If you’ve ever wanted to kill two birds with one stone, then a heat pump may just be the appliance for you. Heat pumps are efficient cooling and heating appliances that can help save energy and money. They act like a combination of an air conditioner and a heater, all in one unit.
Instead of burning fuel to create heat, a heat pump absorbs the warm air inside or outside your home and uses it to provide cooling in summer and heating in winter. It’s an energy-efficient choice for climates that don’t experience extreme temperatures year-round. Heat pumps depend on electricity, are easy to install, and are friendly to the environment.
Although not every home should depend on a heat pump, they are becoming increasingly popular. There are different types of heat pumps available on the market today and they vary in features, costs, and installation requirements. That is why you should take a look at heat pumps whenever you want to replace your HVAC system.
If you’re already considering investing in a heat pump or want to upgrade or replace your unit, this comprehensive guide should help you make the right decision. We’ll cover everything from types of heat pumps and their main features and tips for finding a good installer.
DeZiel Heating & AC is here to help you find the perfect heat pump for your home. Read on and stay informed so you can make an educated choice that will give you the best bang for your buck!
Let’s begin with the basics: What is a heat pump?
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
Air-source heat pumps are the most widely available type of heat pump. These units use air as the source of energy and they are able to move heat from one place to another. During the summer months, air-source heat pumps absorb heat from inside your home and transfer it outside, resulting in cooling. In winter, they work the same way but in reverse, absorbing heat from outside and transferring it inside to keep your home warm.
You can use a heat pump as the only source of heating and cooling in milder climates or combine it with other HVAC systems such as furnaces in colder climates. Heat pumps can provide efficient heating even when the temperature outside is below freezing.
Types of Heat Pumps
Here in the US, you’ll mostly find air-source heat pumps and a variant known as air-to-air heat pumps. These absorb and release heat from the air outside instead of water or earth. They then provide heating or cooling using a forced air system instead of radiators. There are two main types of air-to-air heat pumps.
Ducted Air-Source Heat Pumps
Ducted heat pumps are usually installed in the attic, basement, or crawlspace. They have an indoor and outdoor unit connected by a refrigerant line, where the air is heated or cooled before being distributed throughout the house through ductwork. Ducted heat pumps provide heating and cooling to multiple rooms at once and are more cost-effective in the long run. They generally act like central air conditioners. Purchasing and installing a ducted heat pump may cost about $8,000 on average. This will depend on the brand and how difficult the installation is.
Ductless or Mini-Split Air-Source Heat Pumps
Mini-split air-source heat pumps are composed of two separate units: an indoor evaporator coil and an outdoor condenser. They do not require ductwork but connect to one or several indoor air handlers in your home. While installation may require more time and effort, these systems are suitable for homes with limited space, single rooms, or additions that are not connected to the main ductwork. Ductless heat pumps are more energy efficient than ducted heat pumps since there’s no heat loss from the ductwork. They may cost about $2,000 to $15,000 depending on the number of zones.
Other Heat Pump Types
There are less common types of heat pumps, such as geothermal and water-source heat pumps. These are usually used in specific situations where air-source or ductless heat pumps are not an option.
Geothermal or ground-source heat pumps use the earth’s energy to provide heating and cooling. They absorb heat from the ground where the temperature is 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. They are highly efficient because they don’t face large temperature changes like air-source heat pumps. However, installation is more expensive due to the need for underground piping and they can cost around $6,000 to $20,000 or higher.
Water source heat pumps use a body of water such as a lake, river, or pond as the energy source. They work in the same way ground-source heat pumps do but can be easier and cheaper to install if you have an ideal source of water on your property.
Air-to-water heat pumps use air as the energy source and water as the output. This type of heat pump is used when you need more than just heating and cooling, like radiant floor heating or hot water for your home. They are more common in Europe than in the US.
Why Should You Buy a Heat Pump?
There are several reasons to buy a heat pump.
You Need to Replace Your Current Unit
After 10 to 15 years, the efficiency of your HVAC system will start to decline. If you need to replace your existing one, a heat pump is a great option because it can provide both heating and cooling.
You Want to Replace Your Central AC or Add New Built-in Air Conditioning
Although the installation process is almost the same for a heat pump as for a central air conditioner, the heat pump costs a bit more to install. But the energy savings are much higher with a heat pump. Some companies and states offer incentives and rebates, so check if you are eligible.
If you want to replace a central AC or a room unit with built-in air conditioning, a ductless mini split or an air-source heat pump may be ideal for you. This type of heat pump is easier to install since it does not require any ductwork.
You Want to Add Heat to a Cold Room
If you want a cheap and effective way to heat a cold room, an air-source heat pump can be the right choice. This type of heat pump is suitable for an attic or garage where the main HVAC unit is not installed.
You Want to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Heating is responsible for about half of your home’s total energy consumption. Heat pumps are much more efficient than traditional HVAC systems and can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 40%.
Your Home Already Has Ductwork
About half of all US homes have ductwork already installed, so if you want to take advantage of that and have a more efficient system in your home, a ducted heat pump is an ideal solution. However, leaky ductworks are not good for heat pumps.
You Live in a Place With Subsidies on Heat Pumps
Since heat pumps have a higher initial cost, they may not be ideal for everyone. Purchasing and installing a heat pump may cost around $8,000 while a gas furnace may cost $7,000. However, some governments and companies offer incentives and subsidies to help homeowners install this type of system in their homes. Check with your local government or utility company to see if you are eligible for any of these programs.
When is a Heat Pump Not Very Practical?
Sometimes, it’s difficult, expensive, or impossible to install a heat pump.
Your Home Does Not Have Ducts
If your home does not have ductwork, it can be expensive to install the ducts. In such cases, a mini split heat pump is likely the best option for you.
Your Home is Poorly Insulated
When you use heat pumps and have poor insulation or leaky ducts, you won’t get the most from your heat pump. You may notice drafts and cold spots. This is because heat pumps heat a space more gently than other heating systems. Make sure to improve insulation and fix air leaks before installing a heat pump.
You Live in a Very Cold Climate
Heat pumps can work efficiently even at temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit but they cannot provide enough heating in extreme cold climates. The US is divided into eight climate zones. In zones 7 and 8, which include Alaska, the climate is too extreme for a heat pump to be effective.
How to Choose a Heat Pump
There are certain aspects you should consider when purchasing a heat pump.
If a heat pump is too small for your home, it won’t be able to provide sufficient heating or cooling. On the other hand, if you buy an oversized heat pump, it will cycle off quickly and will not provide efficient results. Make sure you get a unit that is the right size for your home. To get the right size, you can contact a qualified HVAC contractor to do a load calculation.
Energy Efficiency Ratings
In cooling mode, heat pump efficiency is recorded using a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). For heating mode, it is recorded using a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). A higher rating means more energy savings. Look for heat pumps with the highest SEER and HSPF ratings available.
Heat pumps are available with two types of compressors – single speed and variable speed. A single-speed compressor runs at full power while the variable-speed one can run at different speeds. The latter is more energy efficient and offers better performance.
If you live in a cold climate, you should look for a heat pump with heavy-duty components that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, you may decide to combine a heat pump with a furnace as a hybrid system.
Modern heat pumps are much quieter than older models. Manufacturers often provide their heat pump noise levels in decibels. Look for units with noise levels lower noise levels.
For many homeowners, this is the most important factor when buying a heat pump. Look for reputable brands and read customer reviews to judge the quality of a heat pump before purchasing one.
How to Find The Right Contractor
One of the most important parts of installing a heat pump is finding the right contractor. Make sure they have experience with installing heat pumps and ask for references to see their work. Also, check if they are licensed and insured so you won’t be liable in case anything goes wrong during installation.
Ask For Referrals
Get referrals from friends and family who have recently installed a heat pump. They can tell you about their experience with the contractor and if they would recommend them. Once you have done your research and found the right contractor for your project, finalize all details before signing the contract.
Do a Background Check
It’s important to do a background check and make sure the contractor is reputable. Check online reviews, ask for references, and look into their past work. Find out if they are licensed and insured and if they guarantee their work.
A contractor that calculates your home’s load accurately before installation is preferable. Get specifics on the brand, model, and other details of your heat pump before installing it.
Heat Pump Maintenance
To get the best results from your heat pump, you should get it serviced regularly. The contractor should provide a list of maintenance tasks that need to be done and how often they need to be done.
These are the main points you should keep in mind when purchasing a heat pump. Make sure you do your research and weigh all options before making a decision. With the right heat pump, you’ll be able to enjoy comfortable temperatures in your home all year round. Good luck!
DeZiel Heating & AC Can Help
If you’re looking for a heat pump installation, DeZiel Heating & AC is here to help. We offer a wide range of services, including heat pump sales and installations. Our technicians are certified and experienced in all types of heating and cooling systems. Contact us today at 763-684-3965 for more information or to get started with your project!