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Property Virgin 08-25-2010 04:01 PM

Pros Cons All Electric Home???
 
Hi All!

Can anyone please help us understand if it is a huge mistake to purchase a home with an all electric heat/ac furnance in PA?

Are we going to bleed out money during the cold winter months with electric heat vs gas?

We've tried finding some info on the internet. Not a lot out there under this subject.

Tx!
PV

Yoyizit 08-25-2010 04:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Property Virgin (Post 491237)
Are we going to bleed out money during the cold winter months with electric heat vs gas?

From
http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_pri_sum_dcu_SPA_a.htm
For 2009, for PA, assuming no arith. mistakes,
NG costs $1.49 per therm of energy.
Elec. costs $4.10 per therm of energy but with heat pump heat the elec. might be 1/3 of this value, per therm. The resi. elec. cost was elsewhere on this site and might be off somewhat.

1 therm = 29.3 kwh.

COLDIRON 08-25-2010 04:43 PM

Depends, is the house insulated good, are the windows tight, is the house wrapped, are the doors tight, drafts?.

My house is total electric I love it my electric bills are lower than anybody I know for the last 20 years.. people have electric, gas/oil combos that cost a fortune in maintenance etc.

My baseboards are all controlled by thermostats in every room.

I have all the appliances Central air etc.

The electric company gives a discount to total electric homeowners.

I have been in the HVAC business for over 40 years and never thought I would say good things about total electric but it rocks. No Maintenance.

mark2741 08-25-2010 06:36 PM

I lived in a 1600 sq ft middle townhouse (rowhouse) that had a electric heat pump. Sold that and bought a 2400 sq ft single detached house that had a dual-zone heat pump setup, along with electric 'strip' baseboard heaters.

The electric bill was reasonable in both, considering they were 100% electric (oven, water, dryer, heat, ac) and that the electric company gives a very steep discount once you go over a certain threshold of electric consumption. I never bothered working out the threshold, but put it this way:

in the hottest and coldest months in the 1600 sq ft, single heat pump all electric townhouse, my electric bill was $250. My brother, who has a small rowhouse in Philly, was paying $200 a month for his electric bill alone, not to mention his gas bill.

In the larger 2400sq ft dual-zone heat pump all electric house it was $400 in the worst months. But in spring/fall, it was just under $200. It seemed it was never in the middle - it was either ~$400 or ~$200. No in between. Not sure why.

In my current house, which is natural gas for heat, my combined PECO (local utility) electric and gas bill was $440. About $25 of that was for gas and the rest was for the central air, which is electric of course. My central air is long in the tooth and is pulling about 16 - 17 amps now, so it's sucking more electric than a newer one would. Of course, last month was the hottest month on record for Eastern PA.

Your relatives/friends and the know-it-alls on the internet will all tell you how an all electric house will bleed you dry due to high electric bills. They don't know what they're talking about.

That said...I am *very* happy to live in a natural gas house for heating now. Because I hated the heat pumps in both the townhouse and the single (in both houses they were newer Trane 12 and 13 SEER heat pumps). It's a very 'cold' heat produced by the heat pump and when it drops to 10 degrees or below they aren't worth a damn. And the air conditioning wasn't all that much better in my particular case. A lot of that depends on duct locations though. In the last house with the dual-zone heat pumps, the house was originally built in 1970 as a 'green' house - all electric, with electric baseboard. No heat pumps. A prior owner had the heat pumps installed because the electric strip heaters were either killing him via his electric bill, plus he wanted central air and a heat pump provides both. Problem was, retrofitting ductwork was a problem. Example: the frickin supply to the master bedroom was RIGHT OVER TOP OF THE ONLY PLACE TO FIT A KING BED. We hated that house and put it up for sale not 7 months after buying it...

The heat and air conditioning in my present house is wonderful in terms of comfort. I'm happy to pay a little extra if that's how it works out. Not to mention that heat pumps are friggin noisy - the air being pushed through the ducts is always too damn loud.

My advice is this: natural gas is best, oil is second, heat pump third, and electric baseboard dead last (do they even make houses with just that anymore?). That said, if you absolutely love everythign else about the house then you can always pay a competent HVAC company (good luck finding one) to enhance/replace as needed. That said...I would definitely think twice before buying a house with all electric heat due to past experiences. Another thing - cooking on an electric stove sucks compared to a gas stove. Only a buffoon would disagree with that. But again...it depends on your tastes.

Scuba_Dave 08-25-2010 06:48 PM

One thing I like about gas, power goes out the stove top still works
Gas fired water heater works
Gas fired furnace you only need emergency power for the blower

Same with oil, a generator will provide enough power to run the circ pump
All electric in the event of power failure everything is out
That said I only have oil heat, electric everything else
Last house was gas for everything, in wall electric AC

AllanJ 08-25-2010 07:16 PM

An electric furnace (not including a heat pump) uses about the same amount of electricity as baseboards.

At outdoor temperatures below a certain threshold, a heat pump switches over to heating elements similar to an electric furnace or baseboards.

If your oil or gas heated home is insulated as well as they suggest for electric heat, your heating bill will be even lower.
Quote:

Originally Posted by mark2741 (Post 491306)
I
Your relatives/friends and the know-it-alls on the internet will all tell you how an all electric house will bleed you dry due to high electric bills. They don't know what they're talking about.

That said...I am *very* happy to live in a natural gas house for heating now. Because I hated the heat pumps in both the townhouse and the single (in both houses they were newer Trane 12 and 13 SEER heat pumps). It's a very 'cold' (lukewarm?) heat produced by the heat pump and when it drops to 10 degrees or below they aren't worth a damn. ... A prior owner had the heat pumps installed because the electric strip heaters were either killing him via his electric bill, ...

My advice is this: natural gas is best, oil is second, heat pump third, and electric baseboard dead last ... That said...I would definitely think twice before buying a house with all electric heat due to past experiences. Another thing - cooking on an electric stove sucks compared to a gas stove. Only a buffoon would disagree with that. But again...it depends on your tastes.

Aren't you agreeing with the know-it-alls?

mark2741 08-25-2010 08:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 491321)
Aren't you agreeing with the know-it-alls?

No, because I was referring to the electric bill. Electric heat works fine enough. And the bill is substantially lower than people expect it to be. But the real feel of the heat is just nowhere near as comfortable as gas or oil heat.

frenchelectrican 08-25-2010 09:06 PM

The best source of your infomation will useally POCO due they keep record of what prevouis owner bill was so that way you will able gauge how much you will face the bill.

Second thing is make sure all the window and doors seal are good shape.

If you have baseboard heater make sure nothing is restricting the flow above the baseboard heaters ( that one of few common complaints I have see )

Whole house electrique furance basically the same as baseboard heater but will move air a bit the main thing is keep the air filter clean all the time.

Typically whole house electrique furance will run anywhere from 5KW to much as 25 KW depending on the heating element grids kick in.

I have oil heat in my house and it is not too bad a bill for me.
{ I have to stay with oil due I have diesel truck so i use the same fuel for it.}

Merci.
Marc

williswires 08-25-2010 10:18 PM

I bought a total electric bi-level house in NEPA after i checked w/ the gas company to make sure gas was available.

2 yrs later I installed a gas fireplace. Gas company ran the service line for free as long as the unit was rated for 50% of estimated heating requirements.

Power failure? fireplace still runs - important for the winter electric outages...

SleepyDog 08-26-2010 11:52 AM

I liive in NE PA. Be aware electric rates went up 30 % last jan due to deregulation. My bill went from monthabout 150 to 200 per month. I have oil heat and hot water, all else is electric. In rural parts of PA coal stoves are very common. I use about $900 worth of coal a year and rarly use oil heat. New stoves take the coal in back and empty ashes in front.

AllanJ 08-26-2010 01:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark2741 (Post 491342)
But the real feel of the heat is just nowhere near as comfortable as gas or oil heat.

Is the difference in feel much too difficult to describe using words, or is the difference in electric versus gas heat merely the room temperature?

Electric baseboard and FHW and steam should have the same feel. Electric furnace, heat pump, and FHA (ducted) gas/oil should have the same feel.

mark2741 08-26-2010 01:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AllanJ (Post 491601)
Is the difference in feel much too difficult to describe using words, or is the difference in electric versus gas heat merely the room temperature?

Electric baseboard and FHW should have the same feel. Electric furnace, heat pump, and FHA (ducted) gas/oil should have the same feel.

Electric heat pumps produce a heat that is much colder coming from the supply than is produced by a gas or oil furnace supplying heat to the same ductwork/supply.

The resulting 'end' temperature in the room (i.e, if supplies were close to the edge of the walls and you took temp measurement in the middle of the room) should be the same no matter what the heat source after enough time is given. But while that heat pump is supplying hot air it will noticeably not feel like same heat people are used to coming from natural gas/oil furnaces. Or electric strip heating, for that matter. This is a common gripe of heat pump owners:

http://www.climatemakers.com/common_.../pump_cold.htm


Having owned 2 homes with heat pumps, my limited experience has been that heat pumps are rarely sized correctly (all of hvac installers in my major metropolitan suburban area (I tried all the 'reputable' ones in the area for estimates) will simply replace the same tonnage unit with an equivalent and not bother doing the calculations to ensure the ductwork is appropriate and the heat pump is sized correctly). Even if sized and working optimally, the fact is heat pumps blow colder air out of the supplies than other types of heating.

It's not as big of a problem with air conditioning, from my experience.

moondawg 08-26-2010 02:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Property Virgin (Post 491237)
Hi All!

Can anyone please help us understand if it is a huge mistake to purchase a home with an all electric heat/ac furnance in PA?

Are we going to bleed out money during the cold winter months with electric heat vs gas?

We've tried finding some info on the internet. Not a lot out there under this subject.

Tx!
PV


It really, really depends on HOW that electricity is being turned into heat.

If the heat is purely resistive (like baseboard heaters) Then YES, your electric bill is going to be $$$ in the winter.

If the heat is from a heatpump, then your electric bill in the winter is going to be between $ and $$$ in the winter, depending on temperature. Once the temperature drops below about 20degF, your heat pump can't work anymore and you switch to resistive backup heat, which as we already said is $$$.

If the heat is geothermal,(and designed/installed correctly) then your bill will be $. (unless you have a really, really cold winter. then it will be $$)

So, you NEED to find out exactly the make and model and age of the equipment that will be in your house. What you're looking for is the SEER rating of the equipment. You'll also NEED to know the cost of electricitiy and gas PER THERM in your area in order to make a comparison.

mark2741 08-26-2010 02:23 PM

moondawg makes some great points. One other thing to consider is the replacement cost of the heat pump. Keep that in mind when negotiating. Heat pumps rarely last 20+ years. In fact, they often fail and should be replaced in the 12 to 15 year timeframe. I got lucky with a Carrier that last 18 years. Some of neighbors that all had the same units (all installed at same time as part of construction of the development) would brag that they were able to keep their heat pumps going for 22 years, but the fact was they all had to run window fans to keep their bedrooms cool at night!

For a new Trane 13xli heat pump (including all new lines, all new inside/outside units) installed to heat/cool a 1660 sq ft middle townhouse in 2004 it cost me $4400. That's in suburban Philadelphia. The most reputable place wanted $5500, the cheapest estimate was for a Goodman unit at $3500. One clown gave me an estimate of $3000, and I found out the reason it was so cheap was cus he was gonna re-use the existing lines, which is a no-no. Nowadays it's probably over $5k and that's for a small townhouse. A gas furnace and central air replacement isn't that expensive and should last twice as long. And 'feel' better while it's running : )

Not to mention they seem to break down and require repairs much more often than furnaces do. I've had gas furnaces last 30 years +. No heat pump is ever gonna last 30 years.

If you can afford a house with a geothermal heat pump (they are so expensive to install that, in the eastern PA area they aren't very common in non-new construction and even then only in very pricey new construction, then ignore my advice - you can afford to pay an hvac tech to do whatever needed to make you nice and toasty! : )

moondawg 08-26-2010 02:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark2741 (Post 491638)

If you can afford a house with a geothermal heat pump (they are so expensive to install that, in the eastern PA area they aren't very common in non-new construction and even then only in very pricey new construction, then ignore my advice - you can afford to pay an hvac tech to do whatever needed to make you nice and toasty! : )

It's not unusual for geothermal heatpumps to last 20 years. My grandpa's WaterFurnace unit was installed in 1991 (I got the day off school to watch the install) and is still pumping along quite nicely.)

The initial cost is high. For some reason it's alot higher out east than it is here. (Indiana) I paid about $17k ($15k after 2008 tax credit) for a 4 ton system installed, with ductwork and zone controller. Heatpump was going to run me about $9k installed. Payback will be fairly short.... around 7 years.

Current federal tax credits for geothermal are 30% of total installed cost. That's knocking off quite a bit but the price is still a premium over a normal heat pump.

Obviously, I'm a fan of the technology. I just wish it was affordable for more people. It's a great way to reduce consumption.


Sorry for the tangent. back to the thread!


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