Would you buy a home with an electric heat pump?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by spinnaker, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. spinnaker

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    I posted this on another forum but figured I would post it here too since there are a lot of smart analytical types here.

    My search goes on for a new home. I found a house that I like a lot. It does not have everything I want but I am really getting tired of looking and really need to get out of my current place.

    I just noticed this house I found has an electric heat pump. My thinking is that I am going to pass. Electricity is only going to get more expensive while natural gas should remain affordable.

    Am I right to pass on this place?
     
  2. Wendy

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    I could be full of it, but I suspect DIY electricity is going to get a lot more common, which should bring costs down or maintain the prices. Just my 2 cents.
     
  3. spinnaker

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    But from what I understand heat pumps don't do so well in cold climates. Our winter here was brutal this year and I am guessing we are in for more of the same for the next several years.

    Besides the property is not the best for solar. Lots of trees which really attracted me to this place. Close quarters to my neighbors so a turbine is not a option. With trees and the buildings I doubt it would do well anyway.

    Unless someone comes up with a home nuke plant in the next couple of years, I doubt DIY is an option. Or maybe I should start a thread about a over unity device to power the heat pump. :)
     
  4. Wendy

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    That or dig a really deep large hole and use ground temperature for thermal transfer. :p

    No overunity needed.
     
  5. spinnaker

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    That is one thought. I wonder what the costs are of installing geothermal?
     
  6. #12

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    Heat pumps aren't worth the extra money in Florida because we only need them about 14 to 24 days a year. They never pay back the original investment and have extra parts that fail and cost, on average $100 per year to replace.

    Heat pumps are useless in North Dakota because they quit producing useful heat at about 28F.

    Guess where Pittsburgh is...

    A ground source heat pump is the magic bullet. The next thing you do is open them up and find all the steel filter/dryers. Clean all the rust off them, including phosphate treatment, and seal them so no water can ever again touch steel. Now you have something that will work, and the efficiency can be incredible...up to 24 B.T.U's per watt-hour.
     
  7. spinnaker

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    Not sure that that means. Can you explain? Is the geothermal?

    What are the costs of install?
     
  8. inwo

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    I couldn't afford to heat my house without a geothermal heatpump.

    Previous home had air to air heatpump that worked well.
    Like any system. You're at the mercy of your HVAC guy.

    I'm heating 6000 square feet, on a 3000 square foot footprint. In Minnesota.

    6-ton/ 6-loops supplemented with well water.Kept loop over 40F this year while sewer and water, 6' deep, was freezing for some.

    The first year my total energy cost was about $100 per month avg. 10 years later it's double that. Highest bill was a -20F month/ $330.

    No natural gas here. LP bill would have been over $1000 that month.:eek: Plus I'd still have a $100 light bill.

    In fairness, this is my hobby. I know a lot of heatpump homes that have abandoned GEO.
     
  9. tcmtech

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    Not in North Dakota. :confused:

    Actually Pittsburgh is at a similar latitude as Iowa is which is in the transition zone where heat pumps sort of work well enough most of the time.

    That is to say air based ones do good as AC units and fairly well as supplementary heat but not great.
    Ground source however have better returns for both but still the average ground temp can cause some heating limitations when used as a primary heat source unless the ground loop is rather large.

    Best I can say is do your homework on what type of system is being used and if it was sized properly for the area it's heating. If done right it should be fine but if not it could become a real money burner real fast.
     
  10. inwo

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    High.:eek:

    My system would have been $28,000 10 years ago.

    Would just be paying for itself now.:(

    DIY was $5k for the heatpump and $5K for loops professionally installed.

    As I'm an electrician and learned ducting, the rest was nickel and dimes.
     
  11. inwo

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    That's the secret.;)
     
  12. WBahn

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    We looked at geothermal a couple years ago (was actually a chance encounter with the guy drilling my neighbor's well whose main line of work was laying in geothermal systems).

    Based on that brief conversation and a tiny bit of research that night, the conclusions I came to are that of the two types of ground-source heat pumps the lateral one (the heat exchanger tubes run horizontal in fairly shallow (and, here, dry) trenches would probably not work that well since it is competing with a wood burning stove. The vertical one (the heat exchanger tubes run vertical in four to eight holes that are anywhere from 200 ft to 800 ft deep) offers much higher efficiency because the holes are wet with ground water and down where the temperature is much more stable than the shallow trenches. Of course, it costs more up front. He estimated that I would be looking at about $8k to $10k for a complete install, including the earth work and the interior work (which would be pretty tame since we already have a propane forced-air system with all the associated ducts).

    If I remember, when I ran the numbers out it was a case of being questionable but probably a good long-term investment. The big plus it that it would give use one more back-up utility leaving us close to being, if necessary, off the grid for several weeks (assuming that we get a reasonable generator, but if push comes to shove the two small generators we have now could be put into service to keep the two or three critical circuits working).
     
  13. inwo

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    Sound's like electric back-up!
    If it was heatpump and natural gas you'd have the best of both.

    I have electric auxiliary heat, but I never use it.
     
  14. spinnaker

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    So if I had the whole thing installed professionally, what would it run me? How much property area would I need?

    Here is the place:

    http://www.howardhanna.com/property/property.asp?PRM_MLSNumber=998710&PRM_MlsName=Westpenn
     
  15. tcmtech

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    Unfortunately it's a huge secret in the heat pump industry.
    I can't name a single person who has a heat pump system that ever said that theirs was sized right and performed as a heat source anywhere close to what the dealers and installers claimed their system would when they bought it. :mad:
     
  16. spinnaker

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    I'm sorry but this is confusing. Have prices come up or gone down in the past ten years in this area?

    And what is high? I would think the loops install would be the largest part of the whole thing.

    The home does have AC so I would assume it already has all duct work.
     
  17. tracecom

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    If you said whether or not natural gas is available, I missed it. Assuming it is, the cost of changing out the heat pump to a natural gas unit might not be out of reach. If not, I would steer away. My house in north Mississippi has a heat pump, and it ran 24 hours a day when the temp got down in the teens. Luckily, the cold snap only lasted a few days.
     
  18. inwo

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    I can only assume prices have gone up.
    The 28K was double a gas system cost with AC. New construction.

    Loops were the most costly, for me. If it wasn't late fall and needing to get the house built, I would have hired an excavator, and done a better job than the "hi-tech" monkeys.

    It seems mark-up and labor would have been the most cost, professionally installed.

    As I recall, loops were $800 per ton, and wells were $1200 per ton.
    From my poor memory.
     
  19. spinnaker

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    Don't know for sure if gas goes to the house. My guess is no but I can check it out.
     
  20. #12

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    Measuring in a north and south direction, Pittsburgh is in between Florida and North Dakota.
    One place is too warm, one place is too cold, and one place is where Goldilocks lives...just right.

    Did I go right over your head? Sorry. Occupational hazard. It's hard to hand out tricks of the trade to people that don't know how the inside of a heat pump is made.
     
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