If you’re shopping for a new HVAC system, chances are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and enviromentally friendly features of heat pumps. Heat pumps have been popular in warm climates for decades. But considering they absorb heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom indicates that installing them in cold climates is not practical. This may have you asking if a heat pump is the right choice for your home in the Northern U.S. or Canada.
Before going into more detail, rest assured that modern, cold-weather heat pumps are suitable for northern climates. Over the past decade, the usage of heat pump technology has surged in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. With regular January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these communities obviously depend on effective heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have found that they fulfill their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology was previously unsuitable for cold climates. As the temperature dipped below freezing, these systems were simply unable to extract enough heat to effectively warm a house. But this is no longer accurate. Here are the innovative features designed for cold-climate heat pumps that permit them to work efficiently at temperatures colder than 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which conveys the total heating output during the heating season divided by the energy consumed during that period. The higher the HSPF, the better the efficiency.
Starting in 2023, the nationwide minimum efficiency rating for heat pumps will be 8.8 HSPF. Lots of cold-climate heat pumps can boast ratings of 10 HSPF or higher, enabling them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in mild weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance dips as the temperature drops, but many models are still around 100% efficient in sub-freezing conditions. Compare this to brand-new, high-efficiency furnaces, which top out at about 98% efficiency.
In terms of actual savings, results might vary. The biggest savers are likely to be people who heat with combustible fuels including propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.
However, heating with natural gas still is generally less expensive than using a heat pump. The cost gap is based on how harsh the winter is, the utility rates in your area, whether your system was installed correctly and whether you use solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re looking at switching from a traditional furnace, boiler or electric heater to a cold-climate heat pump, consider these other factors:
Whether you’re replacing a current HVAC system or comparing options for a new property, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you make a cost-effective decision. We’ll evaluate your home comfort needs, take a look at your budget and suggest the best equipment, which may be a cold-climate heat pump or another kind of system. To ask questions or schedule a heat pump installation estimate, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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