Heat Pumps rely on electricity to operate but extract heat energy from the environment rather than burning fuel, making them a green alternative to conventional heating and cooling systems. As with any heating system, they require regular maintenance and should be installed by a qualified professional.
Choosing the Right Heat Pump
Heat pumps come in many different configurations, with each type using a slightly different approach to heating and cooling. The most common types are air-source, ground-source and absorption.
In air-source systems, refrigerant-filled coils draw in outside air and circulate it through a reversing valve to a fan to distribute the cooled or heated air into your home. The reversing valve is a key part of these systems, as it prevents the heat pump from overheating when indoor temperatures are low, and it also ensures that the coils remain cool at all times.
Another type of heat pump is a ground-source system, which draws thermal energy directly from the ground (and in some cases water) by way of a series of piping buried underground. These systems are a great option for reducing your carbon footprint as they extract heat directly from the environment, while also lowering your utility bill and increasing your comfort levels.
If you live in an area with particularly cold winters, consider a unit that is specifically designed for cold climates. These units combine variable capacity compressors with improved heat exchanger designs and controls to maximize their heating capacity at colder temperatures, while still maintaining high efficiencies when milder weather occurs.
They can be installed in combination with other forms of heating, such as a gas furnace, to make them a hybrid system that allows you to choose between the two. This is a great way to keep your heating costs down while getting the best energy efficiency from both the heat pump and the additional fuel source.
Choosing the Right Size for Your Home
When deciding on the right sized system, you should consider the total square footage of your home and how it is used. This will allow you to determine if the model you want has the capacity needed for your home and how much airflow it will require in your ducts.
Typically, these units have a SEER rating between 14 and 18 for their heating and cooling capacities, and manufacturers rate them by their Coefficient of Performance (COP). Look for a COP of at least 1.2 for heating and 0.7 for cooling.
A heat pump can save you a lot of money on your heating and cooling bills, as it is more efficient than most traditional fuel-burning systems. However, be aware that the actual savings will vary based on your region and local power prices.
The most important factor in comparing the performance of different heat pumps is to examine the HSPF and SEER ratings, which are calculated by taking into account a wide range of variables that affect the heating and cooling output. The HSPF is a more complicated equation than the SEER because it takes into account supplemental heating needs and the amount of electricity required to defrost your heat pump when the temperature drops below freezing.