, Newburyport, MA


February 5, 2013

Air-source heat pumps, a cost-effective solution for increased comfort

A heat pump works similarly to an air-conditioner except it can move air in two directions — into the home and out of the home — being a furnace and an air conditioner all in one. An air-source heat pump (also called an air-air heat pump) extracts heat from the air outside your home and pumps it inside through coils that contain refrigerant. Beside the coils, the pump unit has two fans, a compressor and the key to making the unit both a heater and an AC — a reversing valve. Very well-insulated homes, even in frigid New England, can be heated almost entirely with a heat pump due to advancements in this technology that allow air-source heat pumps to extract heat from the air to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides the basic air-source heat pump, there is also a ground-source (geothermal) heat pump. Ground source heat pump systems extract heat from deep in the ground rather than from outside air. The advantage to air-source heat pumps is that they are far less expensive to install compared to ground source heat pumps, and they can do the same job.

Air-source heat pumps either connect to a whole-house duct system or are installed in an exterior wall to serve a particular room or house section. The latter are called ductless mini-split heat systems. The main advantages of mini splits are their small size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. If you have a particular room or house section that you want to make more comfortable, a mini-split may be the ideal solution.

I was visiting a professional office in Newburyport recently where it was cooler than normal inside. I noticed it was heated with electric baseboard, which is why the thermostat was set low — electric heat is expensive. This situation represented a perfect example of where a low-cost mini-split heat pump could be installed to cut the electric bill by about two thirds. Rebates from utilities provide additional incentives and help subsidize the installation of air-source heat pumps.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
Port Pics
AP Video
Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' APNewsBreak: Different Attackers in Benghazi? Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Dozens Gain Citizenship As Debate Continues Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating Children of Deported Parents Speak Out Raw: 10-year Sentence for Ex-New Orleans Mayor Obama Talks Economy, Slams Republicans Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Raw: World's Tallest Water Slide Opens Thursday