Cathleen Dalmeida is budgeting for a heating and cooling system as part of an energy retrofit and is wondering whether a heat pump is part of her future. An obvious question: How much do they cost?
“Is there a general rule of thumb for pricing of a ground-source heat pump and air-to-water heat pump for a medium sized installation?” she asks in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor.
She wants to know whether anyone can offer an estimate in dollars per ton of heating and cooling, and whether there would be any drawbacks to using a ground-source heat pump in a climate that doesn’t require much cooling.
That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
Ground-source heat pumps are not the cheapest option
Dalmeida has provided no details about the house, or the climate zone where it’s located, and as a result, it would be impossible to provide any specifics on a heat pump. But, GBA senior editor Martin Holladay points out, “In general, ground-source heat pumps are quite expensive, and aren’t the most cost-effective way to heat or cool a home.”
In an energy retrofit, work typically starts with air-sealing, followed by an insulation upgrade and possibly improvements to existing windows, Holladay says, and heating and cooling loads should be determined with a Manual J calculation.
“In most cases,” he says, “you won’t be using a ground-source heat pump for this type or project.”
Cathleen then asks a follow-up question: “If someone already has radiant floor heating, or wants to install radiant floor heating, what type heating technology would you use?”
Holladay answers that these systems usually include a boiler, which can run on one of several types of fuel. It’s also possible for a radiant-floor system to be built…