Heat Pump Reviews:
Can You Save Energy and Money with Heat Pumps?
- Energy is one of a homeowner's biggest expenses, and this is equally true whether you are cooling your home or heating it. Many people have found heat pumps to be the best way to keep their houses comfortable while controlling energy costs. Will a heat pump work for your home and your climate? What should you know before you purchase one for your home? This guide will give you the information you need to decide if this is the best way to make winter - or summer - feel a whole lot better inside.
What is a Heat Pump?:
Heat pumps work differently from furnaces and other types of heaters. Those operate on combustibles - that's right, that's your money they are burning up! But heat pumps utilize "heat transfer" to both warm and cool your home, while only using a small amount of energy. Heat naturally tries to move from a higher temperature area to a lower temperature area. Picture your home in the winter; the heat is trying to escape outside, where it is cooler. A heat pump reverses this natural process and extracts heat from a relatively cool area and pumps it into the area with warmer air. In other words, the heat pump takes cold air from outside and forces it into warm air in the home. Heat pumps can also be used to cool a home. It works on the same principle, only in reverse.
There is a great video here (http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/heating-and-cooling/heat-pump1.htm) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g39nM7GbSJA) that help you see how this process works.
As anyone who pays the electric and heating bills knows, energy costs are spiraling upward. This has brought new attention to heat pumps as a viable heating/cooling method, and they can be tremendously efficient. For example, if you use electricity to heat, an air-source pump can reduce the electricity needed by 30 to 40 percent. If you live in a milder climate, you may not have to have a traditional combustible heater, such as a furnace, at all.
How to Choose the Best Heat Pump
- One of the big problems with heat pumps has always been that they are ineffective in colder areas. Ironically, this is where they would be most appreciated! The energy needed to eek out warm air from very cold climates made traditional heat pumps costly and inefficient. Today, those whose winters could never be described as "mild" have the option of choosing a cold climate heat pump. Hallowell's Arcadia line of heat pumps is the "first and only energy-efficient, cost effective and eco-friendly" heat pump that works in temperatures as cold as -30 degrees F. If you live in an area with hard winters, you will want to choose your pump very carefully and check (and double-check) its efficiency in sub-freezing temperatures.
Before you start shopping, take a few minutes to learn about SEER and HSFP. You'll see these ratings as you compare heat pumps, and it's always nice to know what you're comparing! SEER is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and refers to the amount of energy (in BTUs) that is pumped outside divided by the electricity used (in watts). SEER is measured in cooling mode, and you'll want a rating of 14 to 18. HSFP is Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This is the measurement of energy pumped inside for heating divided by the energy used for heating. This ratio is affected by supplemental heating and defrosting needs, but in general, you want to look for a range of 8 to 10.
Now let's take a look at some heat pumps so you can be nice and cozy, or nice and cool, in your home. View the best selling heat pump systems here
Best Heat Pumps:
As you look, you'll start seeing the names Trane, Goodman, Carrier, Coleman, Heil, Rheem, and Hallowell quite frequently. For all you cold-weather people, we'll get to the Hallowell Arcadia first. Hallowell is based in Bangor, Maine, and as a review in ZDNet points out, if you want to talk about heat, you'd better ask someone who lives with hard winters. Bangor's average winter temperature is 27 during the day and 8 at night. "So those folks at Hallowell have a vested interest in keeping warm." They do this with a cold climate heat pump. One of the great qualities of the Hallowell is that it is designed and built using only standard parts. Why is this important? You have a specialty piece of equipment that any HVAC technician can install and service. This makes it much more cost-effective in the long term.
Hallowell says it can provide up to 70 percent savings over traditional heating systems, and in many parts of the US, heating bills are reduced by 40 to 60 percent. The Arcadia has a programmable thermostat that reduces waste. It has a SEER of 14, which puts it in the efficiency range you want. Check out the Hallowell website for a list of distributors in your area (http://www.gotohallowell.com/Locators/distributor-locator-united-states-66.html).
According to eHow, Trane heat pumps are some of the best on the market, offering SEERs of 15 to 19 and HSFPs of 9. The XL20i, for instance, features Comfort-R enhanced air flow, humidity control, even heating throughout the home, efficient operation, up to 19 SEER, HSFP up to 9, 2 compressors for mild and hot weather, ComfortLink II Communicating Capability for optimal performance, quiet multi-stage fan, and durable, strong construction. You can check here for distributors (http://www.trane.com/Residential/Dealer-Info/Dealer-Info).
The Infinity Series Carrier Heat Pump was chosen as a Consumer Digest Best Buy and offers exceptional heating and cooling with up to 19 SEER, up to 9.5 HSPF, humidity and temperature control, Puron refrigerant, quiet operation with Silencer System II, 2 stage compressors, Infinity Control for optimal performance, WeatheArmor Ultra, and a 10 year parts warranty. You can find a Carrier heat pump dealer here (http://www.residential.carrier.com/products/acheatpumps/heatpumps/infinity.shtml).
Heat Pump Prices:
So what's all this going to cost? You have to talk to the dealers about specific heat pumps, but in general, you can expect a small through-the-wall or window air-source heat pump to cost from $500 to $1500. A system that is designed for whole-house temperature control that works with the existing ductwork can cost from $2000 to $5000. If you are installing a heat pump in a "not so moderate climate," you can supplement it with your natural gas or propane furnace. Installation typically costs from $2500 to $5500, or $5000 to $10,000 or more for installation of both a heat pump and furnace. If you live in an old house and need to upgrade your system to 200 amps, this costs about $1300 to $3000.
Remember, this is a long-term investment. You will start to see savings in your energy bill, but the unit is going to take a while to pay for itself. You can sometimes get a break on the cost from utility companies. They may offer rebates when you buy energy-efficient pumps. Take a look at EnergyStar.com for other rebates you may be entitled to. You may also be able to claim it on your taxes for a $300 to $2000 credit.
Whether you want a more green home, a lower energy bill, or a comfortable house all year, a heat pump may be the answer. Check with several dealers to get quotes and compare products. Saving money and energy makes any season much more comfortable..