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Heat Pumps

Heating homes in Massachusetts accounts for 59 percent of household energy expenditures. If you are thinking about upgrades to your traditional oil, propane, or electric resistance heating system, it’s a good time to look at alternatives that will save energy and money.  

A heat pump uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. Because it takes less energy to move heat than to create heat, heat pumps are more efficient than gas or oil burners. 

In recent years, heat pump technology has become more advanced and efficient. New Cold Climate heat pumps have been installed in large numbers in Vermont and Maine. Massachusetts wants to increase the trend.

Financial Incentives


Through, Massachusetts offers incentives, such as 0% financing for approved high-efficiency air source heat pumps. There are also income based incentives through MassSave. ​


Renewable Energy 


Eversource electricity is currently 20% from renewable resources in New England (2022) and increasing 2% each year, allowing residents to reduce their carbon footprint by over 20% by switching to electricity as their fuel source. Those who participate in the town aggregation program, can have heat from 100%  renewable sources. 


Find resources at

For more information see the neep buying guide which has great information on selecting a heat pump. See page13 for vetting installers.

And the MassCEC guide

A list of installers from the MassCEC 

For questions or for a list of HVAC installers from LincolnTalk contact

Water Heaters

Domestic water heaters account for about 18% of home energy use, according to  If you are considering changing your traditional electric or oil burner water heater, there are alternatives that can save money and energy: solar thermal, tankless,  heat pump water heaters,  and solar-assisted heat pumps. 


Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat Pump water heaters transfer heat from the surrounding air outside the tank to the water inside the tank, like a refrigerator but running in the opposite direction. These can save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, and help you electrify your home. There are some things to consider to be sure they are the right fit for your house and lifestyle. 


  • Heat Pump water heaters can help dehumidify an area.

  • Heat Pump water heaters pull heat from the surrounding air, so they work best in a warm area like a furnace room where it can use the residual heat. If installed in a living space it will draw the heat from your conditioned air. It should be in a location that is 50 degrees F or greater.

  • It must be installed in a large enough space so that there is adequate circulation, at least 750 cubic ft.

  • It should be installed away from bedrooms because the fan makes noise equivalent to a refrigerator or dishwasher, ~50dB. 

  • Air source heat pump water heaters have a fan and condenser on top so they require more headroom than an ordinary hot water tank. 

  • There is a Massachusetts incentive for qualifying tanks.

  • Air source heat pump water heaters have an electric resistance back up for winter and when the draw on it is high and the water is cold.

  • Be sure the unit meets the Northern Climate Efficiency Specifications which tests reflect colder ambient air and water intake.

  • For more info.

Not all Heat Pump Water Heaters are made the same. Make sure your HPWH falls in the Northern Climate or Advanced water heating specification. This is a list of qualifying units.

Solar Thermal Water Heating

Solar thermal water heating (using heat from the sun to warm water) is the most cost- and energy-efficient renewable energy alternative for water heating. This is because renewable electric systems, like solar electric and onsite wind power, have substantial energy loss when converting electricity to heat. With solar thermal water heating, there are a multitude of options, and the best choice for you will depend on your local climate and architectural factors. 


  • You must have space on your roof that gets fairly direct sunlight and it must face in a southerly direction. 

  • You may want a second storage tank to hold the water as it preheats which would require additional space near your existing water heater.

  • You will need an alternate source of heat during the winter months. This can be an electric element in the tank itself or a fossil fuel system. 

  • You can choose a drain-back system to eliminate the possibility of freezing or overheating. 

  • Maintenance: The propylene-glycol in the solar piping should be replaced every 5 years approximately because it breaks down over time. Some systems have only water in the pipes. Some systems have an expansion tank just as a conventional water heater does. These need replacing every 5-10 years. 

  • Longevity: SHW systems are installed with a stainless steel tank. The system should last 20 years or more but this does depend on water quality.

  • Cost: These systems run about $9000 but there may still be MA rebates.

  • There is a 26% federal tax credit (2022 that drops to 22% in 2023 and eliminated in 2024) on solar hot water heaters.


Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters, also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't have the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which can save you money.


  • Tankless water heaters are especially good when you spend large amounts of time away, such as in a second home, because they are not wasting energy to keep a tank of water warm when not in use.

  • Tankless water heaters work best for smaller demands. This may not be the best choice for a family which draws large amounts of hot water all day long.

  •  Gas fueled Tankless water heaters must vent through an outside wall.

  • Tankless water heaters are much smaller and can fit in more awkward spaces than a full sized water tank.

  • Gas fueled tankless water heaters need gas piped to their location. 

  • They do not need to be situated next to a furnace/boiler. 




Solar-Assisted Heat Pumps

Check out these resources:


Birches School heating and Cooling

Three wells for ground source heat pump to be connected  for heating and cooling. 

Solar hot water at Codman Farm house.

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