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February 16, 2023
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 introduced exciting new ways to help homeowners reduce energy costs. Some of the most highly publicized incentives can help you purchase high-efficiency electric appliances and equipment.
Heat pumps are one of the most exciting energy-efficient technologies funded by the IRA. Heat pumps, like a refrigerator, condition air by moving heat from one place to another. By using a compressor and circulating liquid or gas refrigerant, it extracts heat from outside (even when it is very cold out) and then pumps it indoors. Moving heat from one place to another uses much less energy than generating heat through ordinary methods like combustion or electric resistance.
Why Consider a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are sometimes called two-way air conditioners because they can both heat and cool your home. They have been shown to work effectively in subzero temperatures and, because they do not involve any combustion, are very safe. And because they run on electricity, they are easy to pair with renewable energy sources like rooftop or community solar to dramatically reduce the carbon pollution produced by your home.
Before You Buy
You may be considering one to replace or supplement your existing heating and cooling systems. After all, the incentives have never been better. But it is still a substantial investment! You can make the best use of your money by taking the following steps before purchasing your heat pump.
1. Get an energy audit from a qualified professional. Assessing the energy use of a home is a complicated task. It involves diagnostic testing and data collection, correct use of modeling software, and thorough knowledge of how home components interact. Fortunately, BPI maintains the national standards on what an energy audit is and how to do them.
BPI Certified Professionals must pass rigorous exams to earn their certifications. This means that they know how to do an audit correctly and have a strong professional motivation to perform to the best of their ability. By choosing a BPI Certified Professional for your audit, you can have peace of mind in knowing it will be done well. You can find one near you here.
2. Complete as much of the recommended scope of work as you can. Each energy audit with a BPI Certified Professional will result in a prioritized list of recommendations to improve the home.
As the homeowner, you can choose how much of the list to include in a contract. You will get the best value for your money by completing all recommended work at once, but if needed you can do the highest priority items first and save less critical work for later.
Completing all the recommended upgrades first will mean that you will be able to buy smaller equipment, which will lower your purchase costs. Your new equipment will work less hard to condition a more efficient home, extending its life and making your operating costs lower. And ensuring that the home is properly sealed and ventilated will help protect your family from airborne pollutants, too.
3. Ask your BPI Certified Professional for an HVAC referral. Many BPI Certified Professionals offer HVAC services. But if yours doesn’t, ask them for a referral. As with all professionals, cost and quality of work varies between HVAC contractors.
Your home performance contractor will be familiar with the work and reputation of the HVAC providers in your area. Proper sizing and installation can set up your home for years of comfort and success, while a rushed job can cost you a lot of money and cause headaches. They can recommend someone who does high quality work at a fair price, and who will provide excellent maintenance service going forward.
Steps Toward the Future
Now is a very exciting time for homeowners who want to live in a more comfortable home while lowering energy costs and increasing their energy independence. The 25C Energy Efficiency Home Improvement tax credit is already available, and other incentives will roll out later this year. Read here to learn how to get started using the 25C tax credit now, and find your BPI Certified Professional here!