Sizing Your Heat Pump for Optimal Efficiency and Comfort

If you’re currently relying on old, inefficient heating and cooling equipment and are looking to upgrade, installing a heat pump may be the way to go. However, there are lots of factors to consider in order to maximize comfort and efficiency. To help out, we’ve put together five steps to guide this decision-making process.

Step 1: Understand whether a heat pump is appropriate for your home.
Even in cold climates, air-source heat pumps can offer reliable heating and cooling: when it’s warm outside, the heat pump removes heat from the indoor air and transfers it outside, and, when the weather is cooler, the heat pump removes heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside. If you’re currently using oil or propane for heating, making the switch to an electric heat pump can offer a great way to lessen your environmental footprint and save on heating costs. Plus, the Compact offers rebates on heat pumps for all residential electric customers.

Even if you are satisfied with your existing heating system, you may want to still explore energy-efficient cooling options, such as central air conditioning or a window unit, both of which the Compact also offers rebates for. If you’re not sure which option may be right for you, the Compact can help by starting you off with a no-cost home energy assessment.

Step 2: Find a qualifying HVAC contractor.
If you do want a heat pump, you will want to find a Massachusetts-licensed HVAC contractor to install the system. For your convenience, we’ve put together this search tool to find nearby contractors.

Step 3: Calculate heating and cooling loads.
An incorrectly-sized heat pump will not only fail to create a comfortable living space, but it will also use excess energy. Units that are too small will run continually to try to meet the desired room temperature, whereas units that are too large will cycle on and off frequently as they quickly reach the desired temperature, shut off, and then cycle back on to re-attain that temperature.

A certified contractor can help you select a correctly-sized unit by calculating your home’s heating and cooling load. Heating load is the amount of heat that needs to be added to your home to maintain a desired temperature, whereas cooling load is the amount of heat that needs to be removed. Both measures, typically recorded in Btu/hr or tons, are key to finding a right-sized unit that won’t waste energy.

Step 4: Find an efficient unit.
It’s important to opt for an energy-efficient model that is also specifically designed for cold climates. EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program includes a list of key ratios – such as SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) – that can inform your selection.

Step 5: Install and maintain the unit.
While a contractor will handle installation, there are several tips for maintaining your heat pump. Ensuring appropriate thermostat settings, regularly cleaning and replacing air filters, and scheduling periodic servicing are just some of the steps you can take.

In conclusion, making updates to your HVAC system can be overwhelming, but the Compact is here to make the process smooth and convenient. If you decide a heat pump is for you, we’re ready to help! You can get started by exploring these FAQs, finding relevant rebates, or chatting with one of the Compact’s representatives at 1-800-797-6699.

About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.
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