From single-zone mini-splits to ducted systems that control the temperature of various zones of an entire home, air source heat pumps offer an efficient, cost-effective, and comfortable heating and cooling solution for virtually any home in every climate. But between the industry jargon and complex technology, investing in a new heating and cooling system can be intimidating and confusing for those who aren't experts (that's why you have us!).
With so much new information presented to you, receiving a quote for an air source heat pump system can feel daunting. How do you know if the equipment quoted is the right equipment for your goals? Does the price make sense in today's market in your area? In this article, we explain key factors to pay attention to so you can confidently compare air source heat pump quotes.
Air source heat pump quotes do not follow a standard format, which can make comparing them a little tricky sometimes.
Make your expectations clear to every potential installer by requesting a detailed proposal to include the equipment model number, system size, any incentive programs it qualifies for, the timeline of installation, and an itemized breakdown of what it will all cost you.
Every air source heat pump system is different. Speaking with a trustworthy contractor experienced in installing heat pumps will help you better understand your unique energy needs and equip you with the tools to discern which proposed system makes the most sense for your home.
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With many factors that go into sizing and design, air source heat pump quotes often are not turnkey. To ensure you're investing in the system that will pack the most efficient punch, it's important to provide potential installers with clear expectations and hold to them. You may not be able to compare quotes apples to apples, but requesting details on the following elements will help set a standard:
Type of air source heat pump
With various models and functions of air source heat pumps available, it's essential to confirm that the equipment you're quoted for matches your goals. For example, if you live in the Northeast with a goal to heat your home with air source heat pumps through the winter, you'll need a model that is built to function in extremely cold climates. To be sure you're investing in the right technology, it never hurts to ask the installer to include the model number of the proposed system in their quote if they haven't already. Our guide to comparing air source heat pump options can help further explain the available systems and their ratings.
Price & equipment quality
Remember to consider what each includes when comparing prices among air source heat pump quotes. Were you quoted for additional services that you don't want or need, like electrical panel upgrades, wiring work, or fossil fuel system removal? Conversely, are there features you discussed with the installer that you don't see included in the quote? Is one model of higher quality than another? Comparing quotes solely on the total price listed isn't always the best way to guarantee you're getting the best fit for what your need or value.
If you notice a considerable difference in price, size, or installation timeline from one quote to the next, ask your contractors about it. Why is the same system quoted at a price so much higher or lower than the other quotes? How come one installer claims they have all the equipment ready to go while two other installers claim it's three months out? How did they determine the sizing of your heat pump system? A reliable contractor will be able to explain their proposal in detail and answer any questions you have on installing heat pumps.
Some states have generous incentive programs, like the rebates included in the Mass Save Program. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act can help make heat pumps more accessible and affordable. These programs often vary by geography and income, and not all makes, and models of air source heat pumps are eligible for every state program. Reputable installers should be familiar with eligibility and enrollment requirements and outline these details and processes in their quotes to confirm your air source heat pump system's equipment is part of the incentive programs. Most contractors also help you submit paperwork for state programs, though you'll need to confirm any follow-ups or steps you'll need to do on your own. Some of the IRA-funded federal incentives and rebates are still to be rolled out, with more details coming soon.
Heating and cooling systems are a critical aspect of your home's safety and security, and you can potentially spend decades with the same one. When investing in a quality system like heat pumps, and since installation plays a crucial role in their efficiency, the qualifications of HVAC installers are an important factor to consider when comparing quotes. Get started on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare independent quotes among local contractors.
Bonus: Home energy assessments
While not always necessary for air source heat pump installations, a home energy assessment comprehensively analyzes your home's energy flow to determine where energy-efficient upgrades may be beneficial. Energy assessments are holistic and include more than just heating and cooling expenditure; but are useful when resolving the size of a heat pump system. Some state rebate programs also require a home energy assessment before being eligible for heat pump rebates. You may be able to obtain an evaluation from your local utility as well at no cost to you.
Most heat pump proposals will call out some basic information so you can compare the details:
Contractor name and contact information
System type and equipment they're recommending
Details on equipment, including performance, size, and sometimes warranty (e.g., SEER and HSPF ratings for heating and cooling efficiency)
Number of indoor and outdoor units
Process for the installation (some contractors include this in more detail than others)
Additional work that's needed, such as electrical work, disposal of old equipment, etc., and pricing for it
Sometimes they'll also include information on rebates and incentives, if applicable.
Terms and conditions of the contract — how long you have to cancel, what deposit is due upfront before work can be scheduled when final payment is due
You'll likely find that the level of detail in your heat pump proposal varies by contractor — some provide a lot of detail, breaking out several line items, while some give high-level information. Don't hesitate to ask questions and get clarification to help you feel comfortable about your purchase.
Exploring your air source heat pump options can be overwhelming, but you don't have to go it alone. Due to the advanced technology and plethora of models available in the market today, connecting with an expert to talk through your specific situation is the best way to understand how to maximize your home's energy efficiency. EnergySage Energy Advisors, for example, are available for advising calls through the EnergySage Marketplace. As an unbiased expert resource, they prioritize equipping you with the tools and knowledge to make an informed decision about your home's energy needs.