Heat Pump Misconceptions

When it’s time to replace your old heating and air conditioning system, don’t overlook heat pumps as an energy efficient alternative to a central air conditioning system coupled with a traditional gas or oil fired furnace.  Many homeowners don’t even consider installing a heat pump because they have heard that heat pumps are unreliable and heat poorly, especially in temperatures below freezing.

These misconceptions are based on heat pump systems that were marketed twenty and thirty years ago.  When heat pumps were first introduced to the residential heating and air conditioning market during the energy crisis of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, they had some problems that earned them a poor reputation.

A heat pump is essentially a central air conditioner that can operate in reverse.  In air conditioning mode it absorbs heat from inside the home and moves it outside the home.  In heat mode, the cycle is reversed.  Early residential heat pumps were rushed to market during the energy crises and used standard modified air conditioner compressors that were not robust enough to handle this double duty and as a consequence, compressor failures and other breakdowns were common.

As the years went by, it became clear that heat pumps were far more energy efficient than a traditional furnace and manufacturers set about making them more reliable.  As a result, modern heat pumps are equipped with compressors and other components specifically designed to withstand the demands place on them by a heat pump.  Modern heat pumps are not only the most energy efficient home heating system on the market, but they are every bit as dependable as a central air conditioning system or furnace.

Talk to your heating and air conditioning contractor about whether an energy efficient heat pump makes sense for your home.

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