When Is A Heat Pump Worth Considering?

Posted on: 19 January 2023

Heat pumps are a highly efficient option for heating and cooling that use the same principles as an air conditioner. When working in heating mode, a heat pump uses refrigerant to scavenge heat energy from the outside environment — even when it's cold outside! — and bring it into your home. Since heat pumps are moving heat instead of creating it, they can't be highly efficient.

But these devices are even more interesting since you can reverse the refrigerant flow to run them in cooling mode, providing air conditioning during the summer. Unfortunately, a heat pump isn't the right choice for every home, but they make sense in many situations. If you're looking to upgrade your heating system or install a new one, here are three times you may want to consider a heat pump.

1. Your Home Doesn't Have Any Ductwork

Heat pumps are available as traditional split-unit central heating/cooling systems, but they're also extremely common in the mini-split market. In fact, the majority of min-split systems use heat pump technology. Mini-splits are similar to traditional central systems, but they use one or more indoor head units instead of ductwork to provide hot or cold air to your home.

If you're retrofitting a new heating system into an older home without ductwork, installing ducts and vents is often one of the costliest parts of the job. A mini-split heat pump system can drastically reduce costs, allowing you to install a modern heating system in your home without the high cost of a forced-air heating retrofit.

2. You Have An Old, Failing Air Conditioner

Central heat pump systems are often costlier than gas or electric furnaces. Of course, this higher cost can be worthwhile thanks to the unit's drastically improved efficiency and dual functionality. However, the higher cost might be difficult to stomach if you only need to replace your existing furnace and still have a relatively new air conditioner.

On the other hand, a heat pump can be an incredibly cost-effective upgrade if you're replacing your heating system and air conditioner at the same time. In these cases, you can replace both systems with a single unit, improving efficiency while simplifying future maintenance and repairs on your home's HVAC system.

3. You Live in a Cool Climate

It's a common misconception that heat pumps don't work at low temperatures. A heat pump will still provide heat in cold climates, and supplemental heating systems are always an option for extreme weather. However, a heat pump will lose efficiency as the temperature drops, potentially reducing your cost savings.

If you live in an area that typically experiences extreme winters, you may want to discuss your options with your heating contractor to determine if a heat pump makes sense for your situation. However, heat pumps are much more beneficial for areas with cooler climates. If winter temperatures in your area don't typically reach frigid lows, a heat pump may be the best option for your home.