Getting it off my chest: Growing up in the 1950s, I observed that society thought they had conquered
Mother Nature and could build homes anywhere they wanted with fossil fuel heat used to make up for the
deficiencies of poor orientation, construction methods and insulation of homes.
Retail stores “magically” stayed warm despite huge glass store front windows. Since then, multiple generations of future children still believe in this “fossil fuel magic” as evidenced that the public still buys homes with large windows on the north, east and west and R13 walls that defy Mother Nature ( Earth’s rotation around the sun.)
``PeakOil” was once forecast to start running out around 2010 but fracking has extended our supply of fossil fuel for a couple more decades which gives us further “grace period” to be educated.
Today, inexpensive PV solar panels provide free electricity for heating our homes and for free transportation.
Solar Thermal Panels (water/liquid) also provide a source of warmth to the home. Solar Thermal Panels
require pipes running from the panels on the roof, down to a hot water tank. Panels, whether on the roof,
mounted on the ground or in a shared Community Solar array, mean we can consider electrifying our homes and remove any fossil fuel burning units, including gas Hot Water Heaters.
A Home Energy Auditor will advise on the amount of BTU heating you need to keep warm on a zero degree day. See a List of auditors at Xcel
Itemizing winter Electrical heating From Cheap to Steep:
1) CHEAPEST: Electric base board heating and store-bought plug-in floor standing heaters are really
low cost. Marketing folks go wild selling many fancy variations of the same basic electric heating
coil - oil- based, reflector- based, fan- based etc. as if one is better than another. Heating coils
are a one-to-one use of OHMs law. You only get 1 watt of heating for 1 watt used.
2) BETTER HEATING: A HEAT PUMP can act as both an air conditioner and a furnace. HOW? Let’s
use some of those watts from example 1 to suck the heat energy out of the outside air and bring it
into our home. REASON: Any air that is warmer than “Absolute Zero” (-459F or -273C) has energy
to be had. In the winter, with a Condenser/compressor unit outside the house, Refrigerant fluid
turns to cold gas at about minus 40F and therefore -17F is pretty warm by comparison. Minus 17
to the cold condenser can collect a lot of heat into the gas and send that heat into the home as
hot fluid. These “better” units are cheap units with low efficiency ratings of 20 year old design
with Seer levels of only 13 -16 and HSPF of 7 - 11.
3) BEST HEATING EFFICIENCY: Ground Source Heat pumps are the most efficient and have a direct
conduction of energy from the dirt to their pipes buried up to 300 feet into the ground. But drilling
the holes can cost $20,000, plus you must have room in your yard to drill.
Air to Air heat pumps are cheap by comparison and sit on the ground outside of your house with
a cassette hanging on the inside wall. Air to Air Heat pumps must exchange heat using many fins
touching the air outside. Heat pumps are rated by “Work done per WATT USED” and are 3 to 4
times more efficient than electric baseboard or plug-in heating.
RATINGS: SEER (Seasonal energy Efficiency Ratio) is mainly used to represent cooling efficiency
ranging from CHEAP TO STEEP SEER 13 to SEER 42 where 42 is the best so far and a more
expensive unit due to precise design. HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) ranges from 7
to 15 where 15 is the best so far. In warmer climates a higher SEER is more important and HSPF is
most important for Heating climates
a. All manufactures will “still” supply cheap units and more expensive highly rated units.
b. HVAC contractors will sell you the cheapest units and make off with your money in their
pockets to buy a bigger Camper and boat.
c. MOST HVAC contractors and sales folks (from my interview experience) are not aware of
the existence of the highest rated units. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HOMEOWNER
to demand the high rated SEER /HSPF models. Until Homeowners are educated, the HVAC
industry will keep selling their cheap units to you.
4) REFERENCES ABOUT BEST HEAT PUMPS: Consumers Reports has a summary of terminology for
Heat pump rating, however it is somewhat out of date and written before the latest units were
CARRIER: INFINITY SERIES = SEER 42 / HSPF 15, Heating down to -17F and reduced to 75% at -
Mitsubishi: MSZ-FH06NA = SEER 33 / HSPF 13.5 Heating down to ??
FUJITSU: Halcyon RLS3Y XLTH Extra Low = SEER 33 / HSPF ?? Heating down to -15F