04:05PM | 02/22/08
Member Since: 08/10/05
16 lifetime posts
We have a 4.5 ton heat pump for a home with a 1500 sq ft living area and 950 sq ft unfinished basement (not heated, but it stays seasonally appropriate), which isn't doing the job in winter. It keeps rooms at its west end of the house warm, but those further away (east) are chilly. We muddled through last year, but this year it's been a real issue, because my husband has developed health problems that make him much more sensitive to cold (and when he gets a chill, he has a very hard time getting warm again).

We have the extra heat strips on, but the house is still not warm enough. We used a supplemental electric heater one month in our bedroom, and the temp was tolerable -- but not the power bill, which nearly tripled.

We want to supplement the heat pump throughout the house, but especially for the further ends that don't get enough warm air (the air coming out of the east registers is only mildly warm, vs. toasty for the west ones).

This is a relatively new heat pump (early 2000s) and replacing it is NOT a financial option. When we had it put in, we also replaced the 30-year-old ducting in the basement with more energy-efficient insulated ones. They're not leaking -- we've had this checked. We also have the windows and doors sealed as best we can. (The house needs new windows, but that's not a financial reality right now.)

The previous owners heated the house with a wood furnace hooked to a chimney that connects to the ducts, but health issues rule that out for us. We sold the wood furnace, but the holes where it was hooked up are still there (under removable metal covers).

Our area doesn't have natural gas, and propane is astronomical -- not just to have the tank filled, but installation (our insurance agent told us a fire caused by a gas leak wouldn't be covered unless the tank was professionally installed). The smallest tank and hookup was nearly a thousand bucks, plus refills of around $400.

What can we hook up to the chimney to supplement the heat? I thought about a corn furnace, but new ones cost almost as much as we paid for our heat pump, and I haven't been able to find any new ones.

Last note: the AC is fine in the summertime -- and we live in the South, so our air conditioning really has to work. It's just the heat that's not doing the job.

Would appreciate any advice. My husband can't stay in bed under the electric blanket all day.


06:27PM | 02/22/08
Member Since: 08/10/05
16 lifetime posts
I misstated the heat pump size --- it's 3.5 tons, not 4.5. Still, I know our insulation is not up to par, but am not really sure what to do about it. I've caulked and weatherstripped as best I can, and we eventually plan to replace the windows and remodel our bedroom (an addition), which will involve taking down the existing interior drywall and putting up better insulation (the walls were previously damaged and are patched, not in the best condition). But that is a ways off.

I know the ductwork to our bedroom is too small, but haven't been able to get anyone to help us with it. That room is an addition and was built over an existing carport (concrete slab) 25 years ago. The builder/owner didn't put in proper ducting, but none of the contractors we've talked to are willing to handle this . All of them just say it's too big a project for them. (We live in a rural area with few residential contractors.)

My husband generally stays in either the living room or bedroom. He's in a wheelchair, and getting to the back bedrooms on the west side of the house can be difficult for him.

I'll look into the alternative oil heater, and will see what I can do on my own about insulation.

Thanks again!


03:29PM | 12/25/08
Member Since: 08/11/05
4 lifetime posts
3 1/2 tons is still huge for that size of a house.

You could try adding zone dampers to your ducts. You would put a thermostat in the room you wanted controlled and the thermostat would open and close a damper in the duct.
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