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Old 09-16-2012, 06:32 PM   #1
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Im currently getting estimates to install a heat pump from some local companies in my area. My girlfriend asked me a question today that I can't answer. She said "Why should we spend 'X' amount of money to install a heat pump when it will cost over 10 years possibly 15 years to see any return on investment. By then the heat pump may be obsolete."

I couldn't answer her. We just purchased the house 4 months ago. So, we haven't had a winter to see how much the cost of running the electric baseboard heaters are. When we did purchase the house the previous home owner said during the winter months their electric bill was roughly $400. So, a typical winter would cost around $2000 give or take.

Currently we are looking at a 16 seer Variable speed Carrier heat pump. The yearly estimated cost of heating is $1500. The installation price is just under $10,000. At that rate it will take 20 years to finally see "return on investment".

Another downside to the installation of the heat pump is _all_ the contractors plan on running 1 supply to our "family room" downstairs. We have a bi-level home in which there is 1 large room, and 2 unfinished rooms currently. 1 unfinished room is a laundry room. The other is a "workshop". The utilities are all housed in this 10x24 workshop room. The 1 supply doesn't seem like it is enough to heat this large family room, laundry room, and workshop without the help of the baseboard heat. So, What is the point of installing a heat pump if we are going to rely on electric baseboard heaters to heat the basement anyway? Installation plus cost of operation seems like we would never see a return.

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Old 09-16-2012, 07:10 PM   #2
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


ROI isn't a factor. The only way to calculate ROI is if you have a known value...such as current costs to run your hvac system, then projected costs running a different system. Electric baseboard heat is by far the most efficient...100%...but it's also the most costly to operate. Air to air heat pumps are a better choice while geothermal heat pumps will show real saving. Heat pumps aren't going to be obsolete, just redefined. Basements are another issue. They cost very little to condition since their temperature is "tempered" by the surrounding earth. You could save a lot of installation costs by installing baseboard heat....and that savings will get eaten up in no time by the cost of running the units. I don't know where you live, but I heat 2800 sq. ft. with a heat pump for under $200 in the winter, and about $175 to cool in 100 deg. weather in the summer. But those numbers are for an all electric home....water heater, dryer, range and freezer.

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Old 09-16-2012, 09:53 PM   #3
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


There are a lot of factors to consider here. Does the electric baseboard give you the performance you want? Do you want air conditioning? do you want the possibility of ventilation being added (like and HRV interlock) In the future? does your baseboard give you any ability to filter your air, or add or remove humidity?

You really have to forget about the ROI and determine what is going to satisfy your lifestyle and expectations/concerns. If you just look at the cost of heating savings, it will take a long time to pay yourself back at todays energy costs, but you may see many other benefits that it is very hard to put a dollar figure on by moving to a more advanced system.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:21 AM   #4
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Couple points heat pumps are very expensive to install and service if it breaks. H. P. gives you air conditioning and heating, H. P. still needs backup electric or fuel to maintain the house temp, if the HP system is not designed and installed perfect the house will feel cold all the time.

Electric heat the house must be insulated real good and air tight, element in every room with thermostat great control, can shut off rooms that are not needed, if an element breaks or theres a problem you can just shut off that room and heat all the other rooms , cheap to replace an element Lowe's and HD have them on the shelves.

Never thought I would ever like electric heat, now I am a big fan of it.
I have Central air and electric heat. I could have installed a Heat Pump for cost, I still prefer the electric heat.
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:42 AM   #5
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


First. Do you want central A/C? Or are you willing to settle for using window A/Cs to cool your house in the summer. If you want central A/c, then going to a heat pump is only a small additional cost increase.

Your right, that heating that lower area with only 1 supply won't work well. You will probably have to inform the contractors that you want that area to be warm in the winter, and if it isn't, you will call them out to make it work at no additional charge if they claim it will work ok with only one supply. Really should have a return in that lower area also.

If you can still contact the original owners. it would be interesting to know if that 400 bucks was to heat the entire house, or only half of the house.

Have you used your heat yet?
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:15 PM   #6
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
First. Do you want central A/C? Or are you willing to settle for using window A/Cs to cool your house in the summer. If you want central A/c, then going to a heat pump is only a small additional cost increase.
The air conditioning wasn't a factor. We are content with just a window A/C to cool the house. We are looking for a more economic way to heat the house during the winter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by HVACDave View Post
There are a lot of factors to consider here. Does the electric baseboard give you the performance you want? Do you want air conditioning? do you want the possibility of ventilation being added (like and HRV interlock) In the future? does your baseboard give you any ability to filter your air, or add or remove humidity?
I don't know if the baseboard gives the performance I want. We moved into the house 4 months ago. Yes we would like air conditioning but we spent the last summer with 1 window unit in our bedroom and that was enough to suffice for the summer.

Basically everyone is saying the Heat pump might cut my bill but I'm going to pay for it upfront. ROI shouldn't be a factor when deciding to install a heat pump. This is a "luxury" improvement not a "economic" improvement. We may try to close off some rooms this winter and see how bad our bill is, Possibly next year we will decide to install a heat pump if it makes more sense. Hopefully we have a mild Pennsylvania winter like last year.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:23 PM   #7
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Maybe you should try a ductless split heat pump for the main area of your house and see if you like it. It would also take the place of your window A/C and give you the benefit of savings on the electric heat end, then you can re-evaluate how much you want to spend to do the rest of the house later.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:33 PM   #8
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Thought about ductless. I have personally seen them installed where they don't look bad. My girlfriend hasn't seen them, and is terrified that it will make the house look ridiculous. She was very worried about what people think of the house, and with a "large" air conditioner hanging on the wall she wasn't too keen on entertaining quotes for Mini-split ductless.

Many conversations started with lets look at ductless only to be shot down and subjects changed to other things.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:35 PM   #9
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Check into the price of having a gas furnace installed. Think you might find it comes out close to the same, give or take a bit. The reason the cost is so much, is because you don't have any duct work.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:40 PM   #10
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Also there is no gas in the area. My house is located on an "improved" section of town. We currently have a well, but town sewer. By next year we will have the privilege of drinking the townships clean water. This water is still going to go through my UV filter and water softener. I wish they had natural gas utilities but the local company decided that it would cost too much to run lines out to this area.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:47 PM   #11
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


No gas? There is always LP. Your family room would be better serviced witht a small gas fireplace or stove. Let the HVAC vent take care of the rest of the basement. Is the basement warm in the summer?
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:52 PM   #12
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Nope. Basement stays nice and cool during the summer. Before we had purchased the window air conditioner, we spent a couple nights in the nice cool basement. LP is expensive though. Might as well spend the money just to install the heat pump and enjoy central air, or just keep all the electric baseboard heaters operational.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:24 PM   #13
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


What about window unit Heat Pumps? I saw one at Lowe's this summer that was a 12,000 Heat and cool (yes, genuine heat pump, not electric strips) and it was only $500. You could scale up to maybe 18K and swap out one or more of your window units.. Fredrich sells a really efficient unit of their "KUUL" series with electonic remote control and stuff. It is abougt $1000 at a local store.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:44 PM   #14
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LP isn't too high if you buy your own tank.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:09 PM   #15
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Electric baseboard VS Heat pump


Me? All electric,Heat pump,Wish I could go geo.

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