If you’re shopping for a new HVAC system, chances are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly features of heat pumps. These systems have been popular in warm climates for decades. But because they use heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom suggests that installing them in cold climates is not sensible. This might have you questioning if a heat pump is a good 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. Over the past decade, the acceptance of heat pump technology has surged in Northern European countries like Norway and Sweden. With regular January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these regions obviously need powerful heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have found that they meet their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology used to be unsuitable for cold climates. As the temperature dipped below freezing, these systems were unfortunately unable to extract enough heat to successfully warm a house. But this is no longer the case. Here are the special features found in cold-climate heat pumps that permit them to operate efficiently at temperatures lower than 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is measured by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which conveys the total heating output throughout the heating season divided by the energy consumed during that period. The higher the HSPF, the better the efficiency.
Starting in 2023, the nationwide 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 mild weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance drops 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 top out at about 98% efficiency.
In terms of actual savings, results may vary. The biggest savers are probably people who heat with delivered 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 running a heat pump. The cost gap depends on how tough the winter is, the utility prices in your area, whether your heat pump was installed correctly and whether you have solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re looking at switching from a traditional furnace, boiler or electric heater to a cold-climate heat pump, remember these additional factors:
Whether you’re replacing an existing HVAC system or exploring options for a new property, Calverley Service Experts can help you make a cost-effective decision. We’ll assess your home comfort needs, consider your budget and recommend the best equipment, which might be a cold-climate heat pump or another solution. To ask questions or schedule a heat pump installation estimate, please contact your local Calverley Service Experts office today.
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