Choosing a Heat Pump System

When choosing a heat pump system, there are two considerations you should keep in mind– the efficiency of the unit and type of unit. The efficiency of the unit is stated with the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – the higher the SEER number, the greater the efficiency and therefore greater energy savings. Ac­cording to the Department of Energy, a 14 SEER heat pump is the standard and it is also the most commonly used because it is the least expensive.

To help you reach an optimal level of efficiency as well as comfort, let’s talk about the heat pump and the options you have in choosing one to serve your cooling and heating needs. The most common unit is the air-source heat pump, which pulls the heat out of indoor air and releases it outside to keep your home cool and dry and does the reverse in winter. A heat pump acts as a dehumidifier and can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by 30-40 percent when switching from an electric furnace.

Another type of unit that can heat and cool your home is the dual fuel heat pump, similar to air source heat pumps, but this one uses a gas furnace as backup heat rather than electric strips. These units switch from the heat pump to the gas furnace only when the temperatures dip below freezing when the heat pump would be less efficient. A dual fuel heat pump is typically more expensive than regular heat pumps but is worth the cost due to reduced energy use in the winter months.

The mini-split, a compact and efficient way to control the temperature of your home, is a system that consists of an outdoor unit connected to one or more indoor units. This system gives you the ability to zone and control the temperature of each individual indoor unit allowing the members of your home to have control of their space and level of comfort. Some other unique benefits of this system include reaching high levels of efficiency, a possible SEER as high as 18–19. SEER shows the efficiency of a unit during a particular season (cooling), so the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit will work (the standard rating for a heat pump is 14). It can also operate effectively during low temperatures; therefore, it can be used year-round efficiently in varying climates where other systems might not function as effectively. Having a mini-split system allows the option of having no ductwork, thereby reducing the inefficiencies common with ductwork.

The geothermal heat pump uses heat from the ground or a water source rather than outside air to move heat in and out of the house and can achieve a higher efficiency than air source heat pumps. It is considered to be the most efficient type of heat pump available, and also the most expensive. These units use the constant temperature of the earth as its exchange medium instead of the outside air, and they have a life span of more than 20 years if properly maintained. Although the installation cost may be higher compared to other systems, it will produce lower utility bills and annual maintenance costs. The installation of one of these systems can also provide the homeowner with a 30 percent tax credit. And you will experience a savings of 30–70 percent compared to other systems.

Learn more about our heat pump rebate program, or call (800) 545-5735, ext. 2118.