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...ALL-ELECTRIC-Life - Part III – Goodbye Gas Furnace – Hello All Electric Heat Pump…

By Allen Hibner: In 1988, I had an on-wall natural gas furnace installed in our 700 square foot lower level in-law apartment – now my office and production studio. Fast forward 32 years later to January of 2020, and it was definitely time to replace this old clunker. I was growing very, very tired of having to constantly re-light the natural gas pilot light to keep it working. It kept going out every time the wind blew hard during a storm. Also, I could feel cold drafts at floor level. This thing was a big pain, inefficient and fossil fuel burning to boot! It was time to lower our family’s carbon footprint. This unit had to go!

So, what to do? If you have been following my, “…ALL-ELECTRIC-Life” blog series at all, you already know the answer. Here’s Saul Griffith’s favorite mantra again from Rewiring America:

“Every time a gas or diesel car is replaced, it must be replaced with an EV; every time an oil or gas furnace is replaced, it must be replaced with a heat pump; every time a coal or gas power plant goes offline, it must be replaced with renewable energy.”

Yeah Saul, I get it. Done. I’m on board. I want to use the 100% clean, renewable and carbon free electricity that will enter my home when our Community Choice Aggregation program is implemented in 2021 to power a brand new all electric heat pump for my office/studio. So, I got to work and never looked back…

You can see from the images above that I am now enjoying my brand-new highly efficient, single zone, all electric heat pump. I’ve made it! I’m no longer burning natural gas to heat about 1/3rd of my home. PLUS, did I mention that it also cools my office in the summer? This replacement was a fantastic “two-for-one” deal. Couldn’t be happier with my decision.

But what is SEER? What is HSPF? What are these technical terms all about? Why should I care? Why should I even want to know?

SEER is used for air conditioning efficiency. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (or ratio). It measures how efficiently the heat pump uses electricity to capture heat in your home and disperse it outside over the course of a cooling season. My unit’s SEER is very high and clocks in at 22.

HSPF is heating season performance factor, and it’s the heating rating. It measures how efficiently the unit captures heat outside and brings it into your home. My unit’s HSPF is also very high and measures 12. The higher the HSPF rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. An electrical resistance heater, which is not considered efficient, has an HSPF of 3.41. Depending on the system, an HSPF ≥ 8 can be considered high efficiency. Think about it this way; a system which delivers an HSPF of 7.7 will transfer 2.25 times as much heat as electricity consumed over a season. My unit has an HSPF of 12. I’m happy.

Both ratings are based on an entire season of use. This is because efficiency varies with outside temperatures. Air conditioning efficiency goes down as outside temperatures climb. HSPF goes down as it gets colder outside. If you would like to learn a lot more about SEER and HSPF, click HERE to read more about it.

Some more MYTH BUSTING about current heat-pump technology:

Hey, I heard that heat pumps don’t work well (or at all) once it gets below freezing. Why should I install one?

  • Well, that’s not right. My unit provides 100% heating capacity at 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Check. I’ve personally experienced that now.

  • My unit’s heating range is -22 to +86 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s cooling range -13 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Good to go.

  • No problem, my unit was perfectly sized and I have been very comfortable with it for almost one whole year now winter and summer.

OK. I replaced our Toyota Camry gas/electric Hybrid with an all electric Chevy Bolt EV – DONE. I replaced our 32-year-old on-wall natural gas furnace with a high efficiency all electric heat pump for heating and cooling – DONE. What’s next? In Part IV of this “…ALL-ELECTRIC-LIFE” series, I will take a look at how to replace our home’s main heat source – another natural gas furnace (forced air – central duct work) and cooling source (20 year old central air A/C unit) – with an all-electric or hybrid-electric heating/cooling option. Thanks for taking this continuing journey with us. This IS the future...

So, also take a moment for a deeper dive into some "tech-specs" and read more about the heat pump unit I had installed last January 2020:

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