Is your heating and air conditioning system hinting at retirement? Would you like a smaller carbon footprint?
SMUD has made the commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and is working to realize a zero-carbon power supply. Replacing your aging heating and cooling equipment with an energy-efficient system, likely to be in use for 20 years, will make your home part of the climate solution.
If your current system dates to the 1990s, it is likely about one-fourth as energy-efficient as new heat-pump technology, which produces both heating and cooling. Now is the time to compare your existing system to the high-efficiency systems available.
SMUD offers a variety of rebates, including $3,000 for a high-efficiency heat-pump system and $3,000 to seal and insulate your home.
Meg and Sean de Courcy of 10th Avenue were able to cut their energy bill in half, get quieter and more even heating and cooling, increase the value of their home, and dramatically reduce their carbon footprint – all in one investment.
The best-performing heat pumps employ a variable-speed compressor and can be purchased for about the same price as the old-style systems and two-stage heat pumps when you take advantage of rebates and comparison shop for a contractor from SMUD’s approved list. An energy-efficient heat pump system will reduce heating and cooling costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
But will a heat pump keep you comfy on a cold January morning? Yes, it will. Variable-speed heat pump systems produce hotter air in heating mode, colder air in air conditioning mode, and more flexibility in between high and low temperatures, all while using less power than standard gas or electric systems.
We installed our heat pump system in March 2019. Since then, I have spoken with five Curtis Park neighbors who also took advantage of the SMUD rebate program. Each has a system designed to their needs, all somewhat different. All are pleased with the quiet, even heating and cooling, and energy savings.
It is important to get bids from multiple contractors. Each contractor has a different idea how to meet your heating and cooling needs, which will educate you about options to determine the best path forward.
Contractors who offer multiple brands of equipment will likely be better able to match equipment with your needs, and offer a more precise bid. Brands such as Bosch, Mitsubishi and General Electric have been manufacturing variable-speed systems for 20 years.
Be sure to ask each contractor to provide a bid on a variable-speed system. These systems respond seamlessly to small changes in temperature, providing the right amount of heating or cooling, keeping your home comfortable without the 2-degree temperature swings typical of non-variable systems.
Some heat pump systems may come with expensive auxiliary backup elements to calm concerns about heating on very cold days. A pro tip that applies to variable-speed systems without sacrificing comfort is to have your contractor lock out the heat strips for all but defrost cycle. During the recent polar vortex in the Midwest, variable-speed heat pumps produced as much heat as gas-fired systems without resorting to heat strips.
SMUD financing and federal tax credits are available. The city’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program allows homeowners to put the full project cost as an assessment lien on their property, pay it off over time and, if they sell, pass the unpaid balance to the next homeowner. Check out the most recent rebate and financing information at www. smud.org/Rebates-and-Savings-Tips.