Heat Pumps for Heating and Cooling

Install a high-efficiency heat pump—and start saving money and energy.
A Massachusetts Room with energy efficient heat pump installed

If you are looking for a convenient way to heat and cool your home or business, consider a heat pump.


Heat pumps can efficiently heat in the winter and double as a cooling system in the summer—while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This clean technology is environmentally friendly, affordable to operate, and can last longer than other heating and cooling systems.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps are heating and cooling systems that move heat indoors in the winter and draw heat outdoors in the summer. Instead of burning fossil fuels, they’re powered by electricity to move—rather than create—heat to keep your home or business at a comfortable temperature year-round. Today’s cold climate heat pumps can be up to 400% efficient and many provide efficient heating at outdoor temperatures as low as -15 °F.

 

Common Types of Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air outside and distribute it inside. During warmer months, this process is reversed to provide cooling. 

There are both ducted and ductless heat pumps making them suited to homes and businesses with or without existing ductwork.

•  Ducted heat pumps operate using the same type of duct system as a central air conditioner or furnace and are often referred to as central heat pumps. These highly efficient systems work well for homes or businesses that already have ducts or where an owner is planning to install ductwork.

An outdoor heat pummp unit for indoor home heating and cooling
A Heat Pump Indoor Vent

•  Ductless heat pumps, commonly known as mini-splits, are a great option for homes and businesses without existing ductwork or for rooms that always seem too hot or too cold. These systems can cost-effectively replace electric baseboard heating and window air conditioners, as well as displace oil or propane heating systems.

An efficient outdoor unit for a ductless heat pump system
An example indoor ductless heatpump unit

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source/geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground during cold weather and distribute it throughout your home or business. During warmer months, this process is reversed to provide cooling. This system is the most efficient type of heat pump and can be a great option for properties with sufficient outdoor space.

Advantages

  • Efficient – Today’s cold climate heat pumps are 2-3x as efficient as a boiler or furnace and many provide efficient heat at outdoor temperatures as low as -15 °F
  • Cleaner – Heat pumps have the lowest carbon emissions of any heating source. When powered with clean energy sources (wind, solar), heat pumps can have zero carbon emissions
  • Safer – There is no in-home or business fuel storage or carbon monoxide associated with heat pumps
  • Affordable to Operate – Heat pumps require minimal maintenance and can eliminate the hassle of scheduling fuel deliveries. For a heating cost comparison, visit the Mass Save Heating Comparison Calculator
  • Flexible – Heat pumps can be installed with or without ductwork and can heat and cool either an individual zone or your whole home or business
  • All-in-One Comfort: Heating, cooling, and dehumidification are all in one system

 

Considerations

  • Efficiency First: Before upgrading your heating system, consider preliminary measures, such as sealing and insulating your ductwork or completing weatherization work. The Sponsors of Mass Save® offer professional guidance, rebates, and financing that will help you increase your home’s efficiency and prepare for a new heating system. Click here for more information.

  • Integrated Controls: Homes and businesses that opt to keep a pre-existing heating system in place to supplement a new heat pump are required to install an integrated control that automatically switches between the two systems at a pre-set outdoor air temperature. Please note, the most cost-optimal switchover temperature will depend on the backup system's heating fuel—for oil systems, the most cost-optimal switchover temperature is 30°F, and for propane, 5°F.* For maximum operational savings, the Sponsors recommend configuring integrated controls to switchover at or below these temperatures.

  • Electric Usage: A heat pump is an electrical system, so running one will add to your electrical use. In many cases, that additional electrical use is offset by savings elsewhere, such as a propane or oil heating fuel bill. You may also decide that increased comfort is worth an additional energy cost. Of course, if you’re adding a heat pump where there was no cooling source before, it will increase your electric use.

  • Qualified Contractors: Please note that each customer situation is unique. The Sponsors of Mass Save® urge you to work closely with a qualified contractor who can design and install a heat pump system that will meet your heating and cooling needs. Be sure to understand installation and operating costs, as well as proper operation and maintenance practices. These steps will help you enjoy the benefits that a properly installed heat pump system can provide. Click here for a list of qualified residential contractors.

*As of December 2022: recommended switchover temperatures were developed based on average fuel costs 2019-2021. The recommended switchover temperature for natural gas systems is 30°F and is designed support decreased greenhouse gas emissions rather than operational savings.


No-Cost Heating & Cooling Consultations

If you are considering an upgrade to your heating system, schedule a no-cost, virtual consultation with a Mass Save Heating and Cooling Specialist to receive technical guidance and support.

Case Study: Hopkinton Home

With heat pumps, Paul Gustavson and his partner, Kelly Fitzgerald, extended their useable space by 1,000 square feet while keeping energy efficiency in mind.

Case Study: Whately Inn

A 1880 country inn makes energy-efficient upgrades, including installing five heat pumps, while preserving the integrity and ambiance of the historic Inn.

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