Six Common Questions about Air-Source Heat Pumps  


Although air-source heat pumps are becoming a more popular means for heating and cooling homes across the Cape and Vineyard, many residents still have questions about the functionality and benefits of this technology. Let’s explore six common questions to provide clarity on how heat pumps can provide greater efficiency and comfort in your home.  

1. How does an air-source heat pump work?  

An air-source heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that keeps you cool during the summer and warm during the winter. When it is warm outside, the heat pump serves as an air conditioner by extracting heat from the air inside your home and transferring it outside. In cooler weather, the heat pump reverses its process and collects heat from the outside air and transfers it inside.  

2. What is the difference between ductless heat pumps (mini-splitsand centrally-ducted heat pumps?   

Ductless heat pumpscommonly referred to as “mini-splits,” are a popular heat pump choice. They are easy to install, and they consist of one or more interior units and an exterior unitHowever, each pairing of an indoor unit will generally only meet the heating and cooling needs of one room, depending on the size of the room and the output of the unit. In comparison, centrally-ducted heat pumps rely on only one internal and one external unit, as heated or cooled air is transported throughout the home through ducts

3. Is an air-source heat pump appropriate for meeting heating needs in cold climates, like in New England?  

Heat pumps provide an efficient heating option, even for residences located in cold climates. Operation of heat pumps on days when the temperature drops to single digits requires customers to install a unit that is specifically rated for singledigit or belowzero temperatures. 

4. How do heat pumps relate to fuel-switching? 

Depending on your current heating system, heat pumps can help lower your energy costs and the environmental footprint of your home through the process of “fuel-switching”. By using heat pumps, which rely on electricity, you can replace the fuel that would otherwise be used to heat your home, such as oil or propane. Heat pumps can also be used as a much more efficient replacement for electric baseboard heating systems.  

5. Does the Compact offer any resources to support heat pump installation?  

The Compact offers rebates to residential customers based on cooling capacity of the heat pump system, measured in tons. For context, one ton is equivalent to approximately 12,000 BTU/hr (British Thermal Units/hour). One BTU is the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Therefore, when discussing the capacity of an HVAC system in tons, it refers to how much heat, measured in BTUs, can be added or removed by the system in one hour.  

The tables below summarize the incentive amounts that the Compact offers based on cooling capacity. You can locate the complete tables, including additional eligibility requirements, on   

Standard Central and Mini-Split Heat Pump Rebates 
Equipment Type  Delivery Method  Rebate Amount 
Central Heat Pump  N/A  $350 per ton 
Mini-Split Heat Pump  Non-Ducted  $150 per ton 
Ducted, Mixed-Ducted  $350 per ton 


Fuel Optimization Rebates 
Equipment Type  Primary Fuel Type  Delivery Method  Rebate Amount 
Central Heat Pump  Oil or propane  N/A  $1,000 per ton 
Mini-Split Heat Pump  Oil or propane  Ducted, Mixed-Ducted  $1,600 per ton 
Mini-Split Heat Pump  Electric Heat  Ducted, Mixed-Ducted  $1,000 per ton 


6. How do you decide between a heat pump versus separate heating and air conditioning systems?  

Deciding on the best heating and cooling technology for your home depends on several factors, including how much you’re willing to spend upfront, the size of your home, your typical heating and cooling needs, and your existing HVAC equipment.  

The unique advantage of a heat pump is that it can provide a one-stop heating and cooling solution: in addition to meeting your existing heating demand with a more energy-efficient supplyit can also provide a solution for keeping cool and comfortable on warmer days.   

However, if you already have an efficient heating systemsuch as a natural gas systemcentraair conditioning unit may be a good fit. As a local Mass Save® Sponsor, the Compact offers incentives on this cooling upgrade too, providing $50/ton. Alternatively, if you’re not looking for any major upgrades but are just in search of a simple way to cool your spacecheck out the Compact’s $40 rebate on ENERGY STAR® certified room air conditioners.  

Bonus Question: How do I get started if I want to install a heat pump?! 

Think that a heat pump may be the right piece of heating and cooling equipment for your home? The Compact would be happy to help you make the transition. The easiest way is to start with a no-cost home energy assessment, where we can evaluate the best technology for your residence. Get started today by calling 1-800-797-6699We look forward to working with you!