What are heat pumps, and how do I take advantage of rebates and tax credits?
What is a heat pump?
A heat pump is similar to an AC but has the added function of providing heat during the winter months. This system thus takes the place of a traditional AC/furnace combo.
It would be reasonable to conclude that an air conditioner blows cold air into the home. In reality, an AC cools by removing the warm air. If you have ever stood close to the outside portion of an air conditioner, you likely will have noticed that it emits quite a bit of heat. What happens is the system takes the air inside your home and blows it across a coil full of refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat and transfers it outside. With the heat from the air removed, the resulting cool air is then blown back inside the home.
A heat pump has something called a reversing valve. As its name suggests, that valve reverses the process so that the system takes any warmth from the outside air (even in the colder months) and using refrigerant, transfers it indoors.
Why is a heat pump considered efficient?
Heat pumps are required to undergo tests to determine their efficiency, or how well they transfer energy. There are various ratings that are used to relay just how efficient a heat pump is. The most common rating is called the SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Recently, the guidelines of the testing have become more stringent to try and replicate real-world applications. The units that have undergone the new test will have a SEER2 rating.
The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient a heat pump will be, meaning less energy will be needed to cool or heat the home. While furnaces create heat, heat pumps simply transfer heat. Less energy is required to do this, so heat pumps are considered more energy efficient than the traditional furnace. Also, unlike furnaces most of which use oil or natural gas, heat pumps run on electricity.
Why is the government offering a tax credit?
The Inflation Reduction Act has caused a lot of hype regarding heat pumps, as this is where some of the largest credits and rebates can be issued to residential homeowners. Many view heat pumps as one of the best ways to combat climate change. By replacing fossil fuel burning equipment (that emits carbon dioxide) with equipment that is run on electricity, (which produces no carbon at the time of usage) greenhouse gas emissions can be controlled.
Electricity can be created by "clean" sources such as water, wind, and solar. Some, however, are quick to point out that not all electricity is fueled by renewable energies, and many grids are still using coal or other carbon-emitting sources. Thus, swapping out gas furnaces for heat pumps in certain areas would result in similar carbon emissions. However, these power grids are easier for state governments to regulate. Many state governments, for example, have already put in place laws requiring a percentage of electricity production from clean sources. Some grids are already generating the majority of their electricity from renewables.
Governments also have the ability to regulate the efficiency ratings of heating and cooling devices. Due to the way furnaces work, creating heat by transferring the energy in fuel sources to warm the air, efficiency will never reach 100%. The maximum efficiency of a
furnace is currently around 98.5%. Heat pumps, on the other hand, have the ability to transfer up to 4.5 times more energy than they consume. Laws are in place that will require manufacturers to gradually increase the minimum SEER ratings, which will decrease the overall energy usage of the nation. These technologies are improving with time to create units that are ever more efficient.
How to take advantage of tax credits and rebates
Rebates are currently available at federal, state, and local levels. If you are a homeowner in need of a new HVAC system, now it's a great time to take advantage of the available savings. JD Air can provide a free replacement estimate and can help you determine which tax credits and rebates are available to you.