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Feb 03

Craig Williamson

Heating Your Home with a Heat Pump

Posted by Craig Williamson

Heat pumps have been around for many years, and are especially popular in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Yet they are still relatively uncommon in the United States. But advancements in the technology are making them a sensible choice among homeowners who want to switch their heating systems from electric, oil, or gas.

How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Heat pumps operate in a similar manner to central air conditioning, using refrigeration technology rather than fuel combustion to heat and cool. Using electricity, the pump transfers outside air, even cooler air, to the interior of the house to warm it. And it will work in the same way to cool the house by expelling warm air outdoors.

It used to be that heat pumps were not the best choice for very cold climates where temperatures consistently drop below 40. In the past, when the heat pump reaches what is called a “balance point,” usually around 40 degrees F, the electric heat would usually turn on. But today’s heat pumps, especially the so-called cold-climate heat pumps, are much more efficient and provide heating comfort under much lower temperatures, and usually at a lower cost than conventional oil heating systems.

There are a few different types of heat pumps, including air-source, ground-source or water-source (also known as geothermal), and absorption heat pumps. A heating professional will be able to explain the differences between different models, and offer suggestions for what will best meet your needs.

What Are the Top Advantages of Installing a Heat Pump?

It’s important to weight all the factors when making a change to your home’s heating mechanism. You’ll want to know the potential benefits as well as the disadvantages if you are moving from an oil or gas furnace, or from electric heat, to a heat pump. Another consideration is whether you want a heat pump to generate cool air during the summer months.

Here are a few pros that make heat pumps an attractive option.

  • Efficient: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat pumps are efficient because of their ability to deliver almost double the energy in heat than the energy they take to operate. Also, because they are not producing heat, but rather are simply transferring it, more efficiency is realized.
  • Economical: With regular maintenance and upkeep, a heat pump will last for many years. Their up-front costs are comparable to furnaces, but most importantly is the fact that no fuel is required to operate them. Therefore, homeowners are not subject to fluctuations in the cost of gas or oil. The amount of electricity needed to run the pump is generally not a large expense. It is also possible to qualify for an Energy Star designation, which entitles you to a $300 tax credit.
  • Safe: Because there is no combustion (burning of fuel like oil or gas) involved, heat pumps are considered relatively safer to operate.
  • Size: Most heat pumps are about the size of a refrigerator, and therefore are less bulky and take up less space than an oil or gas furnace. The exact size that will best meet the needs of a home will be based on the size of the home as well as how cold the area gets in the wintertime.
  • Noise Level: Heat pumps are fairly quiet, and are usually located outside of the house.
  • Environmentally Friendly: A very critical benefit to heat pumps is that they do not burn fossil fuel, so therefore do not produce any type of air pollutants. In fact, among some research organizations, it is thought that it is possible to save up to six percent of global CO2 emissions by using heat pumps worldwide!

Talk to an HVAC Professional Today!

To learn more about how a heat pump might be the best option for your home, consult with a professional from MM Comfort Systems. With two offices, we service Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Redmond and the surrounding areas, and are ready to answer your questions! Give us a call today at 425.881.7920 (Eastside), 206.629.2039 (Seattle), or 253.341.4253 (Tacoma), or send email to