Last fall, just as the weather started to turn, my old AC condenser met its death. It was a sad time – not because I needed to worry about cooling my house, but because all I saw was a future filled with dollar signs and stress.
Thankfully, I work at NEEP, and know all about the benefits of heat pumps. An air source heat pump (ASHP) seemed like the logical, no-brainer next step. Turns out, this next step was going to be quite an educational experience.
Here are five key things I learned about ASHPs as I navigated the market as a consumer:
1. People, both consumers and installers, still have a lot to learn about heat pumps. An ASHP seemed liked the obvious choice to me. My husband, though, wanted to make sure this was actually the right decision for our house and not me just drinking the NEEP Kool-Aid. He had no idea what an ASHP was and why he should be paying more to get one installed. Turns out, some of the installers we asked to the house for quotes also had limited knowledge. One even told us that only ductless heat pumps existed and we could not build off our current system.
2. Rebates are everything. I am a believer in heat pumps. I have read the NEEP reports, attended the NEEP workshops, and reviewed the numbers. I get it. No matter how much I get it, nor how well I did at convincing my husband of their benefits, our wallet often has the final say in decisions like this. We got quotes for a more efficient version of our dead AC unit and we got quotes for a new dual ASHP/oil unit. There was a significant financial difference between the two. If not for the 0 percent interest loan and MassSave rebates, we might not be the proud owners of a new ASHP.
3. Rebates need to be easier to secure. We had to provide what seemed like the life history of both ourselves and our house in order to secure our loan and rebate. I completely understand the reason for this amount of information and I was fine submitting all of the requested materials. After our system was installed, we had to have a MassSave representative come out to confirm that all the changes were as originally agreed upon. Again, this makes sense. At this point, I figured we were good to go. Sadly, I was wrong. After the in-person visit, I had to complete additional forms to receive our rebate. It felt like a never-ending test that I had not prepared for. Thank goodness we had a kind and patient installer who helped fill in all of the blanks correctly. With all of the steps, follow-ups, additional required information, and so on, I wanted to just quit. However, my own determination (and my empty wallet) motivated me to get to the finish line. I can see how this process, though, might discourage others from moving forward.
4. Workforce development is essential. As I stated earlier, even installers still have a lot to learn about heat pumps. We had a hard time finding a company that we were comfortable with. The one we ended up hiring is in high demand. In speaking with the owner, they almost exclusively install ASHP systems and he has to turn down business because they are so busy. He is trying to build out his team, but he’s having a hard time finding qualified installers. Those he has hired, he had to train more.
5. Heat pumps work. I admit, we have not had our heat pump for a full year yet. However, we survived Boston’s hottest July on record and New England’s first big snow of the season. Through it all, our house remained comfy and cozy. And, full disclosure, I decided that because I have a much more efficient system, it would be ok to be a little less concerned with the thermostat. I’ve dropped the temp in the summer and raised it in the winter compared to previous years. In case you’re concerned I’m biased because of my employer, I am not the only one happy with this new addition to the home – our wallets (and subsequently my husband) are quite pleased. In our first six months (June-November 2019), we have already saved over $600 as compared to previous electricity and oil bills. I am hoping that number continues to grow!
I am very happy with my ASHP. I love that we’re saving money. And I love the fact that I am playing my part in reducing our carbon footprint. This market is ready for change. If the workforce can be developed, the consumer educated, and the rebate process simplified, it won’t be long before all of my friends and neighbors are singing the praises of their new ASHPs too.
Want to see more ASHP success stories or other resources? Check them out.