Letter: Enthusiasm surrounding split heat pumps needs a reality check

To the Editor:

Overly enthusiastic expectations of what ductless split heat pumps will do for low-income elderly tenants at Trumbull Stern Village need a reality check (July 6, TrumbullTimes.com). It doesn't take a HVAC engineer to see the flaws in the thinking of DOH Commissioner Evone Klein and Trumbull Housing Authority Executive Director Harriet Polansky. Flaws are clearly visible to even a casual look at heat pump articles.

In her press release, Klein states, "The pumps will make life more comfortable for residents." Not so as studies show that none of the claims cited in the article can be relied upon for Stern Village.

Overlooked are the hazards and threats to the health, safety and welfare of frail elderly tenants. Winters get too cold usually for the pumps to reliably produce sufficient heat for three rooms.

Polansky is quoted that “Ductless (sic) split heat pumps will make the apartments energy efficient, help prevent heat loss in the winter which will lower utility costs and improve well being." Not so as studies give quite a different picture. I have done the research.

At 10 degrees outside, a scientific study reported that the inside temperature dropped to a low 60 degrees. Gerontology experts would agree, that is far too cold for the health and comfort for most elderly people. For sufficient heat, the tenants will need to rely on the already installed electric resistance baseboard heaters, mandated by state statute. So, where are the savings?

Heat pumps are high tech and high maintenance. What elderly person is going out in a snow storm to clear the compressor of ice and snow? Or, how will a small maintenance crew of three take care of 186 pumps while busy clearing snow from roads and pathways? Maintenance, therefore, becomes prohibitive.

As for cooling, properly sized window units are energy efficient, low maintenance and only cost less than $150.00 retail, compared to $4,123.00 each for heat pumps, making this state grant a waste of your tax dollars. The elderly tenants say that window a/c units are far more attractive than ugly-looking outside heat pumps.

Paul G. Littlefield