Heat pumps sound too good to be true. For every unit of electricity used to power a heat pump heating and cooling system, they can transfer 2 to 4.5 units of thermal energy. Now, before you reach out to your local physicist, know that none of the laws of thermodynamics have been broken. That is because heat pumps transfer energy, they don’t generate energy.
While the typical gas furnace simply burns fuel to generate heat, heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from cool spaces to warm ones. For example, air-source heat pumps use flowing refrigerant between indoor and outdoor coils to transfer heat using a series of compressors and expansion devices. A reversing valve can change the flow of the refrigerant to allow switching between cooling and heating mode. And don’t worry, air-source heat pumps even work during extreme outside temperatures, though it might be difficult to imagine during heat waves and snow storms.
That said, since they don’t rely on outdoor air, geothermal heat pumps can be even more efficient. Since the temperature of the earth is relatively constant, loops of tubing can be placed underground and will be treated to roughly the same temperature year round. To act as a heating and cooling system, liquid (in this case antifreeze) is pushed through these tubes, releasing unwanted heat from a house into the earth or absorbing heat from the ground to be used to heat the home on colder days. Given this built in advantage, geothermal systems can even reach 500% efficiency!
Given the case-by-case nature of heat pump installations, Powering Our Future does not currently offer incentives for heat pump systems nor does it recommend any particular brands. However, for households within New Castle County, Powering Our Future will rebate $50 of the cost* of an initial Home Performance Assessment from Energize Delaware. This program conducts an energy assessment of your home and offers suggestions on how to improve your household’s energy efficiency, even offering rebates for heat pump installation (excluding geothermal heat pumps).
If you are interested in geothermal heat pumps, check out the state of Delaware’s Green Energy Program webpage here and select your electric utility to find more information about rebates and to find participating contractors.
*NOTE: Each household is limited to one Home Performance Assessment rebate. There are a limited number of rebates allocated each quarter, with priority given to households within our current service area.