Heat Pump Pros and Cons

Homeowners considering having a heat pump installed should know the heat pump pros and cons before they make a final decision. Heat pump split systems can be very effective and efficient in many situations.  They key is weighing heat pump pros and cons in your particular situation to determine whether a heat pump split system consisting of a heat pump and an air handler is better than another type of HVAC system such as air conditioner split system consisting of an air conditioner and a gas furnace.

In this guide, we list heat pump pros and cons for you to compare with other systems you are considering.  In the conclusion we offer suggestions for who should consider installing a heat pump in their home or commercial building.

Heat Pump Pros

There are many positive to mention about heat pumps, and that is why they are a very popular form of HVAC system.  Among the pros for you to consider are these:
1. Today’s heat pumps offer high efficiency.  Heat pumps currently available are much more efficient than those of just a 15 years ago.  The most efficient heat pumps deliver 13 SEER to more than 20 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) air conditioning and 7.7 HSPF to over 10.0 HSPF (Heat Seasonal Performance Factor) heating.  Homeowners replacing older models are lowering their heating and air conditioning costs by up to 50% or more.
2. In air conditioning mode, heat pumps work well in any climate and in heating mode they work well in warm to moderate climates.
3. Heat produced by heat pumps is milder than gas heat.  This means that the system runs for a longer period of time and heats more gradually.  The benefit of this is more balanced heating without cold spots in the house.
4. Supplemental heat is easily added.  Most heat pump split systems have heat strips in the air handler.  These are small units similar to a space heater.  They provide additional heat when the temperature drops lower than a heat pump’s effective range and they also serve as emergency heat if the heat pump condensing unit breaks down.
5. Many heat pumps now have dual fuel capability which means that they can be installed as part of a split system that uses a gas furnace instead of an air handler.  The homeowner is able to select the type of heating that is more cost-effective or comfortable at the time based on the price of electricity versus gas as well as the outdoor temperature.
6. Heats pumps running in air conditioning mode offer cool air and effective dehumidification.

Heat Pump Cons

A discussion of heat pump pros and cons should also address the limitations of heat pumps.

1. Heat pumps become inefficient and ineffective in very cold weather.  It becomes too difficult to extract heat efficiently from the outside air as temperatures drop into the 30′s.

2. Supplemental heat is relatively expensive compared to gas heat.  If the air handler is equipped with heat strips for supplemental heat, the cost of the heat is higher than the cost of gas heat would be.

3. Heat pumps do double duty, providing heating and air conditioning.  This may cause them to wear out sooner and heat pumps are generally more expensive to repair than gas furnaces when they do break down.

Conclusion

If you live in a warm or moderate climate, a heat pump can be a very effective, affordable and comfortable solution to both your heating and air conditioning needs.  In very cold climates, homeowners will be better served by a dual fuel system that heats with the heat pump in spring and fall and with the gas furnace in the coldest part of winter.  The other option is an air conditioner/gas furnace split system that doesn’t include a heat pump.  Take your climate conditions into consideration and the type of heat you prefer.  As you do, the heat pump pros and cons specific to your situation will become clear, helping you make your decision about using one.

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