Is a ductless heat pump right for you?
A heat pump helps you to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home year-round. These units use less energy than many other heating and cooling systems such as baseboard electric heat, propane, or oil. As with any heating and cooling option, you’ll want to consider your home’s unique setup and layout to determine if a ductless heat pump is right for you.
Heat pumps can handle most of the heating needs of homes in Vermont. Like most heating systems, the colder it is outside, the harder it works. Cold-climate heat pumps can handle temperatures as low as–15 degrees F. We recommend that you have a supplemental heat source (e.g., furnace or boiler, stove or fireplace, or central wood heat) as a backup for the coldest days of the year. During periods of lower temperatures, you can use your supplemental source to make up the difference. When installing a new ductless heat pump, consider adding integrated controls, which can coordinate the operation of the heat pump with your supplemental heat for best savings and comfort.
Homes with an open floor plan, where large spaces are well connected, are good for heat pumps. In a small home or business with an open floor plan, one or two ductless heat pump units can displace most of your heating fuel use and save you money.
For larger spaces and those with enclosed rooms, multiple units are needed—one for each room or zone. Locate the heat pump in the most open part of the home and keep doors open to increase the impact of the ductless heat pump.
Consider your insulation and air sealing before installing a ductless heat pump. Improving the thermal efficiency of the building will maximize the effectiveness of the heat pump and reduce the use of supplemental heat. Eliminating drafts and increasing insulation are affordable improvements that pay for themselves.
Switching to a heat pump is an electric load increase that could mean panel upgrades. This is also a consideration if you are thinking about a heat pump water heater, electric clothes dryer or stove, or electric vehicle charging at home. Your electrical service has a limit on how much electricity it can deliver to your house. To accommodate a heat pump in your home, you may or may not need to upgrade your electrical panel. Even in older homes, your existing electrical service may be adequate for the addition of a heat pump. If you live in a home less than 50 years old, your home is likely capable of handling a bigger electrical load.
Be sure to ask your contractor whether your home’s electrical service can handle the extra load.
Heat-pump savings depend on what fuel you are switching from, how much your electricity costs, and how well the ductless heat pump satisfies the heat demand of your home. If you have baseboard electric heat or typically more expensive heating fuels, like propane or oil, the savings can be significant. While your electric bill will increase, it will be offset by a decrease in the costs of more expensive fuels. If you’re switching from natural gas, wood, or pellets, a heat pump may not lower your heating bills. Consider the upfront price of the system, as well as long-term operating costs, when deciding on a heat pump installation.
Efficiency Vermont provides an incentive when you work with one of our participating HVAC distributors. Installing a ductless heat pump may also qualify for Federal tax credits and rebates, as well as rebates from your electric utilities.