Energy Adviser: Installing heat pump can pay off

Published:

 

As much as 50 percent of your energy cost goes toward heating and cooling. Upgrading a heating system isn't cheap, so it pays to make good decisions about home heating. Good choices in the summer months can save money year-round and add comfort in the winter.

If your home uses an electric furnace or an older heat pump, one way to improve heating efficiency and reduce heating costs is by installing a new heat pump. Using a contractor certified by the Bonneville Power Administration's Performance Tested Comfort System program can save consumers money through incentives offered by Clark Public Utilities. The PTCS program trains, certifies and controls the quality of contractors installing ducted heat pump systems.

Heat pumps are air conditioners with a reverse cycle for heating. They cool homes in summer and heat them in winter. The savings a heat pump delivers depends on the heat pump and how it's installed.

"PTCS-certified heat pumps are installed to perform as efficiently as possible, minimizing energy waste while delivering comfort to the homeowner," said Stephanie Vasquez, BPA program manager for PTCS.

Another way to save money is by having the heating system's ductwork inspected and sealed, if necessary. PTCS technicians pressurize ductwork, measure leakage, then seal any leaks.

"PTCS-certified ducts have been sealed to make sure heated air is delivered to the inside of the home, not the crawl space," Vasquez said.

DuWayne Dunham, energy counselor at Clark Public Utilities, added, "Leaky ductwork lets 15 to 20 percent or more of your heat escape."

Testing and sealing duct-work means little wasted energy, saving money in the long run.

Clark Public Utilities offers a $250 to $1,000 rebate on the installation of a heat pump, depending on its level of efficiency and duct-sealing requirements. The utility also offers loans for heat pumps. Both require installation by a PTCS-certified contractor.

"We're fortunate to have many contractors willing to take the PTCS training and do the extra paperwork," Dunham said. "Although this is an added cost for our customers, we do offer rebates to help offset cost."

For the PTCS program, contractors must adhere to calculations to ensure they install the right size heat pump and that the ductwork is tight. They also:

• Program the system to lock out electric resistance heat until the outside temperature is less than 30 degrees;

• Adjust heat pump air flow for efficiency, comfort and reliability;

• Ensure the correct amount of refrigerant is charged into the system;

• Seal ducts for efficient heating and cooling.

For more information about PTCS requirements, contact info@ptcsnw.com or 800-941-3867 or visit http://www.bpa.gov/reshvac.

For information about rebates for projects using a PTCS-certified contractor, visit http://bit.ly/12IbA6k or call an energy counselor at 360-9925-3355.

Energy adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.