Utility Bill Assistance



Advantages and Disadvantages of Air-Source Heat Pumps.

Air-source heat pumps provide an increasingly popular cooling and heating solution, and one big advantage to them is the reduction in the users utility bills. This sophisticated technology has the potential to cut costs, help you save on heating and cooling costs, while reducing emissions. Like any HVAC system, it has several pros and cons.

Advantages of Air Heat Pumps

Owners benefit from remarkably low operating expenses. It costs significantly less to run a heat pump than a conventional electric, kerosene or oil system, and your utility bills may be lower by 10 to 30% or more. The up front costs to buy and install a ductless air source heat pump is less than $5000 and a central system may cost around $10,000 or so. Of course the cost varies based on home size and other factors. However, air-source pumps consume more energy than ground-source units.

Most heat pumps exclusively run on electricity. Consequently, owners don't need to maintain fuel tanks or worry about running out of liquid fuels such as heating oil. Also the cost of heating oil changes rapidly and can range from $1.50 to $4.00 per gallon or more. A heat pump more levels sets the utility bills. This advantage also prevents harmful leaks and explosions.

Electric-only heating and cooling equipment produces no direct emissions, which also keeps the air cleaner. Your family and neighbors won't have to contend with wood smoke or furnace exhaust if you use a heat pump.

It's possible to reduce your environmental impact by running a heat pump with renewable energy, such as wind, solar or hydroelectric power. This energy may come from on-site equipment or a utility company.

Although they aren't maintenance-free, these HVAC systems don't demand as much upkeep as oil, gas or wood-fired equipment. An annual service check is recommended, and that may be $100 or so per year for a company to check and tune the unit. You won't need to clean a chimney. Ductwork is optional, so you can avoid duct maintenance as well.





Unlike a furnace, an air-source pump won't reduce the humidity level when you use it to warm your home. This decreases the severity of dry skin and static electricity during the winter.

An HVAC contractor won't need to excavate your property before installing air-source equipment. Installers must dig deep trenches or holes when they set up ground-source heat pumps. Some house lots aren't large enough for these systems.

Disadvantages of Air Source Heat Pumps

Unlike most conventional electric heaters, heat pumps use air filters. Owners need to clean or replace them periodically, as often as 2-4 times per year. A filter may cost $10 or so per duct. Systems with many indoor units also have numerous filters, so that cost will add up.

An air-source heat pump isn't the least expensive HVAC system to buy or install, as noted above it may be up to $10,000 or so. Homeowners usually pay less for electric baseboard heaters and small oil furnaces. On the other hand, this equipment costs substantially less than a ground-source pump. The price is competitive with oil and gas boilers. When comparing costs, keep in mind that heat pumps eliminate the need for separate air conditioners.

These machines produce indoor and outdoor noise. Nonetheless, they're quieter than some fans, portable air conditioners and space heaters. They also generate less indoor noise than many central heating systems.

Although modern units perform well at low temperatures, owners may experience air-source heat pump problems in cold weather. The minimum operating temperatures generally range from zero to -25 Fahrenheit; this number varies depending on the specific model.

Air-source units don't work as efficiently at subfreezing temperatures. A heat pump can't always meet all of a building's HVAC needs. Some people in northern regions use wood stoves, furnaces or boilers for backup heating. That may add a little bit of cost to your monthly utility or heating bills.

Unlike conventional heaters, an air-source system typically has both indoor and outdoor units. So there may be extra cost to create a pad outside of the home for the unit. You can't conceal and protect all of the equipment by putting it in a basement.





It's easier to run an oil or gas furnace with a generator. You'll need a more powerful generator and additional fuel to operate an electric heat pump. This holds true for any HVAC system that primarily relies on electricity.

Bottom line

The bottom line: Air-source heat pumps offer an efficient, eco-friendly option with low maintenance needs. However, they cost more than some conventional systems up front and may not perform as well at extremely cold temperatures.

By: Jon McNamara


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