If you’re shopping for a new home comfort 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 considering they absorb heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside, conventional wisdom indicates that installing them in cold climates is not practical. This may have you wondering 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 acceptable for northern climates. Over the past decade, the adoption of heat pump technology has surged in Northern European countries like Norway and Sweden. With average January temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F, homeowners in these regions obviously need efficient heating options. Those who have installed cold-climate heat pumps have found that they meet their needs perfectly.
Heat pump technology was once unsuitable for cold climates. As the temperature dipped below freezing, these systems were simply unable to extract enough heat to effectively warm a house. But this is no longer the case. Here are the advanced features used in cold-climate heat pumps that permit them to operate efficiently at temperatures colder than 0 degrees F.
Heat pump efficiency is calculated by its heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which conveys the total heating output during 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 temperate weather. In other words, they move four times more energy than they consume in the process.
Performance falls 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 likely to be people who heat with delivered fuels including 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 difference is based on how harsh the winter is, the utility rates 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, Strand Brothers 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 may be a cold-climate heat pump or another kind of system. To ask questions or schedule a heat pump installation estimate, please contact your local Strand Brothers Service Experts office today.
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