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Ductless heat pumps gaining popularity

Is your heating system meeting your needs? Is it clean, inexpensive and effective?

In the Pacific Northwest, houses use a variety of heating systems including baseboard heaters, heat pump/ air handler with ductwork, gas, pellet stove and wood stove and even a few old oil furnaces.

In addition to regular heat pumps with ductwork, the newer ductless heat pumps are gaining in popularity for many great reasons.

Not only are we going to sing the praises of ductless heat pumps today, we are going to tell you about a special program that we are involved with that provides free ductless heat pumps and installation to eligible families.

We really can’t say enough about this effective, inexpensive option to heat and cool your home – read on for specifics.

The ductless heat pump program

After you get done reading today’s column, consider if you might be interested in installing a ductless heat pump. It’s a good choice for many different living situations. And, it might be a terrific choice for you, especially if you happen to be eligible for a program that installs free ductless heat pumps in the homes of people who qualify.

We will discuss the details of the free program in next week’s column – including giving the income qualifications. For now, read up on why we especially like this form of heating and cooling your home.

Heat pumps cheap way to heat

In this climate, a regular outside heat pump and inside air handler furnace with ducts is an efficient way to heat a house. The technology of any heat pump basically recovers heat from the outside air and transfers it via a closed-loop refrigerant gas to the inside air handler – furnace inside your house. The air handler blows circulating air through the air handler’s radiator coil that was heated by the gas and delivers warm air throughout the house in your ducts and floor vents.

In the summer, it will do the reverse – drying out the indoor air and pulling the heat out of the air from inside the house and blowing it off outside at the exterior heat pump. The returning air feels cool, providing you with a nice air-conditioned space.

Ductless heat pumps are just as they sound, not needing any ductwork to convey the heated or cooled air. Their benefits are many. Here are a few:

· They do not pollute.

· They are relatively easy and inexpensive to install and sometimes come with a rebate from the PUD.

· They provide filtered air – better for folks with allergies and health concerns.

· No ductwork in or under your house required, saving you money on installation cost.

· They are inexpensive to operate – paying for themselves in just a few years and lasting 20 years!

· They are easy to maintain.

· They help to keep your home’s air healthier, but they don’t clean your house or do your chores!

We think the drawbacks are few, but we do need to mention them:

· The heating units are visible so the location of both the exterior and interior units might initially be a practical or aesthetic concern.

· If the electrical power goes out, you lose your heat – unless you have a compatible generator or another backup source.

· They may not heat the whole house. We will talk about that below.

Heat pumps heat what they can ‘see’

To be most efficient, you will want the inside ductless heat pump unit located where it can see the most main living areas possible – living room, dining room and kitchen – where the space is more open and where you spend most of your time. If it can also see down a hallway it may also heat it and the rooms connected when doors are left open.

A house that’s chopped up with lots of little rooms will not benefit as much as one with a more open concept. However, either way you may want to have some kind of backup heat in the bedrooms.

Figuring ways to recirculate the air back to the unit is worth it. One little trick to help heated air get to where you want it is to open a window a crack in the room which relieves pressure and draws in heated air. Some homes benefit from multiple indoor units or more than one setup. Your contractor will know which is best for what you want to achieve.

The ductless air heating units are about 3 feet wide and a foot tall and protrude from the wall about one foot. Using the remote control, they have control features so the air flow can be pointed just the way it is needed in your house.

While you may not have conceived of having a nice looking heating unit on your wall, after about a week of clean, consistent, cheap heat, trust us, you won’t even notice it’s there.

To maintain a ductless heat pump, you just need to open the unit and rinse the reusable filters in the sink, dry them and put them back in the unit. If treated correctly the filters shouldn’t wear out. Can you tell we really like this heating device?

Keep in mind at least for future use

Maybe your oil or gas furnace, cadet wall heaters, electric baseboard or pellet stove or ducted heat pump is nearing retirement age. If that’s the case, before you replace it with the same, try researching a ductless heat pump.

In our experience, most homes need just one unit and the cost runs about $4,000 for a 1-ton unit installed and goes higher for bigger units or complicated installations.


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