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Old 03-15-14, 05:35 PM   #1
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Would you buy a home with an electric heat pump?

My search goes on for a new home. I found a house that I like a lot. It does not have everything I want but I am really getting tired of looking and really need to get out of my current place.

I just noticed this house I found has an electric heat pump. My thinking is that I am going to pass. Electricity is only going to get more expensive while natural gas should remain affordable.

Am I right to pass on this place?

(If a mod sees this can you fix the spelling of electric in the title? They really shouldn't put the u so close to the i on the keyboard )

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Old 03-15-14, 06:12 PM   #2
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Here's my take: I heat with oil, probably will end up spending over 3000 dollars for this years heating. My home is around 2500 square heat, and it is all on one zone. I've often thought I would rather have electric heat, with the ability to just use the heat in the room you are in. We also have a steep, gravel driveway and the oil delivery guy will not deliver if there is even a hint of snow or ice on it. This makes the planning of deliveries a bit tricky, considering we spend part of the winter in Florida every year. I wouldn't rule out electric heat until you have researched the cost and compared it to other options. Nothing is perfect, burning wood is a serious time commitment, Gas and propane can be expensive, and there was a propane shortage this year. I'm interested in what other folks are going to say, there are a lot of very knowledgeable folks on this forum.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:26 PM   #3
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You can have an electric heat pump, and still have gas or oil as supplementary heat.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:30 PM   #4
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I am avoiding propane and oil too. That is a tough decision since at the top of my list on things to look for in a home is privacy. And really private homes are most likely going to have one of those.

I live very close to the Marcellus shale reserves so theoretically gas heat should remain more affordable than other options.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:33 PM   #5
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You can have an electric heat pump, and still have gas or oil as supplementary heat.
My thoughts but I need to have the gas lines run and that could be expensive.

What I was really wondering is if a heat pump can run off of gas. I am thinking that there is no reason why it should not be able, But might not be real efficient system if it is even available.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:33 PM   #6
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Put up a massive wind turbine in the backyard.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:37 PM   #7
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Put up a massive wind turbine in the backyard.
Yeah my neighbors would just love me.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:43 PM   #8
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...... I just noticed this house I found has an electric heat pump. My thinking is that I am going to pass. Electricity is only going to get more expensive while natural gas should remain affordable.

Am I right to pass on this place?
Natural gas isn't available everywhere. In the mid 1960's through the late 70's homes were not added to the natural gas lines. Entire neighborhoods are built without natural gas availability. Your realtor should have pointed that out to you! If that is the case with the home.

Not every home that has natural gas available uses gas for heat. Some people prefer electric. A home can have an electric heat pump as well as gas heat.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:47 PM   #9
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Old 03-15-14, 06:47 PM   #10
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Think of a heat pump as an air conditioner that takes whatever temp it needs from it's heat source. The heat portion is critical, because there is never enuf there, so has to be supplemented. Electric air conditioner/ partial electric heat absorber, plus supplemental heat. The heat pump portion is usually just a liquid circulated in the heat source, and pumped back to the house. Electric pump.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:50 PM   #11
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Here in the PNW, heat pumps (electric) are the way to go as hydro electricity is cheaper than oil or gas. On the coast our weather is so mild as well which makes it easy for heat pumps to operate.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:51 PM   #12
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Think of a heat pump as an air conditioner that takes whatever temp it needs from it's heat source. The heat portion is critical, because there is never enuf there, so has to be supplemented. Electric air conditioner/ partial electric heat absorber, plus supplemental heat. The heat pump portion is usually just a liquid circulated in the heat source, and pumped back to the house. Electric pump.

Yes I know how a heat pump works. Thanks.
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Old 03-15-14, 06:55 PM   #13
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Natural gas isn't available everywhere. In the mid 1960's through the late 70's homes were not added to the natural gas lines. Entire neighborhoods are built without natural gas availability. Your realtor should have pointed that out to you! If that is the case with the home.

Not every home that has natural gas available uses gas for heat. Some people prefer electric. A home can have an electric heat pump as well as gas heat.
It is here. In fact most homes here have it.

Jseis comment about mild weather being a good environment for a heat pump makes me think even more that this is a bad idea. Our winter was brutal this year and it is not supposed to be getting any better for some years to come.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:08 PM   #14
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It is here. In fact most homes here have it.
If you're correct.... what's the difference? Furnaces are no longer the lifetime purchase they once seemed to be. How old is the heating system anyway? It may be close to replacement age anyway.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:25 PM   #15
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If you're correct.... what's the difference? Furnaces are no longer the lifetime purchase they once seemed to be. How old is the heating system anyway? It may be close to replacement age anyway.
What difference does that make? If there is no gas going to the home then install could be very costly. The good thing about the new high efficiency systems is a flue is no longer needed

A better option might be geothermal if I am going to invest big bucks in a new heating system.
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Old 03-15-14, 08:02 PM   #16
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I would not. But as stated, YMMV.

More and more in my neck of the woods folks are supplementing with pellet stoves....especially those in rural areas whose primary heat source is propane which got crazy expensive this season due to supply issues and the unusually long frigid winter.
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Old 03-15-14, 08:05 PM   #17
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What difference does that make? If there is no gas going to the home then install could be very costly.
But I responded to your post where you posted:
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It is here.
If the gas lines are in the home.... it isn't as big a deal. If gas doesn't run to the home a gas install won't just be expensive.... it won't happen.

Geothermal, heat pumps, alternate fuel, and high efficiently gas all have benefits. So do good school systems and safe neighborhoods with low tax rates..... that are close to work. You should have your lists in order so you know the deal makers and breakers going into the home. The right home may be worth throwing a few bucks into right away. The wrong home at any price can be a waste of time and money.
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Old 03-17-14, 12:51 PM   #18
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NO F'n WAY!!!
Back in the late 80's we rented a condo in northern NJ that used a heat pump for heat. During the heating season we paid a butt load of money for our electic bill, and the place was always COLD, not just chilly, but COLD. Like wear a coat inside cold. And the heat pump ran nonstop.
It may have been defective, it may have been undersized, it may have just been the technology of the time, but it soured me on heat pumps.
If I was going to buy a house with a heat pump as the primary heat, I'd need to see the electric bill for at least the past year, month by month, before even considering buying it.
Good Luck
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Old 03-17-14, 12:59 PM   #19
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My house is all electric....heat pump works great to about 36F, then heat strips kick in. We got pretty damned cold this year (6F) and the highest bill I've had has been $250 for that month. If the power goes out, I use a Kerosene heater.
The house is over 3,000 sf too, so it's not a small place. Making sure you have well insulated walls and no drafts around doors and windows is more important than heat source, imo.

As for worrying about electricity only getting more expensive, what do you think is going to happen with oil and gas?
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Old 03-17-14, 03:02 PM   #20
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We bought a house here in NC with an electric heat pump. It wasn't so bad over the summer, but this looooooong winter, I am just shutting up and paying the bills.
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Old 03-17-14, 03:10 PM   #21
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We bought a house here in NC with an electric heat pump. It wasn't so bad over the summer, but this looooooong winter, I am just shutting up and paying the bills.
I owned a home in central NC and it had a heat pump and a LNG furnace. The furnace was there for the 3 to 4 really cold months and during the transitional seasons the heat pump could heat in the early morning and coll in the afternoon. Nothing but cooling in the summer.
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Old 03-17-14, 06:23 PM   #22
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I just noticed this house I found has an electric heat pump.
Just like any other heating technology you need to figure out the following:
1) Thermal load of the home
2) Thermal gain that can be produced by your system

There are some very efficient heat pumps capable of maintaining their efficiency down to single digit temperatures. *However*, note that the thermal load of your home may be higher at that point so you would need supplementary heat. (e.g. Heat pump will still product 40k btu but your home may need 45k @ 20F).

There is no way for someone to make a blanket statement about a particular home's heating solution... you need to know about the home's construction, insulation, windows, # of vents, etc., etc.

I'd have to imagine that NatGas would be very cheap in PA. But let's be clear... no one is going to make up the cost of an entire heating system by converting to gas (you can however make up the cost between a high efficiency and a low efficiency system).
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Old 03-17-14, 09:19 PM   #23
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I have been wondering if it would be worth it to replace the heat pump with a newer, higher-efficiency unit. The house is all-electric except for a propane fireplace insert.
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Old 03-18-14, 02:04 PM   #24
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In CA, PG&E have caught onto natural-gas being cheap source of power. And highly profitable for them. So they've priced it so that it's actually more expensive to use gas furnaces in the winter than electricity (on a per-BTU produced). Sucks.
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