conference.pdf, nobody really knows the status of all the damaged rigs and infrastructure yet. Rita cut a category 5 swath right through the most densely drilled part of the Gulf Of Mexico. Not just oil, but a great deal of our natural gas production comes out of there. Prices have doubled on natural gas in the last few weeks and we're not even close to the winter season yet.

    Take a look at this graph of Nat. Gas prices. I wonder were those two massive spikes "forecast" before they happened? According to This article that 2000 increase was 400%. And we're in significantly worse shape now than we were then. I wonder if you would have been telling people in 1999 that there was no chance that their prices would quadruple that winter.

    Look deeply into the basic resource availability not the economics and other issues that have no bearing on how much gas is in the ground and how much we can get.

    Here's an interesting insider's view of the Natural Gas situation from before the hurricanes opened a can of whoop-ass on the offshore gulf coast gas infrastructure:
    http://www.energybulletin.net/5517.html

    [Edited by philbiker on 10-03-2005 at 02:18 PM]

  5. #31
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    Sep 2005
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    However, if a ten fold increase can happen overnight then please provide exhaustive peer-reviewed research to support your assertion. That would be in the slightly more credible field of economic research (which isn't very) instead of the fear monger dominated, highly speculative and left-wing agenda oriented field of fossil fuel demonization. I'll read anything you got. I've been researching common sense for several decades now.
    There's plenty of data out there. I've included a few links, I can come up with lots more if you'd like, or you can just google "Natural Gas depletion" or "North American Natural Gas Depletion" if you'd like.

    I haven't brought up anything fear monger dominated, speculative, left-wing agenta oriented, or demonizing. We're just plain running out of the stuff, whether you like it or not or whether you want to demonize it or what your agenda is is irrelevant to how much gas there is and how much we can expect to extracty and use. The studies on depletion that give me cause for concern are just plain old geology not anything with any agenda. My personal agenda is to maximize my options before the crunch hits not after. I think once the impending natural gas crisis is obvious, then the prices on electric heat pumps will most likely go up sharply as well as people rush to get the only other real viable option installed.

  6. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    129
    Originally posted by philbiker
    This is a two year old house with what I assume are good double pane windows, I already am very careful about door seals. What additional insulation can I do to a two year old house?
    Probably not much. You may want to get a copy of the ACCA Manual J or the heat gain-loss software on this site. I built an Excel spreadsheet to do my house both overall and room-by-room. This lets you play what-if games and see how many BTU's you'll save by changing things.

    A basic rule is this -- double the R value and your heat loss gets cut in half. So if you have R-19 in your ceiling and are losing 4000 BTU/Hr through it, increasing to R-38 will reduce the loss to 2000 BTU/Hr. You'll find that you quickly hit diminishing returns with insulation once you've hit about R-25. You just don't have the space to accomodate it and the cost gets prohibitive. But if you have no insulation or < R-9 in walls or ceilings, then you can make some decent gains.

    My biggest loss was windows. I just changed my 60's era single pane windows for modern double pane low-e argon filled windows. The R value went from 0.8 to 4.0 -- a significant savings. This is tempered though by the small area of windows -vs- ceilings and perimeter walls. Overall, it reduced my total heat loss from 70K BTU to 57K BTU making a heat pump much more viable.

    I think my largest line item now for heat loss is air infiltration. This is a hard one to estimate and I have not paid for a blower door test to get actual numbers. Fortunately, it doesn't get real cold in my area so its still not a huge item. And I'm not so sure what else I can easily do to improve it if its poor.

    A house as recent as yours should be pretty good in all areas. Your windows may suck, as double panes can be all over the place (see if they have a labeled U value -- R = 1/U). I'm sure they are at least R-2, but you can do better. However, the cost to get you to R-4 will be substantial and you'll lose some of that winter heat gain you like so much.

  7. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    149
    Another stupid homeowner question:

    If I already have A/C is is possiblt to convert it to a heat pump? I mean isn't the biggest difference the valve and thermostat?


  8. #34
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    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Kansas
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    1,145
    One more suggestion- blower door and IR camera investigation. Costs vary area to area, but these two measures can help determine if a problem exists, what areas of the home are effected, etc. This will prove up how well insulated and sealed up the home is. Short of X-ray vision, you will never exactly what is behind the walls. Trust me, those glasses that used to be availble in the back of comic books don't work. My wife got a pair in a box of stuff she bought at an auction and we tried them out- you'd think for a $1.98 they would work, geesh! New or not, sometimes builder crews get in a hurry and miss things. I have seen many homes built with conventional stud framing where the corners went uninsulated as an example. If they did perform all due dilligence when building the home, wonderful! A heat pump combined with a dual fuel appliance for backing up the large heating load times can be an economical option. Some guys dislike heatpumps, but I feel we will see more used in dual fuel systems as time goes on. We are not in heatpump country and I think it's merely ignorance and undue prejudice that keeps it that way.

    As for alternative fuels, the prices will vary no matter what fuel is chosen but corn or wood pellet stoves may prove economical to operate. Corn is very inexpensive currently, but that can change at any moment. If pellet stoves sell like hotcakes, supplies of pellets could become low and prices will hike until sources meet demands. There will be some inconvenience with fuel storage, loading and cleaning burned deposits. That is a choice each property owner will need to weigh.

  9. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    North Florida/South Georgia
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    984

    just can't beat water cooled

    If the house is 2 yrs old & you are thinking of replacing operable units, I gather that you are not hurting for money.

    The geothermal heat pumps are without a doubt the most efficient option.
    The start up cost can be high but the energy savings are unbeatable especially if you use "desuperheater" or E.C.U. feature to make hot water with the compressor heat, the compressor you will be operating anyway.

    You may want to check with your electrical provider as they may partner with you to install the heat exchanger in the ground & may even offer a rebate of sorts on the equipment or the overall installation.

    Remember, S.E.E.R.[air cooled heat pumps] stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating & E.E.R.[water cooled heat pumps] stands for energy efficiency rating.
    E.E.R. is consistant all year long.

    Good luck!
    All my leon freaked out!

  10. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    West TN
    Posts
    983
    Since I know you didnt' come here with the intention of persuading us why you'd like to go with a heat pump and
    since you've got dragged into it anyway..... I figured I'd
    put together some info that might actually answer your questions..... and point you in a general direction

    So here goes some random bits of info.

    Word has trickled down from the local power and light distributor and local gas distributor.
    We are looking at a 70% increase in gas prices
    and 7% increase in electric rates come November.
    This is here of course.... I havent' got a clue what your rates will be.

    Given the opportunity, I'd like to get away from using
    resources from other countries and depend on our own sources of energy.

    First part of next year, minimum effeciency standards as set by the government are going to make a jump upwards.
    From the way everyone talks, this is going to make equipment prices across the board go up dramaticly.
    i.e. a 3000 dollar unit now will be 4000. same unit.
    We're faced with a delima similar to the Y2K bug everyone was in a dither about. There's alot of bad thoughts as to whats going to happen.
    On the bright side, I've heard a few good things about Trane's newest equipment.
    I dont' know how bad its going to be, but from what I gather.... now would be a good time to buy equipment if you want to save a little money.


    I'd recommend replacing the downstairs AC with a HP first
    since its going to carry the majority of the heating load.

    Air Source Heat pumps work nicely at temps above freezing (the exact temp varies from house to house)
    Colder weather will require an Auxilary heat source.
    You can use your gas furnaces as the 2nd stage heat.
    You can also use electric heat strips for 2nd stage heat.
    By last years prices and my location. The two had pretty much the same heating costs.

    Geothermal Heat pumps are VERY VERY VERY VERY nice.

    Here's some info you might find interesting.
    http://www.energyright.com/heatpump/geothermal.htm
    http://www.energyright.com/heatpump/dualfuel.htm
    http://www.energyright.com/heatpump/airsource.htm
    http://www.energyright.com/heatpump/dare2compare.htm
    http://www.energyright.com/cgi-bin/dtc?tvaparms


    Check with your local power distributor for programs related to heat pumps. There might be incentives, rebates,
    or even a program similar to one in the above links where they have top notch standards, top notch contractors, and
    inspect the system for you.


    Other things to consider.
    Thermostat.
    There's alot of people here that love the vision pro thermostat by honeywell.

    Winter humidity.
    Do some research on humidifiers.

    Summer humidity.
    Variable speed blower.


    If its a large house with alot of varying load considerations...
    You might want to look into a zoning system.

    http://www.residential.carrier.com/res/details/0,3041,CLI1_DIV109_ETI8524_MID4257,00.html?SMSESSIO N=NO



    Warranty.
    Get a 10 year parts and labor warranty.

    Pollen releif...
    http://www.ultravation.com/Filtration.html

    Go hear to learn more about UV lights...
    http://www.ultravation.com/pdf/Intro...%20to%20UV.pdf

    High MERV filter is for big stuff such as cat dander and pollen (even smoke particles)

    UV light is for living stuff like bacteria (dirty sock), mold spores, etc.

    If you need both built into one unit...
    http://www.ultravation.com/photronic.html

    Be sure to check air flow once you put in a higher effeciency filter. (its sorta like you breathing with a sock gagged in your mouth) The airflow will need to be checked and adjusted accordingly.

    THere are other brands of UV lights and filters out there.
    Honeywell and Air Bear are a couple.

    Did I mention Geothermal Heat pumps are VERY VERY VERY nice?

    Since you like to think ahead to the future.
    Get equipment that uses R410a instead of R22
    R22 has a long time before being phased out.
    There's alot of reasons for staying with R22 and
    alot for R410a ( http://www.puron.com )
    So no matter which one you choose.... its the right choice


    Condensate overflow pans under upstairs unit for sure.
    Safety switch to turn off air cond in case of overflow.
    I like trane's TRP00010. Its a safety switch built in
    to a condensate trap. Easy to clean out if it gets clogged.


    Check contractors credentials.
    Our industry is full of jack legs.

    http://www.rses.org/
    http://payments.acca.org/ContractorLocator/
    http://www.natex.org/consumer.htm


    Other resources to locate quality contractors.
    http://www.trane.com/Residential/Dea...ealerInfo.aspx
    http://www.residential.carrier.com/generic/0,,CLI1_DIV109_ETI8313_INT3653_MID3653,00.html?SMSE SSION=NO
    http://www.rheem.com/consumer/consumer_locator.asp
    http://www.lennox.com/default.asp (there's a locate a dealer link at the top of the page)


    Its FALL again.
    THere's usually rebates and incentive programs going on too.
    http://www.trane.com/Residential/News/Rebate.aspx
    http://www.lennox.com/promotional/?promo_id=7
    There's a couple. Didn't look for any more.


    Quality of the contractor / contractors work
    is more important than brand name.


    Make sure a load calculation is done on the house.
    You may hear mention of Manual J when talking about this.
    http://www.hvactools.net/products/210-0338-04.shtml
    This web site has a download to load calculation software that you can use also.

    The air flow should be properly balanced.
    Air speeds should fall between 500 and 700 feet per minute.
    Heat pumps 'FEEL' cold if the air speeds exceed 700 FPM.

    System capacity should be measured upon completion.

    NO AIR LEAKS. PERIOD.

    No flex. Hard pipe all the way.
    (unless your in a coastal area.... and if you are...
    get with some of our Floridian Techs. They can give you tips for those areas.)


    Oh yeah....
    and Geothermal heat pumps are VERY VERY VERY nice.
    http://www.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/heatpumps.html
    http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?...geo_heat_pumps
    http://www.geothermal-heat-pumps.com...ar-energy.html







  11. #37
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    24
    If the house is 2 yrs old & you are thinking of replacing operable units, I gather that you are not hurting for money.
    Money is most definitely an issue! My idea is that since my HVAC is so eggregiously inefficient, how long would it take to recoup the money spent upgrading now, before the big natural gas crunch happens? Once the natural gas (all energy in the larger picture) crunch really becomes common knowledge everyone's going to need to do this, prices will be much higher than they are today. Kind of like someone buying a Toyota Rav4 last year to replace a two year old Suburban because they suspected that gas prices would go up 50% or more.

    Wormy thanks for the long post. It'll take me weeks to get through it.
    First part of next year, minimum effeciency standards as set by the government are going to make a jump upwards.
    From the way everyone talks, this is going to make equipment prices across the board go up dramaticly.
    i.e. a 3000 dollar unit now will be 4000. same unit.
    Since both my units were at the absolute bottom of the efficiency scale two years ago when the house was built, they'll surely be off it now. Great.
    Given the opportunity, I'd like to get away from using
    resources from other countries and depend on our own sources of energy.
    Me, too! That's why I'm such a big supporter of nuclear energy. And nat. gas is a stranded resource anyway, so that's local by definition. LNG is extremely problematic technically to say the least even without political contraints. Only problem with gas is we've already burned so much, how much of it is left.
    No flex. Hard pipe all the way.
    My attic is full of flex for the entire top level of the house. What would I gain by replacing this with hard pipe? It seems to me and I probably have no idea what I'm talking about that insulated flex in the hot/cold attic would be better than uninsulated hard pipe. Should I replace the flex with hard pipe?
    Condensate overflow pans under upstairs unit for sure.
    Safety switch to turn off air cond in case of overflow.
    The attic unit already has a pan and emergeny shut-off valve.
    Other things to consider.
    Thermostat.
    There's alot of people here that love the vision pro thermostat by honeywell.
    I have "Energy Star" labelled programmable thermostats in both zones in the house, and I set them for fairly large swings in temperature. I understand if I go with a heat pump they'll need to be replaced, but I don't think they need that now.
    Winter humidity.
    Do some research on humidifiers.
    There's a humidifier in the lower (larger) zone in my house. I don't use it. My home inspector doesn't like them and commented that they usually cause more trouble than they are worth. That's just one opinion, but one I trust. Time to do some research I suppose.

  12. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    West TN
    Posts
    983
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by philbiker
    My attic is full of flex for the entire top level of the house. What would I gain by replacing this with hard pipe? It seems to me and I probably have no idea what I'm talking about that insulated flex in the hot/cold attic would be better than uninsulated hard pipe. Should I replace the flex with hard pipe?

    The hard pipe would be insulated also. Typically with better insulation (higher R value)

    Mice can chew through flex pipe and use your ducts as
    their very own freeway system. Of course... they don't
    realize they shouldn't poop in the middle of the road.
    Why they dont' make rest area's for mice I dont' know.

    I have "Energy Star" labelled programmable thermostats in both zones in the house, and I set them for fairly large swings in temperature. I understand if I go with a heat pump they'll need to be replaced, but I don't think they need that now.?
    There are conflicting arguments about programmable stats and having them set up for 'night setback' and such.
    Government studies say it saves money.
    All the arguments I throw at it says otherwise.
    ESPECIALLY WITH A HEAT PUMP.

    Consider this situation.
    Winter. Outdoor temp 35 degrees.
    Occupied temp set for 65 heat
    Unoccupied temp set for 50.
    During your unoccupied mode, the unit saves money by not having to run as much.
    The air gets cooler.
    The furniture gets cooler.
    The walls get cooler.
    The toilet seat gets cooler.
    Everything in the house starts to get cooler.
    Occupied mode kicks in.
    Thermostat tries heat pump mode for a little bit
    then decides it needs help.
    So it kicks on the Auxilary heat.
    Auxilary heat uses about 3 times as much energy now to try to catch up.
    Air temp climbs to 65.
    Unit kicks off
    Your body senses all the furniture being cooler.
    So now 65 'feels' like 60
    So you are more inclined to raise the temp
    So you set it to 70 to give you that feeling of 65

    All in all, heat pumps are better suited for constant
    air temps.

    BUT... you can do like our local heat pump inspector did.
    He added a toggle switch to prevent the 2nd stage from coming on.
    He only uses his 2nd stage heat when his wife says she's had enough hehe


    [Edited by wormy on 10-07-2005 at 06:40 PM]

  13. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    144
    I just got a quote from my Lennox distributor for replacing MY 70% efficient, 14 year old gas furnace and the 10 SEER condensing unit that the former owner of my house had installed, matched to the probably 30 year old evap coil. I am installing a 93% variable speed furnace, a 16 SEER, 2 stage, 3 ton heat pump with a 4 ton evap coil (TXV), and a Honeywell Vision Pro 8000 thermostat. This will allow the heat pump to operate until the temp is in the 20s, then use gas as the auxillary heat source (electric strip heat is the most inefficient heat available). Last year this expense would have seemed laughable for Fort Worth, TX, but now the payback time will be very reasonable due to the higher prices of both electricity (24% increase asked for by TXU) and the forecast 90% increase in natural gas prices.
    In short - do not rip out a 2 year old furnace, use it in conjunction with a high SEER heat pump as auxillary / emergency heat.
    Licensing laws are tough, and it's about time.

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