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Old 10-07-2011, 10:58 PM
87 posts, read 183,288 times
Reputation: 15


looking for rentals in the Howard Co/Montgomery co area. Many nice places but most have electric heat AND say forced air, or heat pump.
Is the price of this comparable to gas heat in the winter?
would prefer gas heat and stoves but those seem hard to find except in baltimore city.
thanks, w
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:22 AM
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
34,878 posts, read 44,416,765 times
Reputation: 45049
Generally speaking heating with a heat pump is more expensive than heating with either gas or oil. With a heat pump you set the temperature at what you want and don't move it, the warm-up in the morning if you lower the setting at night makes the little dials on your electric meter spin at light speed.

An anecdote: I live in a 100 year old 2 story house that really isn't too weather tight heating with oil. My neighbor has a 1 story house, 1/2 my sq. footage, on a heat pump and well insulated. He regulary has a $500 month heating bill in the winter, mine runs around $250 with the thermostat set at 70 to his 65.
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:28 AM
13 posts, read 25,823 times
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Heat pumps are the devil!!!!
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:30 AM
87 posts, read 183,288 times
Reputation: 15
Default so is electricity based heat (whehter w / forced air or heat pump) more expensive then?

Thank you for your reply..
Interesting anecdote but depressing as most rentals have only electric heat.

They claim heat pump and /or forced air as well but I am looking for gas heat actually.Except it is very hard to find
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:26 AM
Location: The Triad (NC)
29,874 posts, read 65,654,183 times
Reputation: 34934
Originally Posted by whirledpease View Post
Except it is very hard to find...
The issue is the how far out into what used to be the countryside have the utility companies run the gas mains. Or not.

I've always preferred gas as well and have used this as a limiting factor in how far out into the country I'm willing to move.

The older homes in the countryside made do with fuel oil or LP gas as a heat source. With the advent of heat-pumps the newer developments were able to avoid having those tanks and delivery trucks and with the exception of the (20 or so?) coldest of days and (40 or so?) coldest of nights when the air temp is too low the heat pump is almost adequate on it's own.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:33 AM
Location: Greenville, NC
2,184 posts, read 5,230,614 times
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There are a couple of problems with heat pumps. First is the older units tends to not be very efficient. They tend to waste a lot of electricty, mostly for the second reason that I'm getting ready to give. The biggest problem with a heat pump is the defrost cycle. In most heat pumps there is a timed cycle that runs the heat pump in the defrost mode. Heat pumps tend to build up condensation on the outside coils. If it's cold enough this condensation will freeze and block the flow of air over the coils on the outside unit. When this happens the heat pump becomes useless.

To prevent this the heat pump goes into what is called the Defrost Mode. Basically the heat pump reverses it's operation and turns back into an air conditioner. That forces warm freon over the outside coils and defrosts them. A frostless refrigerator does the exact same thing. Now when the defrost cycle comes on is when the heat pump is an energy pig in most cases. When the defrost cycle starts the furnace can no longer depend on the heat pump to make heat since it's basically in air conditioner mode. Inside of most heat pumps is a set of electric resistance heat coils.

These heat coils are usually 10 KW and up. That means they use a lot of electricity. The heat pump goes into defrost (which is using as much power as an air contioner by it's self) and the heats coils come on. Now the furnace is using twice as much electricty as it should really need to to make heat in the house.

The heat pump can be in defrost mode from anywhere from a couple of minutes to virtually an indefinate period of time. There is a temperature sensor on the outside coils that tell the computer in the heat pump whether the coils are frosted or not.

Most heat pumps come from the factory with a 30 minute forced defrost cycle. That means that after 30 minutes the heat pump will go into defrost mode whether there is any frost on the outside coils or not. Some of your higher end heat pumps will use the temperature sensor to see if there is frost present before forcing the defrost mode but the less expensive heat pumps like Goodman and Amana don't.

You can or you can have a service man set the forced defrost timer cycle to a higher setting like a 60 minute cycle. This will cut the electric usage pretty dramatically, usually by about 20 to 30 percent.

There are also some very high efficient heat pumps that are available.

There is also the option of having a gas pack installed instead of the electric resistance heating coil. This saves a bunch of money. And just because your neighborhood doesn't have natural gas doesn't mean you can't have a gas pack or gas stove. You just need to have propane delivered instead. It's no biggie and millions of people do it.
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Old 10-11-2011, 04:34 AM
87 posts, read 183,288 times
Reputation: 15
thank you all for your replies . I can't change much in the pumps since I m looking for a rental, but this will help me with evaluating which rentals are likely better.

thank you again
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:56 AM
Location: Hiding from Antifa?
7,122 posts, read 4,577,245 times
Reputation: 6465
The other place where a heat pump costs more to run is when you set the temperature a couple degrees higher than the actual temperature. When the differential reaches a level of two or three degrees, most heat pumps turn on the heat coils to get the temperature up faster. You can tell when this is happening because, the emergency light comes on, on your thermostat, the air coming out of your register feels warm, and sometimes, if the emergency heat hasn't been on for a while, you will sense a burning smell. This is the dust that has gathered on the coils burning off.

If you want to increase the temperature, the best way to do it is to increase the setting one degree at a time. When the actual temperature equals the set temperature, bump it up one more degree, and repeat until you get it where you want.
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