Heat Pump User Tip: Use Your Heat Pump All Winter
In 2021, Mainers installed tens of thousands of heat pumps in their homes and businesses. Like many others across the globe, the people in our state are drawn to heat pumps because they are the most efficient way to heat and cool a building, saving users both money and energy throughout the entire year.
Efficiency Maine offers rebates and loans to help make the investment in a high-performance heat pump even more cost effective. If you’ve made the investment, or are considering it, we’d like to share some tips on how you can save the most with a heat pump. Over the next few weeks, we’ll post blogs featuring a variety of information designed to help heat pump users in Maine get the most from their heat pumps.
Some people believe heat pumps don’t work in the cold, but we’re here to tell you that, in fact, they do. Heat pumps can provide your home or business with consistent, reliable heat, even during Maine’s coldest temperatures. In fact, if the heat pump system is properly designed for a whole home, you shouldn’t need to back it up with a secondary heating source, such as a boiler or a furnace. Heating entirely with heat pumps can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year compared to traditional heating systems. Check out Efficiency Maine’s Compare Home Heating Costs calculator to learn how much you could save with a heat pump.
If you can’t heat your whole home with a heat pump, you can still save energy and money by using your heat pump before your boiler or furnace whenever possible. This can mean different things in different homes, such as setting the boiler or furnace thermostat lower or closing a radiator or damper in the rooms served by the heat pump. Some typical solutions and configurations can be found here.
Even in cold temperatures, heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat and should be used before a boiler or furnace. Rebate-eligible heat pumps can reach over 400% efficiency in mild temperatures and can maintain well over 200% efficiency even into negative temperatures. This is why turning off a heat pump in frigid temperatures and opting to use a fossil fuel boiler or furnace instead is a mistake.
Efficiency Maine recommends using your heat pump all winter. Here’s why: Switching between a heat pump and a boiler to minimize energy costs is challenging and likely not worth the effort. At current energy prices,* from the Governor’s Energy Office as of 3/4/2022, our Compare Home Heating Costs calculator* shows that heat pumps still save $913/year compared to oil and $2,128/year compared to propane.
Our modeling* shows that heat pumps cost less to run than oil at any temperature above negative 1F. Heat pumps cost less than propane at any temperature above negative 11F. Even if a customer did switch to oil or propane precisely at these temperatures, failure to switch back exactly when temperatures recover runs the risk of increasing costs. This is why we recommend using your heat pump all winter.
Efficiency Maine offers rebates and loans for homeowners and businesses interested in installing heat pumps. If you don’t have a heat pump, go to https://www.efficiencymaine.com/about-heat-pumps/ for more information on how to select a model, apply for rebates and financing, review installation considerations, and more. Also check https://www.efficiencymaine.com/heat-pump-user-tips/ for more details on these tips and to view a video on how to get the most from your heat pump. To estimate your home heating costs, consider using our Compare Home Heating Costs calculator.
*Assumptions: $0.22/kWh, heat pump COP = 2.93%, 100% heat pump distribution efficiency, $3.86/gal oil, oil boiler AFUE=87%, 80% oil boiler distribution efficiency, $3.43/gal propane, propane boiler AFUE=90%, 80% propane boiler distribution efficiency, 80 MMbtu/yr home.