I love lurking here, I learn a lot.
Does anyone have thoughts on heat pumps? We're interested in purchasing a
2200 sq ft house in North Carolina (Raleigh area) that has forced air heat
and central air through a heat pump. I don't know a thing about them, and
would appreciate any feedback on how efficient and cost effective they are.
Any made in the last 15 years or so are pretty good. I have a pair of trane
heat pumps in my lake house at kerr. Gas will cost you less though around
here (Raleigh). I would not pass on a house I liked just because it had a
heat pump instead of gas.
As more and more power plants continue to be built using natural gas as their
primary source of fuel, the costs of gas to homeowners will continue to rise as
demand increases for the limited supply.
As these gas prices climb, so will the cost of the electricity they produce.
The supply isn't limited. It's determined by the price. Once the price moves
high enough to extract higher priced gas, you get more gas; when it falls, you
get less gas.
What's limited is the supply of low-priced gas.
The consumer end works the reverse: higher price means less demand as
are used, and lower price means more demand as alternatives are abandoned.
They cross in the middle at some current price, and that's as good as you can do.
In particular, power plants won't be built indefinitely using natural gas if the
price goes up. Extrapolation in a straight line is not often realistic.
A heat pump using gas backup will be cheaper to run than gas alone.
Most heat pumps in your area will have electric strip backup. Which will
probably do worse than gas alone in your area. South of you, they'll do
better than gas alone.
If the heat pump is ground-source or water-source, then economics change
radically, and they tend to be the cheapest heating systems to run
everywhere. Except perhaps in the high arctic.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
Also, keep in mind that if you have a heat pump for the hot air, you
likely have an electric water heater. Upgrading to gas/oil as the
backup heat unit for the heatpump may allow you to use gas/oil to heat
your hot water.
I've heard hot water is about 1/3 of energy bills.
I'm using a similar set up for the same size house in the Pac. NW. (seattle
It is more effecient than straight electric or propane heat. Naturual gas
would be more ecconomical but it is not available in my rural area.
Heat pump heating starts getting expensive as the outside temperature starts
dropping and as inside demand increases. The thermostat setting has a lot
to do with this.. It takes a while for a cold house to heat up with a heat
pump.. If you push the thermostat to 70 degrees when the house 40 and the
outside temp is in the high 30s to low 40s. The electric heating elements
will kick in to satify your 'demand'.. However if your willing to keep your
sweater on for an hour or so and just set the thermostat intially at 55 to
60 deg. then they control logic of the unit will normally leave the electric
elements off and allow the heat pump to do the bulk of the heating..
There are some other tricks to the heat pump game that can be tired. Since I
am retired and home most of the time, in the fall and spring, I take
advantage of the periods of the day when it is relatively warm outside or
when the sun is still high.. I start heating up the house for the chillyer
evening to come by raising the thermostat early, while there is warm outside
I will have to admit that I don't heat my house with the heat pump in the
dead of winter since it just can't handle the job with outside temperature
in the low 30s... Trying to do that can and has pushed my electric bill to
triple my normal useage.
I am now heating during the Dec, Jan and Feb (I expect) with a 50,000 btu
pellet stove.. This is my first winter using it to replace an old wood stove
and I'm very happy with it.. The heat pump or electric hear only comes on if
I turn the pellet stove off for the evening and then only for about an hour
I hope this gives you some prospective regarding heat pump heating..
Yes, your information really helps a lot. I really appreciate you taking
the time to fill me in.
Right now I'm waiting to hear back from the realtor as to the age of the
unit so I can get a better idea of what we'll be dealing with. We are
putting an offer on the house irregardless.
When we were there last night for our second viewing I did notice that the
house was very warm and cozy. Also, after living with a noisy furnace for
the past two years I was taken by the complete silence of the system. I
didn't hear a thing. The heating system we have here in this much newer
and more expensive home is so noisy that it wakes us up at night when it
As to the costs, I am reading up on the natural gas situation and feeling
pretty secure that we won't be dependent on it as the prices continue to
rise and supplies (allegedly) become more limited.
Your response is most appreciated!! Thanks for taking the time.
Hi....I've been reading this thread with interest since I have a
heat pump in the Asheville, NC area. I was wondering what
the most economical way of setting the thermostat would be...
No one is home for about 8hrs (6AM to 2PM) most days, but
a few times a month I am away for 1-2 days at the time.
Is it best to turn the thermostat fairly low when I'm gone(how low?)
or is it more efficient to leave the house warmer(how high?) even
when I'm not there? Does the best strategy change depending
on how long I will be away?
Outside temps here are usually 20's at night and 40's during the day,
with occasional teens for lows.
Thanks very much for any advice,
With a heat pump, its best to pick a temp, and leave it. If you are going to
be gone for a couple of days, it MAY help to go to about 65F but keep in
mind if you do that on a daily basis, and then turn the thermostat up more
than 4F to get the home warm again, you are automatically telling the unit
to go into 1st and 2nd stage heat mode....control logic be damned.
Also, the 2nd stage heat will come on no matter what if the outside unit can
not maintain the thermostats set point. If you have it set at 55F and the
outside temp is say...19F, then the heat pump itself will normally NOT be
able to maintain the temp by itself. When the heat loss of the home, exceeds
the heat gain from the unit, the temps will drop, and the second stage heat
will indeed come on.
Cutting it down will help, but not a huge amount. I leave mine at 74F all
the time, and thats if we are here or not. It is more a matter of personal
preference. Depending on the setup you have, sizing of the unit, and such,
you may find that you see enough of a savings to justify the cutback, but in
general, it is accepted in the industry that setback stats on a heat pump
are a waste of money.
Remember, electric is 100% efficient. Every dime you spend on heating the
home comes back in heat.
Losses happen in other places.
You guys have been warmer than we have to the East of you....LOL...weird
damn winter this year.
Thank you! I really appreciate your help.
I think I've been leaving the thermostat set too low.
It has been a very weird winter....you guys down there
have gotten a lot more snow than most of the mountains, too.
I'm just afraid we'll pay for it around here come March!
I jumped the gun on posting earlier...
I meant to also say how much I appreciate your advice
on a previous post I made about finding an easy-to-see
thermostat for my mother. We got the Honeywell model
that you and Turtle suggested and it has worked out great!
My mother loves it and shows it off to everyone who
comes to visit her. :-)
It really has made things much easier for her and she
asked me to send along her sincere gratitude.
Dare...and Mom :-)
Overall, depending on the age of the unit, it being sized correctly, with
correct duct, SEER and HSPF it is the most economical way here in NC to
With a heat pump, as long as its maintained, for every dollar you spend on
it, you will get more of a return on heat than with oil, or gas.
I don't know what SEER and HSPF are, but I'll do my homework. We should be
getting the full details on the system today, as we requested them from the
realtor prior to us putting in an offer.
The house in question is over 20 years old, but beautifully and lovingly
maintained and upgraded, so I'm operating on the hope that the HVAC system
has been as well. Our offer will be adjusted based on what we discover
about the system.
Thank you so much for responding.
Ok..keep in mind this..
Real Estate Agents in that area....are like trained monkeys. Monkey
see...monkey do. I have found ONE that I deal with, and shes not in your
area out there...that I trust. She asks the right questions, does the right
things. I have bought 2 homes from her in 3 years...shes a no BS kinda lady.
So..if they dont know, they MIGHT try to BS ya..so if you want, you can get
the model and serial numbers, along with the brand name, and we can tell you
how old it is from the serial, and what kind of unit (other than the make of
course) from the model...
Ok..one thing about here in NC....take this as you will...
1-average life expectancy of a unit is 12-15 years...
2-NO ONE and I mean no one seems to understand one word....SERVICE.
I have York customers that I deal with every week, and I am the first York
dealer in my area in almost 15 years...and we go to check a problem, and the
first thing to be found is lack of service..and I mean..OBVIOUS lack of
service. When you talk to a homeowner here, its like...You mean I have to
have it CLEANED???
and of course, its never been touched other than a filter.
And of course, when the company comes to service it...its slap guages on it,
maybe charge for refrigerant it does not need, since no one knows one little
word there...superheat....and they are off...
Its a hell of a crapshoot, but just keep in mind the average mentality....if
its not broke, we aint gonna fix it..and thats the way it is. Its the most
depended on appliance in the home, (particularly here in summer) its the
most single expensive appliance in most cases, and its the most neglected.
NP..and if you will mail the model and serial numbers, with the brand of the
unit(s) we can get you more info.
Don't I know it? We're in the process of taking a $10,000 bath on the
wonderful home a "relocation specialist" realtor stung us with when we moved
here two years ago. Coming from California, we had no idea about the housing
market here and depended on her advice about the price and location.
Suffice it to say that she couldn't have done a worse job. I'm moving into
her neighborhood now, and hope I don't bump into her in the supermarket!
I have found ONE that I deal with, and shes not in your
Human cloning is starting to hold more appeal! Good realtors are few and
far between, that's for sure.
Also, NC seems to be an extremely consumer unfriendly state, but don't get
They just told me that the unit is "10-12 years old". Odd that they don't
know exactly. I will request the model and serial numbers.
Uh oh! I think I'll need the name of the service person also then. Maybe I
could get a better idea from that question as to how the unit has been
This is all great information to have. Thanks so much.
I will do that! Your feedback is most appreciated!
LOL..understand. I grew up in the area, and my wife is from Palm Springs.
After living out there for several years, we made the move back here to my
That area is one of the highest priced markets in the state, and we
considered that area for a time since my mother and other family members had
moved to the Ral/Durham area.
Plenty of supermarkets here...no Vons, no Albertsons, but Food Lions on
about every corner, and Bi-Lo isnt too bad...its a division of Vons IIRC.
Only, and ONLY if we can weed out the gene pool first...LOL!
Nope...agreed. Its not exactly heaven in that regard. Its not real friendly
to workers either. Right to work state.
We have got, thankfully, a pretty good system that CAN protect consumers
however, and in the HVAC end, we are second to CA with regards to the new
codes, and laws. Just takes a while for it to catch up tho.
It may help, it may not. There are some things that any of them can do to
check it, and later, I will put together a list for you and pop it back on
your e-mail when you get the model and serial numbers and you can simply ask
them..if they are hacks, it will piss them off..if they are legit, it will
amaze them that they found a consumer that has a clue.
Good luck on your move. Enjoy your time in NC...it takes some getting used
to, as my "West Coast Yankee" wife tells me from time to time, but she knew
she was in for culture shock when she moved here. Lucky for me, her dad was
very involved out of Hollywood and traveled a bit, and she used to go with
him so she had an idea of life here. I think she misses the desert from time
to time, but we go back often and kept a home there, so its not that bad. At
least when we have earthquakes here (yes..we have them here too) they are
normally nothing but a trembler under a 4...nothing at all like
Landers..last one was a couple of weeks ago, and was maybe a 2...2.5..we
felt it, but nothing like the daily ones in SouthernCA..
Get that info to me, and I will run it. I dont service the area unless I am
out that way, so if you need a dealer out there, there are several that I
know that I can suggest, but that does not mean you will get a great tech
always...but its a start.
I told our "relocation specialist" that I am a gourmet cook and wanted
access to a good supermarket. She put us in an area where the only store is
a dirty old Food Lion that caters to the hog maws crowd. It took me over a
year to walk through there without crying. I now drive 20 minutes to the
nearest Harris Teeter.
Yes, as long as they leave our genes in the pool! Oh, and your realtors!
My biggest beef are the laws concerning home owner's associations, all of
which are geared to benefit the developers. We have a story of a very ill
woman who had a forced forclosure because she was too sick to mow her lawn
or respond to the warning letters for a few months. Don't neighbors help
each other out anymore? Nice that we have homeowner's associations to do it
the dirty way.
Here's the skinny on the heat pump:
Model # TWH0488140AB
Servce: Metro, 517 Pylon Drive, Raleigh, NC
Thanks again for your help!
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