What is HeatSmart?

HeatSmart is an education and community outreach plan that will help residents improve the efficiency of their homes and to understand their clean heating and cooling options.

What is the Home Energy Solutions (HES) program and why is it part of HeatSmart?

A Home Energy Solutions and Home Energy Solutions Income Eligible are programs that increase the efficiency of your home on the spot. A typical visit lasts from 2 to 4 hours and will start with a health and safety check to look for issues (gas leaks, carbon monoxide, etc). These barriers are not uncommon and will likely need to be fixed first before weatherization can be completed. Once the safety check is finished, a blower door test that evaluates the air tightness of your home, air sealing around gaps in the house, LED lightbulbs (during 2021), a test of your ducts, and evaluation of your power using equipment. In addition the program provides you discounts on deeper “measures” such as insulation and equipment upgrades. You can get a HES every three years. CLICK HERE for a short video on the process.

The Home Energy Solutions program is administered by your electric and gas utility. The copay is $50, a fee which is waived for anyone who is income eligible.

Why is a HES audit part of the HeatSmart program?

Home energy efficiency is the cornerstone of HeatSmart. The “Smartest” Heating we do is when we are efficient and don’t need extra energy. Once the home is efficient a Heat Pump can be a great addition to the home’s heating and air conditioning equipment.

Who qualifies for the HES income eligible program?

The utility company offers two energy audit programs: HES and HES-Income Eligible. The HES-IE program offers deeper discounts and sometimes free home improvements for those who qualify.

The chart below provides the eligibility income levels.  If you qualify for the HES-IE program, the $50 audit fee is waived.


Can I use other HES vendors and installers?

The HeatSmart partners have agreed to assist the community with education and assist in outreach events. However, residents are free to use other HES and HVAC contractors.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a super-efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly way to heat and cool your home. We all use heat pump technology; refrigerators and air conditioners are common examples. HeatSmart highlights the use of heat pumps to heat and cool your home and even your hot water. The same technology that refrigerates your food can be used to cool your home in the summer and heat your home in the winter.

What are the different kinds of heat pumps?

There are two major types of heat pumps.

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) obtain their heating and cooling from outside air. Modern heat pumps can operate in almost all temperatures experienced here in Connecticut and are very efficient. There are different styles and ASHPs that allow them to work in most homes.

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs, also known as Geothermal) use tubes buried in wells or trenches as the source of their heating and cooling. While this adds to the expense of installation it allows them to be very efficient in all sorts of temperatures

What are the different ways to install heat pumps?

The two major configurations of heat pumps are:

Ductless (also call mini splits) do not require the installation of ducts. Instead, the units pump cooled refrigerant directly to wall, ceiling, or floor mounted units. This flexibility allows them to be used in a targeted fashion (one or two rooms) or throughout the home.

Ducted – these heat pumps integrate directly into your existing heating and cooling duct work. With proper controls they can be effectively integrated along with your gas or oil heating system.

What is a mini split? Is it a heat pump too?

Mini-split systems have two main components: an outdoor compressor and one or more indoor air-handling units. They are easy to install, usually requiring only a small hole through a wall for the conduit which houses the power and communication cables, copper tubing, and a condensation drain line, linking the outdoor and indoor units.

They are very efficient heat pumps and are known for their quiet operation and flexibility of installation.

What is the difference between ducted and ductless heat pumps?

Ducted heat pumps use ductwork that is already installed for central air or forced air heating. It behaves just like central air. (In fact, it is central air, with heating ability added!) On the other hand, ductless heat pumps use refrigerant lines to deliver heating and cooling to inside air handling units.

How much do they cost and can I save money?

Heat pump installation cost depends on the type of system and size of system installed. This depends on the size and efficiency of your home. The HeatSmart installers can give you an evaluation as part of this program.

Heat pumps are clean and very efficient. You will probably save money if you currently heat with an expensive type of heat (e.g., electric baseboard). If you have inexpensive heat (e.g. natural gas) you may not save money depending on the price of gas. Savings vs. oil depend on the price of oil.

It is typically not necessary or advisable to remove your existing heating when you install a heat pump.  Leave your existing heating in place and you’ll have resilience (more than one way to heat) as well as the ability to use the backup system in extreme cold situations.

Do they work in our climate zone?

HeatSmart recommends the use of “cold climate” heat pumps and they operate efficiently during all of the conditions we have in Connecticut. A good reference document is:  https://neep.org/sites/default/files/resources/ASHP_buyingguide_5.pdf

Are they noisy?

One of the great joys of owning a heat pump is how quiet they are. Often you cannot even hear them when they are in operation.

Do they require a permit when they are installed?

Like all HVAC equipment they require a town or city permit.

What if I don’t want big units on my wall?

Ducted systems don’t require additional units. For ductless systems an indoor unit is required. The typical indoor wall unit is on the wall but there are options for ceiling, floor, and register units.

Can you give me guidance on what might be right for my home?

There are many home configurations. To get a sense of what might be useful for your home review the Heat Pump Planner:  https://www.heatsmartct.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/heat-pump-planner.pdf

Can you give me more information about heat pumps?

You can also contact the HeatSmart team and our partners.