air source heat pump

Eight questions to ask your heat pump contractor

Air source heat pumps are incredibly efficient for heating and cooling your home. However, installing a heat pump is a bit more complex than just installing a traditional HVAC system. So, finding a trusted heat pump contractor to walk you through the process and install your heat pump is critical. We’ve spoken with several heat pump contractors to learn about common questions homeowners ask about heat pumps. As you research and prepare for your air source heat pump installation, here are some key questions to ask your installer.


Key takeaways


  • When shopping for and comparing air source heat pump installers and quotes, you’ll want to make sure to ask any questions to clarify your needs, the system design, and your equipment capabilities.
  • Many air source heat pumps work well in the winter.
  • Air source heat pumps can be a great addition to a solar project, helping you save even more money long-term. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from solar installers near you.

Questions answered

Why do heat pumps cost more?

Air source heat pumps are usually more expensive to install upfront than other HVAC systems like air conditioners or furnaces. However, over their lifetime, they’ll typically save you money by substantially reducing your monthly utility bills. Your payback period for air source heat pumps will depend on various factors, including how large your house is, whether you’re installing a ducted or ductless system, where you live, what your current heating and cooling systems are, and your temperature preferences. It’s also important to remember that an air source heat pump replaces both your heating and cooling system – so the upfront cost may be less expensive than replacing both of your current systems.

Are heat pumps worth it?

You’ll have to figure out if air source heat pumps are worth it based on the costs (determined by your heat pump quotes and the system’s design) and the benefits (like the increased comfort and reduced utility bills). Depending on where you live, you may also be eligible for incentives and/or rebates on your air source heat pump installation that can definitely make it worth it.

While your contractor can’t really answer this question for you, they can help provide you with the information to weigh the costs and benefits of air source heat pumps.

Which type of air source heat pump is right for my home?

There are a few different types of air source heat pump systems – and the one that’s right for you depends on your home’s size and layout, how much living area you’re looking to heat and cool, if you have existing ductwork, and your heating and cooling preferences.

Should you get ducted or ductless air source heat pumps?

The two main types of air source heat pumps are ducted, which use ductwork similar to a central air conditioner or forced air furnace, and ductless, also known as mini splits. Generally, if you already have ductwork that’s in good condition, a ducted system is what most contractors will recommend. A ductless system might be best if you don’t have ductwork, need to redo or repair your ductwork to function correctly, or have a smaller space to heat and cool.

Make sure to ask your heat pump contractor which type is right for you. Sometimes, they may recommend a short-run ducted system, which means that it’s partially ducted and partially ductless.

Which air source heat pump brand do you recommend for me and why?

Like any major appliance or technology, there are various manufacturers of air source heat pumps as well as different sizes, types, and certifications or ratings for efficiency (for both heating and cooling) and noise. 

Your air source heat pump installer may be most familiar and trained specifically in one brand over another. Many brands have preferred contractor programs that provide additional training programs or certifications to their top installers. 

Another factor may be availability. Supply chain issues have hit several technology areas, including air source heat pumps. If there are comparable brands and models, your contractor may recommend an option you can get sooner, especially if you’re installing an air source heat pump to replace a broken HVAC system.

By comparing a few different air source heat pump quotes from other contractors, you can get a feel for various equipment and the efficiency, capacity, noise, and performance.

Will I be cold with air source heat pumps in winter?

Early air source heat pump technology wasn’t known for working well in cold climates. But heat pump technology has improved considerably, allowing them to work well even in cold climates. However, you will need to confirm the specifications of the equipment you’re looking at, especially if you need it for chilly weather.

Additionally, some homeowners installing air source heat pumps keep a backup, like a natural gas furnace, since their efficiency is reduced in extremely low temperatures. So, as long as you make sure the equipment you’re installing meets the temperature needs in your area or you get some backup, you’ll be covered. Talk through the details with your contractor: they may provide a couple of different options for you during the quoting process.

If you do go with a backup for your air source heat pump, two additional questions you’ll want to ask when you get your system installed are: 

  • At what temperature does your air source heat pump switch over to the backup system? 
  • How do I change the temperature switchover settings?

What air source heat pump rebates or incentives are available to me?

There’s no disputing that air source heat pumps are an investment in your home’s efficiency. Depending on where you live, and the type of air source heat pumps you’re installing, you may have rebates and incentives available to help bring your total cost down – ask your heat pump contractor for advice on your eligibility. There are a few different types of rebates and incentives, including:

Manufacturer rebates

Certain manufacturers sometimes offer rebates. Your air source heat pump contractor usually can inform you about any current rebates, or you can check the manufacturer websites to learn about them.

Federal incentive programs

Up through the end of 2021, ENERGY STAR tax credits were available if you installed air source heat pumps in your primary residence. However, as of June 2022, no extension has been approved (it’s currently pending legislation from Congress). You can keep up with any updates on the ENERGY STAR website.

Local incentive programs

Depending on where you live, your state may offer incentives to purchase air source heat pumps. Ask your heat pump contractor about what’s available – you’ll also want to ask them if they can help you with submitting paperwork for approval or if you will need to do that on your own.

What might cause my air source heat pump pricing to change?

Your contractor will want to do the best job estimating the costs of installing your air source heat pumps. However, in some cases, there could be additional costs to the project, such as when:

  • Ductwork turns out to not be functioning correctly and needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • You change your mind on where you want the placement of an indoor or outdoor unit.
  • Your electrical panel ends up needing to be replaced or upgraded.
  • You don’t have a site visit, and there are ceiling height or room layout issues once it comes to the installation.
  • There’s a delay in equipment availability, and you need to choose another brand or equipment type.

When your contractor provides you with a quote for your air source heat pump installation, you can ask them to explain any details causing the price increase. Comparing multiple quotes and contractors will help you ensure you’re making the right choice – both on your installer and the system itself.

How do heat pumps work with solar panels?

If you already have solar panels or are considering solar, heat pumps may provide an even more significant value by using solar to power your home’s heating and cooling. If you’re installing solar, you’ll want to let your solar installer know that you are planning to install (or have installed) air source heat pumps so they can make sure to size your solar system appropriately to cover your energy usage. Pro tip: if you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll also want to know how many solar panels you need to charge your car at home.

Run your air source heat pumps on solar energy

Solar panels allow you to power your entire home, including your heat pumps, with renewable, zero-emissions electricity. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace today to receive quotes from local solar installers (including some who also install air source heat pumps). Have some additional questions about going solar? When you receive quotes, we’ll connect you with an Energy Advisor who can answer your questions along the way (free of charge!).


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About Ellen Sirull

Ellen is an expert in content creation, with a specific focus in helping people learn more about clean energy, solar, and EVs. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in journalism and earned an MBA at Kennesaw State University. Outside of work, you can find her spending time with her family, friends, and dogs as well as traveling, exploring new places, trying new food, or watching Georgia football.

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