If you’re looking for a new HVAC system, chances are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly features of heat pumps. Heat pumps have been popular in warm climates for a very long time. But since they take heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom suggests that installing them in cold climates is not worth the effort. This could have you asking 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 last decade, the usage 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 regions obviously rely on efficient 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 once insufficient for cooler climates. As the temperature dropped 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 designed for cold-climate heat pumps that allow them to perform 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 during the heating season divided by the energy consumed for 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. Lots of cold-climate heat pumps offer ratings of 10 HSPF or higher, enabling 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 might 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.
However, heating with natural gas still tends to be less expensive than using a heat pump. The cost gap depends on how severe the winter is, the utility prices in your area, whether your heat pump was installed correctly and whether you installed solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re thinking of transitioning from a traditional furnace, boiler or electric heater to a cold-climate heat pump, don’t forget these other factors:
Whether you’re replacing a current 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 evaluate your home comfort needs, go over your budget and point you toward the best equipment, which could 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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