Choosing a Heat Pump for Your Home

A heat pump uses an electricity-powered system to move air from inside your home to outside, or vice versa. It’s different from separate heating and cooling systems, which use fossil fuels to burn or “create” heat. A Heat Pump instead gathers the thermal energy (heat) located in the air or ground, then moves it through a process of compression and exchange to increase its temperature before pushing it into your home.

A basic heat pump typically has a single-speed compressor that’s either on or off. The gold standard is a variable-speed compressor that runs almost continuously, adjusting itself to deliver only the amount of heating or cooling your home needs. This reduces the cycling, which wastes energy, and also keeps your home more comfortable by reducing the swings in temperature and relative humidity that can occur when a single-speed system cycles on and off.

Heat pumps are available for both new construction and retrofits in homes, apartment buildings, and small commercial buildings. They’re most common in mild climates, but they can be used for heating and cooling in all regions with moderate winter temperatures.

The most important factor in choosing a heat pump is its energy efficiency. The higher the seasonal energy-efficiency rating, or SEER, the more efficient. Energy efficiency is also measured by a unit’s heating season performance factor, or HSPF. The lower the HSPF, the less effective the system is as a heater.

There are many options for heat pump installations, ranging from large units that take the place of furnaces and air conditioners in central heating and cooling systems to ductless mini-splits that have one compressor that feeds up to nine indoor wall-mounted units. Your local climate will determine the appropriate size of a heat pump and its power output, so you’ll need to work with an experienced HVAC contractor to ensure your new heat pump is properly sized.

Like all refrigeration equipment, heat pumps require routine maintenance to keep them running at peak performance. This includes regular cleaning of the fan, blower, and coils to prevent debris from clogging them, as well as changing the filters about every month or so. Your HVAC professional will also inspect and adjust the temperatures and pressures of refrigerant and airflow, as well as check for signs of electrical or mechanical problems.

A heat pump may be more expensive than traditional heating and cooling technologies to install, but it can save you money over time through reduced utility bills. Additionally, a heat pump is a renewable technology and helps you reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re interested in a heat pump, contact a top-rated pro to get free estimates.