If you’re searching for a new HVAC system, odds are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and sustainable features of heat pumps. Heat pumps have been sought after in warm climates for many years. But because they take heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom recommends that installing them in cold climates is not worth the effort. This might have you questioning 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 acceptable for northern climates. Over the past decade, the acceptance of heat pump technology has surged in Northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. With ordinary January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these regions obviously rely on powerful 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 insufficient for temperate climates. As the temperature dropped below freezing, these systems were simply unable to capture enough heat to effectively warm a house. But this is no longer accurate. Here are the special features used in cold-climate heat pumps that allow them to work efficiently at temperatures colder than 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which demonstrates the total heating output during 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. Lots of cold-climate heat pumps offer 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 many 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 likely to be people who heat with combustible fuels like propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.
That being said, heating with natural gas still tends to be less expensive than running a heat pump. The cost variation is based on how tough the winter is, the utility prices in your area, whether your equipment was installed correctly and whether you use solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re looking at transitioning 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 choice. We’ll assess your home comfort needs, consider your budget and suggest the best equipment, which may be a cold-climate heat pump or another solution. 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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