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How a homeowner in Colorado cut costs and emissions with a heat pump

With solar on the roof, Lee's heating and cooling bills are $0

Vicky Volvovski
June 4, 2024

Lee Jay Fingersh lives in Westminster, CO in a home built in 1998. When his air conditioner died in 2020, he replaced it with a heat pump that could cool the home in the summer and cover most of the heating load in the winter. 

Lee works in the renewables and energy efficiency space, so he knew a lot about the benefits and tradeoffs of his decision. By switching to a heat pump, he would burn significantly less natural gas, which would reduce his emissions. Because heat pumps run on electricity, he could power it with the solar panels on his roof, saving him money on his utility bills. 

The heat pump was installed by Efficient Comfort, a local HVAC company. Lee went with the highest end Bryant heat pump in order to maximize efficiency. “The price difference between the low end equipment and the high end equipment was about 20%, but it pays for itself in 30-some months,” Lee says. Additionally, the higher end models have variable speed compressors that are quieter and make the home more comfortable.

He still has a furnace for backup heat. When the heat pump was installed, it was programmed to be the primary heating system until the temperature outside dropped below 30F, at which point the furnace would kick on. Lee reprogrammed it to never turn on the furnace automatically, instead opting to manually turn on the furnace when needed. 

Last winter, he used the furnace for a couple of hours on a day when the temperature outside was -26F. “The heat pump did all the heating for 99.7% of the winter,” Lee recalls. 

When talking to others about heat pumps, Lee recommends that people first make sure their home is well weatherized and air sealed. This is important to ensure that the heat pump can run efficiently. Once installed, he advises getting to know all the settings on the heat pump – there are lots of options for how to configure it, and understanding how it works is important for making sure it matches your family’s comfort needs.

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