Between the lines: The demise of our heat pump
By Gwen Kautz
We had no warning. One day was cool and carefree, and the next had us sweating. Our heat pump finally bit the dust.
It happened two days before high temperatures hit – thus no air conditioning. We have a large, old farmhouse, so heating and cooling isn’t easy or efficient.
We put in an air source heat pump when we had to replace the original furnace and AC after buying the property more than 15 years ago. While the system was sized appropriately, the inefficiency of our duct work and size/age/configuration of our house didn’t lend to complete comfort. Our HVAC contractor shared his concerns at the time, but we figured we’d make the best of it.
We also replaced all 22 windows and added insulation to our upstairs walls that had zero…literally.
My husband is like a bulldog when it comes to research. He and I discussed the pros and cons of going back to air-to-air versus geothermal. We looked at propane forced air heating with a separate air conditioner. He even looked at radiant floor heating. We also decided not to be in a hurry.
We chose a water source heat pump which will dump into a pond feature my husband planned to build this summer anyway. We also chose to stay with our current HVAC tech, who has always taken good care of us. He has experience installing geothermal systems – an important qualification. After doing price research online, we believe his quote was competitive.
Since this wasn’t planned, the timing could have been worse, it could be mid-July or August. Being without air conditioning for a while is inconvenient, but not insurmountable. We did break down and buy a window AC unit for the bedroom.
Will the bank account take a major hit? Yes it will. What we discovered is that over time, the efficiency of a water source heat pump over the air source heat pump more than makes up the price difference, especially if you consider the rebates offered by Dawson PPD. The size and configuration of our house won’t change but we should see a marked decrease in our electric bill. There’s a federal tax credit for installing a geothermal system, too.
If your heat pump is 15 years or older, you may want to start thinking about possible replacement. Do your research. Remember that you have a choice between a rebate or low interest financing for the purchase. Your equipment, installation and maintenance choices will be reflected in your energy bills over the life of the unit. (Don’t forget to change the filters regularly!)