Heat pumps are increasingly popular in some regions because they combined heating and cooling functions into a single system. This saves the expense of having to install and maintain a separate furnace and air conditioner. However, depending on where you live, the energy costs may or may not justify switching to a heat pump.
Heat Pumps are Great for the Southeast
The climate in the Southeastern United States is perfect for heat pumps: hot summers coupled with mild winters. To understand why, it's important to understand energy costs.
Heat pumps produce heat using electricity, and electric heating has been historically less efficient than gas, propane, and natural gas heat. Per unit of heat created, the operating costs of a heat pump will far exceed those of a fuel-burning furnace.
Where southeast residents come ahead is in having very few days with freezing temperatures that often get up to a temperature where the heat needs to run in the afternoon. Because southeast residents run their heaters for so little time, the extra operating costs barely cut into the fixed costs savings of having a combined heating and cooling heat pump.
If You're in the Northeast, Skip the Heat Pump
The northeast sees the opposite effect of the southeast with frigid temperatures lasting for weeks out of time. Oil and gas heating bills are already astronomical and would rise exponentially if electric heat is used.
Northeast residents simply can't afford to rely on a heat pump as their main source of heat. Many also decide that the relatively mild summers with infrequent heat waves don't even justify the cost of having a cooling system.
Southwest Residents May Also Benefit From Heat Pumps
The southwest sees a similar weather pattern to the southeast with relatively mild winters. The key difference is that dry desert areas see bigger temperature drops at night that both increase the nightly heating needs and extend the heating season.
For a heat pump to be cost-effective, the home will generally need to be well-insulated so that it maintains the temperature built up during the day and avoids relying solely on the heat pump to combat the nightly temperature drop.
Heat Pumps Might Have a Purpose in the Northwest
Like the northeast, the northwest simply gets too cold to use a heat pump as the main source of heat. However, a heat pump could be a backup source of heat during the wet, rainy months when the full strength of a furnace isn't needed.
To learn more about heat pumps or to receive a free estimate, contact a local HVAC contractor such as Greers Service Company Inc.