If you’re shopping for a new home comfort system, it’s likely that you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and sustainable features of heat pumps. Heat pumps have been sought after in warm climates for decades. But considering they use heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom suggests that installing them in cold climates is not sensible. This might have you wondering if a heat pump is a good 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 appropriate for northern climates. Over the past decade, the adoption of heat pump technology has soared in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. With frequent January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these areas obviously need efficient heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have been delighted to discover that they meet their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology was previously unsuitable for temperate climates. As the temperature fell below freezing, these systems were just unable to capture enough heat to successfully warm a house. But this is no longer accurate. Here are the special features used in cold-climate heat pumps that permit them to work efficiently at temperatures below 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which illustrates the total heating output over 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, helping them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in temperate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance dips 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 top out at about 98% efficiency.
In terms of actual savings, results may vary. The biggest savers are probably people who heat with common fuels such as propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.
Nevertheless, heating with natural gas still is generally less expensive than installing a heat pump. The cost gap will depend on how harsh the winter is, the utility prices in your area, whether your system was installed correctly and whether you use solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re thinking of switching from a traditional furnace, boiler or electric heater to a cold-climate heat pump, consider these additional factors:
Whether you’re replacing an old HVAC system or exploring 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, go over your budget and recommend the best equipment, which may 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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