For years, homeowners bought air conditioners and furnaces separately to cool and heat their homes. Today, heat pumps are gaining popularity because they can independently heat and cool a space. Heat pumps are also energy-efficient, offering significant savings on heating and cooling costs.
However, the many heat pump models on the market can make it tough to choose the right one for your needs. This handy guide contains information on what you should look for in a heat pump, the different types of heat pumps available, and the prices you can expect, so you can make an informed buying decision.
What is a heat pump?
A heat pump is essentially an all-in-one air conditioning and heating system that works year-round to keep your living space comfortable. During the summer, it extracts heat from the inside of your home and moves it outside. During cooler months, the device reverses the process, collecting heat from the outdoor air and transferring it to the inside of your home.Even when it’s cold outside, there is still some heat in the air. A heat pump pulls this heat out of the air and transfers it into your home. If outside heat is insufficient, the heat pump has an electric heater that will supplement the outdoor air to meet your heating needs.
How to buy the best heat pump
A heat pump is a major investment, so you should carefully consider several factors before making a buying decision to ensure you get the most value from it. We cover these factors in the following sections.
Types of heat pumps
There are three main types of heat pumps: air source, split-ductless, and geothermal. All heat pumps operate on the same principles but gather heat from different sources. Regardless of the type, all heat pumps should be installed by a professional HVAC technician who can determine the right size and product for your home and climate.
Air source heat pump
Air source, also known as air-to-air, is the most popular type of heat pump. The system is comprised of an indoor and outdoor unit and works by extracting heat from the outdoor air and transferring it into the home. These heat pumps are inexpensive and take up little space. Since they use outside air as the medium for heat exchange, the units function well in moderate climates.
Split-ductless heat pump
Split-ductless heat pumps are also called mini-splits. They include two units: an outdoor compressor and a maximum of four indoor handlers. These systems do not require ductwork, circulating refrigerant through the tubing that connects the indoor and outdoor units. Split-ductless heat pumps are quiet, energy-efficient, and can be operated by remote control. They offer design flexibility and are ideal for homes without ducts.
Geothermal heat pump
Geothermal heat pumps are classified into ground and water source heat pumps. They move heat through a series of pipes that are buried in loops outdoors. In addition to controlling temperature, geothermal heat pumps also control humidity. These systems require little maintenance and work well in extreme climates.
Heat pump sub-types
In addition to the three main types of heat pumps, there are also several sub-types, including hybrid, solar, and absorption, or gas-fired, heat pumps.
Choose the right size
Size is a critical factor when considering heat pumps. Choosing the right size will help you avoid issues such as inflated energy costs, extreme temperature fluctuations, imbalance in indoor humidity, and short cycling of the system. A heat pump that is too small will work too hard to provide the amount of heat you need in your home, while one that is too big will emit too much heat, resulting in inefficiency.
When it comes to size, it is more about the unit’s heating and cooling output than its physical bulk. Generally, heat pumps range from 1.2kW to over 10kW.Here are some factors to consider when choosing your heat pump’s size:
- Whether it will be used mainly for heating or cooling
- Your local climate, including the average seasonal high and low temperatures
- The level of insulation in your home
- The size of your living space and the number of people who live in it.
Compare heat pump’s cost
Factors that affect the cost of a heat pump include the brand and quality, size and output, efficiency, and type of unit. Installation and placement also affect the final cost. On average, it costs about $5,600 to install a heat pump. For precise pricing information, including installation costs, you should contact a local HVAC professional.
Read heat pumps reviews
Before buying a heat pump, it’s helpful to research reviews. Reviews give you insight into the pros and cons of a specific unit and how it compares to other units within its range. When going through reviews, focus on performance, temperature range, energy-efficiency, sound ratings, cost, features, reliability, and warranties. You can read multiple heat pump reviews on Freshome.
There are a few different ways to install heat pump systems. To ensure optimum comfort, you should consider hiring a professional to install it for you.
- Split system: This is the most common installation of any ductless heat pump. An indoor evaporative unit is placed in the attic, basement, or closet, while the condenser and compressor unit is located outside in a large metal box.
- Package system: With this type of installation, all the mechanical components are housed in a large metal box outside. Only the ductwork is found inside the home.
- Mini-split system: Also known as a ductless heat pump system, this system is great for homes without ducts. The system works much like air source heat pumps but on a smaller scale.
Window heat pumps are ideal for homeowners who want to manage indoor temperatures without spending too much on energy bills.
Heat pump brands
Before we review some of the top heat pump brands on the market, here are some key industry definitions:
- AFUE Rating: The AFUE (Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating is a measure of how efficiently a unit uses fuel. The higher the rating, the more efficient a unit is.
- SEER and EER Ratings: The SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is calculated by dividing the cooling output of the unit in a given season by the energy it used during that period. EER is a measure of a unit’s efficiency when outdoor temperatures are at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- BTU: BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, which measures the amount of heat energy needed to raise one pound of water to one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. The higher the BTU, the faster the unit can cool a space.
- HSPF: HSPF (Heat Season Performance Factor) is a measure of a heat pump’s efficiency. It measures the total heating output in BTU compared to the total energy used in watts. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump.
Below we review some of the top heat pump brands on the market.
Goodman makes their own parts, offers good warranties, and provides great value. Goodman heat pumps are also quiet and last for years with adequate maintenance. Popular models include GSZC18 and GSZC16.
- The GSZC18 has a cooling capacity between 23,000 and 56,500 BTU/h and a heating capacity between 22,000 and 59,500 BTU/h. The GSZC16 has capacities between 24,000 and 60,000 BTU/h when cooling and heating.
- The GSZC18 offers efficiencies of up to 19 SEER and up to 10 HSPF, while the GSZC16 offers up to 16 SEER and 9.7 HSPF.
- The GSZC18 costs about $2,886 and the GSZC16 costs around $2,485.
Trane makes sturdy machines and offers better-than-average heat pump warranties. While the heat pumps are a bit pricey, they come with excellent customer service and value. Some of the best heat pumps under this brand are the XV20i and XV19 models.
- The XV20i model offers efficiencies of up to 20 SEER and 10 HSPF, while the XV19 features up to 19.5 SEER and 12 HSPF.
- The prices of Trane heat pumps range from $4,600 to $10,000, including installation costs.
York heat pumps are highly efficient and feature quiet operation to help you maintain a peaceful home environment. York divides its products into several series to fit different customer needs. Some of the top models are the YZV and YZT units under the Affinity series.
- Both the YZV and YZT models have capacities between two and five tons.
- The YZV heat pump has efficiency ratings of up to 20 SEER and 11 HSPF, while the YZT unit offers up to 19 SEER and 10.0 HSPF.
- The YZV and YZT models cost about $2,850 and $1,700, respectively, not including installation costs.
Tempstar heat pumps are efficient, and their parts are readily available when you need repairs. The manufacturer also offers some of the best warranties on the market. Two of the most popular models are the TVH8 and TCH6.
- Both the TVH8 and TCH6 have capacities between two and five tons.
- The TVH8 heat pump offers up to 19 SEER, 13 EER, and 11 HSPF, while the TCH6 features up to 17.5 SEER, 13.5 EER, and 9.5 HSPF.
Carrier offers a wide range of models to choose from, regardless of where you live. The units are durable and reliable, working for over 20 years with proper maintenance. Some of the best Carrier heat pump models are the 25VNA0 with Greenspeed intelligence and the 25VNA8.
- The 25VNA0 has capacities between two and five tons, while the 25VNA8 has capacities between two and four tons.
- The 25VNA0 delivers up to 20.5 SEER, 16 EER, and 13 HSPF, while the 25VNA8 offers up to 18 SEER, 12.5 EER, and 11 HSPF.
- On average, purchasing and installing a three-ton Carrier heat pump costs about $7,690.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other heat pump brands that offer reliable products, quality parts, good warranties, and high value, including Day & Night, Armstrong, and American Standard, so be sure to research all of your options before making a buying decision.
Air source heat pumps are absolutely worth the investment, especially with the introduction of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme from April 2022.What size heat pump do I need for a 4 bedroom house? ›
However, if you live in a 4 – 5 bed house the 12 – 16kW unit you'll require will be bigger, with average dimensions of: 1,130mm wide, 1,475mm high, and 430mm deep. If you have enough space for a larger unit outside, a monobloc heat pump may be your best option.Are heat pumps really the answer? ›
It is true there is some heat in the air even in extremely low temperatures, however in order to drive the temperature of the coolant up to a useful level, the compressor needs to work harder – and remember the compressor works on electricity. This brings the efficiency right down potentially to 150% efficiency.What is the downside to a heat pump? ›
7 Disadvantages of Heat Pumps are:
High upfront cost. Difficult to install. Questionable Sustainability. Requires significant work.
Heat pumps do not operate as efficiently when temperatures drop to between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for most systems. A heat pump works best when the temperature is above 40. Once outdoor temperatures drop to 40 degrees, heat pumps start losing efficiency, and they consume more energy to do their jobs.Is it better to oversize or undersize a heat pump? ›
If a Heat Pump is Undersized or Oversized
If a unit is too small, it will struggle to produce enough energy to heat and cool your home. To compensate, it will work harder to meet temperature demands, wasting energy and money or breaking down altogether.
As a general rule you can expect to fit a radiator two and a half times larger than normal to provide the same heat output.Is a heat pump enough to heat a house? ›
A heat pump, as part of a central heating and cooling system, uses the outside air to both heat a home in winter and cool it in summer. Basically, that means your heat pump will act as an air conditioner when things get hot and a heater when it's cold outside — making heat pumps one versatile product.Do you really save money with a heat pump? ›
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air source heat pumps can reduce electricity usage for heating by up to 50% compared to electrical furnaces and baseboard heaters. Over the course of an average year, heat pumps save our clients about 20-70% on their annual heating and cooling bills.Are heat pumps worth it in cold climates? ›
Are heat pumps efficient in cold weather? Yes! The latest research shows that heat pumps are up to three times more efficient in winter temperatures as traditional gas, heating oil, or electric systems.
This is mainly because they have been the traditional heating system of choice for decades. They are what homeowners and installers are used to, aware of, and most comfortable with. Gas furnaces are also typically the cheapest heating system option, both in terms of installation and monthly energy bills.What is the most reliable brand of heat pump? ›
The best heat pump brands include common names like Trane, American Standard, Carrier, Bryant, Payne, Armstrong Air, Lennox and a few others. Those are the first tier in terms of quality. There is a second tier worth considering when buying a heat pump. It includes well-known brands like Rheem, Heil and Amana.What is life expectancy of a heat pump? ›
Heat pumps normally last an average of 15 years, though some can wear out after a decade. Some of the newer units being manufactured today can last a bit longer. The factor most important in determining the lifespan of your heat pump is maintenance.How much should I pay for a heat pump? ›
Cost of a Heat Pump Replacement. The cost of a heat pump replacement can range between $4,900 - $12,500. This range accounts for the cost of the equipment, labor, and other fees. This range also covers a variety of system sizes and levels of sophistication, including variable-capacity heat pump systems.Do heat pumps draw a lot of electricity? ›
Heat Pumps will raise your electricity bill – but lower your costs for other heating fuels. Each single unit (often referred to as a one-to-one) heat pump that is used daily will increase your electricity bill by $50 to $100 per month.Is it cheaper to leave heat pump on all day? ›
While heat pumps are the most cost effective way to use electricity to heat your home during the cooler months, leaving them running day and night is not economically efficient. According to Energywise, you should switch off your heat pump when you don't need it. This is to avoid excessive energy waste.Do heat pumps work with radiators? ›
Yes. Heat pumps can be used to heat buildings either with underfloor systems, with radiators or a mix of both. While underfloor systems are often used on lower floors, it might be that your preferred choice for heating upstairs is radiators.Do heat pumps work in extreme cold? ›
Share: Yes, heat pumps work in extremely cold temperatures. In the past, some heat pumps worked better in frigid climates than others. However, thanks to technological advancements, most heat pumps on the market today can keep you and your family warm on even the coldest of winter days in Boston.Should I leave my heat pump on all the time in winter? ›
So while it may seem counterintuitive, leaving your heat pump at your preferred temperature takes less energy than turning the system on and off as needed.Should I turn my heat pump off in extreme cold? ›
NO! The heat pump is very efficient so make it do its thing. Simply turn up the thermostat a degree or two in cold weather so you are comfortable. Do not suffer and submit yourself to the old myth that heat pump homes are cold.
If your heat pump is too large for your home, it will short (or rapid) cycle, which isn't healthy for the motor. If too small, it will constantly try to run to meet your temperature needs. Not only are both issues annoying, but it can cost you.What happens if you undersize a heat pump? ›
If a heat pump is undersized for a room, the negative effects can become quite obvious, fast. It's simply not going to adequately heat or cool the room it's in, and it will certainly work harder than it should in order to do so. Naturally, this can lead to a host of mechanical problems over time.How do I calculate what size heat pump I need? ›
General rules for a rough calculation
For a heat pump or wall-mounted air conditioner, it's about 1,000 BTU per 100 square feet. So for a 1,000 to 1,200 square foot area, your heat pump would be about 12,000 BTU. For the same area, if space is limited, the power can be reduced to 9,000 BTU.
Heat pump pipes need to be larger than boiler pipes because the flow rate is higher for a given output. This will lead to a greater pressure loss through the pipework and fittings.Should radiator be higher than pump? ›
Remember the rule: Always mount your radiator so the top is above the highest point of the pump.Can you replace a boiler with a heat pump? ›
Or, are you concerned about its performance and want something that's more energy efficient? Either way, a heat pump is an excellent boiler replacement option to consider.Is heat pump warm enough in winter? ›
In general, heat pumps are not as energy efficient during heating mode as in cooling mode. But they can still provide enough heat to keep you warm even if outdoor air is cold: modern heat pumps are designed to extract thermal energy from even freezing air.How long does a heat pump take to heat up house? ›
When defrost mode kicks on, the coils run to make the heat pump the proper temperature. It usually takes about 10 minutes to heat up.Can a heat pump heat a house in winter? ›
Heat pumps use far less energy than a furnace and operate like an air conditioner by pulling in heat from one place and putting it into another. These versatile systems are also popular because they heat your home in the winter and cool it off during the summer.How much does it cost to run a heat pump per day? ›
|Heat Pump Output||6 months x 3 Hours daily||6 months x 9 Hours daily|
furnace operating costs. Currently, natural gas is more affordable than electricity. However, heat pumps are exceptionally efficient, creating higher cost savings than gas alternatives over time. A heat pump's operating costs are lower than gas and electric furnaces.How long should a heat pump run per day? ›
It completely depends on the unit's cooling capacity, the room temperature and the humidity. On the average, a 10 to 20 minutes shut down should be appropriate enough depending on the factors mentioned. And it should be within 2 to 3 cycles per hour max.Why is the government pushing heat pumps? ›
They run off electricity rather than gas so have much lower emissions and will help to wean countries off imported fossil fuels from places like Russia. The Government has already set a target to install 600,000 per year by 2028, in a move to end the UK's reliance on fossil fuels and help fight global warming.What is more efficient than a heat pump? ›
In colder climates, 95% efficient gas furnaces fare better than ENERGY STAR® heat pumps. And, due to the relatively lower cost of natural gas versus electricity, lifetime operating costs should be considered as well. Your local Carrier expert can help you navigate the energy efficiency comparisons for your home.What is the future of heat pumps? ›
The future of heat pumps requires advancing features through collaboration. Delivering on a rapidly growing demand for heat pumps not only means advancing production capacities. It also means advancing performance and connectivity with smarter algorithmic-based features.What are the top three heat pumps? ›
The best heat pump brands of 2021 include Goodman, Carrier, Lennox, Rheem and Trane, based on a number of factors. How do I choose the best heat pump for my home? There are several factors you should consider when choosing your heat pump – climate, types, energy efficiency, size and customer reviews.What should I look for when buying a heat pump? ›
- Size (Capacity) A heat pump that's too small for your needs will struggle to keep your home comfortable. ...
- Compressor Type. The compressor is the heart of a heat pump—it's the part that actually pumps the heat. ...
- Efficiency. ...
- Climate Performance. ...
- Noise. ...
Heat pumps will be the dominant heating technology in the future energy system. Scientific studies have shown they will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.Is buying a heat pump worth it? ›
Heat pumps can be an excellent choice in a variety of applications, and for both new homes and retrofits of existing heating and cooling systems. They are also an option when replacing existing air conditioning systems, as the incremental cost to move from a cooling-only system to a heat pump is often quite low.What size heat pump do I need for 2000 sq ft home? ›
If you Google “heat pump calculator,” you'll probably find a rule of thumb like this: “You need 30 BTUs of heat for every square foot of living space you want to heat or cool.” If you have a 2,000-square-foot home, this rule of thumb suggests you need a 60,000 BTU heat pump.
Octopus Energy says in a poorly insulated home it will cost as much as 40% more to run a heat pump rather than a traditional boiler. This is because the cost of electricity includes carbon taxes and subsidies to support low-carbon energy projects.Is it cheaper to heat with gas or electric 2022? ›
Is electric heating cheaper than gas? No. When it comes to using energy, gas is typically cheaper than electricity. Looking Ofgem's price cap rates, gas has gone up to 10.3p per kWh from October 1, 2022 from 7p and electricity up to 34p per kWh, from 28p.Is a heat pump worth the investment? ›
So, is a heat pump worth it? In a word, yes. ASHPs are an excellent option for all types of buildings, and when properly designed and installed, a heat pump system can quickly provide a return on investment.What is the cheapest way to heat your home in 2022? ›
It's not as cost-effective without solar panels, but a gas boiler is still the cheapest way to heat your home – though that's set to change soon, with the cost of gas rising more than twice as quickly as electricity.
You should only fix your energy prices until 2023 if you can source a cheaper fixed tariff than that of the October 2022 price cap increase.Will gas and electric prices come down in 2023? ›
But will energy prices come down in 2023? According to the latest analysis by Cornwall Insight, energy bills could soar by 48%, based on current wholesale prices and based on typical average use, in April 2023. This is lower than its prediction made last month when the rise was predicted to hit 74%.Does a heat pump still use radiators? ›
Yes, heat pumps work well with radiators, providing a relatively low flow temperature is used. In many cases, existing radiators are large enough to allow a lower flow temperature, particularly if improvements are being made to the energy efficiency of the building.Do heat pumps work harder in summer or winter? ›
In moderate weather, cold climate heat pumps can operate at up to 400% efficiency — in other words, they produce four times as much energy as they consume. Of course, the colder the weather, the harder the heat pump needs to work to provide heat. Below a certain temperature threshold, the system becomes less efficient.Are heat pumps a waste of money? ›
So, the large part of the electricity used to drive a typical household heat pump is wasted compared to a gas boiler with similar power rating. The conclusion is that the move to heat pumps is going to be impossibly expensive, and will be less energy-efficient than with current gas boilers.Are new heat pumps better than old ones? ›
A new air source heat pump is more energy efficient and can help you save big on energy costs over its lifetime. They're an all-in-one heating system and cooling system. These heat pumps transfer heat from the outdoor air to make your home cooler or warmer.