We have a 1977 propane furnace and are considering installing an air to
electric heat pump. Living in northern Iowa we are getting
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?
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
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.
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
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.
Other utilities, such as Alliant, provide attractive no interest or
low interest financing options.
You might also qualify for special, discounted rates.
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.
On Mon, 24 Jul 2006 20:50:44 +0100, maryiowa
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