In my last post, we talked about what a heat pump is and how it works. Today we’ll discuss who can benefit the most from a heat pump.
The first question to answer in deciding whether or not a heat pump is for you: What type of fuel is used to heat your home?
- Electric strip heat – If you are using electricity to heat your home, you should absolutely, without a doubt, consider a heat pump. It will save you thousands of dollars on your electric bills.
- Propane – If you are using propane, the answer is the same as it was for electric strip heat above. The heat pump will pay for itself in just a few short years over a propane furnace.
- Natural gas – If you use natural gas, the answer isn’t quite so obvious. In the River Valley, natural gas is much cheaper than heating with electric resistance heat or with propane. That said, in most cases a heat pump will still cost less to operate than a natural gas furnace.
To summarize, if you don’t get a gas bill at all, or you’re having to call the propane supply company, the first call you should be making after reading this post is your local heating and air conditioning provider. If you live in the Fort Smith region, give me a call and I’ll be happy to help.
Check back next time to find out when a heat pump is a bad idea.
I love my heat pump. It’s efficient. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable. Yet many people don’t really know what a heat pump is. I’ll be spending the next week or two trying to answer a few of the basic questions about heat pumps.
To make it as simple as possible, a heat pump is a unit that sets outside your house, looks just like an air conditioner, but also heats the home in the winter. Not only does it heat the home, it can do so quite efficiently as well. Instead of using natural gas or propane, its’ only energy source is electricity.
Most homes in our area are currently heated with natural gas. Natural gas is certainly a good option if available, as it burns cleanly and the price of it is predicted to be relatively stable in the short term future. That said, heat pumps can still save homeowners money on their utility bills over a gas furnace.
How does a heat pump work? The same way an air conditioner works, except in reverse. Think about a window unit. During the summer a window unit blows cool air into the home and blows warm air out of the home. If you were to turn that window unit around, it would now be blowing cold air outside and warm air inside. Congratulations, you just created a heat pump.
Most people think that air conditioners make cold air. From a scientific perspective it is impossible to create “cold”. You can however, remove heat, and that’s precisely what an air conditioner does. It removes heat from the house and places it outside. A heat pump has the ability to reverse the flow of refrigerant, which results in the transfer of heat from outside to inside.
Check back next week for our recommendations on who can benefit the most from a heat pump.
Today, November 11th, marks the day that we recognize and honor the Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. The nation’s official ceremony will take place at Arlington National Cemetary, beginning at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and continuing inside the Memorial Amphitheater.
Last fall I had the privilege of travelling to Washington DC for the first time. What an incredible trip it was for me. From seeing the actual flag that flew above Fort McHenry as Francis Scott Key penned our National Anthem, to the relatively new World War II Monument, to the Vietnam Memorial, and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, I was struck by the sacrifices that had been made for the freedoms that I so often take for granted. I’ve included a couple of pictures that I took while I was there.
Today, I would like to recognize the two veterans who work at Atchley Air:
David Kuykendall – before coming to work for Atchley Air, David served in the Air Force. David’s military experience is great for our company as he is consistently strives to formalize our processes and improve our communication. David currently serves as our Service Manager.
Jason Dunn – Jason is one of our lead Installation Technicians and served in the United States Marine Corps. While there he learned a thing or two about paying attention to the details, which is very evident if you see one of his installations – they are as neat and pretty as you’ll see anywhere.
A big thank you to David, Jason, and the rest of our nation’s veterans for their past and current service!
Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a ruling that sets different minimum efficiency standards for various regions of the country. The DOE finalized the ruling despite the fact that Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the largest association of heating and cooling contractors in the country, requested that it be delayed for further discussion. The ruling was supported by the manufacturers (who stand to make more money as a result of the ruling) and energy advocates.
For those of us lucky enough to live in the South, the change will have no impact until 2015. Beginning in January 2015, the change will result in increased costs of air conditioning equipment with minimal impact on the actual amount of energy saved.
The news for the northern half of the country is a bit more costly. Beginning in May of 2013 new furnaces installed in homes must meet a significantly higher efficiency standard. Not only do these furnaces cost a good deal more, there are also significant differences in the manner in which they must be installed. The average cost of a furnace replacement will likely increase by $1,000 or more in the northern region.
More efficient furnaces and air conditioners are a good thing, right? I can answer that with a resounding “Maybe!”
Sorry if I’m a little less optimistic than you would have expected. The problem with higher efficiency standards is that it prices many people out of the market for new equipment. Instead of investing in a mid-efficiency heater at a reasonable price their only choice will be to spend thousands of dollars on a super high efficiency heater or repair their old low-efficiency unit. Many will simply not be able to afford the super high efficiency furnace. If the end result is more people band-aid their old inefficient heater, then we wind up using more energy than we would have otherwise.
Do I have a better idea? Actually, yes I do. Bring back the tax credits that were available in 2009 and 2010 to homeowners who invested in high efficiency systems. Leave the minimum efficiency standards alone. This will reward those who want to use less energy, yet won’t punish those who can’t afford the super high prices that come with super high efficiency.