If you’re shopping for a new home comfort system, chances are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly features of heat pumps. Heat pumps have been a favorite in warm climates for a very long time. But since they use heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom recommends that installing them in cold climates is not sensible. This might have you asking if a heat pump is a better choice for your home in the Northern U.S. or Canada.
Before going more in-depth, rest assured that modern, cold-weather heat pumps are appropriate for northern climates. In the last decade, the usage of heat pump technology has increased significantly in Northern European countries like Norway and Sweden. With regular January temperatures sitting around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these areas obviously rely on effective heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have been delighted to discover that they fulfill their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology was previously insufficient for temperate climates. As the temperature dropped below freezing, these systems were simply unable to collect enough heat to effectively warm a house. But this is no longer the case. Here are the innovative features designed for cold-climate heat pumps that allow them to operate efficiently at temperatures lower than 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is calculated 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.
Starting in 2023, the national minimum efficiency rating for heat pumps will be 8.8 HSPF. Many cold-climate heat pumps come with ratings of 10 HSPF or higher, allowing them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in temperate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they use 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 might vary. The biggest savers are likely to be people who heat with delivered fuels such as 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 installing a heat pump. The cost variation will depend on how harsh the winter is, the utility rates in your area, whether your heat pump was installed correctly and whether you have 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 comparing options for a new property, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you make a cost-effective choice. We’ll evaluate your home comfort needs, take a look at your budget and point you toward 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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