Installing a heat pump system in replace od oil furnace

maggiewp21July 1, 2012

Hello. I am new to this forum and would really love some input about things to think about to put in a heat pump system in place of an aging and very expensive to run oil furnace (hot water system) in Central PA. We have an opportunity to purchase a house, but will only do so if we can get it at a price to make this change. I know it will be expensive, but for the right price, it's what I'd like to do. Currently utilities are running over $500 month for this house. (In contrast we are paying $200/month for a natural gas/heat pump system in a not much smaller house built in 1992). The unknown is how drafty the house is (built in 1980). Windows are original but all exterior doors have been replaced. If we can swing it, we'd like to put in a geothermal system (property is over 2 acres so thee should be room and others in this neighborhood have done so). Unfortunately there are no gas lines in this neighborhood, so that is not an option. Anybody have any advice or words of wisdom. The reason we are considering moving is because the house has some great interior features and sits on a great lot adjacent to green space. Otherwise we might just stay put. Thank you.

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Does this house have a oil furnace or boiler? You said "hot water system" so I am thinking it has a boiler. If it is a boiler you are not going to be able to replace it with a heat pump.

If the house has duct work for central AC, then you could abondon the baseboard heat system and intall a heat pump to heat and cool the house through the duct work.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Sorry not to be more clear. Yes, it is a boiler system (hot water circulates in radiators). But getting rid of it is exactly what I want to do (I can't imagine oil prices are ever going to be low), so I am aware that we will need to put in ducting, and I am sure this won't be cheap. However, I don't want to invest the 9K to replace the oil boiler with another one, so it's decision time. Maybe we should keep house hunting!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:53AM
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I would pass on this house unless you can negotiate steep discount to install either a Geo system or perhaps a GreenSpeed Carrier low temp HP system. Of course you will require new ductwork system. You need to get some budget pricing from HVAC dealers to understand your options before making any offer on this home. Upgrades should include both insulation and good windows. HPs do not like or work well for comfort with drafty homes.

Not certain I would tear out the radiator system.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:34AM
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Anybody out there care to give ANY sort of ballpark figure? 25K for geothermal, 15K for duct work?? Does this sound reasonable? Time is not my friend here. I can't get someone in there for a week, and I suspect someone else will grab this house who isn't looking at the utility costs carefully...I did talk to a few companies on the phone to get the above numbers (they actually said lower).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:56AM
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You have not described the type of home you are looking at. Sgl story or two story. Size. Where would ductwork be installed? Crawlspace, basement, attic?

A little more info would be helpful.

And you should include costs for upgrading insulation and any other improvements such as replacement windows.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Tell the sellers you are prepared to make an offer on the house, but you need to have an HVAC contractor do an estimate for a new heating and cooling system.

If the sellers want your offer immediately, you could submit an offer with the $40K deducted. They will probably counter offer your proposal. You should be able to buy of week of time for your contractor to come for an estimate.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Tough problem! One trouble with changing to forced air if the house is leaky is that you can change passive air exchange to active unless great care is taken to balance air in every room.

How big a place is this, sq ft and how many rooms? What is the lay-out, single or two-story? If not too many rooms, consider installing some low temp-capable heat pump mini-splits and keep the oil for back-up heat.

OK, how is this for advice, you are in the Marcellus shale gas region, right? Lease your new property with a clause that you get as much gas for domestic use that you need, and hope for a good strike :-)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Thanks for your input everyone. Sorry for the delayed response. The house is a two story 3200 sq ft (plus another 800 finished in basement) Tudor style home built in 1980. We have made an offer and as part of the inspection process we are bringing in a geothermal HVAC person as well as someone to do an energy audit early next week. The way the contract is written, we can break it next week, but I am really hoping that these professionals can help us come up with a viable plan so we can move forward. (Unfortunately - or fortunately depending upon how you look at it - Marcellus Shale is nearby but not in this part of the County!)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:52AM
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If you go Geo or even Carrier GreenSpeed HP, you want all three areas zoned for maximum comfort.

Keep us posted.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 10:34AM
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Hello All. Just a follow up that we are moving forward. The energy audit came out very respectably and we have an estimate for installing a two unit system (zoned for each floor) and a reputable driller has come and looked at the area and sees no problem installing a series of vertical wells. So it looks like we will go ahead and close on this house in the next few weeks.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 4:01PM
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