Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient and economical way to keep your home comfortable year-round. Heat pumps utilize electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and warm space warmer. Even in cold air, heat energy is present so when it’s cold outside, a heat pump takes the heat in the outside air and transfers it inside, warming your home. During warmer weather, it reverses direction, acting like an air conditioner, to remove heat from your home.
An air-source heat pump is the most common type of the electric heat pump options. The air-source provides efficient heating and cooling for your home by using an outdoor unit to transfer heat between your house and the outside air.
In the winter, this system removes heat from the outside air and releases it inside, warming your home. A reversing valve can change the direction of the flow, acting like an air conditioner, to cool your house during the summer months.
If your home has a relatively new gas or propane furnace, the hybrid (dual-fuel) heat pump, also known as piggyback systems, may be a better choice than simply replacing your old air conditioner.
A hybrid system combines a high-efficiency electric heat pump with a gas furnace to create one system that heats, cools and saves energy and money. If you have an existing furnace that’s functioning properly, you can put it to good use as a secondary or auxiliary heat source with a new, high-efficiency electric heat pump.
In the summer, a hybrid heat pump is a dependable high-efficiency air conditioner. As the heating season starts, it continues to provide economical home comfort. During normal winter weather, the energy-efficient heat pump is the primary heating source. During extremely cold weather, a hybrid system automatically switches to the auxiliary fuel source for backup heating. The heat pump is automatically turned back on when temperatures begin to rise again.
Depending on the outside temperature, the hybrid system chooses the heating technology that is most efficient based on outdoor air temperature, reducing the carbon footprint.
Geothermal heat pumps provide a technology that utilizes renewable energy generated by the sun and the near-constant ground temperature to heat and cool your home. Rather than using outside air, this electrically powered system transfers heat through special underground pipes. Water circulates through these closed-loop pipes to the heating and cooling system inside your home to maintain an ideal temperature.
In the summer, a geothermal heat pump transfers heat through the water in the pipes from the home into the ground to provide air conditioning. During cold winter weather, the earth heats the water to provide indoor heating. Refined heat pump designs and improved pipe materials make these systems efficient heating and cooling options.
Whatever type heat pump you choose, the efficiency rating of the equipment is very important. Heat pumps are rated by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER, the greater the efficiency and the less it costs you to cool your home. The rating is much like the MPG rating for an automobile. The minimum SEER rating on equipment manufactured today is 14 SEER. Higher SEER-rated equipment is widely available and efficiency ratings will vary according to the BTUH size and brand selection. A unit with a high SEER rating may cost more initially, but because of its low operating cost, it will pay for itself over time. Heat pump heating efficiency ratings are expressed as the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). Just like the SEER rating for cooling, the higher the HSPF rating, the greater the efficiency. HSPF ratings range from about 6.8 to greater than 8.
1. Size: Select the right size for your home. If a heat pump is undersized or oversized, it will not heat or cool your home effectively.
2. Fuel source: Since there is no danger of combustible gases or toxic emissions with an electric heat pump, they do a better job at keeping indoor air clean, healthy and free of toxins.
3. Energy efficiency: Maximize energy savings and help the environment when you select an ENERGY STAR®-rated electric heat pump.
4. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): Air-source and hybrid systems measure cooling efficiency by SEER. The federal minimum standard for new homes in the southeast is 14 SEER.
5. Two-speed compressors: These compressors allow the heat pump to operate close to the heating or cooling capacity at any moment, saving energy and reducing compressor wear.
6. Variable-speed or dual-speed motors: Variable-speed fans attempt to keep air moving at a comfortable velocity, minimizing cooling drafts and maximizing energy savings.
7. Desuperheater: The desuperheater recovers waste heat from the cooling mode and utilizes it to heat water.