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Heat Pumps for Heat? Imagine That!

by New Hampshire Electric Cooperative

With the advent of multi-head, ductless heat pumps that maintain their efficiency in sub-zero temperatures, New Englanders are using heat pumps for more than just supplemental heat during the “shoulder” months. They’re using them as a primary heat source and moving away from fossil fuels.

This new way of heating requires a new way of thinking. That’s why New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC) recommends a whole-house approach that maximizes the value of your heat pump investment.

Seal It FIRST

Whether it’s provided by an oil furnace or a heat pump compressor, or any other method, warm air can escape a leaky house easily. It’s crucial to make sure your home is adequately insulated and air-sealed before you install a heat pump system. The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program, offered by all four of New Hampshire’s largest electric utilities, provides a home energy audit and up to $4,000 in incentives towards the installation of recommended weatherization measures. At NHEC, we offer an additional program incentive of $250 per ton (a measure of energy capacity) to members who have or are planning to install heat pump systems.

Size It Right

You don’t need to have existing ductwork to install heat pumps as your primary heat source. A properly sized compressor can direct heat to three or more “heads,” which can be installed in as many rooms throughout your house, each with its own individual temperature controls. In effect, each room can become its own heating zone. It’s important to size your system properly, though, so you’ll have heat (and cooling) where you need it, when you need it. Some things to consider when designing the system include the square footage of the home, the number, size and location of air ducts, as well as properly sizing the equipment to best meet the heating and cooling needs of the home in the most efficient manner possible. As with the Home Performance program, check with your utility to see if it offers incentives you can take advantage of to reduce your costs. NHEC offers its members an incentive of up to $500 per ton (a measure of energy capacity) for the installation of heat pump systems. We offer an additional incentive of $250 per ton if the system is sized to meet 80% or more of your home’s heating needs.

Use It Right

A properly sized heat pump system can replace your existing heat source entirely, but remember that it’s not business as usual. When you turn up the heat with an old oil or electric system, you’re getting heat in the living room where you want it, but you’re also typically heating other spaces and rooms that are part of the same zone. It’s much more economical and practical to heat only the space you’re occupying, if possible. With the ability to adjust remotely the temperature of each heat pump head, you can turn up your bedroom heat while you’re still cozy in the living room – even on your smart phone!

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