What are heat pumps and why do we need them?
A heat pump is like an air conditioner that can run in reverse, both heating and cooling your home. Traditional air conditioners take heat from inside your home, transfer it into refrigerant, and exhaust it outside. Heat pumps have a special valve that allows them to do the opposite, transferring heat from outside your home to inside. They’re able to comfortably heat your home even when it’s incredibly cold outside. Because heat pumps move heat rather than generating it, they are mind bogglingly efficient - with efficiencies up to 400%! Not only are they better for the planet, but they can save you money on your energy bills. Most homeowners can replace their existing furnace with an efficient heat pump system today. They’re also a great way to add air conditioning to homes that previously didn’t have it.
Why don’t more homes have them?
Cost is the largest barrier to heat pump adoption. Installing a heat pump system in a typical American home can cost $15-30k! At these prices, gas furnaces (which typically cost dramatically less) sadly remain the default choice. However, heat pumps are extremely common in the rest of the world. In Australia, a homeowner would pay around half the price for a similar system! More than half of the cost for a heat pump in the US comes from installation. Fortunately, this is something that we are uniquely positioned to tackle. Helios is installing heat pumps in the US for a fraction of the cost.
Who are we?
Jeremy is a repeat Y Combinator founder and spent 10 years designing and building heat pump systems. Shreyas is a former rocket propulsion engineer from Blue Origin and SpaceX, with experience dramatically decreasing the build time of complex rocket engine assemblies. We’re applying these skills to the large-scale deployment of low cost heat pumps. We’re simplifying the installation process to enable non-specialized labor (think car mechanics or plumbers) to install these systems. Prefabrication and kitting mean that the right tools and parts are staged for each part of the installation, and our technicians spend less time at the job site. All of these things translate into dramatically cheaper heat pumps for our customers.
How do you know what system I need without coming to my house?
Based on your address we find basic information such as square footage, year built, number of floors and climate zone to determine your home’s estimated design heating and cooling load. Based on this information and Helio’s experience with previous installs in the Bay Area we design a custom system that matches your home’s needs and will provide clean, efficient heating and cooling for your family. Most contractors that come on site use very basic rules of thumb that aren’t as accurate as our software.
What geographical areas do you serve?
We proudly serve the greater SF Bay Area including San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. We also do installs in the Tahoe/Reno region. If you're unsure whether we cover your location, don't hesitate to reach out and inquire.
Who will do the installation?
We have an in-house team of experienced installation technicians and occasionally work with installation partners to deliver projects faster. Payment, service and communication will always come from Helios.
Will I be charged more if something unexpected happens during installation?
Your price is firm once we’ve completed our site visit, no matter what happens during installation. And if the firm price increases more than 10% from your initial estimate, we’ll happily refund your installation deposit if you decline to move forward.
How does the warranty work? Who do I call if I have an issue and what’s covered?
Helios is committed to keeping your system in working order. Once your installation is complete you are covered under the heat pump manufacturer’s parts warranty as well as the Helios 2 year labor warranty. We help submit your paperwork for the manufacturer’s warranty. Most manufacturers provide a 10 year warranty for defective parts including the compressor due to workmanship or materials under normal use and maintenance. Helios will install those parts free of charge as long as you are within the 2 year labor warranty window.
What makes an inverter driven heat pump special?
It used to be that AC’s and heat pumps could only turn on and off. They didn’t have the ability to change how hard they were working to match the heating and cooling load of your home. Thanks to inverter technology heat pumps are able to continuously vary their compressor and fan speeds. The benefit is higher efficiency, much quieter operation and more even, comfortable temperatures in your home.
How much money can I save switching to a heat pump?
If you’re switching from a natural gas furnace and live in the SF Bay Area, we estimate you can reduce your heating bills by 40% or more. Homes that use electric resistance for heat can save even more!
What financing options do I have?
Helios accepts payment online via Stripe or in-person by check. For loans we recommend applying for financing through Upgrade. They offer home improvement loans up to $50k and next day funding once you’re approved online.
Are there government incentives to help pay for my new system? How do they work?
We work with our partner Line.Build to make sure we understand every possible incentive for your heat pump installation. These credits are complicated to navigate on your own, often depending on existing equipment, your utility, efficiency of new equipment, residence type and other factors. In the SF Bay area common incentives are the Federal 25C Tax Credit, Tech Clean CA and Peninsula Clean Energy. Helios helps you understand what tax credits apply for your specific situation and highlights them in your proposal.
How loud will my new heating and AC system be?
Helios only installs inverter driven heat pumps, which are incredibly quiet. They have advanced fan designs and are able to continuously vary how fast the outdoor unit’s fan and compressor are spinning. Most of the time the system is operating at a quiet whisper. Even at maximum output these systems are only 55 dBa from a few feet away. This is somewhere between a quiet office and a normal conversation in terms of relative loudness. Compare this to traditional AC equipment, the kind with single-stage (one speed on/off) fans and compressors. These systems clock in around 75 dBa, about as loud as a busy city street!
Will my new heat pump be able to keep up with the cold?
Absolutely. Modern heat pump technology has made significant advancements, allowing them to efficiently handle cold weather conditions and provide effective heating even in chilly climates. Helios will ensure that your heat pump is properly sized and professionally installed, keeping your family warm all winter long.
Will my electrical panel support a new heat pump?
Our experienced team will make sure you have sufficient electrical panel capacity before an installation. If upgrades are needed Helios will coordinate with an electrician to provide the needed work for an additional charge.