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May 9, 2016
It’s been five years since we began installing heat pumps, and we’re sold on the technology so much, that we’ve just added a van to our fleet dedicated to heat pump installations! While heat pumps are gaining in popularity, there are still some misconceptions about their effectiveness here in Maine’s climate. Since heat pumps are a viable option in most instances when a secondary source of heat (and sometimes primary source) is needed, I’d like to share what we’ve learned over the last couple of years:
Heat pumps are super efficient at making heat. They extract available heat from the outside air and transfer that heat into your living space. Amazing, yet simple concept. Improvements in technology has increased their effectiveness, so even on the coldest of cold days here in Maine, usable heat can be achieved. Although most heat pumps are installed as secondary heating sources, much like a wood or pellet stove, they have been used as primary heating sources in new, well-insulated and well-weatherized builds.
Sizing and placement of the heat pump outside is critical in achieving the greatest benefit. An important fact is, when it gets colder outside, the heat pumps produce less heat and are less efficient. By doing a heat-loss calculation first, your installer will be able to tell you at what outdoor temperature you will need to supplement the heat pump. This is vital in managing your expectations and figuring your cost savings.
Inside location matters. Depending on the style, these units can be installed on nearly any surface in the home. The goal is to blow the warm or cool air into the living space with as few obstructions as possible. It is very important to take heat distribution, noise and aesthetics into consideration when installing a heat pump.
Heat pumps double as air conditioners in the summer. That’s right – by simply reversing the flow of air, the heat pump can extract the heat and moisture from inside of your home and blow it outside, which leaves colder, drier air behind.
Heat pumps are an excellent dehumidifiers. Most units have a setting that will dehumidify up to 4.5 pints per hour.
Heat pumps are low maintenance. That doesn’t mean they can be entirely forgotten, as a clean heat pump operates more safely and more efficiently (up to 25 percent more efficient.) By low maintenance, we mean much of the care can easily be done by you, such as changing the air filters. We still recommend periodic servicing by professionals, which is often a quick-and-easy task resulting in a smaller servicing bill compared to boiler or furnace servicing.
Along with things like insulation and air sealing, heat pumps should be considered when looking into possible efficiency upgrades of your home. But it is highly recommended to speak with a certified installer before making any financial commitment. To make sure you understand exactly what the heat pump will provide in terms of efficiency gains, make sure your contractor conducts a heat-loss evaluation first.
And we’re not the only ones sold on heat pumps. If you contract with an Efficiency Maine Registered Vendor for your heat pump installation, you might be eligible for a $500 cash rebate from Efficiency Maine.
Esther & Jim C, Waterville
There is not yet morning sun to warm our home, the hot water, oil-fired furnace is off and our source of comfort comes from two important features of our home that your company has provided. The first is the insulating and air sealing, and the second is the new and excellent Fujitsu heat pump system. We want to commend you and your competent, considerate and hardworking employees for the outstanding effort in making our home energy efficient, warm and comfortable. We will recommend others to investigate the heat pump technology and begin operating their homes more efficiently by contacting you and your company.