New heatpump. My conclusion!

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jseabolt
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New heatpump. My conclusion!

Post by jseabolt » Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:39 am

Awhile back I mentioned I had been trying to get my electricity usage under control. I read that something like >60% of the electricity consumed in the southeastern US is just from running air conditioners in the summer. Not to mention we can get by with heat pumps in the winter without burning natural gas or propane for heat. So that adds to it. And by simply tracking my electric bill shows that the kilowatt usage is considerably lower in the spring and fall compared to the summer and winter (like less than half). So most of my electricity usage is simply by trying to stay comfortable. So one of the things I wondered was, is my 33 year old heat pump costing me money? Should i replace it on that fact alone. Would it pay off? Well I think I have the answer.

I first made some cheap, minor attempts with some success. My house was built in 1974. I went through every room in the house looking for leaks. I sealed the cracks between the windows and brickwork outside with caulk, installed new seals on the doors and windows where required, sealed up cracks in the duct work in the basement, adjusted my garage door, talked the wife into letting me install Venetian blinds and curtains on the windows (like I had the house whewn I was a bachelor) and keep them closed when the room is not in use. Yes really if you can believe that! She likes the whole house to be sunny whether she is inside that room or not despite the fact this causes the house to be a solar oven which causes the heatpump to run non-stop in the summer. I guess if your not the one paying the electric bill, it doesn't matter.

I finally saw a drop in my kilowatt usage last summer. In fact I was able to receive a free month of electricity and pay less the following month. I'm on AEP's budget plan and they evaluate the bill every six months. This dropped the bill $50 a month. Not too bad.

I had been debating on whether to replace my 33 year old Trane Weathertron heatpump. However I decided to just let the thing die before replacing it. I was told the new units are only good for 10 to 13 years, maybe 15 at the most. So why not milk this thing.

So last summer, the refrigerant (R-22) had leaked out (twice) and caused the inside coil to freeze over. This was miserable. At least I still have ceiling heat in the winter but no backup cooling in the summer.

I knew I had a small leak from the inside unit but I only had to top it off every other year for the past few years until this summer. So in September I decided to finally replace it. All I know is the unit I have is larger and is newer made by Carrier. The guy from the heatpump place said he could sell me one of those high efficiency models but would not recommend one. He said for what they cost (and what they cost to repair), they would not pay for themselves in energy savings by the time it died 10 to 13 years later. That's pretty bad when the guy selling you a product thinks that what is on the market is junk compared to what was built 40 years ago.

It appears my energy usage has only dropped 500 kilowatts at the least and 1000 kilowatts at the most. My estimate is my energy bill has dropped only 15% to 20%. My electric bill is the same as it was when AEP dropped it back in the summer. If it continues to drop every 6 months, I'll know for sure but so far it has not. As of right now my accumulated budget is in the negative. AEP gives a breakdown of kilowatt usage within a year, if you can understand their bill. I sure can't!

My opinion on getting a new heat pump simply to drop your energy bill is don't be fooled. Run your old one until it dies. It's an appliance!

Of course if it is constantly breaking down, replace it. There is nothing like trying to sleep in a room than is 90 degrees!
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rridge
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Re: New heatpump. My conclusion!

Post by rridge » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:17 am

The dead of winter isn't the ideal time to test a new heat pump. Once the outdoor temp is below 32F you are flogging the heat pump to run it. Many units are installed with controls that automatically switch over to backup resistance heating once temps get much below freezing. Spring and fall should be much better. A more efficient heat pump is also a more efficient a/c so summer should offer still bigger gains.

In our part of the country electric rates have been falling due to cheaper natural gas and lower rates blunt the payoff some of my own efficiency improvements. The availability of cheap natural gas for home heating in the north has also cut into the sales of heat pumps in our area.

Weathertron is a GE trade name for one of the original first generation heat pumps going back to the late 60's. GE sold its heating and A/C business to Trane in the early 80's so if your unit carries the Trane name it probably does not date to the original house contruction. Trane cleaned up the original GE design which had a high failure rate when installed northern climates and in areas with poor supply voltage stability. Compressor motors do not like low temps or low voltage.
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jseabolt
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Re: New heatpump. My conclusion!

Post by jseabolt » Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:05 pm

rridge wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:17 am
The dead of winter isn't the ideal time to test a new heat pump. Once the outdoor temp is below 32F you are flogging the heat pump to run it. Many units are installed with controls that automatically switch over to backup resistance heating once temps get much below freezing. Spring and fall should be much better. A more efficient heat pump is also a more efficient a/c so summer should offer still bigger gains.

In our part of the country electric rates have been falling due to cheaper natural gas and lower rates blunt the payoff some of my own efficiency improvements. The availability of cheap natural gas for home heating in the north has also cut into the sales of heat pumps in our area.

Weathertron is a GE trade name for one of the original first generation heat pumps going back to the late 60's. GE sold its heating and A/C business to Trane in the early 80's so if your unit carries the Trane name it probably does not date to the original house contruction. Trane cleaned up the original GE design which had a high failure rate when installed northern climates and in areas with poor supply voltage stability. Compressor motors do not like low temps or low voltage.
I did notice that from September until it got cold in November, the newer heat pump does cycle on and off where the older one would kick on at 9 in the morning and seem to run non stop until 9 pm at night trying to cool the house. Then cycle on and off throughout the night. The house does seem like it's cooler. I think because the efficiency of the older unit had dropped, the reason it ran all the time was it was trying to reach 76 degrees but would never cool the house to that point so it just ran constantly.

What I find funny is most people with claim that 76 degrees is too hot for them in the summer. They say they set their thermostats at 65 F, even in winter. I would freeze year round at 65 degrees. Around 75 is my comfort zone.

Yeah winter is probably the worst time to estimate energy consumption. The electric backup coil kicks in below freezing so that thing is using allot of electricity. Plus your trying to raise the temperature from 25 to 75 degrees as opposed to lowering the temperature from 95 to 75.

I think the guy said the older unit was a 1 ton system and this one is either a 2 or 3. My grandparents had their carport enclosed around 1990 and the heat pump was installed in 1985 and was not figured in with that room. Their health started to fail about that time so they never really got to use that room and just kept the door closed. I used it as a storage room when I moved in the house in 2000 and until 2007 my wife decided she wanted to turn it into a living room. That's when I started noticing my electric bill starting to rise. That room is hard to keep cool and warm because there are not any vents out there plus it's mostly windows.

Initially I had one of those 1500 watt electric radiator heaters which did OK but the room temperature was not uniform. I later added a propane heater which is supposed to be around 8300 BTUs. I don't think that was such a good idea. I just got a $360 propane bill the other day. But that tank shares a 90K BTU heater out in my garage and it uses .9 gallons for every hour it runs so I have to consider that.

One thing I think really helped was I installed one of those portable air conditioners in this room. It's one of those that you can roll around but is supposed to vent to a window. I ended up cutting a hole in the wall for the exhaust because the adapter is not compatible with my windows. I got it from Ollie's (the new Big Lots) so it was $100 cheaper than Lowes.

Seems once I installed it, not only does that room stay cooler, it actually dropped my electric bill because my inefficient heat pump wasn't having to work as hard. That enclosed carport is a like a heat sink due to the large windows.

The first heatpump my parent's had installed in 1980 was a GE. The compressor actually lasted quite a long on that thing. Like 25 years. Then the replacement compressor died 2 years later so he had a Rheem installed. Then that thing died in about 10 to 12 years later.
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Re: New heatpump. My conclusion!

Post by 2Spidertwins » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:58 am

I installed solar panels instead. My electric bill for last YEAR (not month) was $150 for a 3,100 square foot home. Of the $150, $120 of it was the "connection fee" of $10 per month. So in reality, my electric bill was $30 for the entire year. It was well worth the investment. If I need to run the A/C or heat, I just turn it on and don't give a rip. :D Net zero homes are wonderful!

I also have a portable heat pump in the garage to heat and cool it. It is a NewAir portable unit and it works fantastic for my 3 car garage. I can be comfortable year round. For reference, we don't dip below freezing but a few days per year. We normally drop into the high 30s and 40s at night. We hit over 100 during the summer and I can stay comfortable in the garage.
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Re: New heatpump. My conclusion!

Post by Dan_B » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:41 am

Just need to down size... Went from a 2600sqft house to a 1100sqft one. The electric bill during July and August for the smaller house is literally 1/5th what the big house was. I run the a/c as much as I want :lol:

It helps that there's a big oak tree that shades the western side of the house from the afternoon sun, too. It's also an older house that was just built better than that stupid McMansion I was in before.
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