Questions about heat pumps

We have a 1977 propane furnace and are considering installing an air to air electric heat pump. Living in northern Iowa we are getting different opinions. Some say we are too far north and recommend staying getting high efficiency propane. The heat pump would have and electric furnace for back up in colder temps. Does anyone in colder climates have a heat pump and what do you think of it and of the costs?
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maryiowa

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I am a bit south of your latitude and I would not get a heat pump. North of the mason-dixon line and you can use a heat pump but your house better be verrry well-insulated, with good double-pane windows, because when that backup heater starts up it's basically just a big toaster.
maryiowa wrote:

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maryiowa wrote:

You can get a dual fuel system which is a furnace with a heat pump coil sitting on top and a heat pump condensing unit outside....the furnace would be your back up heat or it could also be set up so that the furnace runs exclusively when the temperature drops to a certain point.
Any competant HVAC outfit can explain this to you.....
Get lots of FREE estimates.....get recomendations from friends, neighbors, co workers, church pals...relatives.etc...... you need to find someone competant and someone who will do you an outstanding job for your money.
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maryiowa wrote:

Certainly some do... :)
But, I would not recommend it if the "emergency" heat is electric resistance heating as you mention. There are units that will let you have the propane (or natural gas if you can get it although I presume you can't or wouldn't be on propane) for the backup heat but they'll be more initially although almost certainly less expensive to operate. I'd suggest at least looking into a ground to air geothermal system as an alternative. Again, higher initial installation but cut the heating in bills to roughly a third when we replaced the air-to-air unit with one.
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Hi Mary,
I live in Nova Scotia and use a small (14,000 BTU/H) ductless heat pump to supplement my oil-fired boiler. It works extremely well in milder weather but once temperatures drop below -5C (23F), the amount of heat it can produce drops off rather sharply. Although I wasn't able to displace all of my oil consumption (and it was never intended to do so), it did save me over $600.00 on my heating costs last year (and with rapidly rising oil prices, I fully expect my future savings to be even more significant).
If you do decide to go this route, be sure to contact your local provider to see what incentives or rebates they may offer. For example, the Western Iowa Power Cooperative offers a $300.00 per ton rebate, so a three-ton heat pump would net you $900.00.
See: http://www.wipco.com/rebates.htm#ELECTRIC%20HEAT%20SYSTEM
Other utilities, such as Alliant, provide attractive no interest or low interest financing options.
See: http://www.alliantenergy.com/docs/groups/public/documents/pub/p012829.pdf
You might also qualify for special, discounted rates.
See: http://www.federatedrea.coop/products/index.htm and http://www.cfu.net/pdf/co_electric_rates.pdf
An air source heat pump is not going to perform as well as a ground source model in colder climates like yours but then, it won't cost nearly as much to install either -- that may be an acceptable trade off after all. Also, bear in mind Iowa enjoys some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation, so backup electric heat could very well be competitive with propane at today's prices, especially if you qualify for one of those discounted rates.
Personally, if I were faced with replacing an existing furnace and installing a new central a/c, I would most likely go for a high performance air source heat pump.
Cheers, Paul
On Mon, 24 Jul 2006 20:50:44 +0100, maryiowa

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