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Heat pumps transfer heat in and out of a building rather than generating it. Heat pumps use the same process as a refrigerator or air conditioner—like an air conditioner that can also run in reverse! Images courtesy Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

HeatSmart: Small can be better when it comes to heating and cooling

By Saturday, Jul 14, 2018 Environment 2

A heat wave like the one we experienced during the first week in July usually signals a surge in the purchase of air conditioners. But air conditioners only do one thing: cool. Air-source heat pumps, on the other hand, cool and heat your home or office in hot weather or in temperatures as low as -13F.

The HeatSmart Great Barrington project is well underway and, in fact, the deadline for signing up is approaching: Friday, Aug. 31. Now is a good time to consider the benefits of all-season air source heat pumps.

There are a number of options to consider when installing heat pumps:

  • Install a whole-house system via existing or new vents or heating units;
  • Achieve home comfort via a room-by-room or heating and cooling “zones” approach.

Clearly, the whole-house approach is significantly more expensive than the selective approach, and so it is simply out of reach for some folks. It can be the best solution when older heating and cooling systems are ripe for replacement. But often a room-by-room approach is more practical and cost-efficient for targeting problem areas in your living and workspaces and cutting down on energy use and costs.

An air-source heat pump outdoors in the winter. Photo courtesy Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

According to Darin Almeida of Climate Heating & Cooling, the chosen installer for the HeatSmart Great Barrington program, his crews install at least as many air-source heat pumps for cooling as they do for heating. The versatile units serve both needs with ease.

Regardless of the weather, a significant number of customers choose air-source heat pumps to solve “problem” areas of their living and work spaces: rooms that are hotter or cooler than the rest of the house or office, or floors of the building that feel the heat or cold more than the rest. And then there are those infrequently used rooms or wings.

“Many of our customers have guest rooms or sections of the home that they only use for work or entertaining that they don’t use the rest of the time,” Almeida says. “These are ideal locations for air-source heat pump units. Or an upper floor that really feels the heat in the summer or is far away from the furnace can benefit greatly from individually installed units that run independently.”

Another plus to the room-by-room or zoned approach is that a home or business owner doesn’t have to replace a boiler or furnace if it’s still in good shape. In fact, combining selectively placed air-source heat pumps to complement a building’s existing heating and/or cooling system is a win-win from the vantage point of cost, energy efficiency and year-round comfort.

Through HeatSmart Great Barrington, residents have a unique opportunity to access not only the standard, state-approved rebates on air-source heat pumps, but also are eligible for special pricing from Climate Heating & Cooling that was put in place when the company was competitively chosen for the program.

The HeatSmart sale on heat pumps for Great Barrington residents runs through the end of August. You can sign up for your free, no-obligation assessment at http://www.heatsmartgb.org/.

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