Similar to a hybrid furnace and central air conditioner, a heat pump provides both heating and cooling for your house. When compared to conventional home climate control systems, heat pumps are incredibly energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial since they circulate and absorb ambient heat instead of producing it through the burning of fuel or the use of energy-hungry electric resistance. They run on electricity, are generally simple to install in most homes, and, depending on your location and other variables like the price of electricity, may end up costing less than traditional HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.
Although a heat pump isn't the best solution for every house, it's a technology to keep in mind the next time you need to repair or replace an HVAC component.
Whether you have a mini-split or ducted system, want to replace or enhance your existing heating and cooling system, or just want to upgrade to a newer, more efficient heat pump, this guide will help you choose the best heat pump for your house. We'll go over the qualities to consider and offer advice on how to locate a certified installer. In addition, we provide guidance on how to maximize the performance of your installed heat pump.
Members of Lantai may also access our heat pump ratings, which show which ducted heat pump brands are the most dependable as well as which have the highest owner satisfaction. Our ratings, which cover 24 brands, are based on information gathered from member surveys that covers over 13,500 heat pumps installed between 2005 and 2021 and used in actual applications. Since heat pump systems are extremely suited to individual homes and climates, we do not test or suggest any one model.
Air-source heat pumps, the most popular kind of heat pump, move heat from the exterior into the interior when in heating mode or the opposite when in cooling mode. They do this by absorbing heat from the surrounding air. It functions similarly to an air conditioner, and air-source heat pumps are exactly like air conditioners when they are in cooling mode. The two kinds of appliances share nearly all of the same parts, have a similar appearance, and are typically produced by the same businesses. Heat pumps are able to transfer heat both inward and outward due to a few minor variations.
Air-source heat pumps were primarily utilized in the southern United States until recently, as their climate there is ideal for hot summers and mild winters. However, advancements in technology have made air-source heat pumps a viable option nearly everywhere in the nation—even in regions with harsh winters. Even on the coldest winter days, despite what might seem paradoxical, there is always some free thermal energy in the atmosphere. Modern heat pumps designed for cold climates can effectively gather and transfer this free heat into your house.
Even though heat pumps mostly run on energy produced from fossil fuels, they nevertheless provide a less carbon-intensive form of home heating than other alternatives. They become even more sustainable when they run on renewable energy, such as rooftop or community solar power or a cleaner grid. Some states and utility providers provide homeowners that install heat pumps with rebates or other incentives due to the energy savings and environmental benefits of these devices.
A heat pump can be used in conjunction with an existing heating system, or it can be used as your home's only source of heating and cooling. It is possible to convert many homes with forced-air HVAC systems already installed to accommodate heat pumps. Mini-splits, also known as ductless heat pump systems, can give climate control to areas that are not serviced by the main system or provide heating and cooling to a house without ducts.
Utilizing a heat pump in your home differs slightly from utilizing a conventional heating system. When your thermostat is set at a consistent temperature, a contemporary heat pump operates most efficiently—if you don't turn it down overnight, it will actually save you energy. In addition, they operate at a low level nearly continuously, unlike furnaces, which blast heat for short bursts of time during the day. They also blow colder air. No matter how you heat your house, proper air sealing, insulation, and duct sealing are essential; with heat pumps, these benefits are amplified.
In the United States, air-source heat pumps—of which air-to-air heat pumps are the most common subset—are the norm. This implies that instead of using water or the ground to absorb and release heat, they use a forced-air system to provide heating or cooling to your home instead of radiators. Two varieties of air-to-air heat pumps are most frequently found in residential buildings.
An AC unit looks and functions a lot like this kind of heat pump. There is an outside unit and an inside unit, each with coils and fins made of aluminum to release or absorb heat. A refrigerant line that is filled with fluid connects the two units and transfers heat between them. Additionally, the exterior unit features a compressor that circulates and compresses the refrigerant. Your home's ducts are connected to the interior unit, and a blower pushes warm or cold air through them and out of air vents positioned all throughout the room. Though it varies by type, the average cost between 2016 and 2021 for the purchase and installation of a ducted heat pump was $7,791, according to Lantai’s member surveys.
Similar to a ducted model, this type of system uses no ductwork to distribute warm or cold air around your home. Rather, one or more separate interior air handlers, sometimes known as "heads," that are placed around your house, are connected to the outdoor unit. Installing a heat pump in a house or a portion of a house without ducts is a typical and simple method. Normally, air handler heads are positioned high on a wall; however, certain heads can be installed inside the ceiling or floor for homeowners who prefer that style or lack the necessary space. Due to the fact that mini-splits do not require ductwork, they are also more energy-efficient than ducted heat pumps. The cost of buying and installing ductless mini-splits can vary from $2,000 to $14,500, depending on the capacity and number of zones, but Lantai does not yet have enough brand-specific data to report on the costs members spent.
Air-source heat pumps are the most frequent form; however, there are a few other varieties that have been shown to function well under specific circumstances.
earth-source or geothermal heat pumps take in and release heat from below earth, where year-round temperatures range from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike air-source heat pumps, they don't need to adjust for large temperature variations, which makes them extremely efficient. However, ground-source systems may not be feasible for small lots or those with specific types of soils or landscapes since the heat-exchanging pipes are buried beneath (either vertically or horizontally). Systems sourced from the ground may cost as much as $30,000 or more. Even by conservative estimates, the savings from your power bills might offset the cost of installation within ten years due to the systems' extreme energy efficiency, which can be further reduced by federal and local incentives.
Water-source heat pumps function similarly to ground-source systems, except instead of being buried, they are installed at the bottom of ponds. These can be less expensive and easier to install than ground-source systems if your property has a suitable body of water.
In contrast to air-to-air types, air-to-water heat pumps use exterior units and transmit heat via a hot-water radiator system. While hydronic radiators are the primary source of heat for many homes in the Northeast and Midwest, air-to-water heat pumps are not yet widely used in the United States. They are, nevertheless, prevalent in most of Europe.