4 Features to Look for in a New Heat Pump
Enjoy the ultimate in energy efficiency and comfort by choosing a new heat pump with these 4 features.
If you are shopping for a new heat pump, you probably already know a little bit about what makes this piece of HVAC equipment so special. Heat pumps use the temperature differential between indoor and outdoor air to generate heated or cooled air, making them extremely energy efficient. You might even say they don’t generate heat at all, but simply move heat—into your home in the winter and out of your home in the summer. According to the Energy Department, this allows heat pumps to provide the heating and cooling you require for as little as 25 percent of the cost of operating conventional HVAC equipment.
However, not all heat pumps are created equal. Here are 4 important features to look for if you want to enjoy the best comfort and efficiency from your new heat pump.
Reversible Heat Pump
First of all, you want to be sure you choose a reversible heat pump. This means that the direction of the heat transfer can be reversed to create warm air in winter and cool air in summer. Basically, with a reversible heat pump you are getting two HVAC appliances in one. If you have an electric furnace, switching to a heat pump can save 30 to 40 percent on your heating bills. And because heat pumps do an excellent job of dehumidifying indoor air, you will be able to set your thermostat higher in summer and still feel comfortable, enabling you to save on cooling bills too.
Heat pumps may have either piston compressors or scroll compressors. Scroll compressors consist of two spiral-shaped scrolls that compress refrigerant into smaller and smaller areas as one scroll rotates around the other. This technology is quieter, more reliable, and has a longer service life than piston compressors. It can also generate 10 to 15 degrees more heat than piston compressors.
Variable Speed Motor
Some types of heat pump only have one motor speed, so they have to run at full capacity all the time. Variable speed motors, however, have two speeds that allow the heat pump fan to better adjust to the heating or cooling capacity needed at any given moment. Having a variable speed fan motor also helps to move air more quietly and comfortably, minimizing drafts and also saving electricity. Variable speed heat pumps are compatible with zoned HVAC systems.
Backup Heat Type
Heat pump efficiency starts to drop off when outdoor temperatures dip below 35 degrees. Most heat pumps come with electric heaters to serve as a backup and provide supplemental heat on cold days. However, models with natural gas backups are also available. Natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than electricity, so you might want to consider this type of backup heat. However, thanks to our mild climate here in California you really don’t have to worry about this feature much.