Before you can determine if a heat pump is right for your household, you must first understand the way a heat pump works. A heat pump is an electric appliance that operates much like an air conditioner. Like air conditioners, heat pumps absorb heat inside the house and pump the heat outside to achieve a cooling effect. Unlike air conditioners, heat pumps are reversible. In times of cold weather when the house needs to be heated, heat pumps can absorb heat from outside the house and pump it to the inside. Heat pumps function like furnaces and air conditioners, all in one unit.
To determine if a heat pump makes sense for your household, you should ask yourself the following three questions. The answers to these questions will determine whether or not a heat pump is right for your home.
Do you live in a moderate climate?
When temperatures outside drop very low, the heat pump's ability to warm the home is compromised. The lower the temperature outside, the less effective the heat pump becomes. At temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, heat pumps must be supplemented with a device similar to a furnace. Therefore, heat pumps are really only an effective source of heat in climates with moderate temperatures, where the winters tend to be mild.
Do you have limited space?
The dual-purpose nature of heat pumps means that they can save a lot of space--as much space as the size of a furnace, if having a heat pump means you don't need to have a furnace. Of course, these heat saving advantages mean little if you plan to use your heat pump in conjunction with a furnace during times of very cold weather. A heat pump is a good option if your property has little room for extra appliances and is located in a moderate climate where a furnace isn't necessary.
Is electricity relatively cheap in your community?
Heat pumps are entirely electric and cost less money to operate in areas where natural gas is more expensive than the price of electricity. If your home is located in an area where electricity is cheap, buying a heat pump may make good financial sense even if the heat pump won't be able to function as your home's primary source of heat through the entire winter.
For more information about whether or not a heat pump is right for your home, speak with a heating contractor, like those at Mitchell Plumbing & Heating Inc.