As the July heat settles in, heat pumps are increasingly recognized as an efficient-- and, according to a new study conducted in Tompkins County, affordable-- way to heat and cool your homes. Despite the counterintuitive name, heat pumps can both warm up a space and cool it down. This is because a heat pump works by transferring heat from one space to another.
In an air-source heat pump, heat is extracted from the outside air and brought inside during the winter. In the summer, it reverses its flow, removing the heat from inside a home and cooling it down like an air conditioner. In fact, heat pumps use the same basic technology as air conditioners or refrigerators, but in the last decade have become increasingly efficient. Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal, transfer heat from the ground to a home.
Because heat pumps simply transfer heat rather than generating it, they use only a fraction of the energy to operate compared to other systems. For example, while traditional electric heaters convert all of the electricity into heat, and are often advertised as 100% efficient, heat pumps can use one unit of electricity to produce up to three of heat or more, meaning they can be three times more efficient than traditional systems. Carbon emissions from heat pumps are significantly lower than those of similar systems. They are a central piece in the strategy laid out in Tompkins County’s Energy Road Map, an analysis of changes needed to reduce the county’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
But heat pumps aren’t just energy efficient; they’re cost efficient, too. A recent study conducted by Taitem Engineering in Tompkins County found that the cost of heat pumps is slightly lower than that of natural gas furnaces, and significantly lower than those run on propane in townhouses and luxury homes.
In a recent interview with the Lansing Star, Taitem founder Ian Shapiro said that the study “puts heat pumps in the lead, not just technically, but financially”, and that as, according to his prediction, heat pumps become less expensive than natural gas heating in the coming years, no one “in their right mind will be putting in furnaces with boilers”.
The benefits of heat pumps haven’t been lost on the citizens of Tompkins County. Prior to the year 2000, heat pumps were virtually unheard of in Tompkins County. Since then, heat pump installs have grown exponentially, especially in the past few years:
HeatSmart Tompkins has been a key player in this heat pump boom, helping hundreds of people learn about heat pumps, and many of those with its installation in their homes.
To read the full Taitem study click here. Learn more about heat pumps here, and check out other tips for a more energy and cost efficient home on the Get Your GreenBack website.
Have you saved money by installing a heat pump in your home? We'd love to hear about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.