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4 tips for choosing a heat pump contractor

April 29, 2024
A women standing next to her heat pump with a cute dog

You’ve done your research and determined a heat pump is the best heating and cooling system for your home. The next step is hiring a qualified contractor and evaluating bids you receive. Following these four steps will help you choose an experienced contractor and the right heat pump system for your home.


1. Ask the right questions

There are a few questions that can help you determine a contractor’s experience and competency with heat pump technology. The following list of questions isn’t exhaustive – you’ll likely have more come up during the interview process – but these will get the conversation started. For a comprehensive list and additional guidance on finding a contractor, reference the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) Heat Pump Buying Guide.

  • How do you size the equipment to meet the home’s heating load?
    • Some technical best practices for equipment sizing include Manual S, a manufacturer’s tool, or Sizing Guidance + the NEEP Sizing tool. If the contractor says they replace with the same size as the existing system or use rules of thumb, then consider moving on to a different contractor. 
  • How do you assess the ductwork to ensure the new system will deliver air as intended?
    • Some technical best practices for duct assessment include Manual D, total external static pressure and airflow measurements, or measureQuick . If the contractor says they don’t assess the ductwork, consider moving on to a different contractor.
  • Can you provide a list of references who installed similar systems?
  • What rebates and incentives will the system qualify for?
    • Currently available incentives for heat pumps include utility rebates, discount electric rates, and federal tax credits. In 2024, state rebate programs will provide additional incentives.
  • Do you have access to financing?
  • Can you provide several equipment and efficiency options?


2. Be clear about your motivations for installing a heat pump

When requesting quotes from contractors, let them know your motivations for the new system. Common priorities include minimizing your heating and cooling bills, reducing carbon emissions, increasing comfort, and more. The weight you give different priorities will impact the type of equipment a contractor selects and how that equipment is sized, both of which can impact on price. This can also help you compare similar systems across quotes from different contractors.


3. Compare bids carefully

When reviewing bids, make sure to compare similar system types. Comparing a single-stage heat pump that will mostly provide heating only during the shoulder seasons to a variable-speed heat pump that will perform well below freezing temperatures is like comparing apples and oranges. Questions you can ask contractors as you compare bids include:

  • Is the heat pump a single-stage, two-stage, or variable-speed model?
  • Does the price include a new furnace or air handler?
  • What is the size of the heat pump (in tons)?
  • What is the heat pump’s capacity balance point?
    • The capacity balance point is the lowest temperature at which the heat pump can produce enough heat for your home. A system with a lower capacity balance point can take on more of your home’s heating load.

You can read more about the differences between heat pump system types here.


4. Make sure the contractor has expertise with your home type and heating system

Contractors sometimes specialize in certain systems or home types. For example, some specialize only in ducted units and some specialize in ductless units (mini-splits). Some contractors have expertise in old homes with radiators while others focus on newer homes with standard heating systems. Some contractors may focus more on home electrification and decarbonization, and so on. If your home has unique heating and/or cooling needs, such as multiple additions or an attached garage with a bonus room upstairs, be sure to discuss these needs during your contractor meetings.


Looking for more guidance?

To learn more about heat pumps, continue exploring News & Case Studies or visit the FAQs page. If you have further questions, contact us at

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