A heat pump can help you save energy and money when it’s well-sited and used as directed.
Cold climate heat pumps are highly efficient systems and provide both heating and cooling through the same system. For an introduction to heat pumps, watch our webinar presentation.
What is a cold climate air source heat pump?
Unlike traditional heating systems that burn fuel to generate heat, a heat pump moves heat into or out of a building or space using electricity. This transfer of heat, rather than combustion, makes heat pumps a highly efficient option for heating or cooling your home.
Heat pumps can transfer heat to your home from air, water, or the ground outside your home. Air-source heat pumps are the most common configuration, with a compressor unit outside connected to either a system of heating/cooling ducts or a single or multiple “ductless” room-sized air handers or “heads,” as in the illustration below. Cold climate heat pumps can heat efficiently even when temperatures dip below freezing, and they cool more efficiently than conventional air conditioning systems.
Who should install a heat pump?
Heat pumps benefit some households more than others. There are many factors that determine whether installing a heat pump makes sense, including a home’s layout, the home’s current heating system, a home’s energy usage, and whether or not the home uses air conditioning. Heat pumps are most often used as a supplemental source of heating and cooling, but some homes can use them as the primary heat source.
Heat pumps run on electricity, so to figure out if one is affordable for you, you may compare the projected reduction of your current heating fuel to the projected increase in your electricity usage. If you are replacing an older air conditioner, you may also factor in the change in kilowatts needed to keep you comfortable in summer.
Those in Rhode Island who heat with electricity now have greater incentives to switch to heat pumps through a large rebate offered by the state’s efficiency program, EnergyWise. The size of the rebate depends on the size of the system. Learn more about this at https://www.nationalgridus.com/Ri-Heat-Pump.
And in Massachusetts, those who heat with gas now have a greater heat pump incentive through Mass Clean Energy Center. The “Whole-Home Air-Source Heat Pump Pilot” incentive starts at $2,500, with additional funds for moderate- and low-income households. Learn more about this at https://www.masscec.com/air-source-heat-pumps-1.
Heat pump benefits
One system for home heating and cooling
Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling through the same system. In homes with more than one indoor unit spread out across the house, homeowners can have direct control over the temperature in various parts of their homes.
Energy bill savings
Heat pumps are highly efficient systems and can save homeowners money on both their heating and cooling bills. Heat pumps will provide significant savings over electric resistance and can be cost-effective compared to propane and oil heat. Heat pumps are a considerably greener technology than gas heat. Heat pumps are significantly more efficient than conventional air conditioning systems as well.
High efficiency, lower emissions
High-efficiency heat pumps can help you and your family reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, if you green 100% of your electricity through our Green Powered program, then there are no emissions when you use heat pumps!
If you're used to hearing radiators creak in the winter and using loud window air conditioning units to cool off in the summer, heat pumps will be noticeably quieter.
Air quality and safety
Heat pumps filter and dehumidify air, improving indoor air quality and comfort.
How to get a heat pump
Heat pumps are most likely to be cost-effective if you currently heat with electricity or propane. If you heat with oil, heat pumps may be a good supplemental heating system for all but the coldest days of winter. If you currently heat with natural gas, heat pumps may be a good supplemental heating system for sections of your home that are not currently getting sufficient heat from your gas system (i.e. renovations to basement, attic, or additions that were not factored into the sizing of your heating and cooling system).
Start the process of deciding if a heat pump might be a good option for you by reading these pages:
- Mass Clean Energy Center's "Learn About Air-Source Heat Pumps"
- Mass Save's Electric Heating and Cooling Equipment
- Mass DOER’s Home Energy Market Value Performance (Home MVP) Program
- Rhode Island Heating and Cooling Program