The U.S. Energy Department has released predictions for the fast-approaching winter season and how much damage it will do to homeowners’ energy bills — and surprisingly, compared to the 2013-2014 winter season, it looks as though most regions in the U.S. will be experiencing much milder temperatures. Additionally, average gas prices are at an all-time low for 2014, with many states are seeing prices go below $3 per gallon; this overall decrease in gas is expected to last for at least a few months, and it will certainly help Americans pay their energy bills this winter.
Nevertheless, homeowners in particularly cold regions are still aware that expert weather predictions can’t always be trusted; warm Pacific waters are still hanging around, and they create the potential for bigger snowstorms on the East coast. This time of year can be especially frustrating for people trying to reduce their carbon footprint; even with extra insulation and home weatherization techniques, turning down the heater isn’t exactly a good idea when temperatures inch closer and closer to zero.
But many people are discovering that heat pumps could be the answer to their winter frustrations. Heat pumps have been around for a while, Boston Globe correspondent Jack Newsham states, but they never worked well in northern U.S. regions until companies gave these a machines “a technological makeover.” Newer heat pumps are powerful enough to heat an entire home, even in sub-freezing conditions, and they run on electricity rather than gas.
“A heat pump is style of HVAC system that in the summer months will extract heat from inside and swap it outside and in the winter months extract heat from outside and swap it inside,” says Chris Long, Director of Sales and Marketing at All Seasons Comfort Control.“They are a very efficient HVAC system, the new styles are much more effective than the older models that continually got a bad rep. Newer heat pumps have addressed efficiency concerns and are much more effective with temperature management.”
Even though electricity-powered appliances tend to be much more expensive than those fueled by oil, Newsham states that the revamped heat pumps are efficient enough to keep winter bills down. The energy bill may increase, but the oil bill will likely decrease — resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in savings.
One New England homeowner even tells the Globe that he predicts he’ll save about $1,200 during the 2014-2015 winter season, just from installing a heat pump.
While a heat pump isn’t the perfect solution for every homeowner, these new cold-weather heat pumps are indicative of a larger trend in the heating and cooling industry: companies are paying more attention to what customers want (environmentally friendly products), as well as what they need (affordable products that won’t result in higher bills), and researchers are mixing advanced technology with conventional machines in order to make products that address both points.