Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is A Heat Pump In Your Future?

     When you think of cooling your home, you probably think, "air conditioner", evaporating cooler (swamp cooler), or window fan. As it turns out, a heat pump can be a preferred way of cooling your home. Wait! "Heat to cool your home?? Well, that is a bit of misnomer. But a heat pump can both heat, and cool your home.
     In some parts of the country where the winter temperatures seldom get below 35 degrees, a heat pump is a great advantage because you won't need a separate back of heat source like a furnace or air handler. Where we live in the Boise, Idaho area, we still get some pretty cold mornings and we have to have a back up heat source, due to the fact that heat pumps began to lose efficiency at about 30 degrees. Once the outside temperature gets above 30 the furnace will seamlessly turn off and switch over to heat pump use.
     Let me explain how they work. I am going to focus on 'air source' heat pumps because, they are most commonly used in residential air conditioning, and they look exactly like an air conditioner. They use the ambient air temperature to heat. The operative word in heat pump; is the word pump. What makes them energy efficient is, that instead of 'making' heat, or 'making' cold air, They are in essence pumping, or transferring cold air out of your home in the winter, and replacing it with warm air. Moving air is more cost effective then manufacturing air. In the summer time, it reverses the process, moving hot air out of your home, and replacing it with cold air. It works much on the same principle as your refrigerator. Not to get too 'techy' on you, but, remember back when you were in school and they taught you in science that 'cold' is merely the absence of heat. and 'heat' is merely the absence of cold. That is basically the same principle heat pumps work on.
     So, why hasn't everyone switched to heat pumps. The reason is, that, in much of the united states we still get some very cold weather and a heat pump is not as efficient as a furnace in those areas. In most cases though, it is less expensive to run an electric heat pump than to run a gas furnace. It is staggering less expensive then propane or resistance heat! (baseboard, ceiling heat, or electric furnace) Overall they are a smart choice for many homeowners, and most heat pumps are energy star ratedThey also don't cost much more than an A/C unit. @comfortguyjerry has one at his home and we love it. My  natural gas usage the first winter we had it was cut in half! My electric bill went up slightly. I installed a 16 SEER heat pump and a 95% efficient furnace, and I know I am saving 25-30% on my overall heating and cooling bill. For more information on heat pumps go to our website at Maybe a heat pump IS in your future.