Converting from Home-Heating Oil to a Heat Pump, Part 1: Cost and Initial Assessment


| 11/27/2019 11:34:00 AM


 

This two-part series documents homeowner Peter Callaway’s experience in a region that relies predominantly on fuel-oil for home heating to convert his household to a heat pump system. This heat pump system supplanted fossil fuels used for Peter’s heating, cooling and hot water heating needs with a more renewable alternative.

Part 1 describes how the author took advantage of a free home energy audit to make energy-efficiency changes and explains why the switch to heat-pump technology was made and what benefits were expected and achieved. Learn how to estimate running cost savings based on a Central Hudson online tool and how to calculate actual savings from actual use. In Part 2, find out how to work with a contractor and get the job done, with Peter’s thoughts on cost, technology, and service contracts. The author does not intend this article to be a recommendation or endorsement for a particular technology or contractor.

I live in a 1,624 square-foot, ranch-style house that was heated by an oil furnace with baseboard and cooled by window-installed air conditioners. Hot water was provided by a coil in the oil furnace, which meant having the furnace on all year. To lower my household carbon footprint while increasing my energy security by moving away from oil, I converted to a heat pump-based heating and cooling system. My heat pump system has different units for the living and sleeping areas, a separate unit for the basement, and yet another smaller, specialized heat pump for hot water.

I threw out the 50-year-old, rusting, low-efficiency oil furnace, drained all the pipes, and left them in place but sealed off. In case of prolonged electricity outage, I have a propane gas insert fireplace unit in the family room in the basement, together with a number of standalone electric resistance heaters.



But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before ever moving forward with choosing a technology, I did a home energy-efficiency assessment, or home energy audit, to find out what needed to be done to minimize wasted energy due to leakage, inadequate insulation, badly designed or inefficient appliances, and other findings.



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