Heat pump or oil

JMphotoApril 14, 2011

OK, I had posted a thread a couple months ago when I began new construction plans, well we are ready to have contractors start rough-ins next week. So quickly, I cannot afford GEO, that is out and Gas is NOT available in the area. So I had decided on Oil fired forced air HVAC. The builder and HVAC folks feel I should take a good look and consideration at heat pump. The home is 2900 sqft two story w/basement country colonial in Berks County PA. I am affraid of the future for oil, but on the other hand I don't have much experience with HP. Our first home we rented when we got married 15 yrs ago had HP and all we remember is that it blew cool air and we never felt warm. I know things are much different now. What do need to know? I need feedback fast as I have to decide by next monday!!

Thanks for your input!

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what is your current cost for fuel oil and delivered price of electricity?

these are my minimum specs for a new HP system. both outside and inside units should be replaced to have a properly matched system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF AHRI rating
best matching VS air handler
full BTUs in both cooling and heating for your rated size
R-410a refrigerant(same as Puron)
scroll compressor preferred
electronic demand defrost preferred
thermostat with "dehumidify on demand" feature
staged backup heat strips
new and correctly sized refrigerant lineset

I would only use authorized dealers for the various brands that provide quotes. see mfg websites.

I would look at Trane/AmStd,Rheem/Rudd,Carrier/Bryant.

I would not purchase a new HP system that did not have electronic demand defrost especially for your area/climate.

does your home have good building/insualtion qualities?

I would not be afraid of good quality HP systems. I would want two systems-one for main floor and basement, the other for second floor.

and please don't judge today's HPs with those of yesteryear-as different as night and day.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 1:38PM
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Thanks for info. Our local oil rate as of today is 3.62 gal (150 gal min). Electric ranges from .12 to .10 per kw.
Remember this is new construction and the builder uses 2x6 exterior walls with insulation that is at least one or two R values higher than code, well wrapped in tyvek. The basement will be unfinished.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:17PM
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How about Propane as a third option?

And are we assuming a hybrid system (combination of HP and something like oil/gas as backup)?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:46PM
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propane would be an option in a dual fuel system but its price tracks oil.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:59PM
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We were planning on doing a supplemental propane fireplace in the great room, so I guess it could be backup part of the HP.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 3:04PM
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run the numbers on fuel comparison calculator.

see link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fuel Comparison Calculator

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 3:36PM
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I think you'll find that electric resistance makes a more cost effective backup than oil. Last I checked at 10 cents, electric was cheaper than oil.

It would be foolish to not do a heatpump.

I would probably put money into rigid foam sheathing on top of your 2x6.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 8:32AM
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I had a heat pump for 10 years when I lived in an all-electric home in MD. Heat pumps produce inexpensive heat, and put out 90 degree air down to low 30s ambient. They do not put out the 120F heat from a furnace, but sized right and installed in a well-insulated house, they'll do great. At 10 cents per kw-hr delivered, your rates aren't that bad. PA also has choice of electric suppliers.

You'll need back-up heat for the heat pump. Straight-electric coils are the least expensive to install, and will be cheaper to run than oil with today's prices. Oil prices are scary. If you have propane back-up, you'll need a tank installed that you buy or rent. That has to be considered in your over-all cost as well as the propane furnace itself. Propane is also an expensive heating fuel. You'll want a 95% efficient furnace if you go propane.

It's a shame that natural gas is not available to you. PA has cheap gas rates. I have a 95% efficient gas furnace in your area (Leesport) in a newer home. This was a cold winter, but the gas bill was very reasonable.

That unfinished basement will be cold. If that space is going to be heated now or in the future, what will heat it?

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 9:07PM
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