If you’re looking for a new home comfort system, chances are you’ve heard about the efficient, cost-effective and sustainable 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 recommends that installing them in cold climates is not worth the effort. This may have you wondering if a heat pump is the right 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 usage of heat pump technology has increased significantly in Northern European countries like Norway and Sweden. With frequent January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these communities obviously rely on efficient heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have been delighted to discover that they meet their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology was once insufficient for cooler climates. As the temperature fell below freezing, these systems were unfortunately unable to collect enough heat to successfully warm a house. But this is no longer the case. Here are the innovative features designed for cold-climate heat pumps that enable them to work efficiently at temperatures below 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is calculated by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which demonstrates the total heating output over the heating season divided by the energy consumed for that period. The higher the HSPF, the better the efficiency.
Beginning 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, allowing them to operate at up to 400% efficiency in moderate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance drops as the temperature drops, but various 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 may vary. The biggest savers are probably people who heat with common fuels including propane and oil, as well as those who use electric furnaces or electric baseboard heaters.
Nevertheless, heating with natural gas still tends to be less expensive than using a heat pump. The cost difference will depend on how severe the winter is, the utility prices in your area, whether your equipment was installed correctly and whether you installed solar panels to offset electricity costs.
If you’re considering 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 an old HVAC system or comparing options for a new property, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help you make a cost-effective choice. We’ll review your home comfort needs, go over your budget and point you toward the best equipment, which may be a cold-climate heat pump or similar product. 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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