Q: Dear Energy Wiz,
Could you explain what biomass, geothermal, and solar energy are? Could you explain how they work and what the advantages and disadvantages for each are?
Biomass energy is energy that comes from organic material such as plants and animals. Biomass would include: ethanol from corn or grasses, biodiesel from soybeans or vegetable grease, methane from animal waste, or wood for burning in a stove.
The Energy Wiz
Q: Dear Wiz:
I use an 80% efficient natural gas furnace to heat my home. The home also has a heat pump that is used in addition to the gas furnace. The heat pump has a SEER rating of 10. In the past, I have switched from the heat pump to natural gas heat at 34 degrees so that the heat pump would not use natural gas to defrost. With the increase in natural gas prices should this setting be lower? A relative has a similar arrangement, but uses resistance heat in addition to a heat pump. What temperature setting should be used in this instance?
The simple answer is that backup heat, whether gas or electric, should not come on until the heat pump can no longer provide enough heat to keep the home warm.
There are thermostats that will monitor whether your heat pump is making set point. Set point is the temperature you set for inside your home on a thermostat. With this type of thermostat, the trial and error method is done automatically. This can be beneficial since the amount of wind outside can affect the temperature at which your heat pump can no longer keep up. Changes in your heating load from wind are due to infiltration or air leaks, not from wind chill. Wind chill does not apply to inanimate objects. The effect of wind on a totally sealed enclosure will be very little on the heating and cooling load.
An additional note: Most heat pumps with electric heat as a backup are set to run even after the electric backup heat comes on. For this to occur, the air flow in your homes heating system must hit the heat pump coil before it hits the electric backup strips. So, if your heat pump continues to run even after your electric backup heat comes on, you should not be alarmed. If your heat pump does not continue to run after your electric backup comes on, you may want to contact your heating and cooling contractor to be certain the unit is operating properly. The opposite is true of a heat pump with natural gas as a backup. A heat pump with natural gas backup must shut down when the gas backup heat comes on. If your heat pump continues to run after the natural gas backup heat has come on, you should contact your contractor to fix this problem.
The Energy Wiz
Editor's Note: |
The staff at the Energy Office respond to many inquiries on a variety of topics from Nebraskans. From time to time, the Quarterly will share some questions and the answers with readers.