Save Money and Space by Heating and Cooling your Home with a Heat Pump Installation

Heat Pump
Last updated December 21, 2021

Are you looking to purchase a new heating unit? Whether you are considering installing a completely new type of heating system, or just replacing your existing one, chances are high that you might have heard off, or even been recommended a heat pump as a suitable choice. Heat pumps are incredible heating units that can keep your indoor air quality ideal all year round.

How do heat pumps work?

At the basic level, a heat pump is a device that utilizes a relatively small amount of power to move heat from one area to another. Heat pumps are typically used in the cooler months to pull heat out of the ground or atmosphere to heat a home, office building, or any other space, and in the warmer months, they work in the reverse by pulling heat out of the air indoors to keep your home cool. If you are familiar with how an air conditioner functions, then you won't have issues understanding how heat pumps operate. This is because although different, heat pumps and their air conditioning unit counterparts work in a strikingly similar manner.

Generally driven by electricity, they utilize refrigerants to transfer heat to ensure long-lasting comfort for your homes. You also don't need to bother installing separate systems solely to keep your homes warm, because heat pumps functional in both heating and cooling. Moreover, they're environmentally friendly since they don't burn fossil fuels, unlike furnaces, and are cost-efficient as well.

While there are numerous types of heat pumps the mode of operation is the same for all types of heat pumps. As already mentioned, heat pumps don't generate heat. Instead, they move heat from one location to another. A furnace creates heat that is eventually circulated throughout your home, but a heat pump typically absorbs heat energy from the outside air, transferring it to your indoor air. And when in cooling mode, heating pumps absorb heat from your indoor air and release it via the outdoor unit.

Components of a heat pump:

Generally, a heat pump features two critical components, including an outdoor system and an indoor air handler unit. But these two critical parts have several sub-parts:

Outdoor unit: The outdoor unit houses a fan and a coil. Whereas the fan blows outside air over the coil to facilitate heat exchange, the coil performs dual functions as either a condenser, in cooling mode, or an evaporator, in heating mode.

Indoor unit: Commonly known as the air handler unit, the indoor unit also contains a fan and a coil, with the coil performing a similar function as the outdoor unit's coil. On the other hand, the indoor unit's fan works the same way as the outdoor unit's, the only notable difference being that the indoor unit's fan transports heat via the air ducts, circulating cold or warm air to all rooms inside your home.

Refrigerant: This is a substance that undergoes regular transitions in a back-and-forth manner from liquid to gas, back to liquid, etc... And as heat moves through the heat pump unit, the refrigerant either rejects or absorbs it accordingly.

Expansion valve: This component controls the flow of the refrigerant as it passes through the system, allowing for a reduction in both the refrigerant temperature and the pressure applied to it. Compressor: The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, before circulating it between your indoor evaporator unit and your outdoor condenser unit.

Reversing valve:Just as the name implies, this component reverses the flow of refrigerant in the heat pump, allowing the system to operate in two distinct ways; switching between cooling and heating.

So, what is the difference between heat pumps and air conditioning systems?

In several ways, heat pumps are functionally the same as their air conditioning system counterparts. The only major difference is that heat pumps can technically reverse themselves to provide heating when required. So, simply put, a heat pump is just an air conditioner that can reverse itself to provide heating. On the other hand, air conditioning systems do not offer heating. Because they are equipped with a reversing valve in the outdoor component, a heat pump can absorb warm air from outside air, even in very cold temperatures, and transfer the same heat inside your home, where it eventually releases the heat into the air.

In simple terms, a heat pump can perform two functions; heating and cooling whereas an air conditioner cannot, which is the major difference between these two amazing HVAC units. An air conditioner only cools your space but will not heat it! Air conditioning systems are usually integrated with a furnace to provide heat during the cold months. Together, a furnace and an air conditioner form complete cooling and heating systems.

Different types of heat pumps?

There are various types of heat pumps, with each particular type collecting heat from the air, water, or underground outdoor to either cool or heat your home. Below are the common types of heat pumps:

Air-source heat pump: Also referred to as air-to-air heat pumps, air source heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the outdoor air to warm the indoor areas of your home or any other premise. The outdoor air condenses under intense pressure until it attains a temperature enough to keep your entire space warm. air-source heat pumps can alleviate your heating costs by about 50 percent over baseboard heaters and electric furnaces. In addition, they dehumidify significantly better compared to central air conditioners, which helps your home be comfortable and cozier during the warmer months. In the past, these heat pumps were more suitable in areas with warmer climates. However, as technology improves, it now is ideal in colder regions, particularly in the higher parts of the Midwest and the Northeast. Even so, if the temperature in your area decreases below 10 degrees to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you will still require an auxiliary heating system. It is also worth noting that some air source heat pumps can also work as cooling units in the summer months. On most occasions, these are placed outside of a building where there is sufficient installation space. There are two types of air-to-air heat pumps, including air to water and air to air heat pumps. In this regard, air to air heat pumps absorb heat from the outdoor air before transferring it directly into your home through a fan system to heat a room. On the other hand, air to water heat pumps absorb heat from the outdoor air and then transfer it through your central heating unit to provide hot water heating, underflow, or radiator heating in an indoor space. Air source heating heat pumps boast a number of benefits, including an extended lifespan, easy installation, and low maintenance.

Ground Source Heat Pump: Also referred to as geothermal heat pumps, ground source heating units have been in operation for a long time. Just as the name suggests, they use the fairly constant temperature of the earth as the medium of exchange but not the outside air temperature. Also called ground source heat pumps, geothermal pumps move heat through pipes that are buried horizontally or vertically in loops outside your home. Since they contain a water solution, these pumps are best to install if you have a pond, river, or water near your area, which helps heat the water. More than that, they also control humidity and can help cut down energy costs by up to 50 percent, unlike the conventional cooling or heating system. They're also long-lasting and quiet, requiring little to no maintenance, and work pretty well in extreme climates. If your home is situated in a small lot and has unsuitable soil conditions, geothermal heat pumps may not be the best choice. Installation is quite costly only for a 2,500 square foot home, costing up to $25,000. Even so, local and federal incentives can decrease the initial cost, and you get to be paid in energy savings every five to ten years. As with any type of heat pump, geothermal heat pumps can heat, cool, and if so equipped, provide your home with hot water. Certain models of geothermal heat pumps boast dual-speed compressors as well as variable fans for increased comfort and energy savings. Compared to their air-source counterparts, as already mentioned, they are quieter, last longer, are not dependent on the outdoor temperature, and often require very little maintenance.

Water source heat pump: If your home, office, or any other structure is in proximity to a deep-water source, underwater heat pumps can be a fantastic option. Water-based heat pumps operate through a similar principle as air-sourced heat pumps, except that they use water bodies as the medium for heat exchange. They typically absorb heat from the water source to warm the inside of your home or any other structure and alternatively release heat into the water body to cool the structure. Bearing in mind that temperatures deep underwater usually remain fairly stable throughout the year, water source heat pumps can be used in areas that experience extreme weather. This is a huge advantage over their air-based counterparts, which can only work optimally in temperate climates. Also, because there is no need for excavation, these systems are relatively more affordable to install compared to geothermal systems. But it is worth noting that underwater heat pumps usually require larger upfront costs than air-based systems. Apparently, the notable disadvantage of underwater heat pumps is the requirement of being in proximity of a large water body. Even though external wells might work fine, larger water bodies with free-flowing water are clearly more effective.

Whole house heat pump: Also called multi-split heat pump systems, these have gained lots of popularity in recent times thanks to their unrivaled ability to cool and heat a wide range of rooms. They usually feature an outdoor component, but more than one indoor unit connected to it. Whole house heat pumps boast the added advantage of allowing you to create different temperatures in different rooms, offering greater control over your indoor air quality.

Single room heat pump: Also known as single split heat pumps, they feature one indoor unit and an outdoor unit. They are arguably the most common type of heat pump in American homes. They are believed to be between 20 and 30% more energy efficient compared to whole house heat pumps and tend to work better in fairly colder temperatures. What's more, less equipment simply means fewer repair issues!

Split-ductless systems: These are practical for homes without ducts or single-room additions since they don't need ductwork. Additionally, mini splits prevent unwanted energy losses often linked with ductwork, which takes up at least 30% of a home's overall energy consumption. They also provide design flexibility which can be great in every home.

So, what is the Heat Pump installation cost of each type of heat pump?

First and foremost, it is worth noting that heat pumps are pricey to purchase and install, but the installation costs usually vary based on the type of heat pump you are looking to install. What's more, other factors such as the size of the unit, equipment quality, installation complexity, type of system as well as your area's labor costs will determine the total amount of installation costs you will pay.

In terms of size, if your project is a relatively smaller one, and only requires cooling and heating a few rooms with ductless systems, the overall system size will be fairly lower and so will the installation costs. On the other hand, if you are planning to heat and cool your entire home or office with ductless units, a much bigger unit will be necessary.

Also, the overall cost to install a heat pump will depend on the type of heat pump you are looking to install, and whether that unit is duct or ductless. In this regard, ducted systems tend to be costly.

For labor costs, several heat pump installers usually charge between $68 and $500 per hour. This will largely be dependent on the number of contractors it takes to get the job done, your local heat pump installation service rates as well as the level of expertise of your selected contractors.

In terms of installation complexity, the installation of ductless systems in different spaces within your home creates a few challenges for the professionals as they need to identify locations for housing both the internal and external units and also for routing the lines via your house to link these units together. What's more, projects that are on second, third, or even fourth floors may warrant the use of special equipment that can come at an added cost. Below are the estimated costs of installing the various types of heat pumps:

Air source heat pump installation cost: Air source heat pumps are arguably the most popular types for residential applications and are ideal for those residing in moderate climates. But thanks to the advancement in the heating and cooling industry, air source heat pumps can today be used in colder regions as well. And while the final cost of installing this type of heat pump largely depends on the brand and size, you can on average expect to pay anywhere between 4,500 and $8,000, or up to $11,000 for high-end air source heat pumps.

Ground source heat pump Installation Cost: As earlier mentioned, ground source heat pumps are also known as geothermal heat pumps and are ideal for homes that require a cooling and heating system to deliver maximum heating and cooling capacity. It is vital to note that these are arguably the most expensive, perhaps because of the added cost of land excavation. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000 to effectively install a ground source heat pump.

Water source ductless heat pump Installation Cost: The average cost of installing a water source ductless heat pump may range between $2,900 and $95,000.

Whole house heat pump Intallation Cost:

Whole house heat pumps will always be costlier compared to single room heating and cooling units. You will want to consult your local heat pump installer to determine the size of your home and subsequently estimate the proper-sized heat pump that suits your home's cooling and heating demands. But in general, you'll spend between $4,500 and $10,000 to install a whole house heat pump. Again, these values are subjective and will depend on the average size of your home, among other factors

Single house heat pump Installation Cost: These are arguably the most affordable, costing between $2,700 and $5,700.

Before heading out to buy you a heat pump, there are important things to consider. Below are a few things that you should bear in mind prior to purchasing a heat pump

1. Climate

Heat pumps are more typical in climates where the temperature does not drop below freezing. They work well in almost every part of the country but especially in areas without moderate cooling and heating needs and vast temperature shifts.

However, if you're living in a place with temperatures going below 10 degrees to 25 degrees, there might be a need for a separate heating system.

2. Heat Pump Efficiency Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures the cooling efficiency for both ductless-split and air-source systems. New units for the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Northeast, and Mountain States homes should have a federal minimum standard of 13 SEER, while 14 SEER is the standard for the rest of the country

On the other hand, the HSPF measures the heating efficiency of the same systems with a minimum HSPF federal rating of 7.7.

Usually, a higher SEER is prioritized in warmer climates, while a higher HSPF is more important in colder climates. For good measure, you should opt for a heat pump that has at least an 8.5 HSPF and a 15 SEER rating. Moreover, the most efficient heat pumps have ratings ranging from 8.5 to 12.5 HSPF and 18 to 27.5 SEER.

For geothermal heat pumps, the cooling efficiency is evaluated by the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and the heating efficiency by the Coefficient of Performance (COP). Depending on the type, the federal COP minimums are about 3.1 to 4.1, while EER standards are 17.1 to 21.1.

Most often, the cost is higher if the system has higher ratings. You have the choice to spend thousands of dollars more for a heat pump that is far more efficient. However, depending on your location, you could significantly save utility bill costs by substituting your older cooling and heating system with Energy star-rated products.

3. Size

Apart from its functionality, size is also an important consideration when choosing the best heat pump for your home. You would want a heat pump that will effectively cool the entire interior of your home or will function according to how you want it to be. If your heat pump is either oversized or undersized, there's a chance that it won't cool or heat properly and will only increase your energy bills. Not only will your home not feel comfortable enough, but you're also risking huge costs and frequent maintenance on an otherwise dysfunctional heat pump.

One of the best things about heat pump is their high-efficiency ratings. Most models have an energy efficiency rating of around 20 SEER, which is much higher than most traditional heating systems. This means that you'll save a lot of money on your energy bills each month.

Another great thing about heat pump is that they can be used in almost any climate. Whether you live in a cold or hot climate, there's a good chance that there's a heat pump that will work for you. Just be sure to choose the right model for your needs.

There are a lot of different heat pump on the market, so how do you know which one is the best for you? First, there are three heat pump categories: Air heat Pump, Ground heat Pump and best water Source heat pump.

Best Air heats Pumps.

1. Carrier Infinity : Carrier is the most popular brand of heat pump for a good reason. They manufacture high-quality units that last a long time and provide consistent heating. The Carrier Infinity 21 is one of their best-selling units, and it delivers 21 SEER cooling efficiency, which is incredibly efficient for many other units on the market.

2 . Trane XR15 : This is a substance that undergoes regular transitions in a back-and-forth manner from liquid to gas, back to liquid, etc... And as heat moves through the heat pump unit, the refrigerant either rejects or absorbs it accordingly.

3 . Goodman GMH8 : The Goodman GMH8 is a great value heat pump that offers superior performance for the price. It has an energy efficiency rating of 17 SEER, which is still very good compared to other models in its class. The Goodman GMH8 also features a quiet operation, so you won't be disturbed by it running in your home.

4 . Amana ASZ14 : Amana has always made high-quality products, and their heat pump are no exception. The Amana ASZ14 offers up to 20 SEER cooling efficiency, which is one of the highest ratings in its class. It also includes a lifetime warranty on all parts, so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that it will last for years to come.

5 . Goodman GSZ13 : Goodman offers some of the best heat pumps on the market for an affordable price. The GSZ13 is one of their most popular models, and it's easy to see why. This unit has an energy efficiency rating of 17 SEER. It uses R410A refrigerant, which won't harm the ozone layer. It features a high-performance compressor that can run all day if needed.

6 . Lennox XP14 : Lennox is a well-known brand in the world of HVAC, and its XP14 pump is one of its most popular models. This unit offers up to 20 SEER cooling efficiency, making it one of the most energy-efficient models on the market. It also includes Lennox's iComfort Wi-Fi thermostat, which allows you to control your unit from anywhere in the world using your smartphone or tablet.

7 . Trane XV20i : The XV20i is a great option for homeowners that want a high-end unit but don't have the budget to afford a higher-end model. This model has an energy efficiency rating of 19 SEER, making it very efficient for many other models on the market. It also comes with all the features you would expect from a high-end unit, including iComfort Wi-Fi control and variable speed technology.

Best Ground heats Pumps

1 . Trane XL20i : The Trane XL20i ground source pump is powerful enough to heat your home even when the mercury dips well below zero outside. It has an impressive heating capacity of 6.5 tons which means you can keep your home nice and warm without overworking the system.

2 . Dukane MS15U : The Dukane MS15U is one of the most efficient ground source pumps on the market. It produces up to 14.5 kW of heating power, which is more than enough for a large home in all but the harshest climates.

3. Rheem RTGH-95DVLN : The Rheem RTG-95DVLN makes life easier because it's so easy to install. The unit includes many popular features usually only available with higher-end models, yet it costs less. This model can work well in homes about 3000 square feet, and it also has a power factor of 0.76 which means you save even more on your electrical bills.

4 . Fujitsu GSH25-1 : While this model might be a bit too small for large homes, it's perfect for smaller ones. The Fujitsu GSH25-1 can heat a home to 1500 square feet without any problems, and the unit itself only weighs about 60 pounds which makes installation much easier.

5 . Mitsubishi MSZ-GE24NA : The Mitsubishi MSZ-GE24NA is an incredibly powerful ground source pump. It delivers 24 kW of heating power, so you can count on it to keep your home nice and warm all winter long.

6 . Aquatherm : The Aquatherm is a unique ground source pump that uses water as its thermal storage medium. This allows it to achieve very high efficiencies. It can also be installed in almost any location since it doesn't rely on underground pipes like traditional ground source heat pump.

7 . WaterFurnace Envision : The WaterFurnace Envision is one of the most efficient ground source heat pumps on the market. It has an energy efficiency rating of up to 8.3 HSPF, which is much higher than most other models.

Best water Source heat pumps.

1 . Stiebel Eltron DHC Plus : The Stiebel Eltron DHC Plus is one of the most inexpensive water source heat pump you can find, yet it's very powerful. This model has an impressive heating capacity of 14 kW, so it can quickly warm your home.

2 . AO Smith Voltex 2 : This model might be a bit more expensive than others in its class, but it also offers unrivaled power and efficiency, making the cost worth paying. The AO Smith Voltex 2 heats up to 2000 square feet without any problems, and it includes features that help you save on energy costs.

3 . Bosch AquaStar 25i : One of the best features offered by this model is its self-cleaning function. The unit cleans itself every time it runs, which helps keep it running at top performance. This model also has a power factor of 0.56 which means you'll spend less on your electric bill each month.

4 . Rheem RTGH-95DVLN : Rheem isn't well known for producing water source heat pump, but they have been making them for years, and that experience shows in their products. The Rheem RTG-95DVLN works great because it can produce up to 13 kW of heating power without overworking the system, so your energy bills will be lower overall.

5 . Fujitsu ASYG09LCC : Like its ground source counterpart, the Fujitsu ASYG09LCC is perfect for smaller homes. It has a seating capacity of 9 kW, which is more than enough for most small houses.

6 . GeoThermal : This is a water source heat pump that doesn't require any installation. All you need to do is connect it to a water source, starting working. It's perfect for people who want to save money on installation costs or those who live in areas where installing a ground source heat pump is impossible.

7 . Stiebel Eltron Tempra 28 Plus : One of the best things about the Stiebel Eltron Tempra 28 Plus is that it's completely self-contained. The system doesn't require any water lines or an outdoor unit, although you will need to install a recirculation loop in your home. This model can heat up to 1400 square feet, perfect for smaller homes.

Despite all the benefits of heat Pumps that we have listed, they do also come with a few downsides that are worth considering, below are a few disadvantages of heat pumps.

Disadvantages of heat pumps.

1 . Installation :

The main disadvantage of heat pump is that they require installation work. You'll need to have a dedicated outdoor unit, and you'll also need to install special water or ground pipes. This can be expensive and may not be possible in some areas.

2 . Expensive to run :

Another disadvantage of heat pump is that they can be expensive to run. Since they rely on electricity to function, your energy bills will be much higher than using a traditional heating system. However, the cost savings you'll experience over time usually make up for this difference.

3 . Can't be used in cold climates :

One final disadvantage of heat pumps is that they can't be used in cold climates. If the temperature outside drops below a certain point, the heat pump will stop working, and you'll have to use another heating source.

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