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Greg Kiloh
Mueller Community

Posts: 12
Joined on September 3rd, 2012
SP Heat Pump
by Greg Kiloh on September 3rd, 2012

We are about to go under contract with SP on a new 4 star (foam insulation in attic) yard house in Section 6. We are trying to decide if we should include the gas furnace option. Can anybody comment on how well the heat pump only option performs on the coldest days of the winter? Is the house noticeably cooler, or do the electric bills spike unreasonably in the winter?
 
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Jim Barnette
Mueller Community

Posts: 14
Joined on September 20th, 2010
SP Heat Pump
by Jim Barnette on September 4th, 2012

I would recommend going with the gas furnace. I have the first SP 4-star spray foam attic house and my winter electric bill peaks were comparable to summer. My sense has been that the heat pump is not so much inefficient, but rather the cost of gas per unit energy is much lower than the cost of electricity.

On the coldest nights of the year, I do see the emergency heat strip is used after many hours of continuous operation of the heat pump.

I will say that now that I have solar panels, these peak winter bills are largely offset by the panels' generation.
 
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Greg Kiloh
Mueller Community

Posts: 12
Joined on September 3rd, 2012
SP Heat Pump
by Greg Kiloh on September 4th, 2012

Thanks, Jim.

Can you elaborate on the "emergency heat strip"? I'm not sure what that is.
 
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Jim Barnette
Mueller Community

Posts: 14
Joined on September 20th, 2010
SP Heat Pump
by Jim Barnette on September 4th, 2012

The emergency heat strip (basically an electric space heater) is built into the air-handler in the attic and is used automatically when the heat pump, running continuously, is unable to maintain indoor air temperature at the set point. It is needed because air-source heat pumps become increasingly inefficient as outside temperature falls below freezing; it also serves as an emergency backup in case of heat pump failure.

Heat pump thermostats have 4 modes: cool, off, heat, and emergency heat. This 4th mode never runs the heat pump, but only the resistive heat strip. You should only use this 4th mode when you have a known problem with your heat pump (and you'll want to get a HVAC repairman ASAP as em. heat is very energy inefficient).

Using the eGauge energy usage monitoring system installed as part of my solar panels last summer, I could see that on the coldest nights after midnight the heat pump would run continuously for hours before a huge spike in energy use when the emergency heat strip kicked on. Then I would see the system shut off for a few minutes before repeating.
 
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Jim Barnette
Mueller Community

Posts: 14
Joined on September 20th, 2010
SP Heat Pump
by Jim Barnette on September 4th, 2012

The emergency heat strip (basically an electric space heater) is built into the air-handler in the attic and is used automatically when the heat pump, running continuously, is unable to maintain indoor air temperature at the set point. It is needed because air-source heat pumps become increasingly inefficient as outside temperature falls below freezing; it also serves as an emergency backup in case of heat pump failure.

Heat pump thermostats have 4 modes: cool, off, heat, and emergency heat. This 4th mode never runs the heat pump, but only the resistive heat strip. You should only use this 4th mode when you have a known problem with your heat pump (and you'll want to get a HVAC repairman ASAP as em. heat is very energy inefficient).

Using the eGauge energy usage monitoring system installed as part of my solar panels last summer, I could see that on the coldest nights after midnight the heat pump would run continuously for hours before a huge spike in energy use when the emergency heat strip kicked on. Then I would see the system shut off for a few minutes before repeating.
 
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Greg Kiloh
Mueller Community

Posts: 12
Joined on September 3rd, 2012
SP Heat Pump
by Greg Kiloh on September 5th, 2012

Thanks for the explanation, Jim. now that I understand it better, I think I will be opting for a gas furnace, even if I only use it on rare occasions.
 
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