If you are considering a new heating or cooling system for your home, air source heat pumps, sometimes referred to as mini-splits, are an energy-efficient electric heating and cooling system that can be used to heat and cool part, or all, of your home. They are highly customizable, and can be installed to be used with ductwork (which may be a good option if you already have a central HVAC system) or ductless systems can also be installed without the need for any ductwork. View the chart below to see how much you could save, considering HG&E's low electric rates, by installing an air source heat pump system.
Average Annual Heating Cost Comparison for Holyoke Residents
Many rebates and incentives are available for qualifying air source heat pump systems. Click here for a list of currently available incentives.
How does an air source heat pump system work?
Most air source heat pump systems have two main components: an outdoor unit, though systems can include various combinations of outdoor and indoor units. The indoor and outdoor units are connected by a pipe which transfers refrigerant between the units. Like central air conditioning systems, heat pumps provide cooling by using refrigerant to move heat from the inside to the outside of the house, blowing the remaining colder air back into the house. In the winter, air source heat pumps reverse operation, extracting heat energy from the outside air and bringing it inside. Heat pumps listed on the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships Cold-Climate Air Source Heat Pump List can even operate year-round in Holyoke's climate!
The amount of heating and cooling that a heat pump can provide depends on its size, or "output capacity". Smaller heat pumps can be used to heat individual rooms or spaces ("single-zone" systems) while larger systems can heat larger spaces including multiple rooms, or, an entire home ("multi-zone" systems). For example, a common type of single-zone heat pump is a "mini-split", which has only one outdoor unit and one indoor unit, which is often mounted on the wall. A mini-split could serve as a retrofit add-on to houses with "non-ducted" heating systems, or be a good choice for room additions and small apartments. Ducted heat pumps can take advantage of existing ductwork and offer a viable alternative to central HVAC systems.
Insulating/Weatherizing Before Installation
Consider preparing your home for the air source heat pump installation by first air-sealing and insulating to a proper extent. Having a tighter, more insulated home not only reduces annual heating costs, but might also allow you to buy a smaller heat pump system than you would have needed otherwise. HG&E provides free energy audits to customers to help you determine your annual cost savings for improving your insulation, air sealing, and other energy saving opportunities for your home. You can also take advantage of Holyoke's weatherization rebates which include insulation rebates of 50% of the cost up to $2,000, and air or duct-sealing rebates (50% up to $500).
Understanding Common Heat Pump Ratings
The output capacity of a heat pump system can vary depending on the outdoor temperature. The NEEP Cold-Climate Air Source Heat Pump List often provides the minimum, rated, and maximum heating output capacity of the unit at various outdoor temperatures down to 5 degrees F. Air source heat pumps also have various efficiency ratings. Some common efficiency ratings for heat pumps are:
HSPF: This is the average annual heating efficiency of the air source heat pump system. The HSPF of the system indicates how many btu's of heat are being produced for each watt of energy that the system consumes. For example, if a heat pump has an HSPF of 10, this means that the system will output an average of 10 btu's of heat for every watt consumed throughout the heating season. Ensuring the system has a high HSPF will help lower your annual heating bills.
SEER: This is the average annual cooling efficiency of the heat pump. The SEER rating indicates how many btu's of cool air the system can provide per watt of electricity that the system consumes. A higher SEER rating will reduce your cooling costs over the cooling season.
How to Shop for A Heat Pump
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership’s Air Source Heat Pump Buying Guide (pages 13 and 14) provides best practices for steps to choosing a heat pump system and questions to ask a contractor to ensure they are experienced with installing this system type.
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership’s Air Source Heat Pump Buying Guide and MassCEC’s Heat Pump Guide are great resources to review to learn more about how air source heat pumps work, which design is right for your home, size and ducting options, and more!