Another Heat Pump vs Air Conditioning Question

tbaldermMarch 26, 2013

I know there is alot of information on here (and other sites) about this subject. I have read alot of it and am still on the fence...

Here is my situation.

My in-laws are looking to get a new central air conditioning unit. The house had one in the past and it stopped working. They are located in the Lansing, Michigan area. They have an older propane furnace that they are happy with and do not want to replace. They have had 2 guys out to give estimates on a new air conditioning unit and both are suggesting a heat pump.

I suspect they will use the new air conditioning only 2-3 weeks a year. They have lived without air conditioning for the last 15 years and the only time they wish they had it is when the temp gets over 85degrees for several days. The house is a 3 bedroom ranch with an unfinished basement. My father-in-law is conscious about how much it is going to "save" by having the heat pump. They keep the house around 72 degrees during the winter and suspect they will keep the house at 78 or so when they actually use the air conditioning.

They are 75 years old and I do not want they to spend the extra for a heat pump that is going to take 10 years to make the money back.

I am looking for suggestions... or if someone on here is local and interested in doing an estimate....

Thanks in advance.

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What is the electric rate for your parents?

Any idea of the brand, age, model of the existing propane furnace?

If you have a reasonable electric rate, I like the idea of the HP and it would have a good payback versus more expensive propane fuel.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 3:47PM
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the deal here is what TD is saying. It depends on your electric rate and cost of propane.

Also, the additional cost of the HP system.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:02PM
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while I agree that heat pumps are a good investment,
something else to consiter is comfort.
if inlaws are accustomed to the warmth of LP heat
the heat pump's heat is not as warm.

I've found this to be an issue with older people
who are used to gas heat.

just adding this into the equation.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:45PM
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I am over 75, and due to one of my medication's side effects, am subject to cold spells.

Three years ago, I replaced my oversized furnace with a modulating one which probably runs at 50% or less capacity, as my older one most of the time.

The point: when the old furnace would run, the hot blast was nice (as long as it lasted). Being oversized, it didn't usually run very long. After shutting off, the house temperature would rapidly cool, causing me extreme discomfort. I couldn't wait for the furnace to start up again.

Bottom line: I don't miss the hot blast. I'm usually found sitting around in shirt sleeves.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Heat pumps if properly sized to the load are good at maintaining inside home temperature. It is true that supply temps from HPs are not as high as heat from fossil fuels but this has improved dramatically over the last 10 years.

In this particular case of OP relying exclusively on the more expensive propane heat, a quality HP condenser set to run down to 35 degrees fah would be a worthy choice for consideration and certainly would pay for itself as far as price difference in probably 3-4 years. Not bad.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 8:44AM
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true, just wanted to mention the things in my post.
that someone followed it up with their experience,
was unexpected.

I've gone from propane heat to heat pump.
this is the most comfortable winter in my house
in the 18 years I've been here.
I'm not 75...but don't like cold at all.

my post was just to bring up comfort issues
I've encountered in my rating work.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:05AM
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the comfort issue is always a legitimate issue.

HPs use to have a poor reputation depending on many factors such as location and a home's building and insulation qualities/envelope. The new models though are not even comparable to the older models.

No they are not for everyone but certainly they have their place in the residential HVAC marketplace.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 12:05PM
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even here is La. some folks are dead set against
heat pumps.

apparently 20+ years ago heat pumps didn't perform
as well as they do now.
I've met hvac company owners that won't let go
of that and refuse to install heat pumps at all.
I've seen that same attitude in homeowners.

20 years ago..I didn't know anything about hvac,
so my info is based on what I've learned in the
past 15 years.

putting a 15-17 seer heat pump instead of
a 13 seer ac with elec strip saves a LOT in
the winter.
for Feb utility bill (15 seer hp) $38.00
my sisters (13 seer elec strip) $195

no brainer, but can't convince BIL of that.
to is because they don't cut the lights off..
not the 8 computers! LOL!


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Energy is correct.

Some people just remember those old models of yesteryear. If one is in an all electric situation, a HP in Louisiana is a no brainer. Even with cheap nat gas rates, they are worthy of at least a look and fuel cost comparison. Probably an 80% eff nat gas furnace would be preferred but even those will eventually be phased out.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:37PM
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And don't forget that LP is more expensive than electric strip heating in the slight majority of the country.

So LP helps nothing for heating except for power outages and generator usage (for most areas).

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 2:34PM
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