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Old 09-29-2014, 08:24 PM
16 posts, read 33,782 times
Reputation: 10


I recently bought a house that does not have natural gas (all electric). I am told the HVAC has a heat pump. I get the concept, I think (pulls in surrounding warmer air to forced air in house). A couple of questions:

1) When does the heat pump kick in? My understanding is that it is more relevant in the colder months.
2) If the heat pump is used, will the space/air surround my HVAC be cooler?

I have a follow up to my second question. I need to buy a new water heater. I was considering a hybrid electric "heat pump" water heater. I have been reading up on these. I do have a few concerns regarding location (finished basement in a utility-type closet that also contains the HVAC and washer/dryer). This closet sits in the middle of the basement against one outside wall. I think I have plenty or room in there. My other concern is the air temperature. As with any basement, it is a little cooler down there. My questions are:

3) If my HVAC uses the heat pump technology and cools the air around it, will this counter the heat pump on the water heater if it is trying to do the same?
4) Will my basement have 2 sort-of ACs running if both the HVAC and Water Heater are using heat pumps (drawing more electric power if the heat pump in not sufficient)?

Hopefully my questions/statements show how little I understand this (coming from homes with natural gas my entire life). So maybe the overall question is; are there any downsides to having a hybrid electric heat pump water heater installed next to my HVAC w/ a heat pump in a room with my washer and dryer all in a finished basement?
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Old 09-30-2014, 06:30 AM
734 posts, read 1,728,352 times
Reputation: 762
You have my basement!

I have a hybrid (heat pump) water heater next to the A/C unit in the large unfinished part of my basement, which, yes, also contains my washer and dryer. So, to answer some of your questions:

1) The heat pump until itself is not what is located inside the house. What is inside the house is the blower unit (furnace fan) and generally an auxiliary (inefficient) electric heating element for when it is too cold outside for the heat pump to work. The heat pump, located in the unit outside of your house, is actually used both summer and winter. It transfer heat from your house to the outside in the summer during A/C use, and "absorbs" heat from the outside during winter to heat your house. You can search for further information on heat pumps in the "House" forum of City-Data. I've had some very positive experiences with some of the knowledgeable posters in that forum.

2) Again, the heat pump that heats your house in the winter is exterior to the house. Otherwise, all the heat you are getting for the rest of your house would be coming solely from your basement- which would turn your basement into quite an icebox!

3) Because of answers to the first two questions, no. However, you are correct that you will in essence have a small A/C in the basement with the hybrid water heater. That does make the basement cooler in the winter, and you definitely will want a pair of socks to keep your feet warm. However, it has a nice effect in the summer. The heat pump on the water heater cools the otherwise warm room, and removes the summer humidity that occurs both from the weather and the damp clothes.

4) I think already answered.

I hope this helps! Please follow-up with any additional questions.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:21 AM
16 posts, read 33,782 times
Reputation: 10
@Mike From NIU
Thanks! This clears up the confusion I had. Are you located in the Northern VA area? I only ask because your handle says from NIU and I was wondering if we live in the same climate. From what I have been reading, it sounds like the cost benefits increase in warmer climates. Also, I have been reading that garages are good places to put the hybrid water heaters (but not sure its worth all the new plumbing to do that). I haven't experienced my garage in the winter yet, but assuming it would get quite cold (however, the summer was very hot in there).

My concern is that I want to make sure I have enough "warm" air in my basement to make the hybrid water heater worth the purchase.
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:03 PM
734 posts, read 1,728,352 times
Reputation: 762
Yes, I live in Northern VA (Woodbridge area). I moved from Illinois shortly after joining City-Data.

I would agree that warm, southern climates are best suited for heat pump water heaters- not necessarily outdoors or in the garage, but places where the A/C is needed for at least a few months of the year. The benefits to the cooler, drier air are big. However, I wouldn't worry about there being "enough" warm air here, assuming your basement area is larger than a broom closet. Remember, the heat pump is hybrid. If there is not enough heat in the ambient air during the winter, or the water usage is very high and drawing down the hot water quickly, the water heater does have traditional electric elements in it. It will rely on those if necessary.
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Old 09-30-2014, 01:09 PM
687 posts, read 1,126,659 times
Reputation: 548
I used to be critical of heat pumps but have changed my tune. I always thought that heat pumps couldn't handle the low temps in our area, had to run constantly to maintain a comfortable temp, and were loud. Last year I moved into a house with a new high efficiency heat pump and good wall insulation. That makes a night and day difference. The system is so quiet at first I didn't even realize it was coming on.

Last edited by Fundman; 09-30-2014 at 02:36 PM..
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:50 AM
Location: Chicago IL
472 posts, read 513,483 times
Reputation: 495
Off topic, but I've had some fun memories in Dekalb!
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