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HVAC advice needed - Oil, Heat Pump, or Hybrid?

11 years ago

Oil is expensive and a pain, so I'm trying to decide if I should replace my oil furnace with a heat pump (electric back-up), get a hybrid system (heat pump keeping oil as back-up), or just keep the oil and deal with it for this winter. (FYI, natural gas is not available in my neighborhood.)

Additional info -- I live outside of Baltimore, oil is around $4/gal (but who knows what it will do this winter), and my current electricity rate is $0.08/kwh. My house is a 1500 sq ft cape cod, plus basement, built in 1952. The current forced air oil furnace was installed in 1999. The oil tank is 275 gallons, in basement, and probably original to the house. Central A/C (10 SEER) was also installed in 1999. I just got new siding with Tyvek (to replace ugly uninsulated 1970's aluminum siding), and plan to replace the old, drafty front door before winter, so I'm hoping that helps a little with heating costs as well. I also have a wood-burning fireplace insert to add some heat, and electric baseboards in the basement.

Option 1: Keep current systems - I could probably get by with two oil fill ups ($2,000+), with using electric space heaters, baseboards, and wood. (Or do like last year, use wood and space heaters only, pay high electric bills, and freeze my butt off. And that was during a mild winter.)

Option 2: Hybrid system (HP with oil back-up) - best estimate so far is around $6,200 for 13 SEER 3 ton Carrier. Would still have to keep oil, but I think I could get by with a half tank ($500 or so) for the winter, unless we have a REALLY bad winter. Estimate includes adding a few ducts as well.

Option 3: All electric heat pump - My best estimate so far is around $9,500 for 15 SEER 3 ton Carrier. Extra costs are partly because an electrical system heavy up would be required. (I currently have a 150 amp panel.) Estimate also includes adding a few ducts, and removing the oil tank from the basement.

I think at a minimum I would like to tackle Option 2, because it should pay for itself within a few years, cutting way back on use of oil and electric space heaters. However, Option 3 is appealing because I really HATE having to deal with oil at all, and the oil tank is currently empty, so it's a good time to remove it.

I can't find any good calculators for electric auxiliary back-up vs. oil cost... would I save any money with electric back-up over oil? If oil stays around $4, I don't think savings would be all that great because I know electric back-up heat isn't cheap either.

One concern I have if I keep the oil is that I'm pretty sure the tank is original to the house (60 years). Should I be concerned about the age of the tank? There is NO WAY I would EVER pay to replace that tank with a new one, so if that was ever required, I'd end up converting to all electric anyway. Same thing goes if I would ever need to replace the oil furnace, but at 13 years old, I'm not really that concerned about the furnace yet.

Another concern I have is resale - if I ever want to sell my house, would all electric be more appealing to buyers than HP with oil back-up?

Any input would be appreciated! Thanks!

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