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Wondering about Heat Pumps?
This month's column from the Climate Action Committee explains all deets
By Lisa Pierce, Sebastopol Climate Action Committee
Wondering about heat pumps? You’re not alone. Heat pump technology is creating the most efficient lineup of water heating and space heating and cooling equipment options we have ever seen, but, so far, most people aren’t aware of these breakthroughs, or they are confused.
Heat pump water heaters look similar to gas or traditional electric resistance water heaters. They have become increasingly popular in recent years because they are impressively efficient.
Heat pumps are also quickly being the desired choice for space heating and cooling. You may have heard of a mini-split; a white, oblong-shaped heater/AC unit that is usually mounted high on a wall. These can replace old electric or gas wall heaters and will heat and cool a room or a small house. Or, if you have an older ducted gas furnace, a ducted heat pump can replace your old furnace. Besides being extremely efficient, one of the benefits of heat pumps is that they are both heaters and coolers. We recently replaced our elderly gas furnace with a heat pump, and during last month’s heat wave, we experienced the thrill of having cool air coming out of our floor ducts for the first time.
Why not buy gas appliances? Indoor air quality is one reason. Beyond that, “natural” gas is largely composed of methane, one of the most damaging contributors to climate change. From the fracking process of getting the underground gas into pipes to the burning of the gas in our homes, a lot of methane escapes into the atmosphere.
Being able to heat our water and heat and cool our homes super efficiently, using electricity is a game changing opportunity. Our electrical grid is rapidly moving toward clean, renewable energy, although there is still work to do to complete this transition. If we are going to be able to change our course away from climate disaster, heat pumps are among the best tools we have so far. Because of this, money is pouring in to make these products affordable to homeowners.
Thanks to the newly passed federal climate bill, consumers can receive significant Federal Tax Credits for Heat Pumps. This new federal assistance combines with local BayREN incentives as well as Sonoma Clean Power Residential Energy Incentives for some substantial savings.
In downtown Santa Rosa, Sonoma Clean Power’s Advanced Energy Center provides information on a variety of financial incentives and also offers zero interest, on-bill financing as well as training for installers. The Advanced Energy Center provides a “one stop shop” for the public, offering all sorts of information and assistance to help us all lower our carbon footprint.
This article is part of a series of columns provided to the Sebastopol Times by the city’s Climate Action Committee.