Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

Are you considering updating your heating system in your home? If a heat pump is on your list of options, it is important to know the benefits and disadvantages of this system of heating and cooling. Heat pumps are very popular in mild climates, but don’t work as well in climates with more dramatic season changes. Here are some of the pros and cons of owning a heat pump for your climate control needs.

Heat Pump Pros

The reason heat pumps are common in mild climates is that they use the outdoor air to generate heat or to cool the air. Mild air temperatures are easier for a heat pump to be efficient, especially when generating heat. Here are the pros of using a heat pump:

  • Efficiency. Heat pumps tend to be more energy efficient than furnaces. They can quickly convert air to heat using minimal amounts of electricity, often saving money on heating your home.
  • Heating and cooling. Heat pumps heat and cool the home, providing comfort in both the winter and summer months.
  • No fumes. While furnaces create dangerous fumes that need to be ventilated out of the home, heat pumps do not create carbon monoxide or other hazardous fumes.

Heat Pump Cons

While heat pumps are efficient, safe and convenient, they are not the best heating source for all climates. Here are a few of the cons of heat pumps:

  • Cold climates. If the outside temperatures consistently are below 40 degrees, heat pumps may have trouble heating to comfortable levels.
  • Electricity costs. In areas where electricity rates are high, the cost for using a heat pump versus a furnace may be more, especially if it is colder during the winter.

If you are still not sure if a heat pump is the best option for heating your home, talk to your local HVAC service company. They can discuss the benefits of all heat sources for your area and help you find the best one for your needs.

Posted on behalf of:
ClimateSmith, LLC
5950 Shiloh Road East
Alpharetta, GA 30005
(770) 475-9555

Efficient Heating Options For Your Home

Heating and cooling a home are two of the largest utility expenditures which commonly plague homeowners. With the hot summer months gone, the colder weather of winter is approaching, along with higher heating bills. If your electric or gas bills skyrocket in the winter months, it may be time to consider a different heating option. Many of the energy-efficient furnaces, heat pumps and ductless heaters  on the market today can provide a substantial savings on your heating bills, plus add value to your home. 

Energy Efficient Heating Options

Choosing the most efficient heating source for your home will depend on several factors. In regions with mild winters, a heat pump is often the best solution. For more extreme winters, though, a furnace is usually a better option. Still, if you have an older heat pump or furnace, it may not be as energy efficient as those available today. 

  • Heat pumps. If your heat pump is ten to twenty years old, there’s a good chance it’s poorly rated for efficiency when compared to new models. Newer heat pumps offer SEER and HSPF ratings which can be double those of older models. This can lower your monthly electric bill, saving you hundreds of dollars a year on both heating and cooling your home.
  • Gas furnaces. For gas furnaces, you want a model which offers the best Annualized Fuel Usage Efficiency, or AFUE rating. The higher the number, the more efficient the furnace. In mild climates, you will want a rating of at least 90%. In colder climates, opt for 95% or better.
  • Mini-split heat pumps. For some homes, a mini-split ductless heat pump may be a viable option. To just heat one room or area, these small, ductless units are a great option. 

If you have an older heat source, talk to your local HVAC contractor about the efficient options now available. Many of these newer heat sources can pay for themselves in a matter of just a few years, plus add to the value of your home.

Posted on behalf of Find Local HVAC

Energy Efficiency Benefit Of Heat Pumps

While the classic combination of air conditioning and a furnace may be necessary for regions with hot summers and cold winters, homeowners in many regions can save money by owning a heat pump. This is particularly true of the southern regions, which typically have mild winters paired with hot summers. Heat pumps use less energy to operate, especially in the winter, offering substantial energy savings for many homeowners. 

How Heat Pumps Work

What makes a heat pump efficient is its ability to use the warm air both inside and outside a home to cool or heat the interior air as needed. During the summer, heat pumps absorb hot air and transfer it outside to cool the inside of the home. In the winter, the exact opposite is true, with heat pumps absorbing heat from outside and transferring inside to warm the air. 

This absorption of warmth is more energy efficient, especially in the winter. Instead of needing excessive amounts of gas or electricity to warm the air like a furnace, the heat pump is utilizing the warm air already available. In regions that rarely see temperatures below freezing, heat pumps can be an effective and efficient option to keep indoor air comfortable all year round. 

For homeowners in moderate winter climates, choosing a heat pump over other HVAC options may save on monthly energy bills while still providing their homes with the perfect temperatures throughout the summer and winter. To determine whether a heat pump may be a good option for your home, talk to your local HVAC service professional to schedule an assessment of your current system versus the many heat pumps that are available.

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


Heat Pumps Versus Air Conditioning

As summer approaches, those of you who are considering different ways to stay cool this summer may be shopping for a new cooling system for your home. There are two main types of cooling systems, either an air conditioning system or a heat pump. While both systems will cool your home during the summer, it is the heating factor that can determine which will be the best option for your home. Here are three factors to consider: 

  • Winter temperatures. For those who live in a mild climate with moderate winters, a heat pump can be the most efficient option. While heat pumps are not designed to heat well in frigid temperatures, they are fine for heating on cool days when temperatures hover around 50 degrees. For colder winters, a furnace will offer more efficient heat, paired with either a heat pump in a dual system, or a central air conditioner for summer.
  • Humidity. For climates with high humidity, heat pumps can offer both heating, cooling and humidity control, while air conditioning does not. For many homeowners in the southeast regions of the U.S., a heat pump system can be the best option.
  • Energy efficiency. Heat pumps can offer substantial energy savings over a furnace and air conditioning unit in mild climates. The energy used to heat on cool days with a heat pump can save up to 40% off your electricity bill. However, in cold temperatures, a furnace is more efficient. 

Both systems can offer refuge from the hot summer days ahead, but it most likely will be the heating aspect that will determine your choice of cooling system. Talk to your local HVAC professional about options for your home to learn more about which system will best meet your needs. 

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


What Do HVAC Systems include?

The acronym “HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC systems are the combination of various separate components. The typical HVAC system includes a:

  • Central Air-Conditioning Unit
  • Heating System
  • Ventilation System

Central Air-Conditioning Unit

A major component of HVAC systems is the central air-conditioning unit. It cools and dehumidifies the air before it circulates it throughout your home. These units are typically located outdoors due to the noise generated during the cooling process.

Heating System

Heating systems consist of either a furnace, heat pump, or a boiler.  Some homes located in colder climates have both a heat pump and furnace.

  • The heat pump warms the home during times when the weather isn’t extremely cold (temperatures above freezing).
  • The furnace warms the home when outdoor temperatures fall below freezing.

Heat pumps generate up to three times more heat than the energy they use. The reason is that heat pumps draw heat from the outdoor air and pull it into your home. They are a much more efficient way to warm your home than boilers or furnaces.

Furnaces draw their power from heating oil, natural gas, propane, or electricity. Considering the ever-rising price of electricity nowadays, propane and natural gas are typically more economical sources of energy than heating oil or electricity for heating your home.


Ventilation systems consist of:

  • ductwork
  • intake registers
  • outflow vents (enabling the circulation of heated/cooled air throughout your home)

Heating and air-conditioning units depend on your home’s ductwork system to provide a flow of incoming air and to distribute conditioned air.

For more information on HVAC systems, contact your local HVAC service company.

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


Geothermal Heat Pumps – A Great Choice For Cooler Climates

A heat pump is an energy efficient way to heat and cool most homes.  Heat pumps work by moving warm air out of the home during the summer months and into the home in the winter.  Since a heat pump moves heat instead of creating heat, it is much more energy efficient than other types of heating and cooling systems.

More and more homeowners are switching to reliable heat pumps for heating and cooling their homes.  More than 10 percent of homes nationwide rely on energy efficient heat pump systems.  Air source heat pumps are the most common type, but they are not popular in colder climates because their efficiency suffers when outside air temperatures fall below freezing.

Fortunately, geothermal heat pumps (also called ground source heat pumps) work well in colder climates because they depend on a system of pipes buried below ground to transfer heat.  Not only are geothermal heat pumps unaffected by changes in outdoor air temperatures, but they are also the most efficient type of heat pump marketed for residential use.  According to the Department of Energy, switching to a geothermal heat pump can save a homeowner up to 60 percent on home heating and cooling costs.

In addition geothermal heat pumps can be combined with a desuperheater to heat water as well as provide home heating and cooling which results in additional energy savings.  Geothermal heat pumps have a higher initial cost than many other types of heating and cooling systems, but they are very durable and the savings on your energy bill can pay for the cost of the system in a few years.

Innovations in Heat Pump Technology

Heat pump technology has been around for more than 50 years, but only recently has the rise in energy costs and concerns about energy conservation led to the development of reliable, energy efficient heat pumps designed for residential heating and coooling.  Heat pumps initially marketed for residential use relied largely on compressors and other components designed for use in air conditioners.  These parts were not up to the task of meeting the heavier demands place on them by a heat pump.

Since then, heavier duty components designed specifically for use in residential heat pumps have made heat pumps not only  more energy efficient, but more reliable as well.  Innovations in heat pump technology continue to increase the efficiency and reliability of heat pump systems.

Ground source heat pumps (also called geothermal heat pumps) are the most energy efficient type of heat pump, but the relatively high cost of installation of a ground source heat pump has deterred many homeowners.  Dual source heat pumps have been designed that combine the attributes of ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps.  These units are almost as efficient as a ground source heat pump, but much less expensive to install.

Multi-speed compressors allow heat pumps to operate at slower speeds when the demand for heating or cooling is moderate, using less energy and saving wear and tear on the system.  Scroll compressors have been developed that are more reliable and operate more quietly and efficiently than piston driven compressors.  Variable speed fans operate more quietly than single speed fans and do a better job of dehumidifying the air which makes the home more comfortable.

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.

Choosing an HVAC System for Your Home

When it comes to HVAC system replacements, today’s homeowner has many different types of heating and cooling systems to choose from.  Those choices are almost unlimited for new home construction, but for most existing homes a homeowner will be choosing between a heat pump and a traditional furnace combined with a central air conditioning system.

The location of the home plays a very important role in the choice of HVAC system.  One of the best things a homeowner can do is to talk to an experienced local HVAC contractor.  They will have a good handle on the types of systems that make the most sense for your area.

For example, in the Pacific Northwest and in other mountainous regions, many homes are not equipped with an air conditioning system because temperatures rarely exceed comfortable levels.  In these areas, a high efficiency furnace may be a good choice.  A heat pump might be a more efficient user of energy, but unless you have a need for at least occasional cooling, you would be wasting money on a system that heats and cools, no matter how efficient.

On the other hand, in warmer climates a heat pump is an excellent alternative.  Heat pumps offer energy efficient heating and cooling in a single system and are a great choice where air conditioning is needed and winter temperatures do not routinely stay below freezing for extended periods of time.

In northern climates that get cold in the winter and hot in the summer, a heat pump can be an excellent energy efficient heating and cooling system for most of the year, but they lose some efficiency in extremely cold temperatures.  One alternative is to use a heat pump with a traditional fossil fuel burning furnace installed as a secondary heat source for the coldest winter temperatures.

Saving Energy on Heating and Cooling Costs With a New HVAC System

Managing your home heating and cooling costs is a great way to put a few more dollars back in your pocket each month while doing your part to cut down on greenhouse gasses and our dependence on foreign oil.  Energy prices have been on the rise for years and there does not seem to be any relief in sight.

One of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and costs is to replace your older heating and air conditioning system with a new, energy efficient furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump.  Today’s heating and cooling systems are far more efficient than systems installed only five to ten years ago.

If your existing system is ten years old or more, you will likely see a dramatic decrease in your heating and cooling costs by having a new energy efficient HVAC system installed by a good local HVAC contractor, especially if your existing system is the original “builder’s grade” system installed in most new homes.

Even if your existing system is still working well, you may be surprised to find out how little time it can take to recoup the cost of a new energy efficient system.  In many cases it only takes five to ten years for your savings in energy costs to pay for the cost of the new system. Once you have recovered the cost of installing a new system, you will enjoy year after year of inexpensive heating and cooling.

When you have your new HVAC system installed, be sure to ask your HVAC contractor to do an HVAC system efficiency analysis including an inspection of your duct system to make sure it is properly sealed.  According to EPA estimates, duct leaks account for energy losses of up to 20% to 30%, especially if your ducts are located in the attic, crawlspace or other unheated area.