What Does Converting From an Oil Furnace to an Electric Heat Pump Cost?
Oil furnaces are among the most common methods for heating homes, especially older ones. Their popularity is due to the fact that homeowners believe they’re more energy efficient than other methods of heating the home. This is true to a point. Oil does produce more heat, gallon for gallon, than natural gas does, which means it is more energy efficient than at least one of the most common forms of heating.
Even so, oil is far from the most efficient method of heating your home. Modern technology has led to forms of heating that don’t involve any costly fossil fuels at all, such as the electric heat pump. This advanced method of energy transfer can save homeowners a great deal of money, but is the up-front cost worth it? What does converting from an oil furnace to an electric heat pump cost? Will it end up saving you money in the long run?
We’ll look at the factors in play when attempting to answer these questions.
How a Heat Pump Works
A heat pump is considered an extremely advanced piece of technology, and yet it operates in much the same way as a tried-and-true device in the home: the refrigerator. It consists of an indoor unit and an outdoor unit, both of which contain a coil and a fan. The two elements are connected by a tube that transfers heat from one unit to the other.
As air travels over the coil, the refrigerant contained within it draws out heat energy, acting as a condenser. This heat energy can then be released by the other end of the unit, which acts as an evaporator. The heat energy warms up ambient air, which is then distributed throughout the home by way of the fan.
What Are the Benefits?
One of the great benefits of the heat pump is that it can be reversed: when it’s cold outside, it can pull in heat from the outside environment to warm the home, but when it’s hot, it can function as an air conditioner and transfer heat outside. Because it utilizes heat from the environment, it doesn’t require a fuel source. Instead, it only requires a relatively small amount of electrical energy to operate.
Its versatility and efficiency make the heat pump one of the most cost-effective methods of heating and cooling. In addition, it’s much more environmentally friendly than almost every other method of heating and cooling. It doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or other harmful byproducts.
Is a Conversion Right for Me?
If you’re thinking about converting from an oil furnace to an electric heat pump, you should first schedule an energy audit to see if this is right for your home. In Oregon, you can do this through EnergyTrust. The service can sometimes be performed for free or at a very low cost and can help you to identify where your home needs improvement
The energy audit will determine where your home is consuming the most energy. It may or may not be in its heating and cooling. The audit can also help compare your current costs with the potential savings you may incur by switching to other, more energy-efficient methods of heating and cooling.
The energy audit will also help you save money in other ways. For example, any inefficiencies in your insulation can easily be patched and repaired. If there are areas in your home that require more insulation material, the audit will discover these as well. This will be the beginning of a conversion to a more energy-efficient home, whether or not you discover having a heat pump installed is cost-effective.
The Cost of Installation
How much it costs when converting from an oil furnace to an electric heat pump depends upon a number of factors. For example, the size of your home will be a major factor. Unlike with other methods of heating and cooling, heat pumps can be installed in individual rooms, and in fact, this is a major factor in their reduced energy costs. While an oil furnace uses a forced-air system to pump heated air throughout the entire home, whether or not all of the rooms are occupied, heat pumps can be used to heat smaller areas. While this can certainly contribute to great cost savings, it can also have additional costs, as you may have to have several heat pumps installed to get coverage of your entire home.
The average cost of installing a heat pump is around $5,600, but this can vary a great deal depending upon the building, the location, and a number of other factors. This isn’t actually that much more expensive than installing a new oil furnace. The average cost there is around $4,000 (although it once again can vary).
Ensuring that the project is cost-effective is also a matter of finding the right contractor for the job. You will want to look for a company such as Entek, that is highly experienced in all HVAC technologies, including heat pumps and oil furnaces. Established companies have been in business for decades, which means they have had thousands of satisfied customers and are well-versed in the ins and outs of the job.
Having a conversion done doesn’t necessarily mean you should have your oil furnace removed entirely. While you may have determined that a heat pump is indeed the most cost-effective method of heating and cooling your home, there may be rare days throughout the year when you find that a heat pump isn’t powerful enough to do the job.
Oil burns hotter than nearly any other fuel source, which means it may be good to have an oil furnace on hand if it gets extremely cold outside. While a heat pump can handle the vast majority of situations, if the temperature drops well below zero, your oil furnace may be the only thing that can generate enough heat to prevent your heating system from freezing over.