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Heat pump in md?

Posted by kbcup (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 29, 11 at 22:42

Hi, we are moving to md In the next three months, when the weather will be the coldest. We have found that many homes, some under 10 years have heat pumps.. How can we determine if buying a house with a heat pump is a good investment, or a money pit. I've also heard that to get the house really warm, the heat pump must be turned up high.

Needless to say, this is a big decision.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Heat pump in md?


BTUs are BTUs whether from oil, nat gas, propane, or electric.

All electric homes in Maryland are quite common where nat gas service is not available.

What is the electric rate? Is home energy efficient with good or better than average insulation qualities?

It is true that supply temps from heat pumps are lower than forced air fueled by nat gas. However, this has improved significantly by the newer mdls.

There is a great deal of junk HPs in the marketplace.

I would not have a HP for your area/climate that did not have electronic demand defrost feature and most brands/models do not have this.

Here are my specs if one was purchasing a new HP system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF
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
10 yr warranty compressor and parts

you want a thorough inspection of your ductwork system. size, overall condition, supply and return lines, insulation qualities, leak test, etc.
any hot/cold spot issues in your home should be addressed.

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.

You ask the question if buying a house with a HP is a good investment? Generally speaking, I don't think of HVAC for a home as an investment. Necessary yes, investment no. You do want a system that has good efficiencies. For example, two homes that are identical. one home has an 80% eff furnace, the other a 90+ eff furnace. Both furnaces are the same age. The answer is obvious. Same is true with a HP.

Your rates, fuel choices, HVAC efficiencies, and home's insulation qualities will affect your overall operating costs.


RE: Heat pump in md? Comfort?


If you are used to having nat gas heat, you may try to stay in neighborhood with nat gas heat. Many people who go from nat gas heat to heat pump complain about the comfort.

In the South though, straight heat pump systems are quite common and really not an issue. Dual fuel systems-HP with nat gas backup furnace
have been popular where rates work for the homeowner.


RE: Heat pump in md?

Hi kbcup,

Welcome to Maryland. You asked about buying a house with a heat pump in Maryland and in part got excellent advice, I am sure, about buying a heat pump system.

I am a Retired Naval Officer (24 year Submariner) that has moved all over the country and lived with various climates and had various heating and cooling systems.

22 years ago we moved to Maryland and lived with Oil Heat and a central A/C system. Last year I replaced my oil furnace with a new, but similar, unit and I replaced my A/C with a heat pump.

While not optimum, the increased cost of using oil to heat my home ONLY when outside temp goes below 30 degrees is manageable and to have converted to either natural gas OR electric heat strips and removing oil tank would have been up-front cost vs payback prohibitive.

We find heating with the heat pump to be comfortable and down to an outside air temp of 30 degrees more economical than oil.

If you are house hunting, I would suggest that you can "do the math" on any candidate homes and determine if your heating and cooling costs are manageable. What may make sense for fuel choices in new construction may not be economically "right" for the existing 20 year old home up the block.

If you talk to friends that have older heat pumps you may not be getting good current performance info due to advancements in design and improvements in system efficiencies.

Where in MD are you moving to? I'm in Rockville.

RE: Heat pump in md?

I'd expect that a heatpump would be cheaper than oil well below 30 but of course that depends on electric rates.

If you are worried, can't you just ask for utility bills?

I think there are a lot of crap setups and I know people who pay $600 in electric a month with a heatpump. But of course, done well, a heat pump is fine. But there are a lot of other considerations such as insulation, ductwork etc. Any house can be a money pit and a heat pump is just another variable. While I built with a HP, I do think that in general a NG house is safer only because it is simpler. Well - it really isn't simpler but the downside of a terrible a/c install or a terrible a/c system is less than the downside of a terrible HP system.

RE: Heat pump in md?


Excellent post.

"I'd expect that a heatpump would be cheaper than oil well below 30 but of course that depends on electric rates."

As I said, one must "do the math." Electricity happens to be VERY expensive where I am in MD and just about 30 degrees is the break even point for my particular heat pump versus oil. YMMV.

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