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Heat naturally moves from warmer places to cooler places. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat in the opposite direction, from cooler places to warmer places, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. Your refrigerator is a heat pump, moving heat from inside the refrigerated cabinet (cooler place) into your kitchen (warmer place). An air conditioner is a heat pump, moving heat from inside your home (cooler place) to the outside summer air (warmer place).
Heat pumps are also used to heat homes, taking advantage of the fact that in the spring, fall, and yes, even in the winter, there is some heat in the outdoor air. An air-source heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air, concentrates it via an outdoor compressor, and distributes it inside through an indoor room unit or a home’s ductwork. During the summer, a heat pump can operate in reverse, as an air conditioner, by moving heat from indoors to the outside air. Heat pumps require electricity to run, but can deliver more energy than they use.
Air-source heat pumps have been used for many years in nearly all parts of the United States, but until recently they have not been used in areas that experienced extended periods of subfreezing temperatures. However, in recent years, air-source heat pump technology has advanced so that it now offers a legitimate space heating alternative in colder regions. Over 300,000 heat pumps were sold in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington DC in 2015 alone.
The majority of people who install an air-source heat pump in their home do so to obtain an improved level of comfort. For example, they may wish to add air conditioning to a home, or to better heat or cool parts of their home that weren’t adequately heated or cooled before. And, popular ductless heat pumps installed throughout a home are zone-friendly – you heat or cool only the rooms you need to.
People who currently have conventional electric resistance or propane-fueled heating systems can save 50% - 70% on energy costs by heating with an air-source heat pump instead. At current fuel prices, oil heating households can save up to 30%. At current prices, natural gas-heating households won’t cut costs by using air source heat pumps.
Concordians also install heat pumps because the systems reduce carbon emissions due to heating by 30 – 70%. This is a result of the combined high efficiency of the heat pump technology and the relatively lower carbon content of electricity, compared to other heating fuels. Most households keep their existing heating system when they install heat pumps. On extremely cold days, the existing heating system supplements the heat provided by the heat pumps. The actual percentage of carbon reduction depends on the percentage of the home’s heating needs met by heat pumps, and the heating fuel being replaced.
Cold climate air-source heat pumps come in two varieties: ductless and ducted.
Ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-splits, have outdoor compressors and indoor wall, floor, or ceiling mounted units to distribute the warm or cool air. Because ductless heat pumps do not require the presence of air ducts, they can be installed in homes currently heated with a boiler or an electric baseboard heating system.
Outdoor and indoor components of a ductless ASHP system in Concord, MA
A central ducted heat pump can be installed in homes with air ducts. It looks and performs like a central air conditioning system, except that it can heat in winter as well as cool in summer.
Outdoor and indoor components of a ducted heat pump system in Carlisle, MA
Whether you choose ductless or ducted heat pumps depends on the characteristics of your home.
CMLP can put you in touch with Concord residents who have already installed heat pumps in their homes, and who would be happy to share information about their experience buying and using a heat pump. Contact Energy Specialist Pamela Cady at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-318-3149 for referrals.
At current heating oil, propane and electricity prices, the cost savings from using heat pumps pay for the additional upfront cost more quickly in some circumstances than in others. The payback period depends on whether a home currently has central AC, and if so, whether a home’s heating system and/or central AC are at end of life and need to be replaced. See the summary table below.
At current prices, natural gas-heating households won’t cut costs by using air source heat pumps. Therefore, there are no cost savings to offset the additional upfront cost of replacing natural gas-fired heating equipment with heat pumps rather than with conventional equipment.
Payback Period: Energy savings will offset the higher upfront cost of heat pumps compared to conventional equipment over time*
Current Heating Fuel
Need to replace Heating System + Central A/C
Need to replace Heating System *OR* Central A/C
4 - 10 yrs
≥ 20 yrs
No current central A/C: ≥ 20 yrs
1 - 6 yrs
Need to replace heating system + want to replace window A/C: 5 - 6 yrs
Heating and central AC systems in good shape: 10 - 11 yrs
Heating system in good shape; no current central AC: 10 – 11 yrs
4 - 8 yrs (depends on central vs window A/C and condition of these)
ETS (Electric Thermal Storage)
CMLP recommends you replace with heat pumps at end of system life
*The estimated payback periods assume current fuel and electricity prices.
The economics of investing in heat pumps will vary based on your specific circumstances, and payback periods may or may not fall within the estimated ranges listed above. Keep in mind that many people invest in heat pumps for quality of life benefits as well as cost savings. These may include adding AC to your home, replacing inconvenient window AC units, or having more control over temperature in individual rooms. Others also invest in heat pumps for their environmental value.
We suggest soliciting proposals from at least three heat pump installers. Before soliciting proposals, consider talking with Concord residents who have already installed heat pumps in their homes. CMLP’s Energy Specialist, Pamela Cady (email@example.com or 978-318-3149), can put you in touch with Concord residents who would be happy to share information about their experience buying and using a heat pump.
CMLP strongly suggests that you seek proposals from HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) contractors who can provide a letter or certificate from the manufacturer verifying that the installer has successfully completed at least 4 hours of manufacturer training within the last 5 years for the products they install. CMLP highly recommends that you request the installer submit this documentation to you with their proposal. The documentation will be required if you wish to apply for a CMLP rebate for your heat pump.
The following HVAC contractors have installed air conditioning and/or heat pump systems for Concord residents who have received energy efficiency rebates from CMLP in the past. CMLP does not have any knowledge of customer experiences with these vendors, and we do not endorse, nor have we pre-qualified these companies in any way. When requesting a proposal from a contractor, CMLP recommends asking for the documentation of the manufacturer training described above.
Consider asking the following questions:
Rebates are available to homeowners and renters for air-source heat pump installations in new or existing homes that meet the following eligibility requirements:
1. The installed air-source heat pump (ASHP) must be used for heating consistently throughout the winter.
2. The person installing your equipment must have received manufacturer training for that type of product. The manufacturer training need not have been provided by the manufacturer of the same brand of equipment that is being installed in your home, but it must be provided by a manufacturer of the same type of equipment (i.e. ductless training if ductless equipment is installed; ducted training if ducted equipment is installed.)
4. You must have had a home energy audit within the last four years or have one scheduled within six months of project completion. New homes and multi-family residences with more than four units do not require an energy audit. CMLP recommends that priority recommendations from the audit are implemented before, or in coordination with, the installation of the ASHP. Natural gas users can contact MassSAVE at (866) 527-SAVE (7283) or www.masssave.com/en/saving/energy-assessments/ to sign up for an audit or get verification of a previous audit. All others can sign up with Energy New England at firstname.lastname@example.org, (888) 772-4242, or https://ee.ene.org/. CMLP can internally verify previous ENE audits, but not MassSave audits.
Rebate Type Eligibility:
If the project meets the above eligibility requirements, system owners should next determine which rebate type they are eligible for based on the following table:
Income-Based Thresholds by Household Size
Annual Gross Income
Central Ducted or Multi-Head Systems
Base RebateAvailable to all households meeting project requirements (see above).
$500 per system
(up to 3 systems***)
$500 per 12,000 BTU/hr****
(up to a maximum rebate of $2,000)
120% Income-Based Rebate**Available to all households that meet project eligibility requirements and have verified that their income is below 120% of the Massachusetts state median income.
$750 per system
$750 per 12,000 BTU/hr****
(up to a maximum rebate of $3,000)
80% Income-Based Rebate**Available to all households that meet project eligibility requirements and have verified that their income is below 80% of the Massachusetts state median income.
$1,000 per system
$1,000 per 12,000 BTU/hr****
(up to a maximum rebate of $4,000)
**To receive an income-based rebate, the residential customer must complete one of the accepted income verification methods. Please see the “How Do I Qualify for an Income-Based Rebate?” question below for more information about income-based rebates and income verification.
*** Residences may install more than three single-head ductless systems, though the rebate will only support the first three installed. Rebates for central or multi-head systems are limited to 48,000 BTU/hr of heating capacity (maximum heating capacity at 5°F). Residences may install systems with greater capacity, though the rebate will only support the first 48,000 BTU/hr of heating capacity installed.
****For the purposes of determining rebate levels for central or multi-head systems, CMLP uses the system’s maximum heating capacity (BTU/hr) at 5°F.
There are 3 steps to the application process:
Step 1: Find an Installer
First select an ASHP installer, who can help you with your rebate application. CMLP recommends that residents:
Prior to deciding to move forward with a system, residents who may meet income criteria should determine if they are eligible for the Income-Based Rebate, as described under the “Who’s Eligible for a Rebate?” question above. For example, a household of four with annual income of $132,230 or less may qualify. If eligible, complete one of the three income verification methods described in “How do I qualify for an Income Based Rebate?” question below.
Step 2: Select Eligible Equipment
Work with your installer to select eligible equipment:
Step 3: Apply for a Rebate (Note: rebate applications must be received within 90 days of installation invoice date)
Once you select an installer and are ready to move forward with the project:
Rebate applications must be received within 90 days of installation invoice date. The Town of Concord assumes no liability for any equipment, installation or damages, and may inspect equipment to verify the above information at any time up to 1 year after receiving the rebate application.
In the interest of increasing access to air-source heat pumps to all residents of Concord, CMLP offers additional incentives for households with income below 80% or 120% of the state median income. Eligibility thresholds are determined based on household size. Eligibility for the income-based rebate is based on the income of the System Owner’s household.
Eligibility is based on total household income (Tax Return Form 1040 line 22), as determined by the System Owner and Household Members’ federal income tax filings for the most recent year available For rental properties, if the tenant is directly contracting with the installer for the installation of the project, the tenant would be the System Owner. Each System Owner household is only eligible to receive the income-based rebate at one residence per 12 month period.
Income-Based Rebate Adder Thresholds by Household Size
80% of State Median Income
120% of State Median Income
To receive the Income-Based Rebate, the System Owner must complete one of the following three income verification methods:
Rebates for ≥$600 are normally issued as checks from the Town of Concord. On the rebate application, customers may indicate whether they wish to have the check issued to their installer or to themselves. Customers may also choose to receive a bill credit instead of a check.
Commercial entities receiving checks ≥$600 will get a 1099 from Town for the relevant tax year, if required by tax code.
CMLP offers the R-7 “Electric Resistance & Heat Pump Heating Systems/DHW” rate for heat pump users, a special winter rate designed to prevent an unintended spike in electricity charges for electric heating customers as a result of CMLP’s tiered rate structure. This rate may benefit you if you already use more than 600 kilowatt-hours in some winter months, or if you expect to do so once your heat pump is installed.
However, In order to take advantage of this rate, you must request that a separate meter be installed by CMLP. This meter will record the electric usage of your heat pump. Electricity use recorded on this meter from October 1st through May 1st will be subtracted from the normal billing meter and billed at $0.14431 per kWh. From May 2nd through September 30th, the use through this meter will be billed under the regular R-1 Rate, which ranges from the tier 1 rate of $0.14431 to the tier 3 rate of $0.18685 per kWh, depending on how much electricity your household has used that month. CMLP’s R-1 rate schedule describes how your electric rate changes depending on how much electricity your household uses in a given month.
CMLP will supply and install the separate meter at no cost to you. However, you will need to pay an electrician to install a meter socket for the new meter. An additional electrical panel is typically needed as well. Costs for a meter socket/electrical panel can range from $1,000 to $4,000. The time it will take you to recoup the cost of the new meter socket/panel through electricity cost savings depends on several factors:
Please note also that customers who have a solar array usually expect that solar electricity will lower the portion of their electric bill attributable to the electricity needed to power their heat pump during the winter. However, if a heat pump is separately metered so that a customer can receive the Electric Resistance & Heat Pump Heating Systems/DHW rate for winter usage, CMLP is unable to offset the winter usage measured by the separate meter with solar electricity generated by the array. Therefore, having a solar array will not lower a customer's winter bill for heat pump electricity usage if the Resistance & Heat Pump Heating Systems/DHW rate is in effect. During the summer, when the Resistance & Heat Pump Heating Systems/DHW rate does not apply, solar electricity will offset the portion of an electricity bill due to a heat pump being used for air conditioning, even if the heat pump is separately metered.
Further, heat pump customers with solar would need to locate the second meter next to the existing house meter in order for the solar electricity powering the heat pump to be accounted for properly. This can require longer wire runs that increase the cost of the meter socket installation.
Please consider these factors when deciding whether to invest in a separate meter/electric panel.
If you have further questions about the Electric Resistance & Heat Pump Heating Systems/DHW rate, please contact Carole Hilton, Customer Service Coordinator, at (978) 318-3158 or Chilton@concordma.gov.
Yes! Ground-source heat pump rebates are available to Concord residents and small businesses. Find out more about ground-source heat pumps here: http://www.concordma.gov/1975/Ground-Source-Heat-Pumps.
Contact Pamela Cady, CMLP’s Energy Specialist, at email@example.com or 978-318-3149.
No. The Central Air Conditioning rebate program for air-conditioning-only systems was discontinued on September 9, 2017 in favor of the new Heat Pump rebate program. Since the additional cost of an air-source heat pump over a cooling-only system is modest, CMLP encourages its customers to purchase versatile heat pumps rather than cooling-only systems. In addition to increased comfort (and cost savings for some customers), the use of heat pumps to heat as well as cool will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping Concord meet its goal of 25% fewer emissions by 2020 and 80% fewer by 2050.
CMLP discontinued the former Residential Central Air Conditioning / Heat Pump Rebate Program on September 9, 2017. However, we will still accept applications under that program for any compliant cooling-only systems or heat pumps installed through the end of 2017 in order to accommodate sales activity or installations in progress when we discontinued the program on September 9, 2017.
The rebate application for any cooling-only system or heat pump installed before the end of 2017 must be received by CMLP within one year of the equipment purchase date in order to be eligible for a rebate.