Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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Energy Adviser: Heat pumps offer year-round savings


If the recent heat wave convinced you it’s time to invest in air conditioning, consider investing in a system that offers year-round comfort and energy savings.

Customers in electrically heated homes can stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, all while enjoying lower home energy costs when they switch to a heat pump or ductless heat pump. Plus, Clark Public Utilities offers up to $2,000 in rebates and generous financing options for the purchase and installation of a system in a qualifying home.

“Heat pumps are an ideal home climate solution for the Pacific Northwest,” Energy Services Supervisor DuWayne Dunham said. “Unlike an air conditioner, which only cools, a heat pump offers both heating and cooling to keep you comfortable all year.”

Hiring an HVAC professional to do the job is worth the investment. They have the experience and the training to right-size a system to your home, get the work done fast and leave you with a sleek, unobtrusive appliance that enhances your living space. Once the system is up and running, it’ll set your entire home to the temperature you want, and keep it there all year long. Plus, having a heat pump could add to your home’s resale value.

This time of year, many Clark County residents have purchased portable and window-mounted air conditioners. They can bring some much-needed relief when the temperature skyrockets, but by design they’re a temporary solution.

Portable units rarely have enough capacity to cool off more than one room, but even small units consume a surprising amount of energy. To avoid the risk of fires they must always be plugged directly into a wall outlet and not a power strip or extension cord. They’re also noisy, bulky and difficult to store. It’s also difficult to get a tight seal around the unit or its exhaust hose at the window, which allows comfort-robbing hot air inside.

Heat pumps don’t break the home’s building envelope. When that stays tight, the summer heat stays where you want it — outdoors.

Heat pumps and air conditioners are very similar. They both use compressed refrigerant to collect heat from the air inside your home, and transfer it outside. But, a heat pump can also reverse this process to transfer heat indoors during the cooler months, which is what makes them an all-year climate solution.

The heat pump that’s right for you will depend on your home’s design and your personal preferences. Homes with ducting systems already in place are well-equipped for a heat pump, which sits just outside the home and resembles an air conditioning unit. A mini-split, ductless heat pump is an affordable solution to a home equipped with zonal heaters such as baseboard or wall heaters; single zone or multiple zone systems are widely available.

Later in the year, the heat pump will really show its value. Clark Public Utilities customers can save an estimated 30 percent on their electric heating costs when they switch from zonal heaters to a ductless heat pump.

“Customers will notice the savings on their energy bills as soon as the heating season kicks in,” Dunham said. “They also make the home feel comfortable because they don’t dry out the air like some electric heaters do, and they’re very, very quiet when they operate.”

To see what investing in a heat pump could do for you and the rebates and loan programs you may qualify for when you invest in one, visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com and search “heat pump program.” You can also contact the Energy Counselor of the Day at 360-992-3355.

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.