There are a few common types of heaters available for residential installation. If you have forced air ductwork in your home, then one of your heating choices is a heat pump. Some of this decision is based on personal preference, but the rest is based on what works best in your home. Here are the primary considerations for whether or not a heat pump is right for your home.
Location, Location, Location
Your home's location may be the biggest factor concerning whether or not a heat pump is right for you. The heat pump works by pulling heat from the air around your home and concentrating it. The colder it gets outside, the harder your heat pump needs to work in order to grab enough heat to keep your home warm. The point that the heat pump can no longer function efficiently varies based on the make and model, but if your home is covered in snow most of the winter, chances are it is too cold for a heat pump.
However, if you live in the southern part of the US, a heat pump is a great way to add an efficient heating source to your home for those cold days. Because the system can be flipped around to work as your air conditioner as well, it gives you one less piece of equipment to purchase and maintain. This simplicity is what makes heat pumps such a popular choice in the southern states. Just be sure you have a space heater and some extra blankets to keep you comfortable during the occasional cold snap.
Fortunately, people in northern states are not completely out of luck. Most heat pumps include a secondary heating element to assist when temperatures fall, but these secondary heaters are rarely all that efficient. There are a few new models that have worked to overcome this problem. They still use a secondary heater, but the manufacturers have worked to minimized the difference in efficiency. Because you are essentially purchasing two separate heaters, the price will be a bit higher, but you can make up that cost with lower heating bills.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
One way to completely avoid the outdoor temperature issue is to install a geothermal heat pump instead. These systems specifically take advantage of the fact that, just a few feet below the surface, the ground temperature never changes. This means that the heat pump can be fine tuned to run at that temperature, drastically increasing it's efficiency. These systems are among the cheapest to run out there.
Of course, there is a trade off. These systems are much more expensive because you have to dig up a good amount of your backyard to install the pipes. Once the pipes are installed, however, they should remain for decades, allowing you to recoup the cost of your investment. While new installation methods have reduced the costs to homeowners, these systems are still best installed either when the home is built, or when you are redoing your landscaping so that you will not destroy something you wanted to keep. Because it is a green choice, you may be able to offset some of the cost with state and local tax breaks.
Installing a heat pump in your home is a big decision. However, by taking these elements into consideration, you can make a decision that you can be confident in. Work with your contractor to go over these points and determine whether or not this is a viable option for your home. While a heat pump is a great choice, there are plenty of other options if a heat pump is just not going to work for your home. Talk to professionals, like those at Robert Bair Plumbing Heating & Air, for more information.