May 12, 2016

Mini-split heat pumps have become increasingly popular in New England over the past few years. Having improved steadily, the technology now works better in colder climates and offers an affordable solution for heating and cooling homes. We've jumped on the bandwagon here at King Pine Homes and have begun installing them in our projects. The following is a list of reasons we're stoked on the technology.

Why Use Air-Source Heat Pumps?

(1) Affordability: Mini-split heat pumps cost roughly $3,200 to $3,500 per unit installed. Efficiency Maine currently has a $500 rebate per unit, which brings down the overall costs considerably. On our Fox Street retrofit, for example, we removed the old oil-burning boiler and installed two heat pumps for a total of $5,600 after rebates. Estimates for replacing the old boiler with a new natural gas boiler ranged from $12,000 to $15,000. Not only did we end up with a more efficient means of heating and cooling, but had more than $6,400 to put towards insulation and air sealing. 

(2) Efficiency: Heat pumps can deliver up to three times as much heat energy as they consume. Heat pumps transfer energy from the ambient environment instead of burning fuel to create heat, as do combustion heating systems. 

(3) Easy Installation: King Pine Homes uses ductless mini-split systems, eliminating the need for new ducts or baseboard radiators. There are three components to the mini-split system: The outdoor unit, a conduit for transferring heat, and the indoor unit called a "head." Outdoor units can be placed on the ground or hung on exterior walls. Indoor heads are almost always hung on interior walls and work best in open rooms where air can flow freely. 

(4) Pairs Well with Solar: Air source heat pumps run on electricity, which can be offset by solar. We installed a 2.85 kW solar array on the roof of our Fox Street project, which provides more than enough electricity to power the two heat pumps. Aside from our upfront expenditure, heating and cooling this home won't cost a dime!

(5) Pairs Well with Home Energy Upgrades: Savings from the heat pumps allowed us to increase the budget for insulating and air sealing - two of the most cost-effective energy improvements. Not only will this home be economical to heat and cool, it will have superior indoor air quality and a small carbon footprint.

(6) Comfort: Many people don't realize that heat pumps can be used to both cool your home in the summer and heat it in the winter. The technology simply works in reverse to transfer heat outdoors. 

How Heat Pumps Work

Check out Revision Energy's video below for a short explanation of how heat pump technology works:

And for all you physics nerds out there, the Energy Vanguard Blog has a succinct explanation of the science behind heat pumps.