Heat Pump Savings?


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.
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Tony wrote:

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.
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dpb wrote:

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.
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Tony wrote:

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 furnace.
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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.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote: ...

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[1], given the need/choice I'd have made the investment again.
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 A/C-operation season.
imo, $0.02, ymmv, etc., etc., ...
[1] 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.
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dpb wrote:

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 HVAC guy.
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wrote:

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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