If you’re searching for a new HVAC system, odds 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 since they take heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom recommends that installing them in cold climates is not sensible. 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 acceptable for northern climates. In the last decade, the acceptance of heat pump technology has soared in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. With standard January temperatures sitting around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these areas obviously depend on powerful heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have found that they fulfill their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology used to be too weak for cooler climates. As the temperature dropped below freezing, these systems were just unable to capture enough heat to efficiently warm a house. But this is no longer accurate. Here are the advanced features designed for cold-climate heat pumps that allow them to perform efficiently at temperatures below 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which demonstrates the total heating output throughout the heating season divided by the energy consumed during that period. The higher the HSPF, the better the efficiency.
Beginning in 2023, the national minimum efficiency rating for heat pumps will be 8.8 HSPF. Many cold-climate heat pumps offer ratings of 10 HSPF or higher, enabling them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in moderate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance falls as the temperature drops, but numerous models are still around 100% efficient in sub-freezing conditions. Compare this to brand-new, high-efficiency furnaces, which max out at about 98% efficiency.
In terms of actual savings, results can vary. The biggest savers are probably people who heat with combustible fuels like propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.
However, heating with natural gas still is usually less expensive than running a heat pump. The cost variation is based on how harsh the winter is, the utility costs in your area, whether your equipment was installed correctly and whether you have 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 additional 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 assess your home comfort needs, consider your budget and suggest the best equipment, which might be a cold-climate heat pump or similar product. 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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