I have electric hot air heat and I am wondering how much I can expect
save with a heat pump? Eastern TN, almost in the Smokies and the North
Carolina border. Elevation about 1650'. It's around 15 degrees warmer
on the west side of the smokies where I am than compared to the NC side.
I've managed to keep the electric bill below $115 most of the winters
when I turn down the central heat to 55-60 and use a small portable
electric heater in the room I am using. I would like to heat the whole
house to 68F. using a heat pump. I figure the heating portion of the
electric bill is about $75-$90. How much would that be with a heat
pump? If my rough figures are anywhere near accurate, it looks like I
won't break even for 15 to 20 years and that is without heating the
whole house to 68F.
When in Oak Ridge we replaced the original air-exchange heat pump w/ a
ground-loop and cut _that_ electric usage by almost 2/3-rds.
Air-exchange heat pumps have improved, but imo they're still very
marginal in E TN, especially as you go up in elevation (we were much
nearer 1000 ft where we were). Are you still on TVA or not may have
much to do w/ rates.
Need somebody to do good heat load calculation for specific dwelling and
unit(s) to really tell; it all depends on how good the estimates of heat
loss are and they're dependent on specifics.
Thanks, I think I'm indirectly on TVA. I'm outside of Newport but my
power company is Newport Utilities. I believe they get their power from
the TVA. As far as the weather here, it's a little warmer than where I
was in PA and lot's of people had heat pumps up there. Now this is way
below normal, but last night I had a low of 33F, average low for last
night is 46F.
I just built a house on the NC side near
Franklin. I have a high efficiency
(16SEER) 2 stage heat pump/AC unit. Our
last month electric bill ran $73.
That included AC and a little heat at
the end. We ran the AC even thought
is wasn't too warm out, mostly to bring
down the humidity. A heat pump
can give you several times the heat
output for the same amount of electricity
as straight resistance heat .
BTW, this morning it was 45 degrees and
for the 1st time, the 2nd stage
heat pump kicked in during a few cycles.
My backup, when it gets too
cold for the heat pump, is a propane
Agree with the above. I also don't see why the extra cost of a
ground source heat pump compared to air would be worth it in Tenn. I
would think that climate is moderate enough that you would have to use
a lot of heating/cooling for it to come out ahead. If you were in VT
it would be a different story.
Whether switching to any heat pump is worth it is questionable given
your low existing bills. However, if you were heating the whole
house to a higher temp, then it could start to make sense.
Having had one of each (while in TN), while strictly speaking the
break-even period would probably have been longer than we stayed in the
house ourselves, given the need/choice I'd have made the investment
The difference in comfort w/ the higher-grade heat of the ground-loop
plus the elimination of the noise from the A/C outside exchanger were
intangible benefits well worth the additional installation cost in the
long run. And, if go ahead w/ the rejection-heat option, hot water is
available at essentially no additional operating cost during
imo, $0.02, ymmv, etc., etc., ...
 I didn't make the initial decision on that basis; the old
air-exchange unit was failing and gas wasn't available in the
subdivision and I didn't want the LP tank (plus was quite high in the
area altho it was the nuisance/eyesore factor that was deciding; I just
didn't want either so really never considered it seriously). There was
as noted above a very noticeable reduction in our electric usage as
compared to before but I never did really worry about whether it was
enough to actually come out ahead; it was a fixed up-front cost that
didn't really factor into the decision.
Also, here in western NC I see ads on TV
that say you can get somewhere
around 65% of the total cost of a
geothermal system back from energy
tax credits. I can't get anything on my
air-type heat pump, even though
it is a high efficiency unit. I am able
to get a credit from the power company,
Duke, for about $200 and $100 for the
Not sure how your winters compare with ours but I'm in AZ and had a
heat pump. It was a three ton unit and in our mild winters it
struggled to warm the place up and took forever to do it. I replaced
the whole thing with a straight AC unit and retrofitted electric
resistance strips into the air handlers. I have seen essentially no
change in my winter bills and the house warms up much faster. In
houses in the past I've had with heat pumps I've never been very
impressed with their performance. In some weather conditions they
spend as much time in reverse cycle melting ice that they never warm
up the house.
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