With two winters behind him, Tom Butler has no reservations about having installed air-source heat pumps to heat his home and a rental property he owns. Tom lives with his wife and their daughter in Groton in a two-story home overlooking a large pond, woods and varied gardens on 5 acres, where several cats, including a manx, freely roam, occasionally stopping by for a pet. Several years ago they installed solar panels to provide electricity for their household and the small rental cottage on their property. Tom thought the annual surplus 2,000 kWh from the panels could power a heat pump system and help him move away from fossil fuels.
Working through the first iteration of the HeatSmart Tompkins program in 2015, Tom and his family chose a small 1.25 ton unit for the house to provide heat for the usually cool kitchen/home office, a window-filled area separated from the rest of the house which was normally heated with a wood stove. The rental got a similar system. Each system cost $3,750 installed. When asked about the payback, Tom said, “This kitchen was pretty cold before we got this thing. As far as I’m concerned the heat pump paid for itself after the first week.” Adding, “The comfort factor is huge. Everyone in my family says, ‘This is great!’”
Tom mentioned that, on particularly cold mornings, his wife Stephanie would go to work and tell people she could “see her breath” in the kitchen. Now with the heat pump his daughter wakes up first, turns on the system, and it heats up in “literally five minutes”. There is no need for the use of the oil-fired boiler or noisy inefficient space heaters any more for heating this wing of the house.
In addition, Tom pointed out the fan is very quiet, and the air-conditioning has been an added boon. “I never thought I’d use the heat pump for air-conditioning, but last summer I said ‘Why don’t we try it?’ It made a huge difference in our comfort.” During a heat spell in June of this year, they also used the AC option briefly, and greatly improved their comfort. Tom estimates it cost him pennies a day to keep that area of his home cool in summer, and less than a dollar a day to warm it in winter.
His tenant, too, is delighted with comfort and ease of the new system, who hasn’t bothered to light a fire for the wood stove in two years. A chronic respiratory condition of the tenant has reportedly improved as a result of the use of the heat pump during the hot summer months.
When asked about advice for others, Tom said “I love this thing--highly recommend it” He added, “I’m a very popular person in my household because of this!”