Choosing the right heat pump for your home
If you’re looking to replace or upgrade your home heating or cooling system, consider heat pumps, which offer an energy-efficient and money-saving alternative to furnaces and air conditioners.
A heat pump can reduce heating and cooling costs by more than 50 percent, and high-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than standard central air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in summer months. For home use, there are two main types of heat pumps:
Air-source heat pumps
The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump, which uses the outside air to heat or cool an interior space. Air-source heat pumps are usually more efficient than oil, gas and electric-resistance heating in mild climates; however, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source drops dramatically at low temperatures. Homeowners in cold climates may want to pair their heat pump with a standard furnace, so the heat pump provides energy-efficient air conditioning in the summer, and the furnace heats their home in the winter. Because they are less costly to install than geothermal heat pumps, air-source varieties have become more widespread in use.
Geothermal heat pumps
Geothermal heat pumps are similar to their air-source counterparts, but use the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases, hot water. Because they use the earth’s natural heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies currently available.
Although they cost more to install, geothermal heat pumps have low operating costs because they take advantage of relatively constant ground or water temperatures. However, the installation cost depends on the size of your lot, the subsoil and landscape. Geothermal heat pumps also can be used in more extreme climatic conditions than air-source heat pumps.
Heat pump technology is continually being improved with new options such as solar-power assistance and improved efficiency in colder climates. Talk with HVAC professionals in your area to determine which heat pump may be right for your home.
Compiled from information provided by Energy Star, www.energystar.gov, and the U.S.
Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, www.eere.energy.gov.
check for the star
Energy Star-qualified heat pumps have a higher seasonal efficiency rating (SEER) and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), making them about 8 percent more efficient than standard new models and 20 percent more efficient than what you may have in your home.
—Energy Star, www.energystar.gov
The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is an efficiency rating for heat pumps—the higher the SEER, the better the energy performance and the more you save. The most efficient heat pumps have a SEER between 14 and 18.
A higher SEER usually means higher retail cost, but the energy savings can return the higher initial investment several times during the heat pump’s life. Check with an HVAC professional about the best SEER rating for your home.
get with the program
Using a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature year-round is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money. On average, homeowners can save about $180 a year by using a programmable thermostat.
going off the grid
Lennox has introduced the first solar power-assisted heat pump, the SunSource Comfort System. The system uses a single 190-watt solar panel to generate power for the fan motor that moves air across the unit’s outdoor coil, reducing residential energy consumption during periods of peak demand on the electrical grid while lowering your electricity costs.