Heating & Cooling Systems

Heating is the largest energy expense in the average home and two-thirds of all U.S. households use air conditioners, causing their energy costs to be even higher. In New York State, conventional heating and cooling systems (furnaces, boilers, central/window ACs, etc.) are responsible for 37 percent of energy consumption and 32 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today’s heat pumps are making it possible for homes to stay more comfortable year-round, save energy, and reduce their carbon footprint. A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that is environmentally friendly, extremely efficient, and affordable to operate—all without the use of fossil fuels.

There is more than one type of heat pump available. Review the chart below for an overview of your options or visit the NYS Clean Heat website for detailed information on the benefits of heat pumps, how they work, a tool to compare your options, and details on available rebates and financing options.

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Air Source Heat Pumps Ground Source Heat Pumps
Central Systems (Ducted) Ductless Mini-Split Systems
Overview Central systems connect to a single indoor unit (often a furnace), pushing air through a series of ducts, which gets exhausted through vents throughout a home. Central systems rely on an outdoor compressor/condenser. Ductless mini-split systems consist of an outdoor compressor or condenser unit that connects to an indoor unit to distribute heat or AC throughout a home. Ground source heat pumps, also referred to as geothermal heat pumps, extract heat from the ground during cold weather via an underground piping system, which is then distributed throughout your home. During warmer months, the process is reversed to provide cooling.
Life Expectancy ~ 15 years ~ 15 years ~ 25 years
Most Common Fuel Source Options Electricity Electricity Electricity
Benefits
  • Can have a lower price point than ductless mini-splits (excluding ductwork installation)
  • Heat and cool a home two to four times as efficiently as conventional heating and cooling systems, reducing utility bills
  • Allow for control over an entire home’s temperature from a single thermostat
  • Require no combustion, which eliminates carbon monoxide, making them safer than conventional heating and cooling options
  • Can pair with solar PV and on-site storage options for electricity to reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy sources
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment
  • Heat and cool a home two to four times as efficiently as conventional heating and cooling systems, reducing utility bills
  • Allow for customization and control of the temperature of each room in a home
  • Require no existing ductwork
  • Are less invasive and expensive than installing the ducting required for central systems
  • Qualified models are optimized for New York weather conditions—look for a cold-climate model
  • Small in size, providing design flexibility in home placement
  • Require no combustion, which eliminates carbon monoxide, making them safer than conventional heating and cooling options
  • Can pair with solar PV and on-site storage options for electricity to reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy sources
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment
  • Require minimal maintenance
  • Act as one system to heat, cool, and supply hot water (if equipped with a desuperheater) for your home
  • Provide more consistent, steady output and performance than air source heat pumps
  • You can immediately save 30 to 60 percent on heating and 20 to 50 percent on cooling costs when switching from conventional heating and cooling systems (such as fuel oil, propane, and electric resistance systems)
  • Require no combustion, which eliminates carbon monoxide, making them safer than conventional heating and cooling options
  • Can pair with solar PV and on-site storage options for electricity to reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy sources
  • Require minimal maintenance
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment
Considerations
  • If ductwork in a home is not present, ductwork would need to be installed
  • Can have a higher price point than central heat pumps and conventional heating and cooling systems
  • Can have higher installation costs than central heat pumps
  • Depending on location and model, fans and compressors in the heat pump may be noisy
  • Can have the highest price point relative to other heating and cooling options
  • Homeowner must have sufficient space on property for installation
Operations and Maintenance
  • Routinely replace or clean your air filters to lower your central heat pump’s energy consumption
  • Check your heat pump’s evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary
  • Have a qualified contractor service the central heat pump once a year
  • Clean or change filters once a month during peak usage times
  • Have a qualified contractor service the heat pump at least once a year
  • Clean or change filters once a month during peak usage times
  • Have a qualified contractor service the heat pump at least once a year

 

Performance and life expectancy of these heating systems are dependent upon installation, location, fuel, maintenace, and occupant behavior.