Last week, we discussed the importance of beneficial electrification, which is the transition from fossil fuel-based home appliances to more efficient electric equivalents. Today we are discussing a key component of beneficial electrification: heat pumps.

Modern heat pumps provide homes with reliable and renewable heating, cooling and dehumidifying. Heat pumps use approximately 50 percent less electricity than traditional heating, and the investment will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the electric grid shifts toward 100 percent clean energy sources. In addition, Efficiency Maine currently offers great rebates for installing heat pumps.

Benefits of heat pumps

A heat pump installed near the ceiling of a home. Daryn Slover photo/Sun Journal

Heat pumps provide efficient, cost-saving heating and cooling all year-round. Some people may have the impression that electric heat pumps cannot handle the cold Maine winter. However, modern heat pumps are far superior to older models that people may be familiar with.

These heat pumps are able to provide efficient heating in cold climates even at outdoor temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat pumps also provide value in the summer months through cooling and dehumidifying. Currently, most homes in South Portland do not have air conditioning.

As summers get warmer and more humid due to climate change, air conditioning will be essential to ensure both comfort and safety.

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Which heat pump is right for you?

Air-source, ground-source, ducted, ceiling cassettes – if you’ve heard of heat pumps, you may have heard some of these terms thrown around when discussing different models. Let’s start off by acknowledging that every home is different and may require different heat pump systems. The most important thing when planning to install a heat pump in your home is to have a professional installer help you figure out which model will work best for you.

To begin the process, visit Efficiency Maine’s website to see a list of vetted manufacturers and installers that can help you find the heat pump that is your best fit.

As for the lingo, there are two main types of heat pumps – air-source and ground-source. For most homeowners, the greatest value in home comfort, energy cost-savings, and lowest emissions will be installing air-source heat pumps, as opposed to ground-source that are best suited for new construction.

Air-source units are moderately priced and can be wall-mounted, ground-mounted, ceiling cassettes, or ducted throughout the home. The option you choose will be based on aesthetics, cost, energy needs and layout. In general, wall units are the most efficient. These are the most popular, but also the most visible; whereas, floor units and ceiling cassettes look less conspicuous but lose a bit of the efficiency.

Check out Efficiency Maine’s website to learn more and speak to a professional installer to help you make the right decision for you and your home.

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Efficiency Maine rebates

Efficiency Maine offers rebates that dramatically reduce the cost of this beneficial technology. Rebates are based on income level, type of heat pump, and number of heat pumps installed. You can access these rebates through an instant rebate with an approved vendor or mail-in rebate after purchase.

Homeowners of any income level can receive up to $800 off a single unit and up to $400 off a second unit. Income eligible homeowners can get $2,000 off a single unit and up to $400 off a second unit. To learn more about rebates and heat pumps, visit efficiencymaine.com or talk to a representative at 866-376-2463.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Casey Zorn is Sustainability Program Manager for South Portland. She can be reached at 207-347-4147 or [email protected]

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