Heat pumps are a part of an HVAC system, primarily used where natural gas is not available. Unlike air conditioners which provide only cooling, a heat pump uses the outside air to cool your home in the summer and heat your home in the winter. Heat pumps are an energy-efficient means of heating your home when a gas furnace is not an option. While heat pumps can be paired with gas furnaces, called a "duel fuel system," they are primarily paired with electric air handlers. The air handler would just move the air in the summertime, but have supplemental electric heat strips in them to supplement the heat that a heat pump would produce when the temperatures get extremely cold. A heat pump is primarily a heat transporter which constantly moves warmth in the air from a place where it is not needed to a place where it is needed. The direction the heat pump moves this heat depends on the season. In the summer, heat pumps remove heat from your home and discharges it outside, and in the winter, it does the opposite, extracting heat from the outside and distributing it inside your home.
Heat pumps come in multiple sizes and efficiencies. Our residential sales people can help you determine the correct size for your home and appropriate efficiency for your needs and budget. The following will give you an overview of the different options available in heat pumps:
Size: The size of heat pumps are measured in "tons," as are air conditioners. One "ton" is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs of cooling. Residential heat pumps come in the following sizes: 1.5 tons, 2 tons, 2.5 tons, 3 tons, 3.5 tons, 4 tons, and 5 tons.
Efficiency: The efficiency of heat pumps are measured by three different standards. HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor, SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the number in all of these measurements, the more efficient your heat pump will be. Higher efficiency equals lower electric bills. New heat pumps must have a minimum SEER rating of 14.
Refrigerant: All new heat pumps will use the environmentally friendly refrigerant, R-410A. The old R-22 refrigerant is being phased out and no new units will be sold using R-22. When an older unit has a leak and needs R-22, the cost is very expensive. We discourage our customers from wasting their money on recharging old R-22 units. We feel their money could be better spent on a new energy efficient unit that uses R-410A, which is much better for our environment.
Heat pumps come with different choices for compressors, just like air conditioners. Most heat pumps will have a single stage compressor, which is either on or off. The units with single stage compressors are more economical to purchase than the two-stage or variable speed compressors, but they are not as energy efficient. Two-stage compressors will start off running in the low stage, which is typically around 70% of capacity. If the heat pump does not get your home to the desired temperature in a certain period of time, it will automatically go into the high stage. The advantages of a two-stage heat pump is that it is more energy efficient, and gives you longer run times, which help even out the temperature in your home. The most efficient option for a heat pump is a variable speed compressor, which will ramp up and down to maintain the desired temperature in your home. Although this option is very efficient, it is also the most costly of the heat pump options. Our residential sales people will be able to help you decide which option is the best for your particular situation.