Replacing our Propane Gas Furnace with a Ductless Heat Pump
We recently installed a heat pump in our home, replacing our furnace as our primary heat source. I thought many of you would be curious about the cost, installation process and why we decided to make the switch from a propane gas furnace to a ductless heat pump.
For those who aren’t familiar, a ductless heat pump is a highly energy-efficient heating and cooling system that runs without the energy losses associated with the ductwork of a central forced air system. As it doesn't require ducts to carry conditioned air, it is a preferred system for additions to your home, newer homes that only require a small space conditioning system or areas of your home that you wish to condition in zones.
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How the a heat pump works can get kind of complicated. Basically, it moves heat instead of generating it. For more specific information about the process check this article out, which explains it way better than I can.
Other benefits of a heat pump include:
- Ductless heat pumps use between 25 and 50 percent less energy to heat your home.
- An ultra-quiet fan evenly circulates air, eliminating hot and cold spots.
- Installation in your home is simple and quick, which makes for little or no disruption.
- Ductless systems come standard with air conditioning, so you can get rid of those window units.
First, a little bit about our house:
Our family of three lives in an 1800 sq foot manufactured home, also known as a "double wide trailer". It was built in 1990. We purchased our home about eight years ago and it is situated on my husband’s family property in Washington State. Our previous heat for the house was forced air via a furnace that was fueled by propane gas.
Propane gas can be very expensive and our heating bill averaged about $1000-$1400 a year.
My in-laws who live on the same piece of land as us, in a similar style manufactured home had a heat pump installed a few years ago and they love it. The house stays warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and the heat pump is super cheap to run.
The cost for the heat pump including the installation is about $4000 which is definitely not cheap, but with the energy it saves it will pay for itself in just a few years. The heat pump is also used to cool the house and will replace the AC unit we had in the living room window. We will qualify for a rebate from our energy company for the purchase of the heat pump unit so that will save us a couple hundred dollars.
We saved our money, and with our tax refund this year we had enough to pay for the pump. Most of the cost associated with the heat pump is for the installation. The pump itself is less than $2000 but the cost of installation is what makes it pricey.
Unless you are an expert in HVAC this is not a project that you can DIY. You will need to hire a professional to install the heat pump.
We had the same man that my in-laws used to install the pump. He came over and gave us a consultation and we decided on placement for the pump.
The specific kind of pump we had installed is a mini ductless heat pump (see also 'Mini Split vs Ducted Heat Pumps: What’s The Difference?').
Because our house is small and only one level we only needed one unit installed in our house. If you have a large house with different levels you would likely need more than one unit in order to heat/ cool the entire home.
We chose the front of the house, above the living room windows to install the indoor unit. Because of the layout of the house the air will flow through our home best where the unit is installed.
The heating guy explained that the heat pump kind of works like a wood stove. The hot air moves through the house and the bedrooms will likely stay a few degrees cooler. This isn’t a problem for us because we can just use a few extra blankets in the winter and we still have the propane heat furnace available for use to use if the temperature gets extremely cold.
The indoor part of the unit connects to an outdoor piece that we put over on the side of the house. From the outside it just kind of looks like a rain gutter.
I think that many people wouldn’t like having this on the front of their house but it doesn’t bother me. If I really didn’t want it, we could have placed the unit in a different part of the house and not had the pipes on the front of the house.
The rain gutter piece connects to the unit you see on the bottom left. This is located on the side of our house. If you are looking at the front door, it is on the right. The old AC unit is still in the window. We can remove this now and plant a few small shrubs under the window. The area in front of the fan must be kept clear.
It's only been about a week but we love the new heat pump. It's quiet, it keeps the house cozy and warm and we do not have to deal with the old furnace anymore.
If you have any questions about the heat pump leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.
Have you made the switch to a heat pump? I would love to hear about your experience!