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Old 11-28-2012, 11:26 PM   #1
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best/cheapest heating option


I have an 1100 sq ft home with a crawl space and 9 ft ceilings that was built in 1905. The previous owner put in an electric furnace in the attic that is too small to heat the house. The ducts are in the ceiling, I've been using a pellet stove to heat most of the house, but also have to run electric heaters in one bedroom, the laundry room, and bathroom. I don't know if it would be cheaper in the long run to have a bigger furnace installed in the attic. I was told they would have to convert over to a newer style furnace/ac system.

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Old 11-28-2012, 11:46 PM   #2
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For the BTU's....electric heating is the most expensive you can have....

Natural gas is typically the cheapest....especially if your in real cold climates....

Being in KS....a heat pump might be your best be if you don't have access to gas.

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Old 11-29-2012, 12:45 AM   #3
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best/cheapest heating option


i believe dawg is referring to geothermal when he said "heat pump". they can be very cost effective. my brother just had one installed last year in ohio and says it is going great; he no longer "does wood". it may be worth investigating. too, i assume you have looked into insulating the place. ??? that is often the cheapest "heating" you can do, if at all practical. good luck on the place.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Roundeye View Post
I was told they would have to convert over to a newer style furnace/ac system.
I just had a Goodman gas furnace-only installed -- no A/C. So they are still available.

If you're talking heat pumps though, a heat pump is just A/C that works backwards to heat the house in the winter. So if you get a heat pump, you automatically get A/C for "free".

However I believe a heat pump is more expensive to install than a gas furnace (?). And a heat pump may or may not save you money in the long run, depending on the local prices of gas and electricity and your local climate (which determines how often a heat pump's electric emergency heat has to kick in). You'd need to run some numbers to find out.

Also -- if you want central A/C for summertime, then the price of a heat pump may be less than the price of a gas furnace + A/C. On the other hand, heat pumps tend to heat more slowly: so rather than dial the heat way back at night or when you're away, you're more likely to keep it cranked up 24/7 (because it takes so long to warm back up in the morning or when you return).

I know, I'm not making it any easier to decide.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:13 AM   #5
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best/cheapest heating option


Below about 30 degrees F most heat pumps are ineffective and supplemental heat is required.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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best/cheapest heating option


Any thoughts on hydro air systems? They heat water that is pumped to a coil unit that the air blows through. Is it efficient to have water traveling while losing heat along the way?
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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Any thoughts on hydro air systems? They heat water that is pumped to a coil unit that the air blows through. Is it efficient to have water traveling while losing heat along the way?
A lot of commercial buildings are heated this way -- heated or chilled water pumped to remote air handlers. The water pipe is well-insulated, so while there is a little loss, it shouldn't be huge. Probably comparable to air ducts, which are seldom perfectly sealed.

Water systems can actually be more efficient for long duct runs, as water holds way more heat per cubic unit of volume than air does. I.e., you need less electricity to pump the same number of BTUs using water. And it's quieter. And the pipes are smaller, easier to route through walls and floors than ductwork.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:36 PM   #8
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Electric portable heaters are by far the most expensive way to heat any thing. I live in Fl and have a heat pump and hate it. When your thermostat calls for heat the fan kicks on and blows cold air till it warms up so when it's cold it's like turning the A/C on. Then as stated when the temp drops below 30 you have a large electric unit by the air handler that has to make up the warm air. Then if it gets cold enough that you turn the thermostat up more than 2 degrees the aux. unit kicks on. Kinda defeats the purpose of getting rid of electric heat. I would call a good HVAC man in your area and have him come check the size and efficiency of your existing unit.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpieGoneBad View Post
Below about 30 degrees F most heat pumps are ineffective and supplemental heat is required.
Not exactly accurate....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pump
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When there is a high temperature differential on a cold day, (e.g., when an air-source heat pump is used to heat a house on a cold winter day of 0 C (32 F)), it takes more work to move the same amount of heat to indoors than on a mild day. Ultimately, due to Carnot efficiency limits, the heat pump's performance will approach 1.0 as the outdoor-to-indoor temperature difference increases for colder climates (outside temperature gets colder). This typically occurs around −18 C (0 F) outdoor temperature for air source heat pumps.
In other words....above 0 F, a heat pump can produce more heat than the equiv amount of current for an electric resistive heater....

The OP lives in KS....yea, it gets cold...but rarely down to 0 F. Hence, on average, a heat pump would cost less to operate.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:12 PM   #10
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The OP lives in KS....yea, it gets cold...but rarely down to 0 F. Hence, on average, a heat pump would cost less to operate.
A heat pump would certainly be cheaper than an electric furnace, sure. However you could have a scenario where an "inefficient" nat. gas furnace burning X therms of cheap gas to make 50,000BTU could be cheaper to run than an "efficient" heat pump consuming Y kWh of expensive electricity to move that same 50,000BTU.

Maybe such a scenario is unlikely, but it doesn't hurt to calculate it. It's all about $ per BTU.
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Old 11-30-2012, 06:40 PM   #11
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What do you mean that you would have to "convert over" for a newer furnace/AC ? Are they saying your ducting would have to be re-created?

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