Q: I'm thinking about upgrading my heating and cooling system. With so many choices between furnaces, heat pumps, gas and electricity, how do I know which will do the best job and be the most cost efficient?
A: For a long time those of us in the electric industry have been touting the benefits of electricity, but now we have even more reason to talk about the safety and low cost of our product.
Not only are higher gas prices making it more logical to heat and cool your home with electricity, but the REMC also offers a rebate to members who want to convert their home from a gas furnace to an air-to-air heat pump.
Why are we so confident in air-to-air heat pumps? Because over the years the heat pump has proven to be one of the most energy efficient ways of conditioning a home. Not only are they efficient, but in a properly constructed home, heat pumps do a great job of keeping the home at a comfortable and consistent temperature.
Heat pumps operate by using electricity to transfer heat either into or out of your house. It takes less energy to transfer heat than it does to create it. Therefore, the heat pump can give you back more in heating and cooling dollars than you spend in electricity dollars to operate it.
So how efficient are air to air heat pumps? Consider this: The most efficient gas furnace you can buy is just over 90% efficient, which sounds pretty good, until you realize that operating at that efficiency means about 10% of the money you spend on propane or natural gas is doing nothing but passing through your furnace and going out the flue to the birds. On the other hand, an air-to-air heat pump can be 250% efficient because it is not using a fuel source to create heat, it is merely using electricity to run the mechanical parts that remove existing heat from the outside air and transfer it into your home. In this manner, 2.50 units of heat are produced for each 1 unit of electricity used, resulting in 250% efficiency. Wouldn't it be great if we could have that kind of return on our financial investments?
Along with the comfort and energy efficiency issues, I hope you also consider your family's safety and health when choosing an HVAC system. It is imperative that homeowners realize all fossil fuel furnaces and water heaters need combustion air to operate. This air is constantly replaced as the appliance runs. In today's tightly constructed homes, this can become a problem. If the appliance is drawing combustion air from inside the home, negative pressure can result and in some instances create a back draft, which means air is coming into the house through the gas appliance flue, bringing with it odorless, yet poisonous carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is difficult for our senses to detect and symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to flu symptoms; headache, nausea, aches, lethargy and sluggishness. Not only do air source heat pumps avoid this problem all together, but recent models have undergone substantial upgrades to improve performance.
You might also consider the fact that the REMC offers rebates to members replacing a fossil fuel furnace with a heat pump or to members installing a heat pump in a new construction. We also offer rebates on Heat Pump Water Heaters.
Most manufactured homes come equipped with an electric furnace. By adding a heat pump to the system, mobile home owners have seen savings as much as 48% on their heating and cooling bill.
If you have questions about how you can improve the comfort and performance of your home, give me a call 738-4115 or 951-2323. More information is also available at the REMC's New Home and Energy Efficiency Seminar, which is held each month at the REMC headquarters on Old Forest Road in Corydon. A schedule is published in the "Seminars & Events" section of this web site