Heat Pumps – Frequently Asked Questions
Will a heat pump reduce my annual heating costs?
How do I find a heat pump installer near me?
Click here to use our Vendor Locator Tool.
Do heat pumps work in cold weather?
Yes. The high efficiency units that qualify for Efficiency Maine rebates work well in cold weather. Some are rated to work down to -15°F.
Do they produce enough heat for an entire home or business?
It depends on the building, heat pump, number of indoor units and outdoor temperature. If you’re looking for a whole-building solution, be sure to let your installer know. A growing number of homes and businesses in Maine are designed to heat and cool entirely with heat pumps.
How do rebate-qualifying heat pumps compare with ones that don’t qualify for rebates?
Qualifying units are more efficient at producing heat than non-qualifying units when outside temperatures are low. This enables qualifying units to produce more heat than non-qualifying units.
Is there a temperature below which a conventional heating system is cheaper to run than a heat pump?
Yes, for some heat pump/boiler combinations and electricity/heating fuel price ratios there is an outdoor temperature below which the boiler burning oil or propane is less expensive to operate. Our modeling has shown that using 2018 energy prices, the transition point is somewhere between 5F and -15F. Switching back and forth exactly when the temperature crosses the transition point could save up to 5% on heating costs. However, forgetting to switch back to the heat pump once the temperature climbs back above the transition point could end up costing more. Therefore, we generally recommend that you select a temperature set point on the heat pump that makes the room feel comfortable (usually several degrees higher than what you have used with your central heating system thermostat) and leave it at that setting throughout the winter.
Do I need to replace my current heating system if I want to use a heat pump?
No. Though high-efficiency heat pumps may be configured to work as the sole heating system, they are often used to supplement an existing system (for example, by installing a heat pump in one room and and using the central oil boiler system to heat the rest of the building).
What else can they do beyond heating?
High-efficiency heat pumps perform the same functions as five different appliances: heaters, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, and room air filters.
Do they bring in fresh air?
No. Although heat pumps move heat from the outside of the house to the inside, they do not bring in fresh air. They do recirculate and filter indoor air.
Will a heat pump increase my electric bill?
Unless you use electric resistance heat for your home or business, a heat pump will increase your electric bill. However, if your current heating system runs on oil or propane, the savings from burning less oil or propane will exceed the increased cost of electricity. When a heat pump is used for cooling instead of a window air conditioner, it will decrease your electric bill.
Can I offset household carbon emissions by using a heat pump?
Heat pumps use electricity to heat your home, so their carbon footprint depends on the power generation that serves the regional energy grid. The mix of generation that serves the grid in Maine is among the cleanest in the country. If you have a heat pump that offsets just one third of your home’s annual heating load, and if you heat with oil like most Mainers, the heat pump would eliminate 2,400 pounds of CO₂ per year, the equivalent of eliminating the carbon pollution from three months of average driving. The more your heat pump offsets your home’s heating from fossil fuels, the more you will reduce your carbon emissions.