Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    2
    Hi,

    I'm looking to purchase a home in the Indianapolis, IN area, and I didn't grow up with gas heat or stoves, so I strongly prefer all electric homes to gas. The problem is, most homes in the area are either all gas, or at the bare minimum, gas heat, but everything else electric.

    My question is:

    What choices besides ripping out all of the gas appliances and replacing with electric do I have? Is it feasible to shut off the gas service altogether and use space heaters in the more common areas?

    I certainly have no desire to pay upwards of $400 a month for gas when I know i wouldn't pay anywhere over $120 for electric.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    17
    I live in Indianapolis, How about going with Duel fuel, Heat pump and gas furnace as the back-up. That is common around here.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    2
    What would be the purpose of having gas furnace as a backup? So if I found a house with central air and gas furnace, I can add a heat pump to it? Forgive me, my knowledge on the subject is quite minimal.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    17
    When the outside temp. is to cold the heat pump can not produce enough heat to maintain temp. inside the home.
    (could be 0 to 20 all depends on the home and how it is insulated. If the heat pump can not maintain the temp and furnace will come on and provide the heat. It is alot cheaper to run the heatpump then use the furnace. Most of the weather in Indianapolis during the winter months are 25 there are some colder nights and warmer ones. This year has been very warm, coldest night was 17 most days 35

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,619
    I gotta admit to being a freak and setting the stat to the mid 60s but there have been 4 days all winter I've used my gas backup, that was in Dec when we had that Thursday snow. My bills are very low using just the heat pump.

    Your idea isn't bad. All electric homes here are the cheapest homes. I wouldn't use space heaters. If you do it, go heat pump & electric backup, electric water heater, dryer & range. There are MANY all electric homes here so you wouldn't have to rip anything out. Look in neighborhoods younger than 20 years old or if you are looking at new construction, won't be hard at all to find all electric.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,042
    Originally posted by darkwood
    What would be the purpose of having gas furnace as a backup? So if I found a house with central air and gas furnace, I can add a heat pump to it? Forgive me, my knowledge on the subject is quite minimal.
    The cost of using electric backup is more than the cost of using gas backup. Heat pumps are very efficient in milder weather but can't put out enough heat to keep up in very cold weather. The point at which the heat pump starts to lose ground, even when it's running nonstop, is called the balance point.

    With dual fuel, you use the heat pump as much as you can- whenever you're at or above the balance point. When it gets really cold, you use gas for your backup heat source. Electric backup is fine in areas that don't get very cold; because you don't use very much of it, it doesn't end up being too expensive. In areas where it does get very cold, though, you use tons of juice with electric backup, because the heat pump isn't even close to putting out enough heat to keep up. That eats up the efficiency advantage that the heat pump has during mild weather.

    You can add a heat pump to any house with a gas furnace and central AC (this is called a "piggyback" dual fuel setup). It's basically the same job as replacing the central AC with a new one, but with a few extra controls switches, and wires to allow for the extra capabilities of a heat pump compared to an AC. (You know that a heat pump is just an AC that can run in reverse, right?) For houses with relatively decent gas furnaces that are suffering from high heating costs, this can be a good choice that's short of completely ripping everything out and starting over. No sense in throwing out an otherwise sound furnace, right? At that point you usually don't even need it to be a high efficiency furnace, because the heat pump is going to be doing most of the work anyway.

    If you really wanted to completely dump the gas and go all-electric, you certainly can. But it's fairly likely that you will have to replace your electrical service from the power company, replace your circuit breaker panel, and run a big new circuit over to the old furnace location (where the new air handler would go). Electric backup takes a HUGE amount of power when you use it, so it can be a major pain to get everything set up to support that giant draw. I recently bought a traditional gas/electric condo with an old furnace, and replaced everything with a new dual fuel system- new furnace, new heat pump. I would have preferred all-electric in a perfect world, but it didn't make sense in my case to redo the electrical system and tear up drywall all over the house to get everything in line to support electric backup... not when there was a perfectly good gas line and flue waiting for another furnace to be connected.

    In doing that, my gas consumption is 1/3 what it was before the swapout. My electric bill went up about $20 a month during the winter (to feed the heat pump). The new furnace wasn't a great deal more efficient than the old one, so the vast majority of the gas savings was from letting the heat pump do the bulk of the heating. In my case, the heat pump can keep up down to about 30 degrees outside. When it's colder than that, the system switches over to the furnace automatically.

    Don't get me wrong- I have dumped gas in other cases in the past, where the electrical system was up to snuff and the wiring wasn't going to be too hard. That can work great. You just have to be sure that you will be able to save enough on operating costs in the long run to cover the cost of doing all that electrical work up front. The potential up-front cost depends on the layout of the structure and the state of the existing electrical system. The potential operating cost savings depends on weather, gas, and electric rates. Given all those variables, your mileage may vary, but hopefully with this you'll have a better idea of what to look for in evaluating potential home purchases.

    [Edited by wyounger on 01-26-2006 at 02:08 PM]

  7. #7
    Don't forget the cost of the depreciation of the house. It certainly will be worth less (to the next person) without a gas furnace.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    648
    I think you're nuts if you think your electric bill would be less than 120 with staight electric in winter months in Indiana. Unless the place is tiny.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    68
    The cost to convert to total electric is going to be high. I suggest "Duel Fuel" also. All you would replace is the outdoor unit and thermostat and possibly run some new thermostat wires. Will be much cheaper than electric backup here in Indy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,996
    Does the house have 200 AMP service? Factor in the electric service upgrade to see if it's worth it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    19
    Originally posted by wyounger


    The cost of using electric backup is more than the cost of using gas backup. Heat pumps are very efficient in milder weather but can't put out enough heat to keep up in very cold weather.
    That is a bit of a gross generalization. Right now in Richmond VA I am paying with all distribution charges included .067 kwh and 2.21 (as of December bill) per therm. If I did the math for my recent purchase correctly based on the figures I found on this site. Gas was only cheaper than pure resistance heat for me once you get to 95% effciency or better and even then only by a few cents. In most instances the heat pump would be contributing some heat even when the restitance was on which would probably make it cheaper than gas 99.9% of the time for me at current rates. Whether a heat pump with resistance heat or gas is cheaper depends on the efficency of the equipment and local utility rates. I still went with dual fuel though because you don't know where rates will go in the future and as others have stated I worried about the resale value of the house.

    [Edited by secstate on 01-26-2006 at 11:36 PM]

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