Recipe #20: Warm & Comfy at Home

An upgrade to your home's heating system may be more affordable than you think with tax incentives and other rebates available in our community...

Sustainability life recipe #22

What practical things can we do in our daily lives to protect our living environment, save money, and contribute to good jobs for people in our community?

The Sustainability Life Recipes series will focus on ways to save money, go green, and learn about resources to support your journey. Have an idea? Send us a note at

Heat pump wall units bring heating and cooling comfort to every room!
Reposted from HeatSource Tompkins
By Jonathan Comstock

A great place to start in efficient energy use is upgrading the insulation and air-sealing of a home. 
A much more significant percentage than necessary of the energy used in heating and cooling is simply wasted due to the inefficiency of the building to retain heat. Although modern building codes are much improved, many older homes in Tompkins County were often built with minimal thought for building efficiency, resulting in a tremendous waste of money in unnecessary heating and cooling and also poor comfort due to cold spots and drafts.

Once you are satisfied with the insulation of your home, the next step is to change the heating system itself.
Wood and pellet stoves are potentially economical and renewable since the biomass can regrow. Nonetheless, they are less scalable than heat pumps and still have all the issues of air quality associated with burning stuff inside your home. Heat pumps, with no combustion at all in your basement, bedrooms or living room, are simply the cleanest and healthiest option available.

One obstacle is lack of familiarity with heat pump technologies. 
You may be surprised to know you already have a heat pump in your home. You grew up with it, rely on it, and trust it without any doubts. It’s called a refrigerator. Heat pumps, whether air source or ground source varieties, all use that same basic process with which you already feel comfortable.

But obstacles may still exist because you do not have a cherished brand or feel confident that you know what features are essential and what is the best equipment for your budget. One solution to this problem is the HeatSmart Tompkins program. HeatSmart is a local, non-profit, and volunteer-led program in which residents help other residents by pulling together and sharing some simple what-you-need-to-know information. HeatSmart will walk you through the options and point the way towards vetted equipment and installers.

The best way to take advantage of this resource is to come to one of the HeatSmart public meetings.
You can find the full schedule and all the time and location details on the website.

If you haven’t any experience with heat pumps for heating and cooling, you may want to attend some HeatSmart tours where you can meet and talk to people, just like you, only they recently made the leap. Find out how they feel about the process and the final result. The full tour schedule is also on the website.

Finally, on the website you can also find a heating news blog, various fact sheets and a place to enroll in the HeatSmart program, which costs nothing and carries no obligation. Especially if your home is heated with a fuel like heating oil or propane, you will find that you not only come out ahead with greater comfort and healthier home, but you can also save quite a bit of money.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.