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Economics of Heat Pumps

deyrup
deyrup Member Posts: 62
I am trying to figure out if heat pumps are worth installing in one of the units in my 2 - family. I live in Boston Metro and currently use a ~30 year steam boiler with radiators to heat my house (~1200 sq ft/floor 2 family with each unit on its own heating system). The house is not currently insulated, but will be insulated in December by Mass Save. Current heating bill is 2500/year for my unit, with costs peaking in January and February at $400/month. I live on the first floor.

The installer claimed that the heat pump could be used as a sole source of heating; if that was true I could compare the cost to install the heat pump vs the cost of installing a new boiler when the current one breaks, but everyone I have talked to that has a heat pump has told me that the heat pump is not able to be a primary heat source at low temperatures here.

I think it makes more sense to compare the energy savings of the heat pump vs the cost to install. The installer quoted me at $x to install after incentives/rebates; it seems like he did not choose a heat pump that qualifies for the $250/ton credit by mass save or any other mass save rebate but did qualify for a $500 tax credit. He claimed that heat pumps reduce heating costs by 30%, I am assuming that my heating bills are going to go down a bit after insulation, so I am guessing that the heat pump will save a maximum of $500/year when you include increased electricity costs. If that is true then the heat pump will take 24 years to pay for itself, and is in no ways economical. Everyone I have talked to that has installed a heat pump (4 people) when pressed on the numbers has revealed similar costs/savings, but they decided to do it for comfort reasons.

Is there something I am missing here? There seems to be a lot of hype about the cost efficiency of heat pumps, but when you take into account install costs that doesn't seem to balance out. I am considering economical something that pays itself off in 7 years or less.
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Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    You're not missing anything. As you have observed, they just don't pencil out in colder climates. They are very good in warmer climates -- say New Jersey south, or even Long Island. And really shine if you already have central air. But...

    I'm glad someone is actually doing a full cost/benefit comparison for a change!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercy
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,385

    You're not missing anything. As you have observed, they just don't pencil out in colder climates. They are very good in warmer climates -- say New Jersey south, or even Long Island. And really shine if you already have central air. But...

    I'm glad someone is actually doing a full cost/benefit comparison for a change!

    Not Long Island! Between the 22 cents/kwh and the frequently cold winters, you need backup in most cases.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    SuperTech
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,990
    I (attempt to) help a local non profit conservation group that pushes for energy code changes. The group is mostly made up of folks with some type of sustainability degree and zero engineering or practical knowledge. Whenever this topic comes up, I present the attached files and they proceed to turn their heads sideways like my dogs do when they want a treat. They then spew a bunch of nonsensical words about electrifation being the future, I think I have timewarped to the late '70's,and explain that their electric car is mostly being operated by coal and natural gas which is produced and transported very inefficiently, then they get upset. :'(

    With the new high tech pumps, you may be able to get the numbers to work. the biggest factor will be your local electricity rates. New England electric rates are brutal.

    Read and enjoy...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    archibald tuttleEdTheHeaterManSuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    You're melting their snowflakes, @Zman . It's hopeless. The folks you are working with (and I congratulate you and admire your patience for even trying!) are of the I say it works, therefore it works school of engineering.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Zmanarchibald tuttleSolid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 178
    Excellent thread. My question though is what are the thoughts of professionals with regard to long term durability of heat pumps?

    I replaced a properly working 30 year old steel boiler and Beckett AFG because I got a great deal on a new cast iron packaged boiler (at 30 years, thought it was time anyway although it wasn't required). With any luck, the new boiler and Beckett should last another 30 years ( and I'll be gone one way or the other anyway... ;) ).

    Anecdotal evidence suggests a 10-15 lifespan on heat pump systems, although I have no idea if that's accurate. If it is, a heat pump would have to cut heating/AC costs by 90 percent to make them worth the effort.

    SuperTech
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,990
    At the next meeting we will discuss offsetting overly consumptive systems like snowmelt and swimming pools with on site renewables. My very first question will be, "why would you want to put solar on site in climate zone 7 where it snows 400" a year when you could built 2x as much for the same money out in some ones field?" Not to mention, the panels might produce just a little more power when optimally positioned and not covered with snow much of the year.
    @deyrup , sorry for the hijacking rant, it's @Jamie Hall fault :s
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • deyrup
    deyrup Member Posts: 62
    edited November 2020
    Another person quoted me at $ before incentives for a single heat pump install instead of a 3 zone heat pump ($). If the incentives were $ it probably works, or if I used air conditioning and a dehumidifier then it makes sense, but don't think it quite gets there even with the smaller quote
  • Gary Smith
    Gary Smith Member Posts: 367
    And, don't forget the incentives are still paid for, just spread over a lot of others who don't get the benefit the installing individual does. The cost benefit ration really doesn't change, only the payers change.
    MaxMercy
  • John Abbott
    John Abbott Member Posts: 355
    I have installed heat pumps in NH for many years, the newer models claim to operate to minus 13 degrees or so. I have only anecdotal information but the laws of physics can not be overcome with marketing hype such laws are science and are irrefutable. I believe the 10-15 year lifespan is accurate and another problem is that the manufacturer's change technology especially in the case of minisplits and if you want to change an indoor unit the newer models won't "talk" to the outdoor unit so it is impossible. I advise people not to rely on them for their primary heat source but many contractors are promoting them for that purpose and I see many installations for that purpose. I owned a vacation home in SC and the split system heat pumps work well there but I don't believe in them in northern climates except for supplemental use in shoulder seasons and I only promote them as such. Perhaps someone with better math skills than mine can show efficiency, payback, period, etc. I don't believe they are a good idea here in New England.
    MaxMercy
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    @Jamie Hall The only engineering those folks do is social engineering. No math required.
    archibald tuttle
  • BarryNY
    BarryNY Member Posts: 13
    edited November 2020
    Hi. I live on Long Island and this summer needed to install new central AC, both a 5 ton and a 3 ton, and I opted for the Bosch 20 SEER heat pump units, which after rebates came in at around the same price as replacing both of the AC with a standard Rheem 14 SEER. Can you believe that?

    FYI - I got quotes for the Rheem for up to $ more than the Bosch and got quotes up to $ more from other Bosch dealers. Final price was $ for the 8 tons. My installer is authorized Bosch dealer and did a fantastic job...I loved these AC units this summer - they were so quiet compared to my 16 year old 12 SEER Rheems.

    For heat, I have a 3 year old Buderus boiler with Riello burner/Hydrostat controller using oil. 4 zones plus indirect hot water. Have saved a ton of oil on this heating system versus the 30 year old boiler/separate hot water combo that it replaced.

    So, for controlling both the AC/heat pumps and the boiler in the 2 main zones (where the AC is), I switched all my thermostats to the Aprilaire 8620W wifi units that now control both the AC/heat pump and the boilers.

    For heat mode, I set the OAT cutoff for either using the heat pumps versus the boiler at 42 degrees. It's been working flawlessly so far when we had the little cold spell a few weeks ago.

    My only "concern" is if I am actually saving any money by using the heat pump versus the oil burner? AND - FYI...PSEG gives a lower rate for the Delivery/System charges for using heat pump as your "exclusive heating source". They previously wanted to see that you removed your boiler entirely but now because of COVID they just ask if you removed it. I told the guy that my boiler supplies my hot water so it's still there but I'm using the heat pumps for heat and I got approved. The rate reduction is now 580 service and the rate is about half the price/kWh ($.0467) for the excess over 400 kWh used.
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 489
    Did my first hyper heat Mitsubishi 5+ years ago (3 head). We did a major remodel/ addition to a suburban home in NJ. A zoned 5 speed carrier heat pump system went in as well. Believe both companies use the Toshiba compressor.

    The systems have no problems in very cold temps -- single digits outside and the system are not having any problems. The cost to run is another thing .... The house has hot water radiant and radiators .. cheaper to heat with natural gas.
  • ronaldsauve
    ronaldsauve Member Posts: 3
    I have been a contractor for 51 years, and I have 3 Mitsubishi minisplits providing all the heat for our 1300 square foot ranch plus 635 square foot basement apartment. I installed them all. The first one, a 6000 btu 24 SEER was for the apartment installed about 15 years ago. I had ordered a 30 SEER unit, but they gave me the wrong one, and I didn’t catch the mistake until I was well under way installing it. The 9000 btu 32 SEER unit I installed in the main house 4 years ago, and I installed the 6000 btu 32 SEER unit last year. In addition, we have a Sanden air to water minisplit with 83 gallon tank to provide hot water. I also installed that unit. Our home is now totally electric, no fossil fuels used. I remodeled the house and basement to super insulated standards about 20 years ago, effective R values of 32 in the house and basement walls, 70 in attic. I paid extreme attention to air sealing. There is no insulation under the basement slab. Doors and windows are just the standard insulated fiberglass doors with storms and Andersen casements that were available at the time. My wife and I work from home on computers with a total of 5 large monitors plus the 2 computers. Our tenant also works full time from home on his employer supplied laptop with no monitors. We all have induction cooktops and convection ovens. All LED lighting. I have a 665 square foot shop with all the typical shop equipment, table saw, miter saw, band saw, drill press, shaper, router table, planer, dust collection for all, etc. We keep the heating temperature at 70°, the cooling temperature at 73°. Our total electric bill runs between $130 - $180 a month. While many comment that minisplits cannot economically supply the heat in New England, we have been very comfortable. I think a lot depends on looking at the whole package, not seeing any one part as a stand alone part. As far as looking for “payback” for 5, 10, 20, or 7 years, my question is, what is the “payback” for other systems? It seems the only time people start looking at payback is when they’re considering more economical systems like minisplits, solar, etc. But realistically, how many people look at payback when replacing a oil or gas boiler or furnace? The upfront cost is part of the package no matter the system. So, when considering “payback”, should we compare the price difference between minisplits and boiler/furnace, and use only that price difference when looking at “payback”? If we do, and consider the whole package, I think minisplits are a very viable option. I know that it definitely has been for us.
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    @John Abbott 's remarks should be read. And reread. And taken firmly to heart.

    It's also worth repeating @Gary Smith 's remark. In a "me first" society, it is, perhaps, irrelevant, so long as one is on the taking end of the benefit -- but at least keep in the back of your mind that a rebate is paid for by everyone else, and so are cut-rate promotional electric rates. There is no free lunch.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercySolid_Fuel_Man
  • ronaldsauve
    ronaldsauve Member Posts: 3
    Oh by the way, we live in Eliot, Maine
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,990
    @deyrup , @BarryNY
    Discussion of pricing is against site rules. Please modify your posts.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 98
    for me a water to air heat pump(geothermal) is the way to go
    ethicalpaul
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 918
    As many of the others commented above, the allure of heat pumps is attractive to owners because of the high COP and how much more "efficient" they are than boilers. I have some skeptisim about the claims. My skepticism is based on real life experiences. A large school district here that uses our boilers tried VRF on one of their buildings and the heating cost per square foot were much higher with the heat pumps.

    Another consideration is the distribution energy. When slinging BTU's around a building, a hydronic system is 10 times more efficient than air and 15 times more efficient than refrigeration. A properly designed steam system is even more efficient than that. It will shoot steam all over a building with only a few ounces of steam pressure.

    A study performed by the US DOE entitled, Field Performance on Inverter-Driven Heat Pumps in Cold Climates suggests the actual measured COP and the published COP was much lower, an average of 43% lower. Try to imagine selling a 90% efficient boiler to a customer and then find out it is only 57% efficient. For the heat pump to operate at cold temperatures, the manufacturer revs up the compressor RPMs to generate heat. This results in high electrical costs.

    According to ASHRAE, the lifespan for a heat pump is 15 years while the lifespan of a boiler is 30 years. You would need two heat pumps for every boiler.

    A refrigerant leak is more difficult to find than a leak in a hydronic system. To find a leak in a hydronic system, look at the ceiling tile. In addition, the MSDS sheet says refrigerant exposure
    cause health issues.

    The last thing is the newer units use R32 refrigerant. It is a flammable refrigerant and that scares me.
    Just some rambling from a grizzled old guy


    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Voyager
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279

    Oh by the way, we live in Eliot, Maine

    Is your electric power all nuclear, wind and solar?
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    Voyager said:

    Oh by the way, we live in Eliot, Maine

    Is your electric power all nuclear, wind and solar?
    His power is partly hydro, from dams on what were once native American lands, and almost all the rest is natural gas. There is a some nuclear from Canada in the winter. There is a trivial amount of wind and solar, for window dressing.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279

    Voyager said:

    Oh by the way, we live in Eliot, Maine

    Is your electric power all nuclear, wind and solar?
    His power is partly hydro, from dams on what were once native American lands, and almost all the rest is natural gas. There is a some nuclear from Canada in the winter. There is a trivial amount of wind and solar, for window dressing.
    OK, I thought the “no fossil fuels used” claim was specious. That is like EV owners saying their cars cause no pollution. 😁
  • SuperJ
    SuperJ Member Posts: 605
    Some good thoughts in this thread. I've dabbled with gas/GHSP/ASHP.
    ASHP is cheap to install and if you select the hardware correctly can have efficiencies creeping on GSHP. But here (Ontario Canada) NG is cheap per BTU than the most efficient ASHP. And I agree that a lifespan beyond 15years is unlikely, given the electrical complexity, obsolescence and exposure of the outdoor equipment. But I think they're good enough to not write them off. If you are going full electric (for whatever the reason), they make a good partner and can pair well with solar with their inverters. My Mitsubishi hyper heat FH seems to crank out a lot of heat even on the coldest days (but normally I'm using the wood stove).

    GHSP can be expensive but a 25-30year life span is realistic (my parents have one pushing 30years). The tech is simple (standard scroll with no fancy electronics), just a an extended range TXV and a reversing valve. It's in a conditioned house where it's warm and dry so it's not getting weathered.

    Gas heat wins on economics, but when you throw expensive hydronic systems into the mix (I view that as a nice luxury making it tough to compare) then it's a tougher argument. It's too bad right sized modulating gas furnaces are so far and few between. I think high performance ductwork (fully engineered), and a tightly sized modulating gas furnace would take the win for comfort and efficiency. People see furnaces as the budget option but that due to crappy ductwork and sizing IMHO.

    I have gas and a ASHP in my house. The ASHP supplements an area that is primarily wood stove heated, so it works well as my shoulder season heater when the stove would heat me out of the house. The boiler and panel rads are great for the basement and corners of the house the wood stove can't heat adequately (with out baking the living room).

    I don't think hydrocarbon refrigerants are any more of a concern than NG/Oil/Propane if the right precautions are taken (there almost the same thing).

    I think refrigerant leaks are a big issue with VRF systems. The greenness and cost savings can be wiped out if you lose your charge. I think a air to water heat pump with hydronic distribution would be my favorite, but the COPs just aren't there (I want to see them pushing 3 or higher) unless your running lukewarm water (ok for proper infloor, but not for rads, and fan coils in the winter).
  • bkc
    bkc Member Posts: 21
    I heat my 70 yr old north-country NY 1300 sq ft 2-story house primarily with a wood stove in the living room. However I have a tiny office in the garage that I cool with a 5K window unit and heat with a milk house heater.

    This year I am adding a bedroom in the garage (not much of a garage anymore). I am considering installing a dual-head mini-split for heating and cooling the bedroom and my office.

    I'm leaning towards a mini-split mostly for heating because its more efficient than baseboard electric heat. I cannot afford to install a ground-source heat pump. I could install a vented propane heater in the bedroom, but there's no room for one in my tiny office and that wouldn't help with cooling.

    In this particular case, I think its a good choice, even though it can get to -22F here for a couple of weeks at a time, those temps are becoming less common.

    I'm planning to install an "LG Red" myself, but have an hvac professional check the work, pressure test and vacuum the system. Assuming I can find someone willing to do that.

    Regarding flammable refrigerant, here's a story.

    I'm a volunteer firefighter. A few years ago we were dispatched to a barn fire at an amish farm. The fire started in the milkhouse attached to the large barn. We had a good turnout, the hayloft was mostly empty so we were able to contain the fire to the milkhouse with minor damage to the loft.

    The cause of the fire was determined to be flammable refrigerant. They had an engine-driven refrigeration system for the milk tank. Apparently the system developed a coolant leak, so they kept refilling it with propane.

    Eventually they called a farm service agency to come and fix the leak, but they didn't tell the technician that they had been filling the system with propane. The technician fired up his torch to solder the leaking fitting and the system exploded. He was sent to a downstate hospital with serious burns.



  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 819
    edited November 2020

    I have installed heat pumps in NH for many years, the newer models claim to operate to minus 13 degrees or so. I have only anecdotal information but the laws of physics can not be overcome with marketing hype such laws are science and are irrefutable. I believe the 10-15 year lifespan is accurate and another problem is that the manufacturer's change technology especially in the case of minisplits and if you want to change an indoor unit the newer models won't "talk" to the outdoor unit so it is impossible. I advise people not to rely on them for their primary heat source but many contractors are promoting them for that purpose and I see many installations for that purpose. I owned a vacation home in SC and the split system heat pumps work well there but I don't believe in them in northern climates except for supplemental use in shoulder seasons and I only promote them as such. Perhaps someone with better math skills than mine can show efficiency, payback, period, etc. I don't believe they are a good idea here in New England.

    i'm basically with all the pros on here who know that the cost benefit doesn't work out for most heat pumps in our new england climate zone at this point and who have the scruples not to be on the taking end of the game even if they could game the system so that their own cost benefit was served, e.g. @Jaime Hall (dude why can't i tag you) and @Zman and others on here too numerous for my decaying brain matter to recall. Meanwhile, people who have zero understanding of this have nonetheless tried to push heat pumps with rebates and cultural consensus against all economic reality.

    but to be fair I want to point out a couple of exceptions. The first again, is as to payers. If you don't mind that your neighbors are paying for an uneconomical system and you have a decent location for installing solar then you can combine the subsidies to make a little sense because you effectively lower your rate and the refrigerant choices and system technologies are moving toward lower temps. And the ratepayers make out slightly to the extent that you are consuming more of the electricity you generate from solar.

    this is especially true in cases where homeowners are satisfied with low temperature comfort, as the same laws of physics that say it is difficult with known refrigerants to heat your house to 70 when the temperature difference outdoors is more than 50 or 60 degrees also provide that if you would be satisfied with modest comfort and protection against freezing plumbing that the same differential in our climate zone can give you indoor temps of 55 to 60. The first person I knew who satisfactorily heated their entire house with heat pumps had gutted his 2 and half story good sized 1940s colonial style house and had kind got some minimal insulation, i.e. fiberglass in the walls but didn't have a chance to finish renovating including much of the sheetrocking (because he was working like crazy on jobs for others) and he let his kids move in and camp in this barely halfway done house since he knew he wouldn't get to if for a couple years. They needed some minimal heat that was a little more reliable when they were gone than a wood stove and the heat pumps worked well for him, and those were the technology available like 5 or 6 years ago.

    personally, I won't ask my neighbors to subsidize my electric bill. Although the utilities spend your money like it is going out of style and my refusal is meaningless in the scheme of things. If I don't take the rebate someone else who doesn't even realize their are scruples involved will. So i suppose i could take the rebate and save the money and send it to some libertarian think tank to fight against this lunacy, or give myself that much time off from work to do the same on my own.

    btw, this is equally true of the utilites who, through rebates paid for by their customers, convinced countless people to ditch perfectly good cast iron boilers in favor of 'condensing' technology when their emitters were incapable or seldom capable and likely never really much optimized to utilize condensing efficiencies and the resultant high stack temperatures left many inadequate venting arrangements and we all got to pay for it.



    MaxMercy
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,132

    His power is partly hydro, from dams on what were once native American lands, and almost all the rest is natural gas. There is a some nuclear from Canada in the winter. There is a trivial amount of wind and solar, for window dressing.

    Not just his dam, but his house, and all of our houses in North America were once native American lands, no?

    But regardless of that, heat pumps are pretty great. Sure, today they can't be used everywhere year-around but they can be used everywhere year-around with backup heat when needed. (and more and more places year around without backup heat)

    The technology will also be improving, especially as it gets mandated to overcome certain...possibly...overly-strong hesitancy to change.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Marc_18
    Marc_18 Member Posts: 6
    I believe the discussion of a heat pump in this situation is misplaced. I’m in the Metro Boston area also and $400 a month for steam heat in that size space even in the coldest months is too high. This suggests that adding sufficient wall insulation is indeed called for. Are the windows in good condition? Also, the heating system itself should be checked for efficiency - in particular, proper venting and steam pipe insulation.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    I have no problem with the latest and greatest.

    However.

    No one. No one. Has yet come up with a satisfactory, technically or economically sound way to retrofit existing buildings in any zone from 5 north. Further, no one has yet figured out how to provide enough electricity to power electrical retrofits taking over from fuel fired heat on the scale proposed from "renewable" sources, nor have they figured out how to distribute that electricity to where it is needed -- either looking at it from the infrastructure standpoint of the economic standpoint.

    It is all very well to have wonderful dreams when in a nice suburban house. Great. But... what about a four story, eight apartment walk up in Boston or New York? What about a farm 10 miles from the nearest substation on a weak 23 KV power line? What about an historic building?

    I have often been heard to say that if you give an engineer enough money, he can build anything you want, and it's pretty much true. The ringer in the deck is "enough money" and the people pushing all these wonderful ideas haven't a clue who is going to be stuck with the tab -- and, apparently, couldn't care less.

    A cold dose of realism would work wonders, but I don't see it happening.

    On the native Americans. Your comment is valid, so far as it goes. However, HydroQuebec, the power source I referenced, and the government of the Province of Quebec have perhaps the worst human rights record on the planet (well, maybe China...).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • deyrup
    deyrup Member Posts: 62
    I am not sure why this turned into a thread about whether it is morally acceptable to accept an incentive from the government. Incentives are designed to encourage behavior; if you are accepting a well designed incentive you are doing exactly what was intended by the policy. If you don't like the policy your government chooses, elect different officials or become an official yourself.

    @Marc_18 the house is not currently insulated, and will be insulated in December. I assume that is going to solve a lot of the problems, but will potentially make a heat pump less desirable.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    I have no problems with incentives -- provided people realise that every monetary incentive helps some -- and hurts others. If one is OK with that, fine.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Suzook
    Suzook Member Posts: 221

    You're not missing anything. As you have observed, they just don't pencil out in colder climates. They are very good in warmer climates -- say New Jersey south, or even Long Island. And really shine if you already have central air. But...

    I'm glad someone is actually doing a full cost/benefit comparison for a change!

    Not Long Island! Between the 22 cents/kwh and the frequently cold winters, you need backup in most cases.
    Agreed. I do wish though I used a heat pump for my ac only unit to use it in chilly fall and spring mornings.
    BarryNY
  • ronaldsauve
    ronaldsauve Member Posts: 3
    @voyager @Jamie Hall
    Our power is all wind and solar, as we have chosen to take advantage of electrical supply offers to that effect that are available here in our area. So we are not using any fossil fuels, for home energy use, either directly, or indirectly. Although I suppose an argument could be made that there are always fossil fuels involved at some point in manufacturing, supply chains, and so on. But it always puzzles me why people contest good practices based on any detail they can find to do what they’ve always done. Even if we were using any fossil fuel fired electrical supply, I think that every step that we can take to be more, as they say, earth or environment friendly, is a better step to take than continuing “business as usual”, or saying this is the way we’ve always done it, so why change.
    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    I hate to point out the obvious, but your comment that your power is only renewable is purely an accounting fiction, assuming you are connected to the national grid. It would be true only if you are not connected to the grid. I do not contest good practices of any and all kinds.

    I do object to accounting sleight of hands, as they obscure the nature of the problem and give an illusion of progress where, in fact, there is far too little.

    For over forty years now I have been advocating for reduced dependence on fossil fuels for power generation. As I have pointed out a number of times, and in a number of fora, at any time in the last 70 years we as a nation could have set ourselves on a path to obtain true carbon zero (not net zero, true zero) energy within a matter of about 20 years. We have not done so, and it does not look likely that we (or the world as a whole) will do so. Certainly there are no policies in place pointing in that direction.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercyethicalpaul
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279
    edited November 2020
    @Jamie Hall I agree 100%. I am on the BOD for three electric companies: two distribution companies, one a co-op and the other a regulated IOU, and a generation and transmission company. It is funny that people actually think their electricity is coming from all renewables when it is simply accounting. They are helping to pay for the higher cost of renewables and I applaud them for that, but they are still using a lot of fossil fuels as I am suspecting they still use electricity at night and when the wind is not blowing.

    The worst part, is that adding renewables only really helps in a few areas where the renewable generation is at a load peak and thus truly lessen the need to add baseload capacity from fossil fuel plants. This occurs in many parts of the south where their peak is one hot summer days when solar is also at its peak. However, in many places and for much of the time, renewables do’t really lessen much the need for fossil fuels. The fossil fuel plants have to continually throttle up and down now to accommodate the times that the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Many of these plants were designed to run at a constant, and typically very high, output level. Throttling them back on sunny days when solar is producing or a windy night when wind is producing causes them to run at lower outputs and almost always at lower efficiency.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,037
    Find or build a spreadsheet with your actual fuel costs.
    I think Moe has a Zoom meeting tomorrow on comparing fuel costs. Be good to get info from an actual installer.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 819
    deyrup said:

    I am not sure why this turned into a thread about whether it is morally acceptable to accept an incentive from the government.

    that's fairly easy. because the adoption of heat pump technology is being driven in no small part by incentives (see also , condensing boilers with high nameplate efficiencies)
    deyrup said:

    if you are accepting a well designed incentive you are doing exactly what was intended by the policy.

    you know of well designed incentives?
  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 142
    Just curious why no one in the post mentioned comfort? I don't think you are going to be happy with a heat pump system when you have had steam radiators. My aunt purchased a condo built in in 1990 and had a heat pump. She purchased it when it was new. The heating system was just not that comfortable. That blowing air just always seemed a bit chilly. Maybe heat pumps have come a long way since 1990 but I would NEVER get rid of a steam system.

    Heating costs must be huge in New England. I have a gas condensing hot water boiler using Columbia Gas in Western Pennsylvania and heat a 4100 square foot home built in 1928 (insulation, windows, doors updated). Keep the thermostat at 68 degrees in winter. I have tracked the annual dollars for gas consumption (Jan. thru Dec.) the last ten years. A low of $1,600.00 to a high of $2,200.00 over that time span. New England squashed the pipeline that was going to be built from Western Pa to provide cheap natural gas.
    vibert_c
  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 819
    edited November 2020
    scott w. said:

    Just curious why no one in the post mentioned comfort? I don't think you are going to be happy with a heat pump system when you have had steam radiators.

    that's a reasonable question and the efficiency of the technology, such as it might be, is offset if a higher air temp is needed for the same comfort.

    That said, I've never been a fan of moving air and thus by implication have never liked the direct version, i.e. scorched air, but you have never seen a technology that condenses like scorched air, with a return temp of 68 or 70 deg.

    you don't say what you are using for emitters and i'm not sure we have a measure of condensing, or with modest costs for natural gas (assuming that is what you're on although propane?) that you dwell upon what the actual vs. theoretical operating efficiency of your condensing boiler is.

    So one imagines that the nature of heat pumping is that it runs more at higher efficiency but lower temperature differential to conditioned space rather than the steam radiators that are virtually glowing heat sources that give an occupant to understand what is meant by radiant in a way that is far harder to grasp with technologies that hew closer to room temp across a range depending on the technology. and there is nothing like steam (once it is steamed up) for immediate satisfaction. HVAC porn in the age of no CO2. I kind of view this just like the anti-Swordfish crowd that has been prevalant in arguments over deglutition. If you aren't using fossil fuels all the more for me. (see the aside below on pipeline)

    even if one thought that electricity was a good way to heat, i'm as taken by the simplicity of the vcharge approach(or course it was too cheap to install and made too much sense so it didn't fly, probably not enough slop for the rentseekers). this had the heat of radiators and maybe besides fans they could have had a direct radiant approach although they heated the things so damn hot there would have had to be safety considerations.
    scott w. said:

    New England squashed the pipeline that was going to be built from Western Pa to provide cheap natural gas.

    cut off nose, spite face

    they do all this stupid stuff to get people using electricty, electric cars, heat pump domestic water heaters, maybe the stupidest most clumsy way to spend a grand to save ten cents that exists, heatting with heat pumps in marginal climates , etc. and then when the market responds by building gas fired power plants they object to those too!


    vibert_c
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,307
    edited November 2020
    Heating costs are quite relitive eh? 

    Can we all just use real units of energy like Cubic feet for NG, gallons for oil/propane, and kWh for electricity? My brain is ready to explode!

    In some places electricity is less expensive making electrification more economical, while in other places electricity is 2-3X the cost making another energy source more economical. 

    Anything can heat anything..... I can heat my house with 100watt incandescent light bulbs if I have enough of them, what does it cost in kWh is the question. 

    I have installed many mini-splits, and I have dumped many pounds of 410a back into those after a few years when the outdoor coils leaked, etc etc. They heat well, and so would my 100watt bulbs... 
    I've put in electric resistance heating and those people are happy. I've put in boilers and those people are happy. 

    Efficiency is a sliding scale, it is with boilers, same is it is with power plants. The only things which actual efficiency is constant is electric resistance and unvented gas heaters....neither of those are a great idea! Conservation is in my blood, and some of these arguements make my blood pressure rise!

    Look at the data. Air to air heatpunps are pretty neat, but the China manufacturing is killing them, as is the paper thin copper coils to get the highest efficiencies and quality for rebates. 

    I have the lowest energy bills of anyone I know or work for and my house is large. Super insulation and well detailed air sealing is key. Nothing better than doing it yourself. 

    @ronaldsauve I too live in Maine, Aroostook county.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    Larry WeingartenCanucker
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,088
    Perhaps a general comment... I know of no technology, in whatever area, which does not have a downside. Equally, I know of no technology which does not have an upside.

    There is no one technology -- or combination -- which is the best for every situation, unlike what the bureaucrats would have one believe. That's called open mindedness and freedom of choice, which we are rapidly losing.

    The trick is to acquire enough real information -- not hype, not slogans, not tweets, information -- to be able to make an intelligent decision as to what technology, or combination, works best for a specific situation.

    Good luck with that.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercyVoyagerLarry WeingartenCanucker
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 279

    Perhaps a general comment... I know of no technology, in whatever area, which does not have a downside. Equally, I know of no technology which does not have an upside.

    There is no one technology -- or combination -- which is the best for every situation, unlike what the bureaucrats would have one believe. That's called open mindedness and freedom of choice, which we are rapidly losing.

    The trick is to acquire enough real information -- not hype, not slogans, not tweets, information -- to be able to make an intelligent decision as to what technology, or combination, works best for a specific situation.

    Good luck with that.

    As the only member here who actually likes forced air heating, I have to agree. 😁
    Zman