Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (2024)

Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (1)

If you’re considering a new heating and cooling system, you’ve likely come across heat pumps. They’ve been around for over a century, but in 2020, they officially surpassed gas furnaces in sales. Unlike furnaces, which rely on natural gas, propane gas or oil for heating and electricity for cooling, heat pumps are fully electric.

Heat pumps are attractive because they are very energy efficient and environmentally friendly; they don’t burn fossil fuels like natural gas. Heat pumps are seen as a big solution for reducing carbon emissions and studies show that heat pumps are a more environmentally friendly option for home heating. However, concerns about their performance in cold weather have held back some consumers. But that’s changing — thanks to new technology.

Learn more about how heat pump technology improvements are making these units more attractive than ever to today’s consumer.

Why heat pumps

Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (2)

Generating about four times the amount of energy than it uses, a heat pump is more efficient than a standard gas furnace system and can even be more efficient than a high efficiency gas furnace And while coal-fired electrical power plants still operate today, new renewable energy sources like wind and solar are on the rise, making all-electric heating and cooling systems even more appealing to today’s eco-conscious consumers.

On top of that, federal tax credits of up to $2,000 for qualified heat pumps are another factor driving the popularity of heat pumps. When combined with other state and local incentives, homeowners can save even more.

“Heat pumps are certainly more energy efficient than standard gas furnaces, and they can help you dramatically reduce your power bill — in some cases, $500 or more a year,” said Cary Reed, a Service Experts heating and cooling pro.

How it works

Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (3)

During colder months, heat pumps use heat from the outside air to warm a home by transferring it through coils. The heat is released indoors, increasing the home’s temperature. The star of the show here is the refrigerant, which changes from liquid to gas, and then back to liquid, as it gathers and releases heat along the way.

In warmer weather, the process reverses. Heat is removed from the inside of the home and transferred outside through the refrigerant coils.

This is how the cycle works:

  • In colder weather, a coil heat exchanger combined with a metering device transfers heat from the outside air to the liquid refrigerant inside the coil. Even at low outdoor temperatures, there is still heat available in the outside air. As the heat transfers to the refrigerant, it increases its temperature to its boiling point and changes it from a liquid to a gas.
  • Next, a compressor pumps the gas refrigerant throughout the system, increasing the pressure of the gas where the heat is released into the home by a fan or blower. As the heat is released, the refrigerant becomes a liquid again. The process continues until the home’s thermostat is satisfied.
  • A reversing valve is used to reverse the system from heating to cooling. The reversing valve is controlled by the thermostat and will reverse the cycle during the summer, moving heat from inside the home to the outside.

New technologies to the rescue

Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (4)

As the outdoor temperature decreases, heat pumps become less efficient and have less heating capacity. But manufacturers have implemented significant technological advancements to improve both the efficiency and capacity of heat pumps during cold weather.

For starters, all manufacturers are building systems to meet higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating standards. A higher SEER rating means lower operating costs for the system. While SEER primarily relates to cooling, the heat pump’s energy and cost savings during the summer increase significantly as minimum SEER standards rise.

When it comes to heating, many brands have developed systems capable of maintaining optimal efficiency and heating capacity even in temperatures as low as -15 degrees. This marks a dramatic 20- to 30-degrees improvement compared to what was typical just five years ago.

“How are they doing it? Manufacturers are using upgraded variable-speed compressors to adjust power rapidly while using less energy. Also, the heat exchangers inside modern units are much larger, which allows them to transfer heat around more effectively,” Reed explained. During extreme cold weather, the systems also utilize backup heaters that kick in below certain temperatures.

These advancements have been partly spurred by the Department of Energy’s Residential Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge, a government initiative aimed at accelerating heat pump innovation.

“The heat pump boom is a kind of positive perfect storm,” Reed said. “People want to do the right thing for the environment while saving money, and there are significant economic and government forces incentivizing it. We are even seeing some customers, who purchase a heat pump, will also upgrade their insulation to maximize their energy efficiency and savings.”

To learn more about heat pumps, visitServiceexperts.com/heat-pumps. To schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro, visit theService Experts Scheduling Page.

Story from Service Experts: Here’s why heat pumps are becoming more attractive to homeowners (2024)
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