For years, I was confused by the term “heat pump” because I thought it was simply another way to keep your house warm. Interestingly, a heat pump is really an air conditioner that can work in reverse! I’ll explain more about how it works, and also touch on the subject of whether or not it’s a good financial investment.
Standard A/C pumps air in one direction – from the inside to the outside – and that’s how your home stays cool. But a heat pump moves heat in both directions—from the inside to the outside (to cool) and from the outside to the inside (to heat). So I bet you can see the potential advantages of a heat pump right off the bat.
A few weeks ago, I talked about saving money and resources with smart home solutions. A heat pump could be one of those same investments, lowering your bills in the long run and saving energy.
How does a heat pump work?
Unlike other methods for heating your home, heat pumps do not burn external fuel which is a win-win for conservation, and money savings as well. A heat pump uses electricity to move heat instead of gas to generate heat. Since the heat pump is only moving the warmer or cooler air, it can reduce your electricity use for heating by approximately 50% compared to electric resistance heating such as furnaces and baseboard heaters. Heat pumps also work as air conditioners with the added benefit of being able to remove humidity from the air. This is very beneficial for those with sensitivities to mold and dust mites, both of which thrive in a humid environment.
When is a heat pump right for your home?
If you live in a climate where the winter temperatures tend to not stay below freezing for an extended period, then a heat pump is a wise decision both financially and ecologically. Considering their excellent efficiency, they’re also a great option in areas where electricity rates are high. The heat pump on average will generate three units of heat for every one unit of electricity used. That means that the heat pump is working at around three hundred percent proficiency.
Can a heat pump really replace your air conditioner?
A heat pump can handle all of your heating and cooling needs in one unit, rather than having to pay for and install two separate units. A gas or furnace heater cannot cool down your home, and an A/C unit cannot heat up your home. Some heat pumps also do not require a duct system to be present in your home. The average cost of a heat pump is between $700 to $2,800, and it both cools and heats your home. Just an A/C unit alone will cost between $1,700 to $3,300 to install, and you will also have to purchase a separate heating system.
Is there a reason a heat pump would not be good for a home?
If you live in a very cold climate where the weather is below freezing often, the heat pump may not be the best option for you. Below freezing temperatures tax a heat pump system, resulting in lost efficiency. Some units may even shut down in negative temperatures over an extended period of time.
You can find more information about the different types of heat pumps and their functionality at the Department of Energy website.
What type of system do you use to heat your home?
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