Kuegler Associates: Consulting Engineers - Designed Right = Built Right

Natural gas has been in the news a lot recently, and much of the coverage has been less than positive. The widespread failure of the natural gas system here in New England’s Merrimack Valley due to over-pressurization led to explosions and fires in multiple homes in several communities, forcing hundreds of residents and business owners out for safety reasons.

Fortunately, there is a cost-effective, highly-efficient alternative to natural gas heating – electric heat pumps. A heat pump uses a refrigerant to transfer heat from other sources, such as the outside air, into the home. It does not use a fuel to create heat and so is much more efficient than other options, including natural gas heaters. A water heat pump will only use around $190 worth of energy per year, almost half of what a natural gas heater must use.

Heat pumps are now a realistic option for any home, in any climate. In fact, residential systems such as a Mitsubishi Multi-Zone System offer year-round, high-efficiency heating and cooling for a variety of rooms, including bedrooms, basements, sunrooms and more. A variety of indoor units provide zone comfort control while the inverter-driven compressor and electric LEVs in the outdoor units provide closer control and higher efficiency with minimal power usage.

Natural gas is only available where natural gas pipelines have been installed, and homeowners can run a line into their houses. Natural gas, like other energy sources, fluctuates widely in price from area to area and between energy companies, so giving a precise cost comparison is impossible. Nevertheless, modern electric heat pump systems utilize green technologies and are generally much more efficient because temperatures throughout a home can be managed more easily from room to room, so homeowners never have to sacrifice comfort over concerns about high-energy costs.

Surprisingly, when it comes to installing either a heat pump for gas furnace or an air-conditioner, costs are similar. Both systems have an outdoor condensing unit, electric service, and refrigerant lines connecting the outside condenser to the inside evaporator. The main difference lies in the heating portion of the system.

What you cannot put a price on is peace-of-mind. The Merrimack Valley disaster served as a wake-up call for many home owners that gas, regardless of all the built-in safety features, is flammable and explosive. And while the electric service for a home that’s converting from gas to heat pump may need to be upgraded to handle additional electric appliances such as a new range and stove and the additional electricity load, homeowners converting to heat pump systems will no longer have to worry about their homes – and possibly themselves – being damaged or destroyed by a gas explosion or fire.

To learn more about the efficiency and effectiveness of a heat pump system for your home or business, contact us here at Kuegler Associates.