If you’re suddenly hearing all your friends talk about their new heat pumps, you’re not alone: These HVAC systems, which pull heat out of even the coldest air and distribute it inside your home, have become increasingly popular as their capabilities have expanded. “The technology becomes more efficient every year,” says Jim Godbout, of Jim Godbout Plumbing & Heating in Biddeford, underlining a point that’s music to many a Mainer’s ear (not to mention good news for their budgets). Besides providing even, efficient heat in the dead of winter, heat pumps transition easily to cooling — something that’s becoming more attractive as Maine summers heat up. Here are Godbout’s pointers for hopping on the heat pump bandwagon.
Understand the basics.
You can use a heat pump for auxiliary heating (and cooling), placing units in rooms that aren’t well served by your furnace or boiler. Or, with proper weatherization, you can use them as your sole heating and cooling source. The Mitsubishi Hyper Heat system, which Godbout recommends, functions in temperatures as low as -15. And if you don’t like the look of ductless wall units, you can choose recessed ceiling-mounted or hidden ducted units. Heat pumps move air differently than traditional hydronic boiler systems, which often creates a dryer environment. You may need to add humidification for comfort and to ensure a healthy indoor climate.
Choose your contractor carefully.
As heat pumps have grown more popular, more companies are installing them. But they’re not all equally skilled — and many don’t provide service. Godbout recommends going with a company that will both install your heat pump and service it in years to come. A good contractor can also help you navigate Efficiency Maine’s rebate process, which offers up to $1,500 back on residential heat pump installations.
Don’t skip maintenance.
To ensure maximum efficiency, rinse your heat pump’s filters — upside down in the kitchen sink — every six months. Once a year, schedule a maintenance call. Heating techs will inspect the system, including room units, drains, and the condenser outside. Every five years or so, they should thoroughly clean the whole system.