Are you experiencing issues with your HVAC system? You might realize that sooner or later, you will have to replace your furnace and air conditioner. However, the cost of replacing those two units might feel overwhelming. With that potential cost in mind, you may be considering a heat pump.
A heat pump is an integrated compressor that has liquid refrigerant. It doesn’t create heat, nor does it create cooling. Instead, what it does is transfer heat from one space to another. When the heat pump is switched to heating mode, it pulls heat from outside and transfers it inside the home. When the heat pump is in cooling mode, it transfers the heat energy from inside the home to outside. There are several benefits and some drawbacks to using a heat pump.
Benefits of Using a Heat Pump
Heat pumps are incredibly popular for homeowners all over the US. They offer several benefits, some of which we’ll discuss here.
No Need for Fossil Fuel
A furnace burns natural gas, oil, or propane to produce heat. While a furnace heats quickly, it risks toxic gas leaks and can cause fires or explosions. In contrast, a heat pump operates on electricity, eliminating the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other health issues for you and your family.
Runs Very Quietly
A furnace and central air conditioner create significant noise. When activated, a furnace or air conditioner produces around 60 dB of noise. Conversely, an energy-efficient heat pump operates at about 40 dB, comparable to a refrigerator humming or the sound in a quiet library. Heat pumps function quietly and consume less electricity compared to other cooling and heating systems.
Heat pumps have gained popularity thanks largely to their energy efficiency. Using a heat pump reduces greenhouse gas emissions from your home. Savings from using a heat pump depend on factors such as local natural gas and electricity costs, climate, window count, and insulation type. Interestingly, the heat pump can produce four times more warm or cold air than the electricity it consumes during operation.
A heat pump offers dual functionality, heating and cooling your home efficiently. Installing and maintaining separate air conditioners and furnaces is costly and space-consuming. With a heat pump, one device produces both warm and cold air, reducing maintenance needs.
Heat pumps do not produce heat with the same intensity as a furnace. The run cycle is longer, so there are no uncomfortable temperature fluctuations like those you feel with single-speed furnaces. The air has more time to circulate evenly in the home, so there are fewer hot and cold spots.
Disadvantages of Using a Heat Pump
As is the case with any sort of home appliance, heat pumps do have some drawbacks. No HVAC system is perfect, so you should certainly consider some of these disadvantages.
Reliance on Energy
If the electricity goes down, the heat pump becomes inoperable. So, if there is a snowstorm or some other incident that knocks out the power, you will also not be able to heat your home. However, to be fair, modern furnaces are equipped with electric igniters such as intermittent pilot lighters and hot surface igniters. Since modern furnaces use electric igniters to create warm air, they are also unusable if there is a power outage.
A heat pump will have a higher upfront cost than a traditional HVAC system. Installing a heat pump can range between $15,000 and $20,000 based on national averages. Other cost factors include the system’s efficiency capabilities, the make and model of the unit, the layout of your home, and the size of the system you choose. Prices can also fluctuate depending on the time of the year you purchase the unit. For example, heat pumps are more expensive at the start of the winter because the demand for heat pumps is high.
Not Carbon Neutral
A heat pump does not use natural gas or propane. But it is not carbon neutral either. It pulls a lot of electricity to warm and cool the home. This leaves a carbon footprint. The only way to counteract this is to integrate your heat pump with solar panels that are installed on your property.
Does Not Work Well in Extremely Cold Temperatures
Modern heat pumps have more efficient condensers, so they can produce heat in colder temperatures. Some heat pumps are rated to work with temperatures as low as -10 °. That being said, once the temperatures fall below zero Fahrenheit, some heat pumps require a secondary heating source to keep the temperature in your home warm.
This is primarily an issue with air-source heat pumps, as these heat pumps rely on the heat in the air to heat your home. Ground source heat pumps, on the other hand, pull heat from the earth. And at a certain depth, the temperature in the ground stays constant regardless of what the outside temperature is. However, a ground-source heat pump is typically more expensive than an air-source heat pump.
Gas and Oil Furnaces Burn Hotter
If you want to quickly heat your home on a cold winter’s day, a heat pump is not necessarily going to do that for you. Gas and oil furnaces produce a very high temperature quickly. You turn on your furnace, and within moments, you feel heated air blowing through the vents. A furnace reaches higher temperatures regardless of what the outdoor temperature is. This is not the case with a heat pump. It’ll take longer to heat your home, and depending on the outdoor temperatures, there may be some limit as to how much you can heat your home.
You Need to Defrost the Unit
If the temperatures outside dip below zero, ice can start to form on the outdoor heat pump unit. This causes the system to kick into defrost mode to melt the ice and continue operating. During the defrost mode, the flow of heat into your home is paused, and the cost of operating the heat pump increases.
Heat pumps can last for between 10 and 15 years. However, a furnace can last much longer, with some furnaces lasting more than 25 years. This means that you will be investing in a new unit sooner with a heat pump than you would with traditional HVAC systems.
At Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow, we have provided next-level heating and cooling services with a fresh perspective since 2020. Our highly trained technicians can work with gas and electric power furnaces and smart residential or commercial HVAC systems. Our service, work record, and reviews speak for themselves.
Our expansive heating and cooling services include HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We offer heat pump installation, air purification, and water heaters. We work with commercial HVAC, provide air balancing, and offer maintenance. Contact Western Pacific Heating, Cooling & Airflow today and see what it’s like to experience comfort from a fresh perspective.