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How to Install a Heat Pump in your Portland Home

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Despite being invented in the 1850s and used in homes since the 1960s, heat pumps have just recently been thrust onto center stage due to their economical advantages, environmental benefits and recent state and federal incentives. As heat pump technology has improved, converting your current HVAC system to a heat pump can be a great option for many Portland homeowners.

Heat Pumps in 2023 

It might be surprising but – despite the name – a heat pump is actually capable of both cooling and heating your home. Many homeowners opt for heat pump installation when their furnace and air conditioner need to be replaced due to an interest in more eco-friendly alternatives than traditional fossil fuel equipment. New government incentives that encourage homeowners to upgrade to high efficiency heating and cooling systems are making it more affordable to switch to a heat pump.

If you install a heat pump that is qualified by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) you can benefit from a federal tax credit. It is important to note that not all CEE heat pumps qualify for a federal tax credit so ask questions about your options. Available for any taxpayer through the end of 2031, this federal tax credit is good for 30 percent of the total cost of what you paid for your heat pump, including the cost of labor, up to $2,000. There are also state rebates that can be given on installation of certain heat pump models but might depend on your income.

Read next: Heat Pump Tax Credits Explained

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps work similarly to how your refrigerator works, absorbing and moving heat energy from one place to another. Yep, that warm air blowing from beneath your fridge is heat energy being moved! They work on the concept that it is more efficient to move heat than create it. 

A heat pump can absorb heat energy from the outside air and transfer it inside your home to keep you warm on chilly winter nights. In the summertime, this process is reversed to cool down your home interior. Heat pumps are both versatile and efficient, providing year-round indoor temperature control while using much less energy than traditional HVAC systems.

Additional reading: Heat Pumps 101: How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Technology Advances in Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be a greener and more sustainable solution to temperature regulation of your home, especially when it is combined with cleaner electricity sources. What’s more, newer heat pump models are able to function even during the coldest of winter temperatures – something that was an issue for previous versions.

Today’s heat pump technology, like inverter heat pumps, have made some advances:

  • Flexible – Heat pumps are more than meets the eye! Not only do they keep your home toasty and warm, but they can also cool it down while regulating humidity levels.
  • Quiet – Heat pumps operate steadily and quietly, without the disruptive starting and stopping found in other systems.
  • Compact – Heat pumps are a space-saving option, as they offer two parts in one: an indoor unit and outdoor condenser — both of which typically take up less room than other HVAC systems.
  • Smart – Through automated controls and app integration, you have the power to regulate your comfort anytime, anywhere.
  • Clean – Enjoy the pure, clean air without any combustion or odors.

Why Heat Pumps are a Good Option

There a many benefits to installing a heat pump in your home but here our the top three:

  1. Energy efficiency: Heat pumps only use a fraction of the energy used by other HVAC systems, which means lower electricity bills for you.
  2. Quiet: Inverter technology has made outdoor heat pump units quieter, reducing noise pollution.
  3. Improved air quality: Heat pumps offer a clean and healthy environment for asthma and allergy sufferers. By circulating the air inside your home year-round, heat pumps can effectively filter out dust, mold spores, odors, and smoke particles.

Choosing the Right Heat Pump System

There are a few types of heat pump systems: central air-source, ductless mini-splits and geothermal. Most homeowners have a central air-source heat pump installed but some find that ductless mini-splits are a better fit for their home and situation. When looking at heat pumps it is important to consider the SEER and HSPF rating for your heat pump that measures how well your heat pump will perform during each season. Making sure that you have the right size heat pump for your home is also key to energy efficiency and lifespan. An over or under sized system will be less efficient and wear out more quickly.

What You Should Know Before Buying a Heat Pump

Before installing a heat pump in your Portland home, it is worthwhile to consider all HVAC options and the pros and cons of each.

Heat Pump vs Furnace

In comparison to a traditional furnace that burns fuel for warmth, a heat pump efficiently uses electricity to transfer the existing ambient energy from outside and distributes it indoors via refrigerant lines. There is no combustion with a heat pump making it a greener heating solution.

Heat Pump vs Air Conditioner

Both heat pumps and air conditioners use electricity to transfer heat and humidity from inside your residence to outdoors. The main difference is that heat pumps can both heat and cool making them an all-in-one option for home comfort.

Myths About Heat Pumps

There are few lingering myths about heat pumps. The most common myth is that heat pumps are not energy efficient. The truth is, heat pumps are incredibly efficient when it comes to controlling indoor climates and can be up to 200% more efficient than standard furnaces or air conditioners. Another myth about heat pumps is that they don’t work in cold weather. Improved technology has boosted the efficiency and performance of heat pumps, especially in cold weather. And they work very well in the milder weather of the Portland area.

Heat Pump Lifespan

On average, heat pumps can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years depending on how well they are maintained and how often you use them. Taking the time to perform regular maintenance such as cleaning or replacing filters every few months can help increase the lifespan of your heat pump. Bi-annual tune-ups will keep your heat pump system running worry-free year-round.

Heat Pump Cost

When replacing your central air conditioning system or furnace with a heat pump, the expense of installation will depend on both the size of your home and type of heat pump unit you select. On average, installing a heat pump is more expensive than just installing an AC or furnace as you will need to switch out both cooling and heating systems. Additionally, installing a new heat pump could come with extra labor expenses, and you may need to replace components like ductwork.

How Heat Pumps are Installed

Heat pump installation is complicated. It’s not just about taking out the old one and putting in the new unit without any additional effort – HVAC contractors must go through a series of important steps to ensure that your old components are properly removed and the new heat pump works correctly. Here is a quick rundown of how to professionally install a heat pump.

  1. It is important to get a Manual J load calculation done to assess the proper size of a heat pump for your unique home. This includes evaluating insulation thickness, windows, doors, square footage, foundation, number of occupants, rooms, ceilings and ductwork.
  2. Disconnect old heat pump, furnace or air conditioner wiring and refrigerant lines according to EPA standard and prepare the areas where the indoor and outdoor heat pump units will sit.
  3. New high and low voltage wiring are installed to connect the heat pump to the electrical panel.
  4. The refrigerant lines are connected to the indoor and outdoor units.
  5. Initiate startup and testing of the new system to make sure it is working properly. This includes checking for air leaks, performance tests, proper air circulation through vents, heating and cooling temperature readings as well as verifying that sound levels meet local codes.

Installing a Heat Pump with Jacobs

For years, Jacobs has been installing cutting-edge Carrier® heat pumps that quietly work hard to keep your home comfortable. Jacobs works to make the heat pump installation process as easy for you as possible.

  1. Give us a call
  2. We help you decide the right system for your home
  3. We double check every detail
  4. Installation day with our reliable team

Depending on the time of year, from call to installation can take as little as a few days to sometimes weeks. That’s why it’s important to be proactive in deciding when to upgrade your HVAC equipment. Typically, spring or fall are the shortest waiting times on average. Once you are scheduled for a heat pump installation it can take up to 1-5 days to complete.

Heat Pump Installation in Portland

HVAC systems are an investment that you want to make the most of – for your comfort and your wallet. When it comes to installing a heat pump system, you want a company that has the experience and knowledge to help you make informed decisions. Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts are here to guide you. Our consultants will help ensure you have the right high efficiency heat pump system that will keep you comfortable in any season.

We offer maintenance plans designed for homeowners to keep your heat pump running without the frustration of downtime. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.