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Old 09-05-2008, 02:21 PM  
Vikeologist
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Default Air Source Heat Pump in Minnesota?

I currently have a 1960's Lennox Oil Furnace. I am looking to replace it, and was going to go with Natural Gas, but found out, they were not able to get a line up to my house, so that option is out.

I talked to my local plumbing/heating company, and they told me about an air source heat pump.

After talking to him, i talked to some other people, and also did some research online, and some people have told me that air source heat pumps are not a good idea in Minnesota, where the winter temperatures are very cold.

The plumbing/heating company told me that their heat pumps that they install will work down to 15 degrees...then they install a plenum heater or resistance heater, cant remember what he said, and that will kick in and help the heat pump when temps get below 15.

Temps here in Minnesota sometimes never get above 0 degrees in the winter for several days...Is this still a good idea?

Please help, as winter is coming and I need to get something done here in the next month or so.



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Old 09-05-2008, 04:38 PM  
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With those temps I wouldn't do it unless electricity for the backup heat was cheaper than whatever else you would put in. Yes it will probably work with even less than 15 degrees but the efficiency really starts dropping around 32 degrees. If you turn your thermostat back at night it won't recover without the backup heat. Our backup heat has to help if the high doesn't get out of the 20's. My heat pump IS about 30 years old but the principal hasn't changed.



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Old 09-05-2008, 05:37 PM  
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so what would you recomend in my situation? So natural gas is out, an air source heat pump is out...

what is left besides propane or all electric?

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Old 09-05-2008, 08:47 PM  
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Hello Vikeologist:
All hope is not gone, there is still the ground source heat pump. It is a little expensive to install but it will pay for the difference in price in five years.
It sounds like you may be in a rural location with plenty of land. I would recommend that you contact the Rural Electric Cooperative (if you are on that kind of power) because they push geothermal heating and cooling. In our area, for a replacement system, they will finance it 100% and will let you pay for it on your bill over a three year period. When compared with resistance electric heat, a geothermal will make its own payments.
There are different ways to tap the geothermal mass; I used deep wells, there are some in trenches where buried lines circulate the water underground and allow you to use the constant temperature of the earth, some use deep lakes with a circulating coil in the bottom of the water.
It sure is worth checking it out.
Glenn

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Old 09-06-2008, 06:26 AM  
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I lived in Fairmont,MN for years and had an air source heat pump. It wasn't uncommon to see -35F at night and I can remember one day where it never got above -30F. We always remember the coldest days but forget that are many days with warmer temperatures too. In spite of what you think, it will still save you money over straight electrical heat.

Of course it would be better to use geothermal but the initial expense is high.

One other point is that a cutoff of 15F for a heat pump sounds high. I lived in MN in the 1980s and back then my cutoff was 15F. With the increased efficiency of the units today, I would have expected a much lower temperature.

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Old 09-08-2008, 01:54 PM  
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What is wrong with staying with oil heat? Ask if you can get a more efficient burner/boiler setup? Electric heat is the most expensive option 'round here. Plus you would need ducts. Only advantage in my mind would be easy central AC for the summers.

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Old 09-09-2008, 06:43 AM  
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Originally Posted by handyguys View Post
What is wrong with staying with oil heat? Ask if you can get a more efficient burner/boiler setup? Electric heat is the most expensive option 'round here. Plus you would need ducts. Only advantage in my mind would be easy central AC for the summers.
Have you heard what the price of heating oil is going to be this winter? And, I assumed he has forced air and not a boiler but we don't know for sure...
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:16 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigFL View Post
Have you heard what the price of heating oil is going to be this winter? And, I assumed he has forced air and not a boiler but we don't know for sure...
Yea - All energy is going up. Electric, gas and oil. I am not sure if it would be wise to spend thousands to maybe save a few dollars. Bottom line - the OP needs to do the math to see if he will save and if so how long until he recouped his costs. The OP may better spend his money on insulation and other energy saving schemes. Good point on boiler and ducts. around here 99.99% of oil heat is boilers and radiators.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:40 AM  
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I have an Oil Burning Furnace that is forced air, so the duct work is already in place...

Like i said, i spend around $2500/year just on oil alone to heat my house for a bout 6-7 months...

I was told with a geothermal heat pump, I would pay around $400-500 all year to HEAT and COOL my home...

That alone would be enough of a savings wouldnt it?

$2,000/year for 7 years and I would probably have the heat pump paid for.

Any other suggestions?

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Old 09-09-2008, 08:53 AM  
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$500 per year to heat and cool? Sounds too good to be true. I would ask for some documentation on that. Remember, geothermal uses electricity and thats going up too.

Lets say that your number is way off. Lets say it costs 1200 per year, just to be safe. That's a savings of 1300 per year. How much does geothermal cost to put in? $25,000? If it were $25K upfront then you would get a return in just under 20 years (about the time you would need to replace many components). Using those number it wouldn't make sense. On the other hand - If it cost $10,000 to put in you would recoup your investment in under 8 years. I also didn't factor in that your current 2500 does not include your summer AC.

OK - Enough rambling - See if you can get documentation on the operating costs of geothermal in your area and also get some estimates on install.

If the numbers you have are accurate and you can do it on your property I would definitely consider it.



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