Heat Pumps

Heat pump install

A heat pump can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Cold climate heat pumps are highly efficient systems and provide both heating and cooling through the same system. While they are currently often used as a supplemental source of heating and cooling, increasingly heat pump systems are being designed to serve as the primary or sole heat source. For an introduction to heat pumps, watch our webinar presentation.

What is a cold climate air source heat pump?

Unlike traditional heating systems that burn fuel to generate heat, a heat pump moves heat into or out of a building or space using electricity. This transfer of heat, rather than combustion, makes heat pumps a highly efficient option for heating or cooling your home. 

Heat pumps can transfer heat to your home from air, water, or the ground outside your home. Air-source heat pumps are the most common configuration, with a compressor unit outside connected to either a system of heating/cooling ducts or a single or multiple “ductless” room-sized air handers or “heads,” as in the illustration below. Cold climate heat pumps can heat efficiently even when temperatures dip below freezing, and they cool more efficiently than conventional air conditioning systems.

How a heat pump works

Who should install a heat pump?

Heat pumps benefit some households more than others. Consider a heat pump if you answer yes to any of the following questions. (These questions are more details can be found at https://goclean.masscec.com/clean-energy-solutions/air-source-heat-pumps.) 

  • Do you want to reduce your home’s greenhouse gas emissions?  

  • Do you currently heat your home with oil, propane, or electric resistance?  

  • Are there parts of your home that are not adequately heated or cooled by your existing system?  

  • Do you currently have a hot air heating system (i.e., furnace) that is old or inefficient?  

  • Do you want to add air conditioning to your home?  

  • Do you want to replace your current central air conditioning system?  

  • Do you have an open concept house (large spaces without doors)?  

  • Do you have photovoltaic solar panels on your roof?  

  • Is your house weatherized (i.e., well-insulated and air-sealed)?  

Heat pumps run on electricity so, to figure out if one is affordable for you, compare the projected reduction of your current heating fuel to the projected increase in your electricity usage. If you are replacing an older air conditioner, factor in a reduction in kilowatts needed to keep you comfortable in summer.


Rebates for heat pumps depend on where you live and other factors. Linked at the bottom on this page are factsheets about incentives. We also want to point out two particular rebates that are relatively new and more generous.

In Rhode Island, those who heat with electricity now have greater incentives to switch to heat pumps through a large rebate offered by the state’s efficiency program, EnergyWise. The size of the rebate depends on the size of the system. Learn more about this at https://www.nationalgridus.com/Ri-Heat-Pump.

And in Massachusetts, those who heat with gas now have a greater heat pump incentive through Mass Clean Energy Center. The “Whole-Home Air-Source Heat Pump Pilot” incentive starts at $2,500, with additional funds for moderate- and low-income households, and additional funds for adding insulation at the same time. Learn more about this at https://www.masscec.com/air-source-heat-pumps-1.

Heat pump benefits

One system for home heating and cooling

Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling through the same system. In homes with more than one indoor unit spread out across the house, homeowners can have direct control over the temperature in various parts of their homes.

Energy bill savings

Heat pumps are highly efficient systems and may save homeowners money on their heating bills. Heat pumps are significantly more efficient than conventional air conditioning systems as well. Heat pumps will provide significant savings over electric resistance and can be cost-effective compared to propane and oil heat. Heat pumps are a considerably greener technology than gas heat, but they may be more expensive to operate than gas heat.

High efficiency, lower emissions

High-efficiency heat pumps can help you and your family reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, if you green 100% of your electricity through our Green Powered program, then there are no emissions when you use heat pumps!

Quiet systems

If you're used to hearing radiators creak in the winter and using loud window air conditioning units to cool off in the summer, heat pumps will be noticeably quieter.

Air quality and safety

Heat pumps filter and dehumidify air, improving indoor air quality and comfort.

How to get a heat pump

Start the process of deciding if a heat pump might be a good option for you by reading these pages:


Fact sheet: Incentives for heat pump installations