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If you’ve been hearing a lot about heat pumps and mini-splits recently or if you’re getting close to needing to replace your current furnace or water heater, you’ll probably want to do a little research first.  It’s an old technology (think refrigerator and AC units) but a new way to use it and it’s good to have some knowledge behind you before you make this large investment.


But first, why would you look to change to this new system at all and why not just replace your old system with a newer one just like it?  Like an electric car, there are more advantages than the basic environmental pluses to going with an air-to-air heat pump. Here’s the short list:

  • Although the retrofit to a heat pump will have a higher upfront cost, it will provide the payback in reduced costs for heating and cooling your space or water vs a gas or electric furnace or gas/electric water heater due to impressive efficiency.

  • Removing the known and unknown pollutants associated with burning fossil fuels inside your home will have health and wellness benefits for your whole family (think asthma as a starting point).

  • The same heat pump system will work to heat your home in the winter AND cool it during the hot days of summer.

  • Heat pumps are usually as quiet or quieter than your furnace or central air systems.

  • A heat pump filters air as it circulates the air within your home and will improve air quality.

  • Easily creates zones in various parts of your home so that you aren’t conditioning spaces not used or used differently.

  • Can be paired with your rooftop solar so that you can produce your own energy for your HVAC needs.

  • As our electric companies reduce and remove their use of fossil fuels for power usage, you will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing regional pollution along with global climate change and extreme weather conditions. 

There are a few questions that might help you when talking with the HVAC and electrical specialists who give you bids on your system.  Here are just a few.

  • Do I need to get an energy audit before I can get the right size unit?

  • Which type of heat pump is right for me and why?

  • Will it warm my home sufficiently in our typical winter?

  • What rebates or incentives are available for the proposed system and will the installer help me with them?

  • What might cause my heat pump pricing to change in the near future?

  • Will it work with my solar panels?


For a deeper look into how heat pump technology works, there are lots of videos to walk you through it.  Here’s one that goes to the very basics of the science to explain how it works.  You may not have the desire to know how every piece of technology in your home works but it’s an intriguing concept.  (I had to watch this Old House video a few times to feel that I completely understood how a heat pump works.)


Heat pumps are a great idea for any home and local installers are slowly becoming more educated about their sizing and installation.  Like all air systems, try to make sure that you get one that’s sized right for your specific home.  You lose energy efficiencies if your system is sized too large or too small.   And, beyond your personal comfort and savings, the global reason for putting in these more efficient systems is that the choice you make now for whatever heating/cooling system you have installed will impact our local and global environment and climate for its entire 20-30 year lifespan.  The upfront costs now may be the very thing that saves our future.

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