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Heat Pumps and the far North


mgbinspect
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The very best electric heat pump is still a crummy way to heat in MA. They may be efficient, but our electricity costs are so high, that they are still a bad deal. I still say they don't belong anywhere North of VA.

Besides, I just don't trust the copy in that ad. An economizer? What's that? Is it anything like an optimizer? And any time someone claims more than 100% efficiency on anything, my bullshite detector redlines.

I'd love to hear from someone who actually knows something about these units.

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Me too! Mostly because I don't expect gas or oil to ever again come down. They will only go up.

At one time here in Virginia, Heat Pumps with gas back-up or simply gas forced air furnaces was "the Cadillac". I'm very uncomfortable agreeing with or encouraging anyone to go in that direction anymore. (And, this has nothing to do with environmental concerns whatsoever.)

I too, would like very much to hear from someone who really knows their stuff about fossil fuel heating and heatpumps. I'm VERY concerned about the future costs of heating with fossil fuels. My genuine fear is that those who commit to fossil fuel with new units are going to get severely stung and I don't want anyone calling me moaning that I sent them there.

The bottom line: With the rising costs of gas and oil and the dramatic improvements in heat pump technology (I was not kidding, my new heat pump halfed my electric bill! They've come a long LONG way.) We may ALL need to quickly re-educate ourselve and revise our advice to our clients to avoid future complaints.

An expert opinion regarding this subject would be greatly appreciated. Inquiring minds want to KNOW.

Meanwhile, here is some more good and bad yet interesting info on the Nyle: http://www.chelanpud.org/newsreleases/2 ... 040105.htm

Apparently, studies confirm that it actually works?

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Originally posted by mgbinspect

This is pretty interesting. A heat pump that boasts of considerable efficiency over all other forms of heating even in cold climates?

http://www.nyletherm.com/spaceheating.htm

It doesn't surprise me. I always figured they'd probably get here. Anyone familiar with this product?

Terry, maybe? A penny for your thoughts...

You can design a heat pump to provide plenty of heat to a house at almost any very cold outdoor temperature. That part's easy. The problem comes when you want to use the same system to cool the house in the summer. Then it's way, way too big to be an effective air conditioner.

It looks like this system gets around this problem by using some sort of staged compressor scheme. These have been around a while but are very expensive.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

The very best electric heat pump is still a crummy way to heat in MA. They may be efficient, but our electricity costs are so high, that they are still a bad deal. I still say they don't belong anywhere North of VA.

I look at several every week. Sometimes, I'll go for an entire week and see nothing but heat pumps. They're very effective up here, albiet not the most comfortable heating system.

Besides, I just don't trust the copy in that ad. An economizer? What's that? Is it anything like an optimizer?

You've seen economizers before. They aren't new. Rooftop units on commercial buildings have used them just about forever. It's just a damper that sometimes opens up to swap outdoor air for return air in the air conditioning mode. Sensors look at the return air and the outdoor air. If the outdoor air is cooler than the return air and if its humidity isn't too high, the system opens dampers to vent the return air outdoors and suck outdoor air in its place. The net effect can mean significant energy savings. It really works, but it isn't new.

And any time someone claims more than 100% efficiency on anything, my bullshite detector redlines.

What they mean is that if a heat pump uses X amount of electricity, it yields 2X or 3X in heat output. This is because the heat pump only uses electricity to move heat. It doesn't use the electricity to actually produce heat. We've had heat pumps that can achieve 300% efficiency for 40 years, but only during mild weather. As the ambient temperature drops, so does the efficiency. Apparently, these folks have figured out how to modulate the compressor functions to achieve high efficiency at very low temperatures.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Along the same lines, they've slowed and/or staged fan speeds on outside units to bump that uncomfortable 90 degree register temp to a pretty comfortable 110 degrees. I believe that is within 10 degrees of a gas forced air furnace isn't it?

Richmond is just about evenly split between heat pumps, furnaces and boilers. Most houses here with any age on them have oil or gas forced air furnaces or boilers with radiators or baseboards.

I have nothing against boilers whatsoever. In fact, I like them! The new ones are clean, pretty darn efficient and simple and the old ones while not very efficient are practically indestructible.

Here, I always tell people study the latest heat pump options HARD before quickly committing 20 to 30 years to another heat source.

More importantly, I always tell my clients that when and if they replace thier air conditioner, they are bordering on insane to not spend the extra $500.00 or so to get a heat pump! At that point they'll have a system the is at the very least fantastic for spring and fall and the system of their choice for back-up. They can even shut down the heat pump altogether at the time of their choosing and use their other heat source. And, this will cause that back up heating system to last two to three times longer than it would as the primary heat source.

Weekly, I must help people here understand that their opinions about heat pumps are based upon a unit that is 20 - 30 years old and long gone. The new and ever improving systems are pretty amazing!

These new units even when the outside temp is in the 20s and 30s, if fully charged, I can't keep my hand on the suction line! It will burn you.

My dad was an engineer in the office of the Architect of the Capital. (The US Capital, the congressional buildings, the botanical gardens and a few other buildings have their own heating and cooling plant.) Most people don't think much about this, but power plants are typically set up to swap fuels pretty easily as practical. And, they are definitely on an eternal mission to wring every bit of energy out of a fuel they can. That's good for everyone.

My main point here is this: I just have a feeling that domestic heating is a subject that is going to demand our watchful eye for the next five years in order to stay educated and pass on reliable information to our clients. "Necessity is the mother of invention!" The ever advancing heat pump or some other form of innovative heating is destined to overtake the competition. It's simply a matter of time. Definitely "keep an ear to the rail!" Today's opinion can quickly become tomorrows myth.

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