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Air-Source Heat Pump Primer

  • Posted: 10.22.2020
air source heat pump unit

If you are building or remodeling your home or need to update your old HVAC system, you may have discovered how difficult it is to determine which of the many alternatives best meets your needs and will best fit into the structure of your home.

The Air Source Heat Pump Buying Guide, shared with us by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), is a must-read as you are researching your options. It’s an excellent discussion of the types of heat pumps, how the various types operate and how heat pumps compare to other HVAC systems. You’ll also learn how to evaluate your home’s needs, how to evaluate contractors and explore myths relating to heat pumps.

Air source heat pumps are

  • Affordable, in part because of the high efficiency they offer: 200-250% in winter vs. conventional heating systems (gas, oil or propane) that are only 80-97% efficient. And don’t forget that we offer rebates that boost affordability, too.
  • Powered by electricity, the cleaner energy source. Rather than creating energy, air source heat pumps remove energy from the air, concentrate it and push the heat either into or out of your home to provide heating or cooling.
  • Able to provide year-round heating and cooling in the same unit. You don’t need to purchase a separate furnace and air conditioner.
  • Customizable with ductless or ducted units, allowing various configurations to heat and cool individual rooms, zones or your entire home.
  • Healthy and safe, with no worries about carbon monoxide or other gases, and the units are able to filter and dehumidify air to improve your home’s air quality.

Choosing the right heat pump

  • The configuration you choose will depend on your home’s design and existing constraints. You’ll need to take into consideration if you already have ductwork, baseboards or radiators. Maybe you have only one room or area of the house, over a garage or a basement space, for example, that needs a boost of heating or cooling. Or perhaps you are starting from scratch with a new home or planning a major remodel. The type of system you choose will depend on your needs and constraints.
  • Shopping for a heat pump involves 5 steps: 1.) planning ahead, 2.) finding a quality installer, 3.) shopping around, 4.) requiring a load calculation (Manual J) and 5.) preparing a list of questions to ask a contractor before hiring the company. Dig even deeper by reading more details (see the Additional Guidance section in the NEEP guide) and contacting us for more details including answering additional questions you may have and details about rebates we offer.

Heat pump myths vs. facts
These myths have been dispelled. Learn the truth about heat pumps.

  • Myth 1: Heat pumps don’t work below freezing. Truth: Back in the 1980s and 1990s, this was true, but not with today’s cold-climate units!
  • Myth 2: Heat pumps are expensive to operate. Truth: Older models did not perform well in very cold weather and relied on costly electric backup heat. Most cold climate heat pumps have higher heat output in very cold weather and may not need or rarely use backup heat.
  • Myth 3: Heat pumps blow cold air. Truth: Again, older units had this problem as the fans came on full blast, even when the units were slowly warming up, and the old units didn’t produce as much heat in very cold weather as today’s models. Modern units have variable speed fans, improved controls and provide warmer air.