In the near future, more and more homeowners will start asking HOA boards to allow heat pumps in HOA communities. That’s because heat pumps are more energy-efficient alternatives to traditional HVAC systems. However, there are several factors HOA boards should consider before allowing or disallowing these in communities.
What Are Heat Pumps?
A heat pump is an HVAC system that can replace traditional air conditioners and heaters. They serve as a dual-purpose appliance as they can not only cool the surrounding air but also heat it. However, heat pumps are generally more energy-efficient than conventional HVAC systems like heaters and boilers. They are also more affordable to run.
Heat pumps pull heat from the surrounding air, ground, nearby water, and other sources. It amplifies the heat and transfers it to where it needs to go. In cool months, it transfers heat from the outdoors to the indoors. Meanwhile, the opposite happens in hotter months as the heat pumps pull the heat from the room to the outside. Heat pumps are electric and don’t use fossil fuels like furnaces so they are more environmentally friendly.
Heat Pumps in HOA Communities: What to Consider
There’s ongoing debate surrounding this issue. Some Canadian condo boards are declining homeowner requests to install these systems. However, whether heat pump installation in an HOA community should be allowed depends on several factors. Let’s discuss each one below.
1. Energy and Cost Efficiency
Heat pumps are energy-efficient alternatives to traditional HVAC systems. This allows homeowners to save money on energy bills and even reduce their environmental impact while regulating home temperature. It may be a compelling option for homeowners associations prioritizing energy efficiency and sustainability.
2. Aesthetic Considerations
Many HOAs disallow window-mounted air conditioners because of their community’s architectural guidelines. These HVAC systems often disrupt the community’s aesthetics and hurt curb appeal. They can make communities less attractive to potential buyers and lower property values. Are heat pumps the same?
Heat pumps require a compressor to install. These compressors are typically contained in a white box and sit on balconies or outside homes. They also need a 6 to 8-foot refrigerant line that goes up into the wall to connect the outdoor and indoor systems.
However, the footprint of a heat pump’s compressor and outdoor components typically depends on the type of heat pump installed. There are smaller versions of these appliances. HOAs can allow these heat pumps without going against the community’s architectural guidelines by allowing only specific models. In addition, homeowners associations can impose rules that only allow outdoor units to be installed in hidden areas. This can be a good middle ground as it doesn’t affect the front view of the home.
Air conditioning systems are often noisy and can disrupt the community’s peace. However, heat pumps are different in that they are generally quieter than many condensers. Some brands even have decibel ratings at 58, the acceptable sound level typically in quiet suburban neighborhoods. There are also decoupling methods that can limit noise.
However, older models and heat pumps that are improperly installed may be loud and disruptive. Homeowners associations should consider these factors before allowing them in their community. Alternatively, they can impose rules on installation and only allow specific models in the HOA. This can help mitigate the noise levels in the community.
4. Governing Documents
The governing documents outline the rules everyone in the homeowners association must follow. Some governing documents will have policies regarding installing new appliances or which appliances and HVAC systems are banned. The HOA board needs to review these policies so they don’t inadvertently allow heat pumps when the governing documents do not.
If the governing documents are silent or do not have strict provisions against them, HOAs can consider allowing heat pumps in the community. It’s a great way to help the residents stay cool in the summer or warm in the winter. Heat pumps are cost-effective and efficient, making them an excellent option for regulating temperature.
5. Regulations and Building Codes
Different states will have varying laws and building codes. Homeowners associations should check these local regulations and principles to ensure that heat pumps do not violate laws. They should also ensure that heat pumps comply with local and state requirements. Furthermore, local regulations may impose allowable noise levels and installation standards. Homeowners associations should review all of these regulations before they allow heat pumps. They can provide HOAs with guidelines on what or how much to allow and disallow.
6. Homeowner Satisfaction
An HOA’s rules and regulations exist to protect property values and help everyone in the community. However, they can also be stifling and lead to dissatisfaction when they are too strict. Disallowing heat pumps altogether may reduce the residents’ overall quality of life.
When homeowners are dissatisfied, they may be less likely to cooperate with the HOA board. They may violate the rules or stop paying HOA dues — leaving the HOA financially unstable.
In addition, resident dissatisfaction with the HOA may impact the community’s overall reputation. This can negatively impact property values as potential buyers will not be as attracted to the HOA. After all, new buyers will want to live in a peaceful community with happy residents. They don’t want to live in a society full of conflict or discontent.
A Balancing Act
Allowing or disallowing heat pumps in HOA communities can be a source of conflict. Homeowners may riot against HOA boards if they do or don’t allow these appliances. Therefore, the HOA board members should carefully weigh the pros and cons and consider these factors beforehand. They should also disclose the rationale behind their decision. This can help the community members for or against heat pumps accept the new ruling.
Elite Management Services offers premier HOA management services to homeowners associations of all sizes. We can help your HOA determine what rules to implement and help you understand all the factors to consider. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help!