Should I stay with electric forced air furnace


Old 05-09-06, 10:00 AM
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Should I stay with electric forced air furnace

I am considering the purchase of a 25 year-old bungalow that has forced air electric heat. The main floor is about 1,400 square feet. I do not yet know how old the current furnace is, but assume it will soon need replacing.

There is no natural gas on the street. Seems to me I could put in a new electric FA furnace, a new oil FA furnace, a propane FA furnace or a heat pump.

Would a new high-efficiency (?) electric furnace be more economical to install and run than the other alternatives?

The house has no air conditioning at present, I figure I might as well put that in while getting a new furnace.

Thanks for any comments or suggestions.
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Old 05-10-06, 07:53 AM
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Electric heat has always been (and still is) nearly 100% efficient. A new electric furnace will use very close to the same amount of electricity as the old one.

With oil and gas prices on the rise and questions about availability, I wouldn't invest any extra money to change to oil or propane, but if you're planning on spending the extra money for A/C anyhow, why not install a heat pump which produces more heat per KWH than a standard electric furnace.

Doug M.
Old 05-11-06, 12:18 PM
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Check out what is best for you there,GO
What you have now can be taken out and a heatpump put right in. In the heatpump will be electric elements the same as the electric furnace
you have now. They are there as a back up for the pump. Like said the heatpump will give you about a 1/3 more heat for a $1 as the electric furnace will" when its say mild out".

Old 05-12-06, 09:07 AM
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Looked up weather statistics for Port Perry and ended up at the Peterborough airport.

Minimum temp is -14*C or 6.8*F (with the minimum temp of -6*C or 21.2*F and the mean temperature of -7*C for 11 months of the year). My guess is that depending on the size of the heat pump, the heat pump will provide most of the house heating for more than 9 months of the year. For 3 months of the year the heat pump output will have to be supplemented by electric heating elements (unlike systems with gas/oil furnace backup, heat pumps can continue to operate when supplemental electric heat is ON) which will be included with a heat pump set up. Also taking into account outside temperatures when heat pump operates you should get at least 2 kwh or more of house heat for every kwh of electricity consumed by the heat pump.

Given McGuinty's decision to shut down all coal-fired plants, the rising cost of natural gas for gas-fired electricity plants, the installation of expensive "green power" such as wind and the repayment of the Ontario Hydro debt, Ontarians will be stuck with steeply rising electricity costs; my guess is that a heat pump will more than pay for itself when compared to straight electric heat. Oil prices are extremely volatile and rising; don't know about propane.

Given that the house is 24 years old, you may save heating bucks by adding insulation in the attic; if the house sits on a slab, you may want to consider slab perimeter insulation to conserve heat and if the house sits on a basement, you may wish to consider increasing basement wall insulation. If windows are single-glazed, addition of storm windows, if not already there, will also help. Also reducing air leakage in the house will result in savings.

Make sure you get heating and cooling requirements calculated (manual J or equivalent)to decide on the size of the heating/air conditioning equipment.

My house, on the South West coast of B.C is 22 years old, 1800 sq.ft. rancher on a 4 ft. crawl space. It's heated by a 2 ton heat pump backed up by a natural gas furnace; the design temperature for the heating system is 17*F. The heat pump balance point (the temperature below which the heat pump shuts down) is set at 35*F and with our climate, the heat pump provides more than 90% of the house heating requirements.

Since you intend to add air conditioning anyway, the heat pump installation is a no-brainer. In my case the difference between a 2 ton air conditioning only system and a 2 ton heat pump providing both heating and cooling was $1,200 bucks including special thermostat.

Make sure you have an Energuide survey performed before replacing heating equipment and another one after new equipment is installed (total cost of the 2 surveys is about $150 CDN). In my case, energy improvement due to installation of the heat pump resulted in a $1,100 grant from the feds. Your grant may not be as high because you'll be comparing with electric heat while my comparison was with an inefficient 19 year old gas furnace.
Hope the above helps.

Last edited by demetrius; 05-12-06 at 11:33 AM.
Old 05-13-06, 07:50 PM
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Thank you all, especially demetrius. Looks like I'll be heat pump shopping if I do buy the place. Already planned to replace all windows, add attic insulation and vents, and also to do the Energuide audit -- if the program hasn't been axed.

Thanks again.
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