Spring into Summer with a New Heat Pump System
Spring is the perfect time in Vermont to think about how you keep the temperature of your home comfortable, and to consider whether there may be a more efficient heating and/or cooling option out there. This “in between” season highlights the virtues of heat pumps, because with just the flick of a switch, a heat pump can go from heating your home to air conditioning it. And in most cases, it can save money while improving comfort and indoor air quality.
With benefits like these, it’s no surprise that the use of heat pumps in Vermont has grown quickly in the past few years.
What is a heat pump?
Heat pump systems draw heat from the environment and move it indoors to heat your home or move it outdoors to cool your home. Air-source heat pumps gather heat from the ambient air, while ground-source or geothermal heat pumps extract it from the ground. Heat pump technology has evolved in recent years, enabling this equipment to perform well in cold climates like Vermont. Combining heat pumps with solar energy can be a great choice for creating an efficient and eco-friendly home. Heat pumps can bring significant cost savings, depending on the type of fuel you currently use.
Pick the system that’s right for you
There is a broad range of heat pump equipment sold in the US. The most recognizable type of heat pump in use around Vermont is the wall-mounted “mini-split” heat pump system. “Mini” refers to the system’s small size and “split” tells you it’s made up of two distinct parts: an indoor air-handling unit and an outdoor compressor unit. The term “multi-split” or “multi-zone” describes a system with multiple indoor heat pump units connected to one outdoor compressor.
But there are many other options as well, such as centrally ducted heat pump systems and air to water heat pump systems. The system that’s best for you depends on many factors, including the layout of your home and your existing heating system. Consult this helpful guide to learn more about the options.
IN THE MARKET FOR A HEAT PUMP?
You may be eligible for a low- to no-interest Home Energy Loan.
Whichever system you choose, you’ll need your installer to carefully calculate how much heating or cooling energy you need to design a system and select the right equipment. Ask your contractor if and how they have done those calculations to size your system. If you have been thinking about insulating or weatherizing your home, doing that work in combination with installing heat pumps can often pay for itself with the savings that are generated.
Our minds might be on air conditioning this time of year, but make sure to talk to your contractor about the use of that heat pump for heating, making sure it is cold-climate rated and properly sized to heat the space you are focused on. And be sure to ask your contractor about what incentives are available for the heat pump you select—there are many incentives available from utilities as well as from Efficiency Vermont but only for qualifying equipment.
Living with heat pumps
Know what to expect from your heat pump. Heat pumps heat and cool spaces by moving air around. If you are not used to having moving air in your home, or hearing the sound of a quiet fan running, consider whether that’s okay for you. Remember, your comfort is important.
Additionally, heat pumps, just like any other appliance in a home, require some minimal maintenance. Talk to your installer about what is needed throughout the year and decide if you or the contractor will be the one to maintain it. For more about using heat pumps read this popular guide from Efficiency Vermont.
Ready to buy?
Contractors within the Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) specialize in the installation of cold-climate rated heat pump equipment. When installed by an EEN contractor, heat pumps are eligible for low- and no-interest Home Energy Loans. Your EEN contractor will also be able help ensure that the model you pick qualifies for the incentives available from electric utilities and Efficiency Vermont.
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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of VSECU.
About Jake Marin
Jake Marin is the program manager for HVAC and Refrigeration at Efficiency Vermont. There, he developed Vermont’s first heat pump program in 2014 and has continued to help develop programs and guidelines for the greater Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region through his collaboration with the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP). These programs have supported the installation of over 35,000 high efficiency heat pumps and over 14,000 heat pump water heaters in Vermont alone. Starting with single zone ductless mini-splits, his heat pump program portfolio has grown to include multi-zone, ducted, air to water and soon-to-be-released, ground source heat pumps.