6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Heat pump?

I am considering having a heat pump installed in our single family home. Right now we have oil fired baseboard heat and a forced air AC. Last year I spent ~$3k on oil....so I find it easy to justify some up front cost to lower the overall heating bill. Geothermal is too much up front(~$40k), natural gas costs too much to have the lines run to our house (~$70k) so the only real alternative for me is a heat pump. So my question is....can a new heat pump be integrated into the existing forced air system? Does it make sense to leave the oil burner in place as a backup when the temps go below 40F? What is a typical heat pump system cost? As I know nothing about these things, is something like Sears installing it a really dumb move? Thanks for any advice offered.


Re: Heat pump?


Yes, I would stay away from Sears--heating equipment is a specialized item that should be done by dedicated heating contractors.

I would recommend you take a hard look at the heating system you have now before switching to something else.

70% of the market-driven crude price in the U.S. is determined by recreational auto use, which has gone way down, as has the price of crude---when elec. cars come in, guess what happens to crude.

You can also save big bucks by buying your oil in bulk on the spot market in August if you put a few more tanks in the cellar.

How old is the boiler???- if it's over 20 years old you will see a 30% drop in costs if you put in a new condensing or 3-pass boiler.

Have you computed your building heat loss for the square footage you have, and have you updated your insulation in the exterior walls (R19) and attic (R40)?? Are all the windows tight, preferably double-pane??

If you still want to make a change, do some research by having several heating contractors over the house to get their recommendations, they may suggest a different system, but they may also recommend you keep and improve the system you have now.

If you live in the northern, colder part of the U.S. heat pumps don't work so well below 40 degrees--unless you buy the newer dual pump models by Hallowell ($15k) and others, which can provide good heat even in sub-freezing temps.

Some of the mentioned heat pump versions now are designed for forced hot water systems.

Aside from Hallowell, Mitsubishi, Hitachi and others are just entering this market, these larger companies may offer their product for less $$.


Re: Heat pump?

absolutly a heat pump is a great way to go. leave your boiler there it's free and pluming is already there but you dont have to use it. if one breaks the other is there. depending on electric company you could get a reduction in electric rate after you use so much i have gotten a frigidaire last january and love i to have oil and saved alot i have left oil boiler for use in febuary usually well below 30 deg

"""""""call for lots of estimates """"""""""""'

Re: Heat pump?

Thanks for the tips. The house is post and beam construction...with no attic. The roof has 1" thick blue inuslation board on it. The walls have fiberglass in some spots...blown cellulose in others. The windows are double pane. The house has lots of sliding doors with double pane glass....but I cannot afford to replace those. Essentially, the house is what it is and I really do not want to tear the walls apart to upgrade insulation where the ROI is not so clear. What is clear to me is the cost of burning oils versus alternatives. I base that on this chart


It is put out by DOE so I would guess the bias is minimal.

My continued fear is the oil industry is not regulated whereas the power companies at least have some government oversight. If the market fetches $3.50/gallon than that is what the oil supplier will charge. Based on the above chart that is 2x per BTU what you get out of natural gas or heat pumps. Plus with a heat pump there is reduced environmental impact...which I enjoy.

I guess my only question at this point is whether to tie a HP into the existing baseboard system or the forced air system.

Re: Heat pump?

Your cheapest option would most likely be to replace the AC unit with a heat-pump and use the forced air system. If the unit isn't to old you may be able to sell the AC unit. As I understand it there are units that will work down to 26 degrees, I'm not sure how efficient they are at that temp though.

Re: Heat pump?

i had no insulation with drafts galore worked great altho i did get insulated this summer and saved alot on ac ONE PROJECT AT A TIME!!!! HEAT PUMP IS GREAT I WOULD DO IT AGAIN

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.