Thursday, 04 April 2024 12:52

Heat Pumps on the Rise in Saratoga County

A New York State Clean Heat sign hangs inside Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs.  Photo by Jonathon Norcross. A New York State Clean Heat sign hangs inside Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs. Photo by Jonathon Norcross.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A handful of local businesses, in collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), are encouraging the use of cold-climate heat pumps for both cooling and heating. 

In Ballston Spa, Tree Huggers, Sustainable Sundry, and the Sweetish Chef all have heat pumps installed, as does Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs.

NYSERDA is promoting heat pumps as a “more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to stay comfortable.” The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 offers federal tax credits for homeowners who use heat pumps, and the New York State Clean Heat program provides rebates through utility companies to incentivise people to install pumps.

At Artisanal Brew Works, NYSERDA’s Courtney Moriarta explained how heat pumps work. “Through the magic of physics, we can take the energy out of the air that’s outside and put it through a set of refrigerant pipes, and it’ll heat that air up and turn it into usable heat inside the building,” Moriarta said.

NYSERDA aims to dispel a couple popular misconceptions about heat pumps. First, heat pumps can provide both cooling and heating, not just heat. Second, modern pumps, unlike older models, are able to work in cold climates such as upstate New York.

“These are really sophisticated systems that are designed to work at colder temperatures,” Moriarta said. “The single-stage heat pumps of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, they could perform down to about 40, 30 degrees outside temperature, and once the air outside gets lower than that, they would have trouble keeping up or just not really be able to deliver heat at all.” 

Today, heat pumps can operate at 100 percent capacity in 5 degrees, and can still function at lower capacity down to as low as -22 degrees. This means that heat pumps can operate in any climate in the world. “With this newer, cold-climate heat pump technology, you can really deliver comfort,” Moriarta said.

NYSERDA is encouraging both business owners and homeowners to experience heat pumps in person at one of the many local establishments that already use heat pumps. In addition to the aforementioned businesses, John Sawicki of the environmental consulting firm TRC Companies said that a number of restaurants in downtown Saratoga use heat pumps, as do several local libraries. 

“If you look across the street to the left, there’s a mixed-use apartment building that was built with Mitsubishi heat pumps; that whole entire complex,” Sawicki said. 

“Once you know what to look for, you start seeing them everywhere,” said Moriarta.

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