What are heat pumps?

Aside from furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners, heat pumps are a great way to heat and cool your home. Heat pumps transfer heat and/or cooling from inside a building to the outside and vice versa. Because heat pumps transfer energy rather than generate it, they can be a more efficient solution than furnaces or boilers and are also more environmentally friendly. However, there are several different types of heat pumps/styles of installations, so it’s important to understand the differences between each to make the right decision for your home.

What are the different types of heat pumps?

Air-Source Heat Pumps

Air-source heat pumps are the most common heat pump in residential settings. An air-source heat pump absorbs heat from the air outside your home (heat exists in the environment even when it feels cold outside). It uses the heat it absorbs and the system’s compressor to provide hot refrigerant to the evaporator coil inside your home. When the air in your home passes over this evaporator coil filled with hot refrigerant, it raises the air temperature and, thus, the temperature of your home. According to The Department of Energy, air-source heat pumps can deliver up to three times more heat energy than the electrical energy consumed! As a comparison, a standard electric baseboard delivers one unit of heat for every unit of electricity consumed.

Mini-Split Heat Pumps

Mini-split heat pumps are a style of air-source heat pump that allows you to control temperatures in individual rooms or spaces. Mini-split heat pumps can either be ducted, moving warm air through ductwork, or ductless, blowing warm air from an air handler. The main benefit of this type of system is that you can have multiple indoor units connected to one outdoor unit, allowing for multiple temperature zones or climates without excessive equipment outside of the home. Many mini-split heat pumps also have the technology to provide full heating capacity at sub-zero temperatures. While there is a common misconception that heat pumps are only made for warm climates, this type of system allows heat pumps to be the primary heat source in many homes in Massachusetts, with no backup heat necessary. Currently, if you replace the fossil fuel system or electric baseboard in your home with a heat pump, Mass Save offers rebates of $10,000!

Water-Source Heat Pumps

Water-source heat pumps use heat from water and the system’s compressor to heat your home. These heat pumps connect to water lines, usually connected to a central, evaporative cooling tower located in a mechanical room or building basement. The advantages of a water-source heat pump are a quiet operation and a smaller system footprint, not requiring an outdoor unit. This type of system is common in large multi-unit buildings where space for outdoor condensers is limited. 

Hybrid or Integrated Systems

Hybrid or integrated systems utilize both a heat pump and a secondary heating source—typically a fossil fuel system like oil or gas. This integration is set up to run the fossil fuel when outdoor temperatures are below a certain threshold and to run the heat pump system when outdoor temperatures are above the pre-set threshold. This setup takes advantage of the temperatures when heat pumps are most efficient and allows for automatic change-over, taking the work out of the homeowner’s hands. Currently, Mass Save is offering a $1,250.00 per/ton rebate on integrated systems if the automatic controls are set up according to Mass Save requirements. 

Ground-Source Heat Pumps

Also known as geothermal heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps utilize thermal energy stored in the ground to transfer heat. Like other heat pump types, these are also efficient as they use existing heat rather than producing it through fossil fuels. Because the ground remains a relatively consistent temperature year-round, a geothermal heat pump takes advantage of this to heat and cool a home efficiently. The only disadvantage to ground-source heat pumps is that the initial installation cost can be expensive and service providers can be limited, as this is a specialty product. Currently, BDL Heating & Cooling, Inc. does not offer geothermal heat pump services. 

Which heat pump is right for my home?

Choosing a heat pump for your home is a personal decision and will depend on a number of factors, including budget, lifestyle, environment, climate, and more. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to talk to an HVAC specialist to determine which is best for your home and personal situation.

I’d love to have a heat pump installed…now what?

At BDL Heating & Cooling, Inc., we’re experts in heating and cooling your home. Contact us today to learn more about the different types of heat pumps we offer and the installation process. We also work extensively with Mass Save to save you time and frustration with rebate applications and provide access to their 0% interest, 84-month heat loan program.