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Old 07-24-2020, 05:10 PM   #1
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Help heating my house


I live in eastern Canada in a two story + unfinished basement semi-detached, about 800 sqft per floor. Currently I heat the basement and first floor with electric baseboards and the second floor has a 12000 btu LG minisplit/heat pump.

Since the coldest month last winter the power bill was about 2700 kWh I'm considering investing in another heat pump/minisplit to hopefully significantly lower the power consumption.

There is no natural gas line anywhere near, I could maybe get a propane tank and a propane furnace for the basement but wouldn't know if its worth it (house insurance might go up I presume).

Any advice will be welcomed. Had someone advise me - if I can only afford one minisplit - to do the basement first. Also lots of brands to choose from LG, GE, panasonic, trane, mitsubishi, daikin, ...

Thanks!!
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:23 PM   #2
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Re: Help heating my house


If you would, translate your 2,700 KW to dollars, different areas have different rates. Also how many months was that for.

When reviewing electrical energy use we have to separate out other appliances and uses. Once we see only the heating cost then we can judge how much proposed changes will save and which are the best investments.

Bud
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:24 PM   #3
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Re: Help heating my house


Propane isn't cheap, go heatpump, ideally one that maintains full capacity in extreme cold.

Have it sized for heating.

Get a 2-zone system and have a head put in the basement.

Keep the baseboards for backup/supplemental heat.

2700kwh isn't bad for heating a house in canada especially if your hot water is also electric.
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I am not in the business of any trade I give advice on. I have non-professional hvac experience + good knowledge of theory. Attempt repairs at your own risk. Never jump out safeties - especially pressure switches - on a furnace for testing with fuel supply on; use a meter. Do not troubleshoot with live line voltage present unless there's no alternative.

Last edited by user_12345a; 07-24-2020 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:35 PM   #4
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Re: Help heating my house


Thanks for your answers!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
If you would, translate your 2,700 KW to dollars, different areas have different rates. Also how many months was that for.

When reviewing electrical energy use we have to separate out other appliances and uses. Once we see only the heating cost then we can judge how much proposed changes will save and which are the best investments.

Bud
About 380 CA$, about 280 US$. As a reference, last month -summer- I didn't use the heatpump/minisplit for cooling and the consumption was 1000 kWh and about 160 CA$ / 120 US$

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Originally Posted by user_12345a View Post
Propane isn't cheap, go heatpump, ideally one that maintains full capacity in extreme cold.

Have it sized for heating.

Get a 2-zone system and have a head put in the basement.

Keep the baseboards for backup/supplemental heat.

2700kwh isn't bad for heating a house in canada especially if your hot water is also electric.
Heard that with a 2-zone, both heads needs to be running at the same mode? Reason I'm asking is that when cooling I'll probably have the basement unit dehumidifying and first floor cooling.
Yes the hot water is also electric.
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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Re: Help heating my house


yes they would have to run in the same mode.

It's best to use a dedicated dehumidifier and not over-cool the basement - works better and has built in reheat.

For basement dehumidification in the winter, it may be cheaper to ventilate anyway. You actually shouldn't need to dehumidify in the heating season provided you have functioning exhaust fans and moisture is controlled in the summer.
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
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yes they would have to run in the same mode.
Sorry about asking it was just that a salesperson advised against one outside unit with a heat in the first floor and another in the basement, saying that only one mode can be run in the two heads and that if only one head is turned on, then the efficiency would be lost. Hard to sort out who knows their stuff....

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It's best to use a dedicated dehumidifier and not over-cool the basement - works better and has built in reheat.

For basement dehumidification in the winter, it may be cheaper to ventilate anyway. You actually shouldn't need to dehumidify in the heating season provided you have functioning exhaust fans and moisture is controlled in the summer.
At the moment I have a dedicated 30pint dehumidifier at the basement, was thinking about using the (new to be installed) heatpump for dehumidifying since what I have now sucks around 270 kWh/month.
In heating season I dont use the dehumidifier as, like you say, I have an hrv (air exchanger) which takes care of the humidity/circulation.

Any thoughts on brands? Hard to choose from the wide variety and to find a great installer which is what I hear matters a lot.
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Old 07-24-2020, 08:04 PM   #7
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Re: Help heating my house


I'm in VA, USA and have a Mitsubishi mini split, and also have an 800 sq. foot home.
In summer it will freeze you out and my total power bill is only about $35.00 US per month.
In winter it can not keep up if the temp. goes below about 40 deg. and I'm freezing and my bill jumps to over $75.00.
I called for service to see why it was not putting out enough heat and was told "Oh what you should have done was installed one with the heat strip back up heat".
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Old 07-24-2020, 08:11 PM   #8
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Re: Help heating my house


I will say my Mitsubishi has been trouble free for for about 10 years.
The only thing I've had done was have the inside unit cleaned.
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Old 07-24-2020, 08:20 PM   #9
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Re: Help heating my house


Ground source upfront cost out of the question?
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Old 07-24-2020, 09:05 PM   #10
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Re: Help heating my house


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Ground source upfront cost out of the question?
Ground source heatpumps while very efficient, are extremely costly to install especially when there's no ductwork.

The technology in mini-splits has really improved over the last 15 years and they can meet heating needs in brutal cold at a much lower installed cost. No existing distribution system required.

They aren't as energy efficient though.
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Old 07-24-2020, 09:07 PM   #11
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Re: Help heating my house


Quote:
Sorry about asking it was just that a salesperson advised against one outside unit with a heat in the first floor and another in the basement, saying that only one mode can be run in the two heads and that if only one head is turned on, then the efficiency would be lost. Hard to sort out who knows their stuff....
You shouldn't need to heat one area of the house while another needs cooling.

The salesperson can make more money selling separate units when it's not necessary.

Efficiency is not lost when only one head is in use, they have electronic expansion valves and variable capacity compressors. Very adaptable - refrigerant is closed off to the head not actively running - to my knowledge.

Quote:
what I have now sucks around 270 kWh/month.
That's a lot - you must have a lot of moisture coming into the basement.

Normally 50% is okay in the summer, if you're setting to like 40% that's part of the problem.

Stand alone dehumidifier is optimized for that use and should consume less than a mini-split cooling. Since mini-splits dump heat outside, they aren't very suitable for dehumidifying spaces with low or no cooling load.
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Last edited by user_12345a; 07-24-2020 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 07-25-2020, 08:30 AM   #12
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Re: Help heating my house


You can also install more capacity inside then the outdoor unit is rated for when using multiple heads. Every model line is a bit different. Usually between 125% and 200%. It allows the capacity to be shifted to where its needed. Efficiency of those units are typically slightly lower, but nothing that is note worthy. Often a 2 head unit cost about the same as 2 separate units to buy, so I'm not sure why the salesman would stear you away. Some model lines can run in separate modes for each head, but I don't think you'll need that option. Dehumidify mode and cooling mode are the same in this regard.

Which part of eastern Canada? Unless you're in northern new Brunswick, you probably won't need to use the backup heat very often, if ever. This will be especially true if you get a Mitsubishi or fujitsu rated for low temp operation. They maintain their capacity to 0*F. (-18*C) As long as it's size is chosen for the needs of your house, it'll work very nicely for you. Count up all the rated output of the baseboards you have. (if you can't find the stickers, give us a count of the broken into the different lengths you have.) This will give you an idea of what you currently have. Although, it's likely more more then you actually need.

It'll be cheaper then propane. NG is the only cheaper option when it's available.

Cheers!
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:12 AM   #13
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Re: Help heating my house


Quote:
Originally Posted by user_12345a View Post
You shouldn't need to heat one area of the house while another needs cooling.

The salesperson can make more money selling separate units when it's not necessary.

Efficiency is not lost when only one head is in use, they have electronic expansion valves and variable capacity compressors. Very adaptable - refrigerant is closed off to the head not actively running - to my knowledge.
Probably he was pursuing selling two 12K btu units instead of one 24K with two heads.
I'm still running the numbers but possibly I couldn't afford to heat both the basement and first floor at this time, so I may have to pick only one or I wonder if I could do the 24k btu outside unit and have only the one head inside, and get the other one installed next year?



Quote:
Originally Posted by user_12345a View Post
That's a lot - you must have a lot of moisture coming into the basement.

Normally 50% is okay in the summer, if you're setting to like 40% that's part of the problem.

Stand alone dehumidifier is optimized for that use and should consume less than a mini-split cooling. Since mini-splits dump heat outside, they aren't very suitable for dehumidifying spaces with low or no cooling load.
Thanks! It sure was in 40%, I'll try it at 50% for a few days and let you know the consumption. I do have an HRV/air exchanger which is constantly pumping humid air from the outside.

If having two units I was thinking that I'd leave the 1st floor on cooling and basement on dehumidifying, though the cooling should take care of the humidity and have the standalone dehumidifier as a backup in case it gets too humid. So there goes that theory of it being better having two separate units outside because I couldn't have the heads in different modes. Certainly won't have one cooling and the other heating...

(I'm basing all this project on the premise that I'll be able to save enough power so that the heatpumps/minisplits will pay for themselves in a bout 3-5 years)
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:25 AM   #14
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Re: Help heating my house


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You can also install more capacity inside then the outdoor unit is rated for when using multiple heads. Every model line is a bit different. Usually between 125% and 200%. It allows the capacity to be shifted to where its needed. Efficiency of those units are typically slightly lower, but nothing that is note worthy. Often a 2 head unit cost about the same as 2 separate units to buy, so I'm not sure why the salesman would stear you away. Some model lines can run in separate modes for each head, but I don't think you'll need that option. Dehumidify mode and cooling mode are the same in this regard.
So if both $ and either energy performance difference is not too high then it's just a matter of preference of having one or two outdoor units in your opinion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by supers05 View Post
Which part of eastern Canada? Unless you're in northern new Brunswick, you probably won't need to use the backup heat very often, if ever. This will be especially true if you get a Mitsubishi or fujitsu rated for low temp operation. They maintain their capacity to 0*F. (-18*C) As long as it's size is chosen for the needs of your house, it'll work very nicely for you. Count up all the rated output of the baseboards you have. (if you can't find the stickers, give us a count of the broken into the different lengths you have.) This will give you an idea of what you currently have. Although, it's likely more more then you actually need.

It'll be cheaper then propane. NG is the only cheaper option when it's available.

Cheers!
Southern NB, close to Moncton. So you'd recommend Mitsubishi or Fujitsu? I've gotten quotes from lg, ge, panasonic, lennox and trane, can be confusing! Will have to sort out a decent brand and a performing output at low temperatures with a decent installer as I heard that it wouldn't matter getting a nice machine if the installer is no good

Adding all the baseboards in the 1st floor summed up to 3,250W - around 11,000 BTU
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:30 AM   #15
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Re: Help heating my house


Might be a bit off-topic here but what to you think of this install?
Its the heatpump already installed on the 2nd floor. Had someone told me that the black insulation of the lines is not the best and that the white cover on the siding is not too good either.
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