Yesterday, the final connections were made, and the heat pumps were up and running. The outdoor unit sits 30 inches above the ground, so when it snows, it is up above the snow line. But if snow blows into the unit, it is smart enough to know when to start defrosting itself. In fact, these machines are smart in many ways. Our installer oriented us to all of their many features. You can program them to sense a human being in the room, and either blow conditioned air toward them or around them. Not that we need that feature. But maybe on a hot day, when they are cooling the air?
You can also set them to efficiency mode, and they’ll figure out how to keep the air at a comfortable set temperature all on their own. A wonderful feature of heat pumps is that they do both heating and cooling. One of the symptoms that Margy faces from her chronic illness is a severe incapacity to tolerate heat. So it is a wonderful relief that our home will be safe and comfortable for her in all weather. Heat pumps are efficient except when the outside temperature goes to 5 below zero. For those very few ultra cold days, we have back up heat from the very efficient Buderus boiler that was already in the house.
We were chatting with the installer about the irony that, right now, with oil prices being so low, it may actually be less expensive to heat with the oil furnace than with the heat pumps which use electricity. But once we have installed solar panels, we hope most of our electricity will come from the sun. That is what will make these heat pumps an important contribution to our search for greener housing. For us, it isn’t just the price, but the desire to move away from fossil fuels that put too much carbon in the atmosphere. For now, we set the thermostat to about 50 degrees, until we finally get to move in.