Is all electric better even if I don't do solar?
Yes! The electrical grid is getting cleaner and greener every day. Even without government regulations, the superior economics of wind and solar today mean that power companies are naturally moving toward cleaner electricity.
Are all electric homes more expensive to operate?
No. In the past this was true, but today we use high efficiency heat pumps to heat homes, which are 3 - 4x more efficient than conventional electric resistance heat.
What is a Heat Pump?
Heat pumps are at the heart of the all electric home. A heat pump is a device that moves heat, rather than creates heat.
All air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers are considered heat pumps. A refrigerator moves heat away from the food compartment, and sends the heat into the air around it. The warm air blowing out of the bottom of the fridge is the heat that has been extracted from the food chamber.
The heat pumps we use can move heat in two directions, allowing the same system to both heat and cool your home.
How does a heat pump heat my house?
A heat pump condenser sits outside your home, and looks a lot like a conventional air conditioner. It extracts heat from the surrounding air, and puts it into the home. This heat can be distributed in a few ways:
A central ducted system operates just like a conventional forced air furnace. We will often replace your furnace with an air handler, and use the existing ductwork to distribute warm or cool air throughout your home. The air handler connects to the outside condenser with a line set, which is a pair of insulated copper pipes that move both refrigerant and heat between the inside and outside of the home.
Mini splits are small devices that sit in each room of a home. They heat and cool each room individually. The most common type of mini split is the wall head other types include ceiling cassettes, floor units, and small ducted systems. Each head is connected to the outside condenser via line set.
Hybrid Ducted and Mini Splits Some homes are best served with a combination of ducted and mini split systems. We may replace the furnace with an air handler to use the ducts for the majority of a home, but choose to add a head in one or two rooms to add more heat, create zoning, or help take care of a room that is always too hot or too cold by putting in its own heat source. A single outdoor condenser can power multiple heads and air handlers.
What about Geothermal?
Geothermal heat is technically known as a ground source heat pump. The idea is the same as the heat pumps described above, but the heat is extracted from the earth, rather than the surrounding air. The advantage of a ground source system is that the earth is a consistent temperature, so it is more efficient to extract heat from it. The disadvantage is that drilling holes for geothermal loops is costly, and disruptive to the surrounding landscape. Due to advancements in air source systems, we only use ground source systems for extremely cold climates and/or very high heat loads.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
We are just beginning to learn how poor the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is in modern homes. Efficient homes and newer homes are tightly sealed. Off gassing from building materials, furniture, and electronics pollutes our air and just sits in our homes. Just breathing inside a home adds CO2, bathrooms add humidity, and cooking puts all sorts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) into the air. Combine this with dust, dander and pet hair, and our indoor air quickly becomes far more polluted than outdoor air.