Gas or heat pump in Midwest?

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Just bought a house that's all electric and has a heat pump for heating. Is that a good choice for the Midwest region? We're installing a gas line for a fireplace and I wonder if I shouldn't replace the heat pump with a gas unit when it dies. It's 18 years old now so I don't see many more days of life in it.
How about the water heater? Gas or electric?
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It all depends on the rates you are paying. In most areas of the Midwest you are going to save using gas over electric. In the case of home heating/cooling it is not so clear. The total cost of heating and cooling using a heat pump is likely to be near the same cost as gas heating and an standard A/C unit. Heat pumps tend to be more efficient than single use air conditions.
Good Luck.
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Joseph Meehan

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Steven Andrade wrote:

Generally a heat-pump will use electrical strip heaters for the second stage or for backup heat. You can also have a heat-pump use gas for the same purpose.
One more thing to think about, standard air conditioning is allot easier to work on than an heat-pump to allot of technicians. If the company you are using and you feel they know what there doing, no problem.
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Moe Jones
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Yeah, that's a big concern, The expertise of the HVAC techs I've seen run from stupid to good, so you need a good tech to maintain it. Luckily my best friend is a super tech.
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wrote:

If he's such a super tech... Why are you not asking him your questions?
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Steven Andrade wrote:

Agree w/ Joe...what are current rates and what is the outlook for NG in your area as well as where in the midwest? The colder/longer the winter, the less advantage of the air/air heat pump owing to the lowered effectiveness -- once air temp gets much below freezing, the heat pump really loses out and has to run much longer and as someone else noted, you may be heating w/ resistance heating much of the time, anyway.
You might consider another alternative as well -- the ground loop heat pump. More expensive to install initially because of the need for burying the heat exchange loop, but if have sufficient area available, can eliminate the need for resistance heating entirely and will definitely be better efficiency than the air/air.
The switch out on water heating is almost entirely one of relative fuel costs. The one other advantage of gas imo is if you have hard water, the amount of tank fouling is much less w/ gas as the point-source heating electrodes are much worse for that ime...
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dpb wrote:

I plan to install a ground source heat pump when I replace my HVAC eventually. One thing to keep in mind is that there are several ways to install the ground loop and some installers are still pushing the somewhat obsolete and much more expensive drilled vertical loop installation or long loop horizontal installations. The newer trenched vertical coil type installation is much cheaper to install and has been proven to be equally efficient as the older methods. The trenched vertical coil method cuts a narrow trench to a suitable depth and then installs the loop piping like a flattened stretched out slinky.
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I've read about such systems but have never seen one installed. Is it a major task involved to bury the loop? How long, large, and deep is the trench?
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Steven Andrade wrote:

Depends... :)
On how much capacity you need, where you are, type used...
In most locations you'll want it at a bare minimum of 4-ft and it should be 6-ft or so to minimize the thermal swings (winter _and_ summer).
For a ranch w/ fully furnished basement of roughly 1700 sq-ft per level, we had about 400 lin-ft of trench in E TN. As noted, there are some newer techniques since then that may cut down the actual size needed.
I personally recommend talk to your local Water Furnace distributor. At the time we did ours (15 years ago now, almost!!!) Oklahoma State had the recognized best collection information source out there along w/ TVA. I've not looked recently to see, but I'd start there.
It cut our heating/cooling costs by nearly two-thirds over the air/air unit it replaced...
We moved in '99, but just a year or two ago another friend in the neighborhood still mentioned via e-mail he had seen the fella' who had bought the house and asked and the unit was still fine w/ no maintenance.
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wrote Re Gas or heat pump in Midwest?:

A heat pump quickly looses it's efficiency advantage over resistance heating when the temp falls below 35F. If you live in a "cold" climate area, unless your electric rate is very low, gas is usually more cost effective.
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Caesar Romano wrote:

Only true for air source heat pumps, old technology. Geothermal a.k.a. ground source heat pumps have no such issue due to stable soil temperatures.
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Pete C. wrote:

But I would estimate at least 90% of all new heat pumps installed are still air/air and is what virtually anyone means/thinks of when hear "heat pump"...
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dpb wrote:

Quite likely, which is why you have to specify "geothermal" or "ground source". The air source units work ok in areas with outdoor air temperatures that don't get too cold or hot, and are still cheaper than ground source. Ground source have the advantage of near silent operation in all cases since they don't have a big outdoor fan.
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True, as most people call the other system by the name Geothermal. Most people don't understand that both are virtually the same other than the source for heating/cooling.
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First, get a good crystal ball and see what the utility rates are going to be over the next 20 years. In my area, both have increased, but gas has increased more. You should also find out the source of your electricity; my sister lived in upstate NY and their electricity was from the falls; I don't see the cost of that increasing as much as in my area, where it is virtually all from generating plants. Incidentally, I've read that many electrical power suppliers are building new plants that use gas; that should increase the cost of both.
If your home now is all electric, you should find out how much it will cost you to have the gas hooked up; if that is thousands of dollars, for example, that could eat up a lot of savings from making the switch.
My understanding is that heat pumps are more efficient, but need a supplementary source of heat in areas where the winters are quite cold. On the other hand, the good cooks that I know all prefer gas for cooking, and I have never heard of the gas being knocked out by a storm around here.
Steven Andrade wrote:

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"Not@home" wrote:

Air source heat pumps need supplemental (usually electric resistive) heat in cold areas. Geothermal / ground source heat pumps don't since their coils are below frost lines and soil temps are stable.
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Pete C. wrote:

I'd revise that slightly as geothermal / ground source heat pumps _may_ not if sufficient heat source/sink capacity is available since their coils are below frost lines and soil temps are relatively stable.
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dpb wrote:

I'd revise that to "a geothermal heat pump with a correctly sized ground loop" since in stable 55 or so degree soil a properly sized loop will always be able to extract sufficient heat.
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Pete C. wrote:

The point is that the 55F stable point is below the typical loop burial depth as starters so the ground temperature around the loop will rise/fall slightly w/ the seasons and it also isn't a perfect conductor. Particularly when as a heat sink in the summer, temperatures near the loop in the trench tend to rise.
When we installed the system in TN, it was the first buried ground loop the installer had done (he had been working exclusively in a new subdivision on a lake frontage area where loops were submerged in the lake), so we instrumented the trench in several locations for the information on how it differed as he was soon going to be in an area that the distance to lakefront was going to make it impractical.
Even at 6-ft in a place no more extreme than E TN, the soil temperatures were not constant.
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dpb wrote:

As I said, "55 or so". The soil temp is certainly far more stable than the air temp, and again, a properly sized and installed ground loop will have no issues. The nice thing about the ground loop is that since it's just plastic pipe and the trenching is an easy install method, you can readily calculate the correct loop size and then add 25% as a safety margin since an oversized loop doesn't cause any issues and only costs a bit more tubing and trenching. When I do my system I intend to do just this as well as increase the trench depth some, again with no risk of causing any problems, only adding safety margin.
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