Thursday, May 19, 2022
May 19, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Energy Adviser: Ductless heat pumps can add up to big energy savings


If you find summer and winter are times of heating and cooling discomfort in your home, that discomfort probably extends to your wallet. This may make you a candidate for a ductless heat pump.

“Many older single-family homes still rely on costly cable ceiling heat, wall heaters or electric forced-air furnaces in winter and separate air conditioning in the summer,” said Ashley Spurgeon, program coordinator for Clark Public Utilities. “More than likely their owners spend more than they need to on both heating and cooling.”

Both are big-ticket items on your utility bill. Finding ways to improve home comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs is wise. But, consider a new heating system only after you’ve fully weatherized your home — outside walls, crawl space and attic — or expect your heat — and savings — to escape. For weatherization work, check with the utility for current rebate and incentive programs.

DHPs improve comfort and control in the home environment. Because, they deliver both heating and cooling, you can avoid the summer time “window hanging” air-conditioner, or the bulky and noisy portable one venting out a window, and feel more secure in your home.

DHPs use an outdoor compressor-condenser and an indoor air handling “head” mounted on a wall in your home. Together they move conditioned air, either warm or cool, throughout the living space.

Spurgeon said Clark Public Utilities provides a $750 rebate for a DHP installation for customers with single-family homes and wall heaters, baseboards, cable ceiling heat or forced air furnaces. To be eligible for the rebate, the unit must be installed by a contractor on this list:

Besides not needing ductwork, DHPs provide several other benefits:

• They are small and take up little space.

• Very quiet fans reduce the noise common to other heating systems.

• Built-in air filters improve indoor air quality.

Being ductless, DHPs eliminate loss of heat as the air travels through ductwork. Energy Star estimates that about 20 to 30 percent of the heat in a home is lost through ductwork, which lowers efficiency.

Also, DHPs are easy for contractors to install and putting one in will disrupt your home life for only a day. Your contractor will help you with the paperwork for your utility rebate, too.

The hook-up between the outdoor “pump” unit and the indoor evaporator “head” requires a three-inch hole through a wall for a conduit connection. Most manufacturers can provide various lengths of connection between the two parts of the unit.

Often installers can place the outdoor section up to 50 feet away from the indoor one. This makes it possible to cool rooms at the front of a house, but inconspicuously hide the outside compressor at the back of the house. For the most comfortable results, two story homes need an indoor “head” for each level.

Your installer will work with you to size each indoor unit correctly and determine the best placement for installation. Wrong sized units or poorly located air handlers can result in wasted energy and hampered humidity or temperature control. A system that’s too large also costs more to buy, for no added benefit.

Customers that aren’t sure about a heating upgrade can call one of the utility’s trained energy counselors. The energy counselor can answer questions over the phone or even visit the home for free if needed. “Sometimes there are other ways to reduce wasted energy and lower the heating bill home owners can try before replacing the whole system,” she said. “Our energy counselors can provide information about all the options and current utility programs.”

An energy counselor is available Monday through Friday during business hours at 360-992-3355 or

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

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo