Learn about heat pumps. Find out if a heat pump in your HVAC system can decrease the cost of your heating bill and still provide heat to your home.
LESLIE: We’ve got an HVAC  question with Charlie. What can we do for you today?
CHARLIE: We have just built a new home and we have eight tons of HVAC system and our furnace is run off of propane; we’re in more of a rural area. And our propane bill is just ungodly, unsightly. And so I was trying to consider what the benefit would be to maybe going to a heat pump and maybe have the heat pump warm the house – say, it’s about 38 or 40 degrees – and then switch to furnace. I just wanted to get your opinion on that.
TOM: The way a heat pump works is it only maintains the temperature between what you set it at and what it actually is across about a two-degree spread. So if you set it at, say, you know 72 and it falls to 70, the heat pump stays on but it falls to 69, the heat pump goes off. It actually brings on the electric-resistance furnace and that costs about two to three times as much to operate as the heat pump. So you want to make sure that you are, in fact, not using the thermostat; kind of rising it up and down.
In terms of whether it will be less expensive to run off of propane, it could be. But then again, you’ve got all the upfront cost of investing in new equipment.
CHARLIE: So, what’s more or less the ratio on something like that? Because like our propane bill last month was $900.
TOM: Hmm. And what was your electric bill?
CHARLIE: Two hundred.
TOM: Well, I have a feeling that, as high as these costs are, that it’s probably more efficient to run off the propane than it will to run off straight electric; even a heat pump. If you had a ground loop heat pump, probably it would be more efficient but a straight electric heat pump, probably not as efficient.
You know what you might want to think about doing, Charlie, is having an energy audit done because there could be other reasons that you have a $900 propane bill.
CHARLIE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.